Google+ Badge

Tuesday, February 10, 2015 Col A.W.Durnfrod - The aftermath - Making a case - Applying logic and being objective part 1

Throughout the stories, there have been questions posed. Time now to start to Join the Dots.  Part 1

The fictional Doctor Watson, companion of Sherlock Holmes, was wounded in the Battle of Maiwand He may have been based upon the 66th regiment's Medical Officer, Surgeon Major Alexander Francis Preston.

So following their lead, time to become objective, apply some logic, face reality, remove emotion and analise the information.

For many people, they have formed opinions of Anthony Durnford, and conveyed those opinions for 136 years, and still do, preferring to insist their opinions and deductions continue to cast aspersions on his character, career and family, despite the evidence to the contrary. 

Our Australian Durnford family, with our close family links, have one opportunity to present his life, as it was, from his birth to his death, and in doing so to finally remove the stigma from his name, and that of not only his immediate family but that of our family also, and to do that in the most comprehensive way possible.

Anthony was promoted to Brevet Colonel on 11st December 1878, but generally here reference to him as Colonel.

  • brevet rank shall be considered strictly honorary and shall confer no privilege of precedence or command, nor pay any emoluments.

  • Lord Chelmsford's choice to shift the blame from himself was Anthony Durnford, when he realised he needed someone to blame for the disaster at Isandlhwana.  From the previous stories, blaming another was not uncommon in those time.   There was no love lost between them, and Chelmsford had a very strong dislike of him.  Suggestions as to why now appear to be quite genuine and can possibly be contributed to quite a few differences.

    Joined with Chelmsford was Frere, and Shepstone, the man who showed no remorse for killing women and children, and on another occasion post January wars, where they rounded them up into a cave and blew them up, among others.                                   All well documented.

    ·         " There have been," the latter wrote, " sad sights — women and children butchered by our black allies [too often, unhappily, by the permission and encouragement of the white leaders, one of whom is reported to have told his men that he did not wish to see the faces of any prisoners], old men too.

     was too bad. But when one employs savage against savage, what can one be astonished at } The burnt villages — dead women — it was all horrible. 

    And the destitution of the
     women and children left is fearful.
    The women are all made
     slaves ! What will England say } Thank God, no woman or child was killed by [the force under] my command, no old man either ; but others have committed these atrocities, for which there is no defence to my mind."   AWD

    Chelmsford and Frere seemed determined to begin a war, despite not having the authority to do so, and their apparent lack of concern for anyone around them, bar themselves, as opposed to someone who was prepared to voice an opinion when he considered a wrong had been made, no matter who to, nor the colour of their skin, and who, on every occasion was prepared to put the safety and welfare of those around him, including Chelmsfords, before his own, and those actions were not only limited to the battlefield.

    Whatever Chelmsford's reasons for failing to fortify the camp, in the light of subsequent events it is hard to justify his negligence. If there was general agreement with his views amongst the officers it might be more understandable but it seems that he was alone in his attitude. Hamilton (Maori) Browne's autobiography 'A Lost Legionary in South Africa' was written and published in 1911 so he had the benefit of 30 years hindsight. But in the book he says: "I was talking to some of my best officers when [Lonsdale] joined us and his first words were, 'My God , Maori, what do you think of this camp?' I replied, 'Someone is mad.' The colonial officers were loud and long in complaint, and Duncombe (a captain in Browne's battalion) said, 'Do the staff think we are going to meet an army of school-girls? Why in the name of all that is holy do we not laager?' ....[Colonel Glyn] did not seem to be in good spirits, but said nothing about the camp, and on my remarking it looked very pretty though rather extended, he looked hard at me, shook his head and said, 'Very'."   

    Or another:

    "The real full truth of what did take place on that ' black Wednesday ' will never be known,as not only are all the executive military officers dead ; but, of the fugitives who
    escaped, not one was in a position to say what orders were given or from whom
    they were received, as they either belonged to the native infantry or cavalry, and were
    therefore fighting outside the camp"                                                         Newman

    Join the dots

    But in order to "join the dots", some important facts need 
    to be questioned, justified, analysed, confirmed, established
     or an alternative scenario sought.


    1.  Times

    From the handful of survivors

    From the previous chapter the times offered  and clear recollection of the sequence of events, for those who escaped varies quite considerably.  Perhaps they had no watches, and none were there at the time the battle concluded, as none mention the eclipse, which signified the approximate ending time.

    Arrival and Departure of Lord Chelmsford and his party at Isandhlwana

    22nd January 1879

    About 4.00 pm one of Chelmsford's lookouts viewed the Battlefield and advises - among other things - that all the tents were gone, they had been seen earlier in the day.

    Chelmsford arrived at the killing field, later in the day, and ordered his men to sleep there overnight. There they were, surrounded by death, as night passed to day.

    Chelmsford arrived at sundown as has been reported, there were no tents, everything had gone.

    To arrive at an approximate time  judging by the sunrise/sunset times for Natal in January the time
    would be around 7.45

    The earliest sunrise is at 5:37am on January 1; the latest sunset is at 8:01pm on January 8; the latest sunrise is at 6:06am on January 31; the earliest sunset is at 7:52pm on January 30.

    From his report,  Charles L. Norris Newman

    "It was 8 or 9 p.m. by the time our little force had ascended the ridge: we received orders to bivouac where and as we were, on the field of slaughter, and only to move forward by daylight in the morning. Such precautions as were possible were taken to guard against a surprise; for it was known that a large  force was following in the rear; and the victorious enemy were believed to be in close proximity to our front and flanks.

     But oh  how dreadful were those weary hours that followed! while all had to watch and wait, through the darkness, with what patience we could muster, for the dawn of day; with the knowledge that we were standing and lying amid and surrounded by the corpses of our late comrades " though in what fearful numbers we then but little knew"

    Again confirmed in Hansard by Lords with differing views but both confirming the arrival and departure times and the reasons why.

    1..."The other day I asked a distinguished General his opinion about Lord Chelmsford's conduct, and his answer was—"It is to me perfectly incomprehensible. He seems to have left the camp with all his ammunition, and to have gone fiddling about looking for a parade ground, with a hostile army of 30,000 men on his flank." After the disaster we find him riding and flying for his life. And hero is one of the most painful circumstances of the whole affair—Lord Chelmsford arrives at the desolated camp at nightfall and leaves before daybreak. So far as the Papers go, he does not seem to have made the slightest search to see whether any of those poor brave, gallant fellows might not be lying in the field dying, if not, perhaps, quite dead."

    2.  "Another point on which the right hon. Baronet made an attack on his (Sir Charles Russell's) absent friend was as to an alleged want of feeling which he showed when he left the camp at Isandlana before daylight on the morning after the disaster. But why did he go before daylight? He did so for two reasons—first, because he felt obliged to hasten to the assistance of the little garrison at Rorke's Drift; and, secondly, because he very properly wished to spare his men the horrible sight of the mutilated corpses of their comrades; for he need hardly remind the House that in African warfare it was notorious that the Zulus never left a wounded man living on the field. Where the wounded were not carried off for more brutal purposes, they were killed on the spot."

    23rd January 1879  Leaving Isandhlwana

    The party leaves Isandhlwana, and travels to Rorkes Drift leaving before dawn.

    It is pretty conclusive that the times have been qualified and confirmed as arriving after 8.00pm and leaving before 5.45am

    23rd January, 1879    Arrival at Rorke's Drift Chelmsford

    Arrive at Rorke's Drift by 8.00am.  That is confirmed by  reports of the fighting at Rorke's Drift.
    From about 1620 hours on 22nd.January,1879,until about 0400 hours the following morning the fighting was at Rorke's Drift, about 0800 hours on 23rd. January,1879 Lord Chelmsford's task force from arrives from the direction of Isandhlwana,
    (how on earth could they fight a war in the black of night? what an amazing feat to undertake)    

    How long would it take to arrive at Rorke's Drift from Isandhlwana?  

    In reverse, the day before, Anthony's Column 2 left Rorke's Drift somewhere around/after 4.00 am  (maybe later depending on how long it took to get ready), after he received the orders to go to Isandhlwana, arriving at the average time of 10.30 am, and probably including some stops.

    (With his wagons and the number of men an assumption is around 6 hours depending on the conditions, early bullock wagons could only travel around 3 miles per hour. A horse walking  4 miles per hour)                          

    Given similar circumstances, Chelmsford's party could be assumed as having a departure time
    of 4.00 am before daylight.

    Natal is on the 29th Parallel around the same latitude as the border between Queensland and New South Wales, we do not have long twilight unlike other places.

    The 29th parallel south is a circle of latitude that is 29 degrees south of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses the Atlantic Ocean, Africa, the Indian Ocean, Australasia, the Pacific Ocean and South America.

    In Australia, much of the border between Queensland and New South Wales is defined by the parallel.

    FACT 1.    TIMES

    In summary the times of arrival and departure from Isandhlwana by Chelmsfords column were in the /or semi-dark, and Chelmsford did not want his men to see the horror on the ground.



    23rd January 1879

    What did Chelmsford do,after appraising the situation? he apparently rushed back to Pietermaritzburg to get his story straight with Frere.   All this has been reported from people who were there, and who had access to the "Blue books" and previously presented.
                                                              It is also confirmed by the following Hansard references.

    He left so quickly it is written, that he didn't even appoint a senior officer to take over at Rorke's Drift.                                                    Again fully documented.

    By 26th January he has organised an enquiry.  All the commanders had to find clean paper and write their reports.  Most reports said the same thing, some of course even mentioned matters to seemingly strengthen accusations:
    Refer Chard's report to the Queen, ' I brought the wagon back with me to Rorke’s Drift, where on arrival I found the following order had been issued. The copy below was given me, and preserved from the fact of its being in my pocket during the fight"
    What relevance to the report did that hold?   But it proves that it appears to be normal for an officer to put their orders into their coat pocket"

    Even Chelmsford makes note that he was going to get Glyn to write his orders, but immediately changed his mind and asked Crealock to write them.  Is that relevant?  Perhaps he thought so.

    The enquiry concludes, weeks before the despatches even arrive in England, sealed in packets and sent by ship, not telegraphed through to Madeira which was the normal course of communication.

    Col Crealock wrote his statement, from memory, because he had lost his notebook which contained the crucial 2.00am orders, issued not only to Durnford but to Pulleine and every other officer who was lying dead on the field, and included no doubt the orders issued to those who were alive.

    How did almost everyone who wrote a report to the Inquiry manage to stick to the same story, which later was admitted by Crealock to be not correct?                     That certainly causes doubts.

    From the examples in the previous chapter, they were unreliable as to the correctness of the contents.

    Newman also drew a map of the Battle.

    Newman's map
    During the week following my journey back to Pieter Maritzburg I drew out a rough sketch-plan of the camp at Isandwhlana and the surrounding country from memory, showing the positions of our various forces in the camp itself as well as indications of the defence made by its holders. This was not only published in the colony, by my permission, from the original map drawn for the London Standard (which appeared in its columns on the 6th of March, 1879), but was also copied wholesale by other papers both in South Africa and in England, without any acknowledgments of its source or recognition of its compiler.

