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Adrian Whiting


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 76
Location: Dorset, England
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Mike,

I think everyone has much the same view here - the expense pouch proved very poor for field service and was withdrawn with the ensuing pattern of valise equipment. One point worth noting, since the link that Michael provided to the Thin Red Line website means you can see their repro pouches in succession, is that the first (black) pattern waistbelt pouch and the expense pouch both had the simplest form of flap, folding around the top of the sidewalls of the pouch. The second pattern (buff) waistbelt pouch had a more pragmatic flap that had sides actually sewn to the flap so that it was more of a "lid" that came down over the sides and front. This arrangement prevents rounds from escaping between the sides and the flap.

The waistbelt pouches are fairly small to empty loose rounds into, but it can certainly be done. The second pattern waistbelt pouches, because of the flap design, are more secure for carrying loose rounds than the expense pouch is, in my view.

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Adrian
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GlennWade


Joined: 16 Jan 2006
Posts: 151
Location: Swansea
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I think one factor I have just thought of was that if you look at drawings of actions by eyewitnesses, such the sketches of Inyezane, 'The Buffs' are wearing their expense pouches at the rear of the waistbelt resting on the small of the back. Could this be evidence of their uselessness in combat? I think as well there are several photographs that show the Expense pouch not hanging at the front.

Its late so this is from vague memory

Glenn

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mike snook 2


Joined: 04 Jan 2006
Posts: 920
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Adrian

Thank you. OK. It can be done. That's the steer I was looking for and Glenn, yes I agree the expense pouch often seems to be missing from such photographs as there are.

Adrian, I am doing some stuff on Maiwand (July 1880) where the 66 th had black pouches with white valise equipment. I presume this is likely to be the pouch you are referring to. What is its story? How do you think they might have ended up with a mixture of kit? Or does it mean that the 66th didn't have valsie equipment but some earlier configuration.

Regards

Mike
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Neil Aspinshaw


Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 289
Location: Loughborough
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Hot off the back of the discussion, this weekend the 80th did an event at Tutbury castle, so , as I was fully kittied up I did an experiment, OK given that my pouch is a replica,and, slightly undersize I tried running with 20 rounds stuffed in the pouch.

the first run 2o yards in full kit, (Now I am fairly fit for my 41 years and play 5 a side for an hour twice a week). 24 degrees, The pouch on the brace/belt axis clip, right side. I lost two rounds stright away, which we then spent ten minutes grovelling in the grass to find!. The pouch was bouncing all over the place.

The next time, with ten rounds in it was worse, I left a trail of cases over the distance. I then tried with it over my left hip, OK this time it was better, it didn't hit me in the nu**s as much but It still bounced all over the place, it was better though to load.

ON the firing display of 14 rounds I dropped two, but I am left handed and we fire right handed so a was as a bit of a disadvantage.

Final analysis, after I collapsed with heat exhaustion, poor design, difficult loading and impossible to fill with more than 20 rounds without them falling out.

now where is that truss?

Neil

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GlennWade


Joined: 16 Jan 2006
Posts: 151
Location: Swansea
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On the subject of the two waist pouches. There are two quite well known photographs of men of the 24th in Pintetown at the end of the war. I have spotted at least 3 men wearing the old black pattern pouch, and this is months after Isandlwana, and from the condition of the uniforms, it seems they have received some sort of new kit since the outset of the war.

If anybody has the technical skills to upload these pictures I am more than happy to point them out as they are quite visible.

For those who have Knight's 'Nothing remains but to fight', the photos are on pages 40 and 41. Note the Private at far left with folded arms and LSGC Stripe in the smaller pic on 41.

Cheers,

Glenn

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mike snook 2


Joined: 04 Jan 2006
Posts: 920
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Neil

Next time you get the chance, try it with ten only and see what happens.

I infer from what you have said so far, that either they would have used it with only a maximum of ten rounds in - or that they would not have used it at all as a 'gash bit of kit', and would have loaded direct from the waistbelt pouches.

It is unlikely that professional soldiers would have stuck with a bit of kit that spills cartridges all over the place and they must therefore have come up with something else more practical.

Regards

Mike
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Adrian Whiting


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 76
Location: Dorset, England
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Mike,

Yes, it can certainly be done!

From the few pictures I have seen I have anticipated that the 66th had been issued the 1871 pattern valise equipment with the early pattern black leather ammunition pouches. There was a black pouch approved for the valise equipment on 26th February 1872. This may even be a second pattern of black pouch since I understood that the first issues of the equipment were in 1871 which would pre-date this, but it may simply be a delay in the approval process by a few months.

I do not have a date for the buff leather pattern coming into service. The LoC interestingly lists, at 3268 - 15th Jan 1877, a Pouch, Leather, Buff, with Tin - Valise Equipment.

The entry reads

"All services except RA, Rifles, ASC and AHC (my abbreviations).

A pattern pouch of the above description has been sealed to govern future manufacture.

