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Article in The Daily Telegraph
Phil Read

Joined: 07 Oct 2005
Posts: 36
Location: Epsom, Surrey.
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Let me put this to you in the interest of the study of the Anglo-Zulu War 1879.

Where do you see this subject going ?

In this, I mean in 5 or 10 years time what will happen ?

I�ve got a new book being delivered written by Chris Peers about Isandhlwana and Rorke�s Drift on the 30th of this month, apparently covering the events minute by minute, which is hugely intriguing, as both battles were fluid, not following any kind of schedule or agenda.

What are we going to be reading about the AZW in those years, especially the way outside influences are not only happening to the subject now, but likely to continue henceforth ?

Are we going to think of ZULU in the same light, many of the original audiences reaching nearer to the ends of their lives, Caine too likely departed ?

I�m not sure what this �new� book is going to entail, or secrets to uncover, or how things played out, so the question is...5/10 years down the line do you still want THE movie AND books saying the same thing ?

I find it very hard to believe that Rorke�s Drift still has books written about it, what more is there to say tbh...the defenders middle names, or hair colour or that of their eyes ? Admiration and remembrance of bravery can go too far, in such, making the event itself overwhelming, to the point of being almost unrecognisable as a real life history bordering on mythical.

Isandhlwana is still evaded to a certain degree, but the following skirmish is still being talked about, honestly what really can be added, never mind years from now ?

Put it down to my lockdown fatigue, but please, please, can we talk about or see different images and people of both sides of the campaign, other than the 24th�s last stand at Isandhlwana, THEIR defence of Rorke�s Drift, or THAT film ?!

I say this to advance discussion, not to discourage it...
Colin Fielding

Joined: 01 Sep 2005
Posts: 126
Location: Billericay, Essex
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If I may add something in response to the quoted paragraph below;

'I find it very hard to believe that Rorke�s Drift still has books written about it, what more is there to say tbh...the defenders middle names, or hair colour or that of their eyes ? Admiration and remembrance of bravery can go too far, in such, making the event itself overwhelming, to the point of being almost unrecognisable as a real life history bordering on mythical. '

Maybe it's not all to do with what is written, but perhaps how it is presented? I openly admit that I loathe reading, (unless it's looking for mistakes in technical manuals etc as part of my job), so any attempt at making facts and figures easier and more interesting to absorb, gets my approval.
On each and every occasion during my twelve trips to the battlefields, I have openly wept at the end of each talk that has been presented. It's the same info as in all the books, but the way it was delivered hit me with an emotional hammer.
With reference to hair colour, my great grandfather's changed during the battle. Might only be a tiny detail, but it reveals the huge physical and emotional stress that these few defenders endured.

With respect to remembrance, what my great grandfather achieved with so many others at Rorke's Drift can never be over-enthused upon, in the same way that all those who fought and sacrificed for our benefit in every conflict should be heralded without restrictions.

Regards, Colin Fielding.
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You�ve made very good points and delivered them well, which made interesting reading, without going into the politics of today which is ugly to witness of forums, veering away from the study of the subject itself.

It is an absolute given that those who are related to those who fought at Rorke�s Drift are passionate about the subject, and want to read all about the heroism and sacrifices made on the day.

My mentioning of hair colour was a general comment about all present, not directed in any way towards a specific individual, but more to do with the overwhelming minute detail some may go into, to add to books something not exactly shocking or so important to make the vast contents of the books any different, sometimes involving only a few sentences or small paragraphs.

Some may have the finances to buy each and every book that says it has something new to say, only to find out the cost of the book exceeded the new info, when another book could have been purchased.

My aim was and still is the events of Isandhlwana, where the loss of life on both sides was horrific, where not many lived to tell the tale, or be awarded medals for their heroism during the battle, but went unrecognised due to no living witnesses to recommend VCs for them, apart from the 3 men miles away from the camp at the Buffalo river.

Isandhlwana obviously happened when the British invaded the Zulu territory, but Rorke�s Drift as presented in ZULU, at least to those with no knowledge or context, other than mention of all the British soldiers killed at the former battle, makes it look like the campaign was about a suggested Zulu invasion of Natal instead, as I say, out of context with the truth.

In ZULU, and I am not trying to be like the awful names people are being called now about being against colonialism, etc., but in the film you do notice that the Zulus attack the mission, but it is only the British characters you see that are wounded, even when unarmed like Dalton or killed like the cook, or patients in the hospital, whereas until the very end you never see a wounded Zulu limping away, or carried away by other warriors, rather all being killed outright.

However, at the very end, the famous scene of the three ranks firing, decimated the Zulus, who immediately afterwards are not all lying still, some moving, very obviously giving the notion some were only wounded.

I remember as a child wondering at the end, where are all the Zulus that were wounded in the last fight, innocently assuming they were all being cared for in the hospital, or allowed to be retrieved by their friends.

Rorke�s Drift has to have Isandhlwana to give context, they are connected closely, happening on the same day within hours, plus, there were so many others involved who were not from the 24th, the former given so little recognition, even today, especially in art.

If you go to google images and type in Isandhlwana you get hit in the face by how many 24th pictures there are, hardly any of the others present, including obviously my main interest, the senior commander himself.

The sheer scale of Isandhlwana and deaths, for me as a student of the campaign, no personal connections either to individuals or units involved, I crave more info and a great deal more art about the other units and men, as people seem to be surprised even annoyed that everything 24th-related is of no interest to me, although I am seriously questioning why the 6 companies of 24th as well as the others were killed, so investigating the commanders themselves, as unwilling to accept the romanticised version of how it played out, with a bad guy being made out of one of all the good men who died.

If people want the same detail, in-depth, to the same degree as Rorke�s Drift, then Isandhlwana is the subject books need to investigate more closely and convincingly, not bypassing or ignoring, opting for the more famous fight that happened afterwards.

I hope this reads okay, and apologise for writing so much, I didn�t expect to do so...

BTW - it�s nice to �talk� to another Colin
Article in The Daily Telegraph
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