     Charles L. Norris Newman, .

    Again the two sides in the House of Lords and recorded in Hansard.

    1.    He talks about the men not remaining face to face with the enemy. Why, they were surrounded by the enemy! The impression civilians must have from reading the despatch is that the troops, in the opinion of Lord Chelmsford, showed cowardice and ran away. Making every allowance for Lord Chelmsford, he must have been sadly wanting in the feelings of common justice when he penned such a despatch. Lord Chelmsford blames Colonel Durnford for not having fortified the camp. Why, he was there 48 hours himself with the whole of his ammunition for the campaign, and during all those 48 hours he never made the slightest attempt to do what he says Colonel Durnford should have done in four hours

    2.   Well, Lord Chelmsford, hearing that the enemy was somewhere to the North-East, went with a large Force in search of him, and some time after he left he became engaged with a Force, and was occupied four hours in driving back that Force. When he left the camp, he sent a written order to Colonel Durnford to come up and take the command of the camp. The witnesses differed as to whether the order directed him to "strengthen" the camp; but he wrote by his military secretary to Colonel Pulleine to give the camp over to Colonel Durnford, and to "defend the camp." 

    3.  At 10.30 Colonel Durnford arrived and took the command of the camp. It was abundantly evident that some discussion took place between Colonel Durnford and Colonel Pulleine. Colonel Durnford said he had seen some of the enemy on his left flank, and he asked for a couple of English companies with which he would go out and look for them. "No," said Colonel Pulleine, "I dare not do so, for my orders are to defend the camp," and that, Colonel Durnford's aide-de-camp said, was repeated over and over again. 

    4.  Ultimately, as if the poor fellow had a strange presentiment, Colonel Durnford said to Colonel Pulleine, "If I get into difficulties will you come to my rescue?" They had the testimony of one survivor of the rocket battery which accompanied him that Colonel Durnford attacked the enemy, with the result they all too well knew. Had the troops remained in camp and a laager been formed, which could have been done in half-an-hour or an hour—had the orders received been obeyed and the camp defended—the defence would have been complete and perfect. 

    But it was said that the General sent back Captain Alan Gardner with an order to intrench the camp. He did so, but that was when he had found another camping-ground, which he determined to leave to Colonel Glyn, and in sending back for ammunition and provisions he added—"Intrench your camp.

    But the House would agree with him that, however much they might respect the memory of the dead, they were not entitled to give them that respect at the cruel expense of the living. His gallant friend, Lord Chelmsford, after he had left the camp before daylight—he spoke from memory, and without his notes, for he little dreamt that in a discussion of a Motion in which all mention of Lord Chelmsford's name had been left out a discussion of this sort would take place. He was not, therefore, prepared by reference to his marked Blue Book to give chapter and verse for everything he said; but he assured the House that he would state nothing that he could not prove.


    FACT  Reports are written, a court of inquiry is held, within a couple of days, the reports are NOT telegraphed to London, but sent on a ship, the ship arrived in February, well after the enquiry is finalised.  All the reports tell a very similar story of who was to blame.  The Blue Book is written up, where? when?

    Not one appeared to have suffered from a normal reaction caused by huge rise in adrenalin, no shock, no disbelief, all clear, calm and collected, -  and never heard of "Flee and Fight", or stressors?

    Rushes of adrenalin cause different reactions in different people, some may even laugh involuntary, or cry, it comes with the feeling of helplessness some will turn and run, some will stand and fight. 

    No two person's brains have the same synapses.

    Newman again:

    There were, indeed, only about 900 men in camp, exclusive of our natives, who ran away, and of Colonel Durnford's mounted men, under Captain Barton; and yet, fighting in the open, without defensive works, protection or cover, they kept at bay for hours the almost overwhelming army of Zulus, by whom they were attacked and surrounded

    Post Adrenal Stress Effects:     Reference below

    "While most people are concerned about what will happen during an adrenalised moment, having been a number of life and death situations, I'll also like to inform you about the aftermath. Again, like the effects mentioned above not everyone will have the same reactions or to the degree of someone else.

    Nausea - Post action vomiting is common.

    Post Incident Soreness -- Remember I mentioned how some muscles will tighten up? You'll be achy.

    Hypo-mania - Remember I said that the adrenaline is still in your system? After an incident the adrenaline doesn't just go away. Its presence manifest in many different ways some people get the jitters, other fidget and pace, others rapidly babble, some yell and shout and some people do them all (hopefully at different times). This is part of the 'winding down' process.

    Horniness -- Yes, there is nothing that reinforces the fact that you survived danger better than wild monkey sex. This is one of the reasons why people who are in dangerous situations are often hypersexual. Throughout history camp followers, prostitution, hookers and armies have been linked.

    Crash/Exhaustion -- After running at high octane for such a long time, there is the crash.

    Bad Dreams/Restless Sleep -- Some people go into a deep exhausted dreamless state. Others will toss and turn the night after violence. These people often report bad or weird dreams.

    Post Incident Resurgence -- It is not uncommon that anywhere between 24 to 48 hours after an incident that you will suddenly and unexpectedly find yourself in the middle of an adrenaline rush. This may be triggered by some small incident or it may just seem to come out of nowhere. Generally it's best to ride it through and let it pass."

    Well that's it in a nutshell!

    Everyone of us has at some point in time suffered an adrenalin rush, perhaps though many don't understand "Flight or Fight"  In such circumstances most would also suffer "survivor's guilt"  something not recognised then, but is incorporated with PTSD.    

     Guilt is a common response following loss and/or traumatic. When events result in severe traumatic reactions, multiple losses can occur. In addition to deaths, parts of one’s own nature (e.g., self-confidence, generosity) as well as resources, circumstances, and expectations can be altered or lost.

    Any report or account from those who managed to leave before they were killed, and failed to acknowledge their state of mind at the time, perhaps should be questioned.


    Content of Reports  -  Conclusion 

    1.  Perhaps Chelmsfords actions of "leaving the camp" were caused by the effects of adrenaline rush and how he coped with it.  It also has been written that he had a couple of days prior to the battle, suffered a severe fall from his horse, which may have clouded his judgement.

    2.  It might also be that those who turned and ran also exhibited the very same reaction to their adrenalin rush or in the case of the Native troops, their knowledge of tribal customs.

    3.  It might also be that those who stood and confronted the Zulus, did so exactly for the same reason, their adrenalin rush gave them added strength to fight.

    Given all those factors, how could all these men come up with the very same detailed report to present collectively to the Inquiry?


    Access after the Battle  22nd January 1879

    A Statement from Meshla Kwa who had been part of the Zulu Army belonging to the Ngobamakosi

    Meshla Kwa Zulu, the captured son of Sirayo,
    There is a Little red hill which overlooks Isandwhlana, within sight of the camp, and there the Ngobamakosi, to which I belong, came in contact with two companies of mounted men
    camp, but found the Zulu army was too thick ; they could not do it, it was impossible. 
    We searched the pouches of the men ; some had a few cartridges, most of them had none at
    all ; there were very few found. Some had cartouche-boxes, others cartridge-belts :
    the belts were all empty, but a few cartridges were found in a few of the cartouche-boxes
    I did not see the soldiers fix bayonets. They could not have done so ; they were retiring 
    with the waggons. They turned the oxen and were going towards the drift, and were crossing the neck and making for the waggon-road. These waggons were without tents, and the soldiers were on each side of them. 
    But the bayonets of the men of the two companies who were killed were fixed, and the
    men formed back to back. Some Zulus threw assegais at them, others shot at them ; but they did not get close — they avoided the bayonet ; for any man who went up to stab a 
    soldier was fixed through the throat or stomach, and at once fell. 
    Occasionally when a soldier was engaged with a Zulu in front with an assegai, another 
    Zulu killed him from behind. There was a tall man who came out of a waggon and made a stoutdefence, holding out for some time, when we thought all the white people had
    been driven out of camp.
    He fired in every direction, and so quickly as to drive the Zulus some in one way, some in another. At first some of the Zulus took no notice ; but at last he commanded our attentionby the plucky way in which he fought, and because he had killed so many. He was at
    last shot. All those who tried to stab him were knocked over at once, or bayoneted ; he 
    kept his ground for a very long time. 
    When I came up he had been stripped of his upper garments. As a rule we took off the upper garments, but left the trousers, but if we saw blood upon the garments we did not bother. 
    I think this man was an officer ; he had gaiters on, but I did not see his coat. *
    His chin was shaved. He was killed immediately under the Isandwhlana hill. Only two cannon were taken to Cetywayo ; the two in the front part of the camp were sent. The cannon 
    remained on the field for a long time, and at last Cetywayo sent for them ; he directed 
    Mtembu, who lived near, to remove them. 
    Each Zulu helped himself to watches, and such other property as they could lay hands
    upon and carry away.

    Some other reports that some soldiers were inquisitive of his arm, and that his gun, hat, boots and belt were taken, and discussion about his sabre.

    Conclusion:   Agree that the gun, boots and his hat, which would have been laying on the ground, were taken.  The gun may not have been in the gun pouch on the gun belt.

    Their concerns about his arm, could stem from a wariness, of never seeing an arm sling before coupled with their cultural behaviour and customs.

    It might also be a reason to then leave the body as is.

    *Appears to be Younghusband

    Who had access to the Battlefield after 4.00 am 23rd January 1879     

    Unfortunately while not something that is nice to think about, the reality is that any number of wild animals, and particularly scavengers would have been attracted to the area simply by the sheer number of not only those soldiers who were killed, but those of horses and oxen.

    The Zulu were aware of that, and they removed and treated the bodies of their dead as the custom.

    Jackal, hyenas, lions, all live in Natal, but one thing they cannot do is to remove clothing, despite the allusions of a few Australians.

    Newman comments:  Meshla Kwa Zulu, the captured son of Sirayo, is the most detailed in its statements,

    The Carbineers on entering the camp made a strong stand there, and their firing was very heavy. It was a long time before they^ were over* come " before we finished them. When we did get to them they died in one place all together. They threw down their guns, when their ammunition was done, and then commenced with their pistols, which they used as long as their ammunition lasted; and then they formed a line, shoulder to shoulder, and  back to back, and fought with their knives.

    They mounted their horses, which they had drawn into the donga with them. The Carbineers were still fighting when the Edendale men got into the camp* When the Carbineers reached the camp they jumped off their horses, and never succeeded in getting on them again. They made a stand, and prevented our entering the camp, but things were then getting very mixed and confused; what with the smoke, dust, and intermingling of mounted men, footmen, Zulus, and natives, it was difficult to tell who was mounted and who was not.
    Meshla Kwa Zulu:
    The dead Zulus were buried in the grain silos in two kraals; some in dongas, and elsewhere. Zulus died all round Isandwhlana. All the dead bodies were cut open, because if that had not been done the Zulus would have become swollen like the dead bodies. I heard that some bodies were otherwise mutilated. There was a man whose head was cut off at the entrance of the camp, where the white people held out, and formed back to back.