It differs from the black pouch approved 26th February 1872, and also from previous patterns made of buff leather, in having a tin, with two compartments, japanned on both sides, and made to hold 20 rounds of ammunition for the MH Rifle".

I have never seen the tin referred to in the few examples I have seen, nor have I ever seen it referred to in accounts - nonetheless an interesting reference. Tantalisingly it may encourage the carriage of loose rounds in the waistbelt pouches, because a tin divider would hardly be necessary to simply hold two sealed bundles apart, unless it was also to give the pouch shape when it was empty.

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Adrian
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mike snook 2


Joined: 04 Jan 2006
Posts: 920
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Adrian

Thank you once again. Are there no limits to your expertise?!

What does jappaned mean by the way?

Regards as ever,

Mike
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Neil Aspinshaw


Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 289
Location: Loughborough
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Mike
Black japanning is an enamelled black finish to bare steel, i.e. exactly what you get on gate latches, garden hanging baskets and steel barrel bolts.

Dare I admit here that apart from my alter ego that I am actually an architectural ironmonger. And did you know the brass screw found in the MH ammo box was actually known as the Article 31 Brass woodscrew.
(anoraks abound in the AZW world)

It's a Boxer Henry .45 miracle
Neil

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mike snook 2


Joined: 04 Jan 2006
Posts: 920
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Neil

At least you'll be easily distinguishable on the range in your collector's edition anorak!

Very Happy

M
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Peter Quantrill
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Mike and Neil,
I know that the subject of 'ball bags' has been debated previously. In view of Neil's experiment ( I take it, Neil, that your replica pouch was also known as a 'ball bag,') the topic is worth pursuing.
Mike, you have mentioned that ' it is unlikely that professional soldiers would have stuck with a bit of kit that spilt cartridges all over the place.'
But yes,that is exactly what happened, the professional soldiers WERE stuck with kit that spilt ammo, evidenced as follows:
Again at the risk of boring readers, at the conclusion of the Zulu War, a circular letter was addressed to various officers who had served during the campaign, asking for criticism of equipment used during the campaign and suggestions for improvement.
It seems clear that the thirty rounds of reserve ammo per soldier was carried on mule carts, one cart per two companies. Therefore the seventy rounds carried by the individual soldiers were divided into the belt pouches and ball bags.
My original contention was that much ammo stored in the soldier's ball bag was lost when the individual doubled into position. This seems to be confirmed by Neil, (who ran a relatively short 20 yards,) together with related primary source material hereunder; hence the question remains, 'how many rounds out of the seventy did the firing line at Isandlwana possess?' Not seventy for certain. (And surely we do not want to enter into the firing line ammo resupply or non-resupply controversy again!)
Primary Source confirmation on ball bags as follows:
Major-General Newdigate, Commanding 2nd Division( Three infantry Bns, all carrying ball bags.)
" Complaints were made about the ball bags: the weight of the cartridges makes the bags open and when men doubled the cartridges fall out."
COLONEL CLARKE:( Fought at Gingindlovu and Ulundi)
" The ball bags were universally condemned; after a few days' wet it required constant repair, its position against the right thigh was most uncomfortable in marching.
Captain F.Cardew, 82nd Regiment.
" The infantry expense pouch was found very unservicable."
Colonel E.W. Bray, 2/4th Regiment.
" The expense pouches were very unsatisfactory; an improvement was effected by sewing them to the waistbelt in the centre of the back."
Captain E.R.P.Woodgate, 1st/4th Regiment.(Kambula and Ulundi)
"With the ball bags, much ammunition was lost."
So yes, for the duration of the AZW, nothing was done to replace the highly unpopular ball bag. Loss of ammo seemed to be commom cause. Just think of Cavaye and Mostyn, not to mention Younghusband. Just how many rounds would be left in the ball bags, Neil, in your opinion,after the climb at the double to Tahelane Ridge, taking firing positions, engaging the enemy, and then doubling back?
And what about the remaining companies who had to double perhaps a few hundred yards forward into position; how many rounds would they have lost?
No firm answers here as they were all killed, but judging by the primary sources quoted above, the firing line may well have groped to little effect to secure cartridges.
Interesting opinions and criticism were also given on equipment carried by Mounted Infantry, Cavalry, Engineers, Artillery, Local troops and Volunteers, Native Levies, Supply, Medical and Transport.
Peter
mike snook 2


Joined: 04 Jan 2006
Posts: 920
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Peter

I am familiar with most of the quotations you cite here. An interesting one is Bray's which I have not seen before but is indicative of the sort of thing that I am getting at - adaptation of the issued bit of kit to overcome a perceived weakness. Apart from spilling cartridges, the expense pouch in its regular position is going to be desperately uncomfortable.