    And Newman:
    And another large body, of at least 5,000, was held in reserve, remaining on the crest of the slope and taking no part in the first onslaught. They took part in the work of spoil and plunder at the camp, and aided in driving off the captured cattle and such waggons as had not been wrecked.

    Most of the bodies of their dead were also removed by them in the waggons, so that not many were found by us on the field; this makes it difficult to form any accurate estimate of the total loss on their side,


     Wherever large amounts of carrion are available the jackal resorts to this food source, and takes advantage of opportunities, 

    The jackal opens the carcase (animal) on the flank between the hip and the bottom of the ribs. The parts eaten are usually the kidneys, liver, heart and the tips of the ribs. The amount eaten is small (up to about 500g) and no large bones are consumed. The jackal is a very neat feeder capable of removing the flesh under the skin; therefore the remains have a hollowed out appearance. It does not move the carcass, and seldom returns to feed on it again.

    Often the only external signs of the throat bite are two small punctures on either side of the windpipe. Sometimes, mainly where very small lambs are the prey, the upper canine teeth penetrate the skull just below the eye and at the base of the jaw or below the ear. In many instances traces of the punctures are difficult to locate from the outside and it is best to skin the head and neck so as to be able to examine the inside of the skin and the flesh. 

    When skinning the first incision should be made along the back of the neck so as not to cut through the area, which has been bitten. The punctures or bruises made by the upper and lower canines are then visible on the inside of the skin and in the flesh.

    Spotted Hyenas feed on a variety of prey and they are powerful hunters. If they are hunting alone they will prey upon smaller animals such as birds, hares, foxes, jackals, fish, snakes and carrion.

    Usually they will split into hunting groups containing 2 - 5 individuals and together they will hunt medium to large hoofed animals such as zebra, wildebeest, Thompson's gazelle, grant's gazelle, topi, waterbuck, eland, impala and hartebeest.

    Spotted Hyenas and lions prey upon the same animals and they occasionally end up in confrontations that can lead to the group of hyenas killing a lion. 

    Up to 600 vultures died after elephant poachers in Namibia poisoned a carcass to prevent the vultures that usually circle above a dead animal from giving away their position.

    Not a pretty thought, especially the length of time the bodies remained on the Battlefield.

    State of Clothing:

    Unless by human intervention, the clothing of the deceased would be in the same place as it was at the time of death, exposure to the elements could cause some of the materials eg wool or silk to deteriorate.  Shirts were cotton their fibres remain, however torn shirts could be attributed to the actions of scavengers.


    accounted for many having fever on the Amatolas, as the temperature varied  from 75° at noon to 30° at night.
    I left Maritzburg on the 7th September, having spent a week in formulating a scheme for Regimental transport,
    and   on my way up country with my Staff officer, Captain E. R. P. Woodgate  received authority to purchase 
    sufficient to equip the 90th Light   Infantry, at a cost of ;£6o,ooo. On reaching Utrecht on the 17th, I
    inspected the Left Wing of the battalion, and found that the men were as badly provided with kit as were
    their comrades with whom I had been serving in the Amatola Mountains, Insufficient Regimental Necessaries
    had been brought out with the battalion — as previously stated.
    I had hoped that the Left Wing, which had been stationary, would be  better equipped I had hoped that the 
    Left Wing, which had been   stationary would be better equipped but the 
    Regimental reserve   store of Necessaries landed with the companies consisted of  four flannel shirts, and four mess tins, and no steps  had been taken prior to my arrival to complete the men with equipment. The District Commandant, writing from Pieter- Maritzburg, at first resented my strong representations on the subject, but it was time that somebody spoke out, because 5 soldiers had just been sent up from the Base, not only unarmed, but unclothed.  I was supported, however,by General Thesiger, and from that date until the end of the Zulu Campaign, my suggestion that no soldier  should leave the Base without being properly equipped was carried out.
    The shirts can be confirmed as Flannel.

    Natural progress of Rigor Mortis and Postmortem changes after death

           The blood begins to settle in the parts of the body that are the closest to the ground, usually the buttocks and back when a corpse is supine. The skin, normally pink-colored because of the oxygen-laden blood in the capillaries, becomes pale as the blood drains into the larger veins. 

    Within minutes to hours after death, the skin is discolored by livor mortis, or what embalmers call "postmortem stain," the purple-red discoloration from blood accumulating in the lowermost (dependent) blood vessels. Immediately after death, the blood is "unfixed" and will move to other body parts if the body's position is changed. 

    After a few hours, the pooled blood becomes "fixed" and will not move. Pressing on an area of discoloration can determine this; if it blanches (turns white) easily, then the blood remains unfixed. Livor mortis is usually most pronounced eight to twelve hours after death. The skin, no longer under muscular control, succumbs to gravity, forming new shapes and accentuating prominent bones still further. The body then begins to cool.

    At the moment of death, the muscles relax completely—a condition called "primary flaccidity." The muscles then stiffen, perhaps due to coagulation of muscle proteins or a shift in the muscle's energy containers (ATP-ADP), into a condition known as rigor mortis.

    All of the body's muscles are affected. Rigor mortis begins within two to six hours of death, starting with the eyelids, neck, and jaw. This sequence may be due to the difference in lactic acid levels among different muscles, which corresponds to the difference in glycogen levels and to the different types of muscle fibers. Over the next four to six hours, rigor mortis spreads to the other muscles, including those in the internal organs such as the heart. The onset of rigor mortis is more rapid if the environment is cold and if the decedent had performed hard physical work just before death. Its onset also varies with the individual's age, sex, physical condition, and muscular build.

    After being in this rigid condition for twenty-four to eighty-four hours, the muscles relax and secondary laxity (flaccidity) develops, usually in the same order as it began (see Table 1). The length of time rigor mortis lasts depends on multiple factors, particularly the ambient temperature. The degree of rigor mortis can be determined by checking both the finger joints and the larger joints and ranking their degree of stiffness on a one- to three- or four-point scale.

    Approximate times for algor and rigor mortis in temperate regions
    Body temperature Body stiffness Time since death
    warm not stiff dead not more than three hours
    warm stiff dead 3 to 8 hours
    cold stiff dead 8 to 36 hours
    cold not stiff dead more than 36 hours
    SOURCE: Stærkeby, M. "What Happens after Death?" In the University of Oslo Forensic Entomology [web site]. Available from

    In the absence of embalming or relatively rapid cremation, the body putrefies. The first sign of putrefaction is a greenish skin discoloration appearing on the right lower abdomen about the second or third day after death. This coloration then spreads over the abdomen, chest, and upper thighs and is usually accompanied by a putrid odor. Sulphur-containing intestinal gas and a breakdown product of red blood cells produce both the color and smell. The ancient Greeks and the Etruscans paid homage to this well-recognized stage of decomposition by coloring a prominent god aqua-marine, considered the color of rotting flesh.

    Bacteria normally residing in the body, especially the colon, play an important part in digestion of food during life. They also contribute mightily to decomposition after death—the process of putrefaction. The smell, rather than the sight, is the most distinctive thing about a putrefying body.

    Under normal conditions, the intestinal bacteria in a corpse produce large amounts of foul-smelling gas that flows into the blood vessels and tissues. It is this gas that bloats the body, turns the skin from green to purple to black, makes the tongue and eyes protrude, and often pushes the intestines out through the vagina and rectum. The gas also causes large amounts of foul-smelling bloodstained fluid to exude from the nose, mouth, and other body orifices. Two of the chemicals produced during putrefaction are aptly named putrescine (1,4-diaminobutane) and cadaverine (1,5-pentanediamine). If a person dies from an overwhelming bacterial infection, marked changes from putrefaction can occur within as few as nine to twelve hours after death.

    By seven days after death, most of the body is discolored and giant blood-tinged blisters begin to appear. The skin loosens and any pressure causes the top layer to come off in large sheets (skin slip). As the internal organs and the fatty tissues decay, they produce large quantities of foul-smelling gas. 

    By the second week after death, the abdomen, scrotum, breasts, and tongue swell; the eyes bulge out. A bloody fluid seeps out of the mouth and nose. After three to four weeks, the hair, nails, and teeth loosen and the grossly swollen internal organs begin to rupture and eventually liquefy. 

    Read more:

    Malcolm Moodie, Natal Carbineers, born 1857, in Natal, died 22 January 1879, at Isandlwana, KZN Natal. A handwritten note (probably written by his niece, Shirley Moor) in my family's copy of The Moodie Book, says:

    “The burial parties afterwards recognised him by the brilliant colour of his hair, like burnished copper. Beside him were 79 used cartridge cases.                         

      From family blog

    Undressing and dressing the body is best done before rigor mortis sets in, or after it passes. The limbs of a body will become stiff when the body is kept cold.

    It can be difficult to remove clothing from the body, and can be easier to cut it off

    Rigor mortis and purification of the body will take place faster if left in the sun.

    Hair remains - perfect example at  Catacombs of the Capuchin Monks and details M. Moodie above


    6th March Captain Symonds has been to the battlefield, and they found the camping ground strewn with the bodies of men, and horses, together with the waggons, all of which had been emptied of their contents - while letters, papers and photographs were mixed up with brushes and boots of every description.  Several of the letters and photographs were recovered along with a considerable amount of money, cheques and other property

    14th March, 1879                                                             
    From Newman
    Some were perfect skeletons; others that had not been stripped, or only partially so, were quite unapproachable, and the stench was sickening; with but few exceptions, it was impossible to recognise any one, and the only officer that was seen was discovered by his clothes

    In April 1879, John Colenso applies on two occasions for permission to return to bury the dead.
    Permission to bury the dead, "collect the bones" denied by Chelmsford and Frere

    Mid May 1879 -Two visits  visit Crealock's pocket book  is found, brought back and given to him in Durban.  Another book is also found and returned.

    21st May 1879 - Finally the burial party arrives.

    It seems then that Chelmsford stalled at every occasion in allowing a burial party back, but 4 months later May 21, General Marshall set off before Chelmsford was aware.

    From a "supposed" account by Quatermain in a book by Haggard:

    Just before advancing himself Durnford asks Quatermain to accompany him "adding that as I knew Zulu so well I might be useful."  Three and a half miles to the left front of the camp they encounter a "trooper of the Natal Carabineers (sic) whose name was Whitelaw, who had been out scouting" and who reports an advancing Zulu force. "Presently these appeared over the crest of the hill, ten thousand of them I should say, and amongst them I recognised the shields of the Nodwengu, the Dududu, the Nokenke and the Ingobamakosi regiments."

    Durnford and his men, Quatermain among them, fall back to a donga where they discover the remains of the rocket battery. Retreating to another donga they are "reinforced by about fifty of the Natal Carabineers under Captain Bradstreet."

    They hold the position until they run low on ammunition. "Messengers were sent back to the camp for more ammunition but none arrived, Heaven knows why. My own belief is that the reserve cartridges were packed away in boxes and could not be got at."

    Ammunition running out they retire towards the nek where all is chaos. "Colonel Durnford gave orders to certain officers who came up to him, Captain Essex was one and Lieutenant Cochrane another." 

    The defence collapses and Quatermain witnesses the death of Durnford. "Scorning to attempt flight, whenever I looked round I caught sight of his tall form, easy to recognise by the long fair moustaches and his arm in a sling, moving to and fro encouraging us to stand firm and die like men.

    Then suddenly I saw a Kafir, who carried a big old smooth-bore gun, aim at him from a distance of about twenty yards, and fire. as the result of a shot: "that was the end of a very gallant officer and gentleman whose military memory has in my opinion been most unjustly attacked. The real blame for that disaster does not rest upon the shoulders of either Colonel Durnford or Colonel Pulleine."

    Quatermain decides it is time to escape but instead of heading down towards Fugitive's Drift makes off in the opposite direction for the Nqutu plateau. According to Zikali he would be safe if headed for Ulundi. Quatermain duly rides across the plain, now full of Zulus, but when his horse is shot it wheels back towards the north of the Isandlwana mountain at the foot of which it drops dead.

    Quatermain climbs to the top of the mountain and hides. "From my lofty eyrie some hundreds of feet in the air, I could see everything that happened beneath." Among the events he witnesses is a soldier taking refuge in a cave "whence he shot three or four (Zulus); then his cartridges were exhausted ... I think he was the last to die on the field of Isandhlwana."

    From his vantage point Quatermain witnesses the looting of the camp and the approach of Lonsdale and his hasty retreat. As night falls he hears firing from Rorke's Drift. In the morning he descends from the mountain but groups of Zulus moving about the battlefield prevent him from making contact with the British. He catches a Basuto pony ("it had belonged to Captain Shepstone's force of mounted natives") takes a Martini-Henry rifle and some cartridges from a dead soldier.

    Accompanied by an Airedale terrier ("doubtless it had belong to some dead officer") and donning the headdress of a dead Zulu he makes his escape towards the north. Thereafter other storylines intervene and Quatermain takes no further part the Anglo-Zulu War only hearing of its conclusion at the battle of Ulundi second-hand.

    Not a lot of truth and perhaps just a lot of fiction? or a distorted memory of the events recalled later, or the masterful telling of a story, including details that may or may not be correct, but remain today.

    The theory on the dog is clarified later, was he in the cave?  Not according to the Zulus
    Was Anthony shot, no.  So how much is believable and how much is fiction?

    Weather conditions -      

    January  average  temperature   28 .humidity  81%       rainfall   108 mm
    February average  temperature  29, humidity  82%       rainfall     81 mm
    March average temperature      28  humidity   81%       rainfall    73 mm
    April average temperature        26  humidity  78%        rainfall    43 mm

    Comfort Levels: Given average maximum temperatures and humidity levels caution is advised. Fatigue is possible with prolonged exposure and/or physical activity for those in high risk groups of possible heat disorders (see heat index for more information).

    Much has been written about the weather conditions, when it thunderstorms in our part of the world, it buckets down, often causing small rivulets, and humidity at those levels is extremely uncomfortable.

    High humidity is often caused by cloud, making the real temperature feel a lot hotter than it shown on a thermometer.



    Between 23rd January 1879 and middle of February, there were no reported incidents of visitors to the site before a  party recovered the Queens Colours in the river.

    Between beginning of February to middle of March there were no reported incidents of visitors to the site.  The visits in March have been documented and reported.

    Between middle of March and middle of May there were no reports of visits.

    However from the morning of 23rd January, the battlefield was accessible to a huge range of wild animals, scavengers, birds of prey and the local Zulu and other tribes.

    Previously it had been stated that the Zulus would not removed clothing if it was bloodied.

    • Evidence  from the habits of scavengers could contribute to the state of the bodies
    • Zulus would not remove clothing which is contaminated with blood
    • Animals cannot remove clothing 
    • Purification of the bodies and rigor mortis - times detailed.  Quickened when exposed
    • After 4 months the condition of the remains would probably be consistent with reports 
    • All that might remain would be skeletal bones, and hair
    • The remains could be disturbed by foraging scavengers  -  no different than "roadkill"
    • Weather conditions would have had an effect on the site and the remains

    Actions on 21st May in relation to Col Anthony Durnford

    1. Did AWD have a coat on or off?                                  Coat On
    2. Did Shepstone take a packet from the body?                  In agreeance
    3. Where was the original order written by Crealock and recorded in his pocket book?   Unknown


    1, The Question of the Coat.

    There are two versions  1... No coat  - Did not take packet   2.  Blue Coat .Yes was seen taking packet

    Without a doubt the question of Shepstone taking papers relies on whether Anthony was wearing a coat.  According to Shepstone - He only had on his vest, which was how he was identified. 

    Shepstone had three witness to say the body had no coat, but agreed he had a waistcoat as it was recognised as his.  

    According to Longhurst  -  He had on a "blue" coat, and he had witnesses to that fact, including the officer responsible for the re internment of the body in October 1879.


    Maj Chard

     Anthony on the left and Lt John Rouse Merriot Chard, VC, one of the heroes of Rorke's Drift, together with a group of other officers from the Royal Engineers on the right.

    They do look like the same uniforms.  No waistcoats showing. No shirts showing.  Coats all buttoned up, and even lying around on the ground in a relaxed position, not one piece of their under clothing can be seen.

    These men are dressed in two different uniform styles, two with button down the front and three wearing a different type of fastening.

    There is another style of uniform that might have been worn as depicted, and the buttons here are called frog loop, not all that easy to undo.

    So now it comes to pockets, where were the pockets on the coat?

    There would be pockets inside, as is common with male clothing, but were there also pockets on the outside of the jacket?  Some frogmouth buttoned uniforms may have two front pockets, others designs appear not.

    From the uniform on right, there are two pockets on the jacket, with flaps over the top, these are rather deep pockets.

    But unfortunately it is impossible to find a reference to any outside pockets on Anthony's uniform, but as these old photos of Royal Engineers show, there are not flap pockets on the exterior of the coat.

    The photograph also shows the belt which holds his gun.

     British officers were required to supply all of their own kit (including weapons) at personal expense .... a state of affairs which continued into World War I. 

    Indeed, for a long time a commissioned officer pretty much required independent financial means 
    (beyond his military pay) to properly maintain the lifestyle expected of him ..... particularly in some of the "elite" regiments.

    In all cases, the jacket is buttoned, with the belts over the shoulder and around the waist.

    The waistcoat

    Did have a waist coat on?   Everyone agrees on that.  But would a waistcoat be able to hold a packet of papers?   Most people would be familiar with a waistcoat.  They do not have large pockets.

    Shepstone admitted as did his witness that he did not take any papers from the waistcoat and that is probably correct.

    More modern
    Victorian style

    His waistcoat was Red.

    The pockets on the examples on the right, are of Victorian style waist coats.  Rather than pockets the top has a series of small plackets, and as shown the medals or watch or small items fit rather well. That is how that one is designed. 

    Would it hold a packet of papers, probably not.

    Would it hold one envelope of orders? possibly, but there would be a danger of the document presumably loose sheets of paper,
    falling out.

    Therefore a waistcoat would most probably not be the safest place to store ones battle orders, which  an experienced officer, would know have to be kept safe, in case of the need for future reference.

    OR in Anthony's case as a prolific letter-writer, he could/would have referred to them at a later stage if he was injured, as he full well knew the sentiments of his superiors; his letters home reflected those views.

    From Chard's response to Queen Victoria, he stated that he put his order for the day in his "coat pocket".

    Did he own a watch?

    Highly likely, and he would have had to supply one himself, or perhaps as the eldest son, he had a family heirloom.  To wear with a waistcoat, the watch would be attached to a chain.

    And as the watch as shown is actually threaded through the button holes of waist coat.

    There would be absolutely no reason to remove his jacket and present to the enemy in a waistcoat, just unless of course, Anthony stopped mid battle to check if the times of the eclipse were as predicted.

    Silly, of course, would he have unbuttoned his coat?  No. 

    Shepstone admitted taking his pocket knife and two rings..  A pocket knife would fit perfectly inside the waistcoat.   

    But what did Anthony Durnford have on at the time of the Battle?

    He wrote to his mother the night before the battle,  and described his uniform:

    I wonder whether you would admire my appearance for the field? Boots, spurs, dark cord breeches, serge patrol jacket broad belt over the shoulders and one around the waist so the former a revolver and to the latter a hunting knife and ammunition pouch. 

    A wide awake soft felt hat with a wide brim one side turned up and a crimson turban (puggaree) wound round the hat very like a stage brigand

    So there it is, straight from his own words, his jacket was a serge patrol jacket.

    Not only that but he clearly describes his belts.  A broad belt over the shoulders for a revolver and the one around his waist for a hunting knife and ammunition pouch.

     Perhaps the ammunition pocket was a bit like this, which is not a photo of his uniform, merely to clarify the placement of the ammunition pocket.

    Made from leather, includes waist belt, buckle, ammo pouch, bayonet frog, shoulder straps

    NCOs and officers also carried swords, and OR a Bowie knife    wiki
    this is also stated in a book by Ian Knight

    The belt therefore had a knife sheath, the Bowie sheath shows the slits for attachment to the belt.

    The knife would have been used for a variety of purposes.

    And he had a revolver, which fitted in the leather case.

    Without any knowledge of the guns - wikipedia states:

    The MkI Adams was adopted in 1868 with the Mark II being adopted in 1872 and the MkIII was adopted in 1878.   Adams revolvers saw action across the Empire, during the Indian Mutiny, Bhutan War, the Anglo-Zulu War and Second Anglo-Afghan War as the British Army’s ‘issue’ sidearm up until 1880

    As an officer he would have had a sword and scabbard.  Before he left for South Africa, his father gave him a family sword.  Perhaps it belonged to his grandfather Col Anthony Durnford.  That sword was damaged at the Battle of Bushman's River Pass.  Anthony resigned from South Africa and returned home, to seek medical treatment for his arm.   He then had some more postings including Ireland.  He missed the climate of South Africa, and returned.

    Did he then bring another family sword? or was it regulation issue.  It was held in a scabbard.

                                                                             Unfortunately at this time I am not in possession                                                                           of a photo of his sword, but have requested one.

    Possibly a good representation of how he looked, as described to his mother, but it is missing the ammunition pouch and the knife.   Is there anything missing?

    When on the 21st January, before he received any orders - Anthony wrote to his mother describing his clothing, including a Serge Coat.  

    In describing "serge" he probably described the colour much the same as was used by Burt Lancaster in the movie Zulu Dawn where they also matched his hat.  Often perhaps a bit greeny/brown.

    After 4 months in the elements, could the colour appear blueish?  Probably so.

    His body was recognised by his moustache,
    that has been widely stated


    He was probably one of the best dressed officers, no red coat but he did wear a serge coloured one.

    The wardrobe of Burt Lancaster indicates just how Anthony could have looked before battle, at battle and in death, the details of the ammunition would not be correct.   Nor the method of spearing and standing alone!