I wonder if the 2/4 got the idea from the 1/24 remnants at Helpmekaar. When I was living in SA I went to see some of the ground where the 9th CF war was fought out. I am quite clear in my mind that, after a year of chasing the Xhosa around the bush, that 1/24 and 2/24 would not still have been using the pouch in its unadapted form. Possibly Bray's remark is a pointer to what they did, but Adrian and Neil might be able to come up with other sensible permutations and practices.

Unless I am reading Neil wrong, so far he has remarked on carrying more than ten rounds in the expense pouch. And Peter, losing even all ten rounds on the way down the Tahelane spur doth not an ammunition criss make. Besides I thought they were all kille Laughing d on the top of the Tahelane spur. Which is it now?!!

As ever

Mike
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Peter Quantrill
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Ram Ram Colonel Sahib,
Surely the ball bags were designed to carry twenty rounds. The balance being fifty, were carried by the infantryman, twenty five per belt pouch.
On this assumption, very few of the twenty held in the ball bags, and specifically in the instance of Cavaye, Mostyn and poor old Dyson who had to double a further 500 yards to the West with his section, would have remained in the bag. Now consider reaching for ammo in the belt pouch.In a prone firing position the pouch would remain open to reload.Now consider moving positions or doubling to a new position. Would the soldier have time to secure the pouch before movement? I doubt it; not in the heat of battle. No one will ever know, but a case can be made for substantial loss of ammo,specifically during the battle of Isandlwana. No other battle fought by infantry during the AZW had to cover the distances in order to deploy and fight as at Isandlwana. Not Nyazane, not Gingindlovu, not Kambula, and certainly not oNdini. (Ulundi.) Now if the likes of Newdigate and others complained on the performance of the ball bag at Kambula and Ulundi, imagine the ball bag performance or non-performance at Isandlwana. Alas no one left to describe it. And yes, the best part of a potential loss of twenty rounds or more does make a possible critical difference.
Now I fear I have to take you to task (gently) on your final sentence. Quote:
'Besides I thought they were all killed on the top of Tahelane spur. Which is it now?'
I presume you are referring to Zulu Victory? Let me refresh your memory, pages 209 and 308/309 refer.
' It is unlikely that many of Cavaye and Mostyn's men survived to reach the camp. Raw described the end.
"The company of the 24th then retired towards the tents, and the enemy following close after, cut them up before they could rally, killing them CLOSE IN TO THE TENTS."
That is not a description of the top of Tahelane spur.
We go on to say(page 308) that it ' is POSSIBLE that PORTIONS of E and F companies were overwhelmed on the Tahelane Ridge itself.'
This statement is supported by The Natal Witness, (secondary source) Trooper Barker (primary source) together with Lord Chelmsford's own opinion, an opinion that he would have reached after hearing survivors reports and referred to in WO 32/7725.
So our bottom line is that SOME not ALL were killed on the spur/ridge. A big difference.
Nice to joust again, it was getting quite lonely.
Regards,
Peter

P.S Unrelated, but on Wednesday 27 September the official opening of the Mtonjaneni Zulu Historical Museum takes place. The opening ceremony will be conducted by Prince Mangosutho Buthelezi and the guest speaker David Rattray. The museum contains what is probably the most comprehensive collection of AZW artifacts in the world and well worth a visit if you are in this part of the world.
mike snook 2


Joined: 04 Jan 2006
Posts: 920
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Peter

I knew you'd take the bait! Cool Not a single man of the 24th was killed on the spur. Razz

The arrangement is 7 x sealed packets of 10. One broken open as loose rounds in the expense pouch, two still sealed packets in each of the left and right ammo pouches, leaving two sealed packets left over and carried in the haversack.

Yes soldiers do fasten up their pouches before moving between positions. Or at least I have always trained mine to, and as far as I know everybody else did too. It's a schoolboy basic of soldiering.

What I am interested in in the 1871 eqpt, is if you can break open packets inside the left and right ammo pouches as well, without too much of an embuggerance in reloading from there.

As ever

Mike
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Peter Quantrill
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Hi Mike,
Schoolboy basics sometimes fail in times of extreme stress under battle conditions. You and I both know that. And ammo DID fall out of ball bags.
Bait now taken. What is your primary source for the dogmatic statement that no one was killed on the spur? (You will battle on this one!)
And are you now discounting Barker as fabrication? HE WAS THERE.
I had a converstion with the late George Chadwick, a recognised authority on the AZW. What he had to say on page 309 of Zulu Victory was not invented:
" In view of the statements that very few were killed on the ridge mentioned above, [ Tahelane] it is interesting to note that buttons, boot protectors and bones were found when these cairns were dismantled, documentated and rebuilt."
Now was he inventing? Was he fabricating? If so to what purpose? Chadwick found, saw and recorded. David Rattray confirms that although there is no sign of cains now, he saw them in the 1960's. How can you contradict evidence such as this? One can always of course 'talk to ones book,' to make a case, but it makes complete sense that casualties could and did occur on the ridge.
So Squire, take a controlled volley at short range!
As ever,
Peter
Ball bag question
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