    (It must be called Movie licence)

    From the report of the Zulus in Newman's story, the Zulus were fighting face to face, hand to hand, there was no ammunition, they were using assegais and the soldiers were using knives.

    They threw down their guns, when their ammunition was done, 
    and then commenced with their pistols, which they used as 
    long as their ammunition lasted; and then they formed a line,
    shoulder to shoulder, and  back to back, and fought with their knives.

    The men were face on to their attackers, backs to each other.

    Last stand - Bayonets fixed and fighting back to back

    Some Zulu thew assegais at them others shot at them but they did
     not get close - they avoided the bayonet, for any man that went up to stab a soldier was fixed through his throat or stomach and at once fell. 

    Occasionally when a Zulu was engaged with an assegai another killed from from behind.

    Norris-Newman In Zululand

    Before moving on, let's compare Anthony's description from the details above, to the one that Queen Victoria ordered which is in the Roly Collections Trust.  

    His is the only portrait of a Durnford that she owns.

    Lieutenant Colonel Anthony William Durnford (1830-1879), Royal Engineers

    Creator: Unknown Person (photographer)
    Creation Date:  c.1878-9
    Materials:  Albumen print
    Dimensions:  14.0 x 10.0 cm
    RCIN  2501021
    Acquirer: Queen Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom (1819-1901)
    Provenance:  In the Collection of Queen Victoria
    Description:   Photographic portrait: vignette; head and shoulders, body facing left, head turned right;                      undress; lost left arm - sleeve pinned to chest.

    In this portrait he has on his beautiful coat with the Austrian embroidery on the sleeves and frog loop buttons on the front.

    But the description states he has lost his left arm, sleeve pinned to chest.

    This portrait had  to have been taken when he was back in England, prior to returning to South Africa.

    His left arm, may have been in a sling, and his coat buttoned up to hide that sling.

    Which brings this description of what he was wearing on 22nd January back to HIS SLING

    He was not the only British soldier in the Zulu War with a sling, so was: 

    Frederick Hitch, VC (29 November 1856 – 6 January 1913) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross for his actions at the Battle of Rorke's Drift, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces

    Hitch was 22 years old, and a private in the 2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment of Foot (later The South Wales Borderers), British Army during the Anglo-Zulu War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC. The citation was published in the London Gazette on 2 May 1879:

    War Office, May 2, 1879.
    THE Queen has been graciously pleased to signify Her intention to confer the decoration of the Victoria Cross on the undermentioned Officers and Soldiers of Her Majesty's Army, whose claims have been submitted for Her Majesty's approval, for their gallant conduct in the defence of Rorke's Drift, on the occasion of the attack by the Zulus, as recorded against their names, viz.:—
    2nd Battalion 24th Regiment Corporal William Allen and Private Frederick Hitch

    It was chiefly due to the courageous conduct of these men that communication with the hospital was kept up at all. Holding together at all costs a most dangerous post, raked in reverse by the enemy's fire from the hill, they were both severely wounded, but their determined conduct enabled the patients to be withdrawn from the hospital, and when incapacitated by their wounds from fighting, they continued, as soon as their wounds had been dressed, to serve out ammunition to their comrades during the night.

    They were assisted in passing out ammunition by Padre George Smith.

    Hitch's wounds were so severe that they led to his discharge from service upon the conclusion of the war. He then moved from job to job, unable to perform manual work due to the damage to his arm he had received during the battle. He married in 1883, but reportedly found life difficult living on his disability pension from the government, which amounted to just £10 a year. In 1901, whilst climbing a ladder he suffered a fall. When he awoke in hospital his VC, which he always wore, had been stolen

    (*$1600 in 2015)  It was later found, when sold at an auction.

    His Victoria Cross is displayed at the South Wales Borderers Museum Brecon, Powys, Wales.

    So using Private Hitch as a model, time to examine he leather sling.  His is on his right arm.

    It consists of leather straps which the arm is put into, and two straps support the arm, one at the elbow and one at the wrist.  It crosses over each shoulder, thereby supporting the arm by the shoulder blades.     

     It is not known the extent of the nerve damage to his left arm, but from experience,  my son -in-law experienced a horrific injury, where all the nerves were severed, and the only thing remaining was his artery.    He is limited in what he can do, with regard to the nerves in his hands, but has regained some use, as the nerve endings regrow and reattach.  

    By 1879, Anthony had suffered his injury for 6 years, my son-on-law is now at 8 years. 

    Using my family link as an example: 

    Physical strength  would suffer.. As the nerves regrow from the injury, his strength in his hands and his grip may not have been as strong as his right arm, his fine skills such as writing might also have been affected.  Often the opposite arm may increase in strength, due to the extra work it has to do.

    As a horseman, Anthony would have been able to use the left arm, to control, as well as carry out a number of other tasks.

    Perhaps he couldn't manage to hold a mirror and shave, at the same time, and that might be the reason his facial adornment was so prominent!

    Neuroregeneration refers to the regrowth or repair of nervous tissues, cells or cell products. Such mechanisms may include generation of new neurons, glia, axons, myelin, or synapses. Neuroregeneration differs between the peripheral nervous system (PNS) and the central nervous system (CNS) by the functional mechanisms and especially the extent and speed. When an axon is damaged, the distal segment undergoes Wallerian degeneration, losing its myelin sheath. The proximal segment can either die by apoptosis or undergo the chromatolytic reaction, which is an attempt at repair. In the CNS, synaptic stripping occurs as glia foot processes invade the dead synapse


    Was he wearing a coat when he died?                                Yes
    Was he wearing a sling when he died?                               Yes
    Was he wearing two belts when he died?                           Yes
    Was he wearing a vest when he died?                                Yes
    Was he killed in face to face combat with knives?              Yes
    Were the men standing back to back?                                Yes
    Was he stabbed in the stomach?                                       Yes
    Did the Zulus also stab assegais in the back                      Yes

    Every one of those points regarding his dress and uniform has been thoroughly explained.

    Face to face combat - as told by the Zulus, when the ammunition ran out, the soldiers were involved in hand to hand combat with their hunting knives, while standing back to back,  the Zulus far outnumbering them, and the preferred method of kill with assegais, was to the stomach.

    Blood flow from the stomach would then leach into clothing or articles.

    The body would then fall face downwards.  At that point assegais could be stabbed in the back.


    To understand the Zulu Culture and the methods they employed when going into battle, some excerpts from Commander Steve Bourquin.   

    by Cmdt S.Bourquin, DWD

    "Discipline. One of the outstanding features of the Zulu military organization was the iron discipline which prevailed and which became almost a way of life - or perhaps also of death! One of the basics of upbringing of a Zulu youngster, and a factor which developed his character and made him into a natural soldier, was his complete submission to the authority of his elders. When he was enrolled in his age-grade (iNtanga) his section leader would take over. Eventually this absolute authority would be exercised by the king, either directly or through his military commanders. To demur meant death - and in such instances usually death of a particularly horrible kind.

    Thus it was also in war-time. There is little to suggest that the Zulus, as a nation, were any braver in fighting than many other tribes. Individuals were undoubtedly brave and skilled fighting men; but it is doubtful whether there are any acts which bespeak immense devotion mingled with heroic virtue. They understood how to die admirably in battle, rather than to suffer the fate of an alleged coward; but no Zulu would devote himself to death to save his captain. He appeared to know nothing of courage as the result of reflection and virtue.

    Upon the return of his armies from battle the king would call his soldiers together and hold a review in the great enclosure of one of the garrison kraals if not at the principal royal kraal. First he called on the commander-in-chief to report as a prelude to the meting out of award or punishment. If fortunate a regiment might be rewarded by the permission to marry and thereby to advance from being a 'boy', even though perhaps forty years of age, to the estate of a man with the right to wear the head-ring (isiCoco, izi-) of a married man. Individual bravery or meritorious service was recognized by a special grant of cattle or the decoration of a hero either with a wooden necklace carved vertebra-like from the wild willow, the uMyezane, by which name it is also known, or a shining iNgxotha. This latter decoration consisted of a heavy, broad brass armlet with fluted exterior, worn around the lower arm and bestowed as a royal honour only on the greatest of captains.

    Next came the terrible scenes when the officers pointed out those who had disgraced themselves in action, or had the misfortune of losing either shield or assegai. The unfortunate soldiers were instantly dragged out of the ranks and, at the king's nod, they were at once killed by impalement or the more merciful way of being clubbed with a knob-kerrie, or by having their necks twisted and broken. It is easy to see how this custom of holding a review almost immediately after the battle must have added to the efficiency and discipline of the armies.

       The Zulu army, as such, never went to war without being specially strengthened by the doctors (iziNyanga) of the king, a process which took a few days, and which was begun as soon as all the warriors had arrived at the royal kraal. The whole process was gone through to 'bring together the hearts of the people' and entailed sprinkling the troops with liquids containing substances having magical properties, the ritual of bare-handed killing of a bull and disposal of the carcass in prescribed ways, and the cleansing of the individual warriors by inducing communal vomiting through the use of emetics and ablutions.

    It was considered essential that the liquid used for the sprinkling should contain material particles (inSila) connected with the person of the chief whose people were about to be attacked. Secret messengers would have been sent out beforehand to obtain such substances, which could have been as powerful as some of the chiefs hair, parings of his nails, or his spittle scraped from the ground, or as innocuous as scrapings from the floors of his huts or any utensils he may have used.

    But the most potent of all these medicines was human flesh, and in the war of 1879, for instance, a white man O.E. Neal, was killed by the Zulus, and parts of his body were used for 'doctoring' the army.

       On return from battle, and especially after having killed in battle, it was equally important to return for the cleansing ceremonies without which the future health and happiness of the warriors would be doomed.

    Casualties. Among the iziNyanga (doctors) there was one class which specialized in the medicinal use of plants and the treatment of sickness and wounds. In wartime these were directed to accompany the army as army doctors and would deal with wounds and injuries as best as they could. These services were, as a rule, applied only to their own people because Shaka's ideology did not permit the taking of prisoners. A severely wounded enemy would thus be killed on the spot, and anyone whose wounds permitted him to get away would do so in an endeavour to save his own life.

    In the case of the injured who managed to get away, the wounds caused by assegais would be flesh-wounds and would readily respond to treatment. Severely wounded men, even their own men, had their skulls subsequently cracked by a blow from a knob-kerrie and needed no further treatment. For this reason, to this day, the knob-kerrie is regarded as the symbol of mercy as it was the tool by which a wounded man could be speedily released from his misery.

    Then he issued them to his troops and instructed them in their use and enjoined every warrior that he should take but one assegai, which was to be exhibited after the fight, stained by the blood of the enemy. Failure to do so meant death by impalement as a coward. The struggle could only be hand to hand, with only one conclusion: death or victory.

     At Isandlwana, for instance, the Zulu dead who could not be removed at once were subsequently removed and disposed of in dongas or in the grain pits of the abandoned kraals in the vicinity. As the latter were filled to capacity many kraals were relocated on the return of the inhabitants.

    Contrary to general belief amongst whites, it was not Zulu custom to torture fallen wounded soldiers.

    They were killed on the spot, but according to Zulu custom a dead enemy had to be disemboweled to release evil spirits and to prevent the swelling up of a corpse. 

    Exceptions to the rule were notable, such as the case of trooper Raubenheim, captured and tortured to death by the Zulus at Ulundi. No prisoners were taken on either side; any encounter ended either in escape or death."

    Zulu kobi-kerri

    Not only did the Zulu warriors come armed with their assagais, and their shields, but one other important weapon, the kobi-kerri.

    In Australia it was a nulla-nulla, and in PNG, a club, sometime made from wood, and in some provinces made with a stone.
    We used to have one as an artifact, one blow and that would certainly end a life.

    With the exception of poor soldier,  O.E. Neal.

    No one was allowed to remain alive, the kobi-kerri was used to bash the skull and the enemy was       clubbed to death

    Assegais were used and brought back to the tribe, showing the blood of the enemy, and if warriors returned to their Chief without them and their shields they were themselves killed.

    Any of the enemy disembowelled, would most probably be laying face up.

    Chetewyo had ordered that his Army carry one short handled assegai for frontal stabbing, they also carried longer assegais (spears).

    The Weapons. These consisted of a bundle of assegais with long slender shafts which were used, like javelins, for throwing. In addition a stick or knob-kerrie was carried. An oval oxhide shield was used for protective purposes only and there was no uniformity as regards size or colours of shields.


    Col. Anthony Dunford was laying face down at the time of death.
    He and all the others who may not have mortally wounded with the stabbing, were killed by the blow to the head.

    (The above information has been researched without any personal emotions or disrespect to the dead, but rather to
    present the factual reality of occurences relating to death and Native customs.)


    In earlier posts the question was posed about visits to the battlefield.

    At least two persons seemed to remain at the Battlefield, after Chelmsford left to go to Rorke's Drift, or they completed their task and caught up quickly to the main force.

    It was dark when they arrived on the 22nd and it was dark when they left on the 23rd January.
    Chelmsford was so concerned about leaving before his men, and perhaps himself, could see the horrific scenes that would confront him.  

    Mr Newman, who wrote his book and report, mentioned that he rose an hour before daylight
    Happily, in this instance, our fears were vain. After lying down for a while close to the General and his Staff, I arose at about an hour before daylight, for the purpose of taking a quiet look around, to see the state of matters for myself, and recognise what bodies I could.
    Nothing but a  sense of duty could have induced me to undertake the task, or sustained me in its execution so as to go through with it. Not even on the recent battle-fields of Europe, though hundreds were lying where now I saw only tens, was there ever a more sickening or heart-rending sight!

    The corpses of our poor soldiers, whites and natives, lay thick upon the ground in clusters, together with dead and mutilated horses, oxen and mules, shot and stabbed in every position and manner; and the whole intermingled with the fragments of our Commissariat waggons, broken and wrecked, and rifled of their contents, such as flour, sugar, tea, biscuits, mealies, oats, ";c., "c., the debris being all scattered about, and wasted as in pure wantonness on the ground.

    The dead bodies of the men lay as they had "fallen, but mostly with only their boots and shirts on, or perhaps a pair of trousers or a remnant of a coat, with just sufficient means of recognition to determine to which branch of the Service they had belonged. In many instances they lay with sixty or seventy empty cartridge cases surrounding them, thus showing that they had fought to the very last, and only succumbed and fallen, after doing their duty without flinching, find when all means of resistance were exhausted.
     I had scarcely returned from my melancholy round, when, just as daylight began to appear, preparations for the advance were completed, and the word was given to march. Formed in fours, not in line this time, we proceeded rapidly on our return route, with strong advanced and rear guards, and feeling well on our flanks.

    Not a nice experience.  By his estimation it is one hour before daylight. That would make it about  4.45am.  Supposing it was not raining, but as it was the wet season, it could be cloudy, or it may be clear.  From descriptions of Rorke's Drift, it was a very dark night, with a new moon, after the eclipse.   One hour before daylight based on the location it would be still dark, but perhaps clear enough to make out the state of the waggons and the debris around them. 

    The Zulus did indeed take the soldiers Red Coats.  But did they also take the Black coats? 
    They had been told not to take the Blue coats.

    The Zulus would not take a coat that was bloodied.  He certainly would have noticed the number of bodies and how they lay, but to be able to see 70 cartridge cases on the ground, may perhaps be the assumption based on how many bullets were held in each pocket. In fact he seems to have been quite upset with what he had just seen.

    He wrote later in that day 
     Before reaching Burrup's I was caught in one of the most severe storms of thunder, lightning, and rain that I have ever seen; indeed, the horses could not be got to face it, and there was nothing for it but to halt and submit to the drenching.
    Arrived at Burrup's, I got rid of my wet clothes, rolled myself in some blankets, and after taking some hot tea " the only thing to be had " I * slept the sleep of the tired," if not of the just* The following morning early though weak and weary, I pressed on to Grey Town, which I reached at 7 am
    All my old friends were rejoiced to see me alive, having been led to believe that every one with the Column, except the fugitives who had passed that way, had been slaughtered. I was glad to be able to contradict all these sensational reports, and to give the latest authentic news, painful as that was" At Mrs. Plant's, where I breakfasted, there were a number of officers of the 224th, who listened with breathless interest to my details, and to the list of killed and  missing. One of the officers of the King's Own, Lieutenant Penrose, made a sketch of the scene, which appeared subsequently in the Graphic, I had an order on the resident magistrate for fresh horses, but by this time I was so thoroughly exhausted that I could not continue my journey in the saddle. I accordingly changed my mode of travelling, and completed the rest of the distance by the post-cart.

    He has just described his reaction to the adrenalin rush as described by the report written by the medical professionals.


    Sometimes with research it is necessary to go backwards before moving forward.   In this case, to March 1879 and reference to his letters and book.

    From John Colenso's book -                 He is writing to his friend in London

    " BiSHOPSTOWE, March 23, 1879.

    .. . "Yesterday Dr. Thrupp (a civilian from London, who came out as special surgeon for one year and is going home again) called here and brought a watch which he had taken from the body of an officer on the morning of January 23, to see if we could recognise it. It was Colonel Durnford's. The body was found lying within the camp, near to the hospital, with some two hundred others lying around him.

    It was not mutilated. ...

    It is strange that two months have passed before this fact has reached us, though we have made all manner of inquiries. This has apparently arisen from Dr. Thrupp's want of personal acquaintance with Colonel Durnford, whom he had only seen once before."


    Any wonder John Colenso must have been shaking his head.  How did this civilian doctor get hold of a watch that was taken from the body of an officer on the morning of 23rd January, and bring it to John's home at Bishopstowe, 6 miles from Pietermaritzburg?  8 weeks later.

    Why then, as it appears from the letter, would he call on John to see if he could recognise it? as he took it from the body of an officer.   He knew full well it was Anthony's watch, then gave the reason as he wanted to make personal acquaintance with Col Durnford, whom he had seen once before.

    (Presuming personal acquaintance to mean someone who knew Anthony)

    John has no doubt confirmed it as being Anthony's.  Then Dr Thrupp then advises, that he was lying within the camp near to the hospital, with some two hundred lying around him.

    He was not mutilated.  


    Who was Dr Thrupp?

    1872 JAMES GODFREY THRUPP . I am assistant house-surgeon at St. George's.   He was reporting on the state of a deceased, at the murder trail in the Old Bailey.

    In May 1878 a ten year old died under his care and the administration of chloroform, at the time he was living near Hyde Park in London.

    Dr James Godfrey Thrupp,

    He volunteered for service in South Africa.

    He arrived in South Africa and was attached to the 1st Batt. 24th Regiment, and was in charge of the Staff and Department during the first phase of the war. He was subsequently placed in charge of No 1 Field Hospital of Major Glyn's Column

    When Chelmsford decided to divide his force, leaving with the 2/24th and leaving 1/24th in camp, he ordered that no wagons were to be taken.  Nobody advised Dr Peter Shepherd, who was the Principal Medical Officer, himself a Surgeon-Major.  Dr Shepherd decided that he would stay in camp, to assist the men of the 1/24th.

    Dr Thrupp would go out with the Flying Column, taking two wheeled ambulances with him (contrary to the GOC's orders). He went with a handful of medics and drivers, would have tailed along behind the troops,. By now concern was growing about what was going on behind them at the camp. He would have participated in the chilling return to Isandlwana that evening, slept somehwere on the battlefield, and would have been one of the last to arrive at Rorke's Drift the following morning, also of course a charnel house by this stage. He would have helped Surgeon James Reynolds (exhausted) with his surviving patients and the newly wounded, the majority of the B Coy men having cuts and grazes of one kind or another. 
    There are two mentions of Dr Thrupp in General Orders during the Zulu War.
    (See Local General Orders relating to the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879.)
    No. 219, dated 10th December 1878, Times of Natal 13th December 1878. 7. Civil Surgeon Thrupp will take over medical charge of the 1-24th Regiment, in place of Civil Surgeon Hartley, reported sick.
    District Order No. 9, dated 26th April 1879, Natal Mercury, 29th April 1879. 8. Civil Surgeon Thrupp will proceed on horseback to Ladysmith, where he is to report his arrival to the senior medical officer for duty.

    After leaving Rorke's Drift he went to Helpemaaker  for a while and then to Ladysmith

    He left South Africa on 23rd May, 1879, with some of the wounded and arrived back in Southampton.

    He also was involved with some books.  In 1883 he was in Somali on an zoological expedition and collected butterflies and moths.

    He married Emily Sutherland Kettlewell in 1886, he was quite older than she was.  He had surgical rooms in Curzon St London.  In 1893, they travelled to New York. His wife is no mentioned in the 1901 census, and he died in 1913.  He was also awarded the South Africa Medal.

    REUNION RIBBON & BULLETS - Including: Pair 1/8 Tintypes in book form ... [Thrupp (James Godfrey surgeon member of the Royal College of Surgeons ...

    153. JAMES, F. L. (M.A., E.B.G.S.) The Unknown Horn of Africa.
    An Exploration from Berbera to the Leopard Eiver. With
    Additions by J. Godfrey Thrupp, M,B.C.S.


    1.  Dr Thrupp was at Isandhlwana on the 22nd January, and left the next day, being one of the last to arrive at Rorke's Drift.

    2.  He stated to John Colenso where Anthony's body: 200 meters from the hospital tent within the camp with 200 bodies around him.

    3.  He was not mutilated

    To try to determine this fact, some research and information is presented.   Whether the maps are correct or not as to how the Battlefield was at the time of the fight, or whether there are others, or whether they were based on where the bodies were found, or from memories of those who were there, most examples of maps seem to bear some semblance to each other.

    "The entire camp became a scene of confusion. The Zulus, as was their tradition, ripped open the dead bodies, dressed themselves in uniforms and raided the stores including the medicines which were consumed without regard to doctors' prescriptions. The casualties have been assessed as: Whites, 858, N.N.C. 471 (total 1 329) and Zulus almost 3 000.'

    Pope's G Coy moved towards Durnford's position to assist him but when Durnford's men rode back to the camp, G Coy took up a position just north of the track near the narrow donga, thus leaving a large gap between his and Wardell's company. 9 Coy 1/3NNC was probably dispersed by this time as some reports say that the native contingents left the battlefield.

    Durnford's body was later found lying near a wagon, surrounded by the bodies of his men on the map at the spot marked X

    by Cmdt S.Bourquin, DWD

    The NNH were forced to retire towards the camp and the right flank was now exposed. Lieut Pope's G Coy 2/24th was on the right but he moved south to the track leaving a big gap between him and Wardell's H Coy. Colonel Pulleine was aware of the problem and sounded the 'Retire'.

     This encouraged the Zulus to rush forward. The last chance to get away was fast coming to an end, and those men who had access to a horse took the opportunity to race out through the nek.

     Everyone else knew that the end was near and their only hope was for a quick death. As the soldiers fell back on the camp the Zulus were upon them and they had to form into small squares to protect each other's backs as they fired the last of their ammunition and resorted to the bayonet.

     Those that died that day were mostly the men of the 24th Regiment. The artillerymen attempted to get away with the guns, the Native Horse and Mounted Infantry escaped on their horses and gave covering fire to others as they fled to the river. The Native Contingent escaped on foot but had to fight pursuing Zulus who chased them to the other side of the river.

    In the camp the last stands were fought at the north and south ends of Isandhlwana Mountain. Durnford and Pulleine died on the southern slope with men of the 24th, Natal Police and Natal Carbineers. Younghusband's C Company fought at the north end and one of their number climbed to a cave up on the slopes. The rest made a mad charge into the Zulu mass and were cut to pieces. The man in the cave managed to hold out until evening, probably the last man to die.  

    The right horn of the Zulu impi came down on the west side of the mountain while the left horn curled around the south of Conical Hill to be stopped by Durnford's NNH and a gun from the RA which was temporarily brought round to help the Natal Native Horse. The defensive line pulled back towards the camp so that the line consisted of:

    26. C Coy 1/24th (Younghusband)
    27. 4 Coy 2/3NNC
    28. F Coy 1/24th (Mostyn)
    29. E Coy 1/24th (Cavaye)
    30. A Coy 1/24th (Porteous)
    31. N Battery/5th Brigade RA
    32. H Coy 1/24th (Wardell)
    33. G Coy 2/24th (Pope)
    34. 9 Coy 1/3NNC (unsure if this company was still there or had retreated over the nek)
    35. Durnford with Newcastle MR and NNH
    36. 6 Coy 1/3NNC

    As Dr Shepherd had been killed, risking his life for a patient, where was Dr Thrupp?

    From the book Cetshwayo's Dutchman - it is reported that the Ambulance wagon was captured.



    The King was very glad when he heard that his people had gained the victory over the
    Whites, and thought that the war would now be at an end, supposing that the Whites had 
    no more soldiers. His people, or rather a portion only of his people, brought 
    to him the oxen and cattle captured from the Whites, as also some wagons — I saw
    only an ambulance- wagon — and two cannons, about which they were wild with delight. 
    But the greater part of the booty, as blankets, fire-arms, cartridges, clothes, 
    gold, had been carried home to their own places by most of the Zulus,^ at which 
    the King was much displeased. The King was angered also because his people had gone over 
    the Zulu Border into Natal ; for he said * It is the Whites who have come to fight 
    with me in my own country, and not I that go to fight with them. My intention, 
    therefore, is only to defend myself in my own country, where they themselves made me
    King a few years ago  
    The King's army on the coast was stationed at the Umhlatuze River, from which they came,
    from time to time, to fight with the Whites at Etshowe, where they kept them for two monthsentirely shut up, purposing to starve them out. 
    According to report there came about this time a Tonga doctor to the Zulu King, 
    offering his services, viz. for killing the Whites by poisoning the springs of water
    for them. But the King would not listen to this. He said that 'he would not fight 
    with the Whites in any such inhuman manner, but he would fight in honourable fashion, 
    for he had men enough for this(ll). Also he gave orders always to his people that, 
    * whenever they were able to get Whitemen into their hands alive, they were not 
    to kill them, but must bring them to him.' 

    1 ' The Zulus told me that, after the Battle of Isandhlwana, John Dunn sent a message
    to the King that *he must send his army to the coast, and, if he beat the Whitemen there,
    he would be all right, for the Whitemen would then be finished off, since the Army on
    the coast was all they had left.' — C. Vijn. 
    2 * Only two cannon were taken to Cetshwayo. They remained on the field a long time —
    I should think about 10 •days — and then they were sent for by the King, and brought 
    down in a wagon. 
    * Only four wagons were taken to the King ; but Matshana took a number of wagons, and 
    Sihayo four. 
    * Each man helped himself to matches and such other property as they could lay hands upon
    and carry away. 
    * Each man also helped himself to ammunition. The cases of guns and ammunition were smashed open and broken with stones. It (the ammunition) is in the country ; we have returned some of iU'—Mihlokazulu, .........................


    • As there were no tents standing on the night of 22nd January, his recall of position of the body, could only be based on his knowledge of the placement of the hospital tent.
    • 200 bodies lying around him - that number differs from others, but he may have been delivering his message in a more sympathetic manner.
    • Body not mutilated  - Again perhaps to be sympathetic
    • Why did he not come forward after John Colenso had placed notices?
    • On 23rd January he arrived at Rork's Drift, and assisted those injured. 

    It was Dr Peter Shepherd who first used the English term "first aid for the injured" Shepherd's last service was to prepare a manual at the request of the Central Ambulance Committee of the "Order of St John of Jerusalem in England, Ambulance Department" for use by Metropolitan Police and other ambulance classes.

    In 1879, he was with the troops that crossed Tugela River into the Zulu kingdom. Outmanoeuvred by King Cetshwayo, the troops were ambushed and heavily defeated at the Battle of Isandlwana. Surgeon Major Shepherd attempted to move a wagon of injured troops back to Rorke’s Drift. The ambulance never made it out of this area and was overrun.* The wagon could be seen for months. The injured soldiers were hauled out and killed.

    There is no grave marker for Peter Shepherd at Isandlwana. Shepherd was attending to George MacLeroy of the Natal Carbineers; eyewitness Andrew Muirhead stated that Shepherd was killed by a thrown assegai soon after.  Surgeon Major Shepherd's pony was recognised later by Surgeon Major Reynolds VC as it was ridden back to the camp at Rorke's Drift by a native soldier.

    He did not have time to revise this work when he received orders to leave for South Africa again. Dr (later Lieutenant General Sir) James Cantlie, another graduate of Aberdeen University, later published Shepherd’s lesson notes from that course as “First Aid To The Injured”. It was not long before the newly formed St. John Ambulance was using this manual in other public courses in cities throughout Britain.

    * From the book and Zulu statement the ambulance wagon did not remain for several months.



    Time   Just as Chelmsford thought it important to his case to have everyone report what time they had saw Anthony arrive from Rorke's Drift on 22nd, it is to my theory.

    Did they all report what time everyone arrived with precise recall of times or did they just concentrate on one person?

    Conclusion:  Mathematically many of the "times" likely to be incorrect.

    Content of the Reports  

     Every report went into great detail about both the timing and content of the Orders issued, and everyone ended up telling almost the same story,  and blamed Col Durnford for not following orders.

    Did they all sit down and write individual occurrences in their quarters, or did they have a de-briefing?

    Really quite amazing that they could remember so clearly every detail in full, in agreeance, with excellent recall of the smallest detail, despite just witnessing and surviving a most horrific situation, and experiencing a huge adrenalin rush.  

    Conclusion   Highly unlikely to be correct. 

    Access     From the researched facts about purification and rigor mortis, weather conditions, animal behaviour - the condition of the corpses' as found on 21st May would most likely be as reported.

    Conclusion      In agreeance


    Col Anthony Durnford - 21st May 1879.  

    Conclusion that at the time of death he was wearing a buttoned up uniform, his arm in a sling, he had on his ammunition belt, and his gun holster, boots, and trousers.  

    The method of kill was probably from an assegai stabbed to his stomach and if not mortally wounded killed by a blow to his head.

    His body at the time of death was laying face downwards.


    Next a very serious Question to tackle:

    How then did Colonel Anthony Durnford who was killed in face to face combat, knife to knife, stabbed by an assegai spear, perhaps also speared in the back, fall to the ground face down, around 2.30pm on 22nd January, 1879, and yet when he is found on 21st May, 1879, he is recognised by his heavy moustache and his vest, indicating he is laying face up?


    Could someone have removed the jacket?  Of course, but they would have had a bit of a hard time to bend the arms, once rigor mortis set in.  The first visit to the area was two weeks after the battle.

    Did Chelmsford remove his men from the battlefield before sunrise, so that they would not be able to see the horrors.   Yes he did.

    If the coat was removed in May bones would be laying on the ground, that has not been reported.

    The Zulu's did not open his jacket, they did not slash his coat, it was damaged, as he had been speared with an assegai at close range.  From newspapers reports, mention had been made of the condition of the clothing where it hadn't been ripped from bodies.  

    A worsted jacket probably would not have disintegrated, due to its weave, but could have faded, if he had been speared then in order to remove the spears damage to his coat may have been done.

    But if a garment is bloodied, the Zulus would not touch it. In battle they use the short assegai to thrust into the stomach.   The stabbed person falls face down.

    Medical research:

    Typically deaths caused by stabbings are due to organ failure or blood loss. Pulling it out will increase blood loss. While a stab wound to the stomach is certainly possible, you're more likely to be stabbed in the lower area of the gut, being the intestines.

    A stab to the liver, for instance, will likely kill you much faster than your intestines, given blood flow, proximity to other vital organs   
    Death from stabbing is caused by shock, severe blood loss, infection, or loss of function of an essential organ such as the heart or lungs.
    • Stabbing to the stomach area cause damage to a variety of organs
    • Death is caused by shock, severe blood loss 
    or as in the Zulu customs and culture, being clubbed over the head, as death is inevitable and thus avoids suffering.

    (Note:  the question of traditional culture of any race is not in question, and having lived in similar circumstances, have some knowledge for different beliefs and rituals)

    Someone though did remain on the Battlefield, possibly due to the slowness of the column now departing or  possibly for another reason.

    The one person in Chelmsford's party who would have no problem with death or the state of corpses, was a Doctor who would, due to medical training,  most likely be able to remain unemotional and that was Dr James Godfrey Thrupp a Surgeon.

    In fact, he even wrote about it in a book, which I have no intention of naming, because this part of the research was just so upsetting, hurtful and made us so angry.   

    My hope is that Anthony's family and his daughter, never learnt about this book, and am pretty confident they didn't or Edward would have started another campaign, and Frances Colenso in her current obsessive state, would have shouted from the tallest building and never have left this rest.

    To him it might have been a cadaver, to his family it was a real person.

    He wrote a book, in 1884, under a pseudonym, and to quote from the book
     "... found the body of an officer who had held a high command.  It lay head downwards and was only partially stripped; a mess waistcoat and a shirt beneath, it had been torn open and hanging from a slender chain, fixed into a button hole, was a small gold watch and bunch of charms.  The expression of the face was peaceful, and the corpse apparently disfigured by only one long deep wound.  ....removed the watch and chain then took up one of the old stiffened hands shook it warmly murmuring Good-bye dear old friend you've done your best and died hard, I know.  I feel I could almost gladly change places with you..."
    "The watch had been stopped by blood trickling into the works and the hands pointed to quarter-to-three"

    This passage along with the failure to bury the dead, have been the saddest and emotional facts to learn in all this research.

    Back to the facts of the statement:

    • Officer of high command
    • Head laying downwards
    • Clothing partially stripped
    • Mess waistcoat and shirt beneath
    • Shirt torn
    • Small gold watch and a bunch of charms hanging from a chain
    • Chain was fixed to the buttonhole  Facial expression peaceful
    • Disfigured by one long deep wound
    • Removed the watch and chain
    • Lifted the stiffened hands - shook it and uttered words
    • Watch trickling with blood
    • Stopped at 2.45.

    There are so many, whys     The book was written in 1884

    Why did this man wander all over the battlefield looking for "an officer those who held high command?     He could have also chosen poor  Pulleine, or perhaps he also searched his body as well.

    What is worse,  he had to turn the body over to get to the pocket watch, interfered with it but his statement corroborates that the Zulus did not remove items from the body.

    a.  Reason for his actions

    Was he under instructions to find Durnford?
    He didn't know him, why would he be tramping around stepping over the dead until he found a particular officer?  
    Why could he be the perfect candidate to send to search among the dead to find one particular officer?

    b.  Turning the body

    Why did he want to get to turn the body over?
    Was he hoping to look in a pocket?
    Was he looking for an envelope?

    c. Failure to mention

    Did his conscious get the better of him and the watch was an afterthought?
    Why did he fail to mention any details about the coat?
    Why did he not mention the sling?
    Why did he not mention the belts?
    Why did he fail to mention that to open the coat to get to the waistcoat, that he would have had to remove/reposition the shoulder belt containing the gun pouch which was on the left side of the body and remove the ammunition belt around the waist.

    d. Failure to collect other personal items

    Why would he "take" the watch in the first place?  Dripping with blood.  Time of death 2.45pm
    What else did he take?
    Why did he leave the knife and the rings?  The knife was falling out of a pocket
    He held Anthony's "old stiffened hands"  in his, the rings were on his "fingers"

    e.  Change the position of death

    Why did he then not turn the body back, to lay face down as it was?  
    Why did he leave him laying on his back?.
    Did he move the other brave soldiers who died with Anthony?

    f. A matter of dignity

    Why did he not have the decency to place a cover over the body?
    Why did he then put the body  back how he found it, laying on face down.
    Did he at least close his eyes and mouth?

    g.  Failure to reveal he held personal items belonging to a deceased person

    Why did he hold the watch, without disclosing that fact, did he return it still blood stained?
    Why did he wait 8 weeks until March, before giving it to John Colenso on the day before he was to leave?

    h.  Failure to disclose his involvement to the time of writing the book

    Why did he use a  pseudonym when writing his book?
    Why not just admit why he did, what he did.

    Why did he not reveal his involvement he would know what was happening and Edward's quest for answers by reading the newspapers, and he was living in London, not overseas.

     Time for some logic to be applied

    a. Reasons for his actions.

    As a doctor, and being the last to leave the site with the ambulance, he would have been the perfect person to choose to find a particular person laying on the battlefield.  No-body knew the positions of the bodies at sunrise on the morning of 23rd January, 1879.  He also would have had a soldier with him, who would have been his "protector" and who would have driven the wagon.

    The column moved off, he had time to start to look over the field, before the ambulance would have been ready to follow.

    Why would be looking for Anthony Durnford?  He had seen him once before.  Was he given a description of the clothing?  There were not too many with serge coats on.  He even admitted that we knew from the clothing that he was an "officer of high command".  In fact there were many others who also lay there.  He would also have had to wait until sunrise before there was enough light for him to wander among the hundreds of dead.

    b.  Turning the body

    In normal circumstances, without a reason, there would be no need to turn a body over.  There were any number of people laying in the same position, and he failed to turn any of those bodies.
    But if he was looking for a specific item, stored in a pockets, then the only way to get to the pocket was to turn the body over.

    As a surgeon he would have full knowledge of rigor mortis.  After a night in the air, and 15 hours post death, there may have been the ability to manipulate the body.

    c.  Failure to mention

    It was only when he turned the body over that he became aware of the wounds, the condition of the clothing and the watch.

    He failed to provide an account of the extend of the blood, which items were drenched in blood
    He describes the wounds.
    The assegai penetrated the coat, through the waistcoat and into the shirt.
    The removal of that assegai most probably was the reason the the shirt was ripped.

    To remove the assegai and to make sure it was bloodied, could have meant further stabbing or the assegai would have effectively had blood removed if pulled directly out from three sets of clothing. The knife blade would have been almost wiped clean.

    The shirt - was ripped, it probably was, at the point the assegai entered and was removed.
    The wound was long and deep, quite logical when considered with the removal of the blade.

    This also gave him access to the body.  To enable him to remove the watch and charms, he would have had to firstly, remove the left arm from the sling, then remove the belt which had held the gun, and the ammuniton belt around the waist, simply in order to undo the buttons.   All these items were worn over the coat.

    Then that gave him access to the pocket.  How did he know this was Anthony? was it at this time he also read the documents inside his coat pocket, which have been attested to, as being where the orders are kept, to keep them safe in battle.

    d.  Failure to collect other personal items

    He undid the buttons on the waist coat and removed the watch.
    The watch, bloodied as it was in all likely hood stopped when the body fell on top of it, and blood flooded the clothing.
    In his words he took the hands and shook them.  He could not possibly fail to see the rings
    The pocket knife may/may not have been visible.

    e.  Change the position of death

    Perhaps he was running out of time, as his driver was now close with the ambulance, it being positioned at the back of the rest of the party.  Surely the wagon would not have been able to move to the position where the body was.

    f.  A matter of dignity

    As a doctor he knew precisely the instructions for "laying out a body".  Close or tape the eyes, and close the mouth.  Scavenger birds will pick the eyes, watch a crow with a lamb.  Insects crawl into cavities.  Germs escape from an open mouth, sometimes the mouth was bandaged shut. A face as often covered.

    We can only hope he performed that rite on Anthony, after interfering with his remains, and to at least provide him with some dignity to accompany his eulogy.

    g.  Failure to reveal he held personal items belonging to a deceased person

    On 27th January 1879, Major Glyn after returning from Rorke's Drift to Helpemaaker held a mess meeting to discuss what to do about the personal effects of those killed.  On the 28th Pulleine's gear was sorted.

    Still Dr Thrupp said nothing.  He also said nothing when on the 7th February, Anthony's possessions were auctioned in Pietermaritzburg, including his wardrobe, personal effects, his library and his curio collection, horse and equipment.  

    He left Pietermaritzburg on the 23rd May to return to England.  The very same day that John Colenso wrote the letter to his friend in London.  For what reason did he return the pocket watch, perhaps he was feeling guilty for remaining silent, or perhaps he realised that when the bodies were recovered questions would be asked about a "missing pocket watch" especially one as distinct as he described,

    Crealock's missing pocket book is found around 15/18th May 1879, and then less than a week later, the pocket watch is delivered.

    h.  Failure to disclose his involvement to the time of writing in 1884.

    He returned to England and from the census was, in 1881 living in London.  A professional person would have read the news, everyone was talking about he, he could not possibly have remained ignorant of the controversy surrounding not only the battles in January, but the death of the Prince, and the subsequent success that finalised the Zulu Wars.

    He could easily have come forward and told of his involvement.  He would have been aware that Crealock's pocket book had been discovered and the details of the orders issued in the early hours of 22nd January 1879.  Could it be that he was aware that Chelmsford was supposed to be making plans to return to bury the dead?

    He chose to remain silent.  In 1883 he is back in Africa collecting specimens of butterflies and moths, in Somalia. In the time between 1883 and 1884 books are written and published. He wrote the book using his mother's maiden name, concealing his identity.  In 1886 he marries in England.


    The auction of Anthony Durnford's personal effects.

    Probably one advantage to researching and writing the stories of one's ancestors, is the ability of recall of certain events.

    In particular Anthony's library.  It is highly likely that his library contained items from our g.grandmother, Jemima, handed to her son Anthony. The total collection was extensive and each book was listed.  It is also likely that the pocket watch and charms could also be family heirlooms, handed down from his great grandfather, as referenced in his will. Jemima also handed down rings.

    The list of books in this collection is extensive.  His grandfather Anthony left his ceremonial sabre to his son Edward, Anthony's father.  Is this the very same one that Anthony would have had in his possession when he went back to South Africa?.  Also handed down was a collection of curios.

    But of far greater importance the pocket watch with chain, and symbols.  Where is it now?

    Time to ask an expert, it is possibly a pocket watch with masonic symbols on it. If so it is highly like to have been from Jemima's family where Isaacson's where in the Masonic Andrew Durnford probably was not involved. It is also likely to have a small key on the fob.

    A couple of examples.
    Sometimes a pocket knife would complete a set.

    Had the pocket knife also belonged to his grandfather Anthony?

    The sabre or saber (see spelling differences) is a sword that usually has a curved, single-edged blade and a rather large hand guard, covering the knuckles of the hand as well as the thumb and forefinger  This is an example from Royal Artillery

    The books in the Library collection are documented.  One particular book included in that collection is of works by Hugh Blair, called Blair's Sermons 4 Volumes.

    Hugh Blair FRSE (7 April 1718 – 27 December 1800) was a Scottish minister of religion, author and rhetorician, considered one of the first great theorists of written discourse.

    As a minister of the Church of Scotland, and occupant of the Chair of Rhetoric and Belles Lettres at the University of Edinburgh, Blair's teachings had a great impact in both the spiritual and the secular realms. Best known for Sermons, a five volume endorsement of practical Christian morality, and Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres, a prescriptive guide on composition, Blair was a valuable part of the Scottish Enlightenment.

    Sermons focuses on questions of morality, rather than theology, and it emphasises patriotism, action in the public sphere, and moral virtue promoted by polite secular culture. Blair encourages people to improve their natural talents through hard work, but also to be content with their appointed stations in society. He urges people to play an active role in society, to enjoy the pleasures of life, to do good works, and to maintain faith in God.

    Blair's appeal to both emotion and reason, combined with his non-confrontational, moderate and elegant style made each volume of Sermons increasingly popular. Four editions were published in Blair's lifetime and a fifth shortly after his death. Each volume was met with the greatest success, as they were published in many European languages and went through several printings. Though Blair's Sermons eventually fell out of favour for lacking doctrinal definiteness—"a bucket of warm water", as one opinion puts it—they were undoubtedly influential during Blair's lifetime and for several decades after his death.


    No comments:

    Post a Comment