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DateOriginal Topic
11th January 2005Col. A.W. Durnford, R.E. uniform
By Coll
When I see the detail put into the clothing and equipment of re-enactment groups of all the military campaigns, including, of course, the Zulu War 1879, I feel that I would like to, at some stage, obtain a replica of the full uniform worn by Col. Durnford, as illustrated in Ian Knight's excellent book, ' ZULU : Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift '.
Everything from the hat right down to the boots, including leather belt and holster.
Unfortunately, I have no idea where to obtain such items, complete in every detail, to accurately represent the clothing and equipment he would probably have been wearing at Isandlwana.
11th January 2005Michael Boyle
I think any reputable theatrical costuming shop could reproduce his clothing and kit from available illustrations. (But the price may require you to skip lunches for a few years if you want it done in authentic period cloths and leather!)


11th January 2005Glenn Wade
Coll, I'm a member of the 1879 Group (See links) and I don't think obtaining such items is as expensive as people think. You could try the Sutlers stores ( for the Patrol Jacket. Boots could be obtained from various sources on the net, for hats try or the sutlers again, try militaria fairs or for holsters and belts. For his revolver try various western gun makers or the like. Just search on the net mate, It''ll all come together eventually. Must dash
11th January 2005Robert Jones
You could also try the website of the late Keith Perks:
I,m sure there is something there you could start with.
11th January 2005Paul Cubbin
The moustache can be simulated by tying two horse tails on the top lip...just let them fall gracefully either side of the mouth down to the nipples. Those Victorians knew how to wear big hair on the face, alright.
11th January 2005Chris
The uniforms of the British in ZULU DAWN weren't all that authentic looking to me...seemed 'orangey' and cheap...
11th January 2005Coll

Although I enjoy watching Zulu Dawn, the uniforms and the 24th using carbines instead of rifles, let it down quite a bit.

Hopefully, in a possible remake, or as they say now, a re-imagined version of the film, these matters will be given more attention.

11th January 2005Chris

Yes. It's a shame to go to all that trouble and use naff clothing. Did you also notice when the Zulu's charge down the hill, one of them has a polished wooden shield? It actually reflects the sunlight...I'm nitpicking, but I'd have thought that they'd have used those props further away from camera and not right in full view of it!

Mind you, I could also say that over the maaaaany years I've watched Zulu, there are many errors here too...the bending assegais! That's a good one...and when Hook's in the hospital, pinning a Zulu to the wall...where in fact you can see where he dug the bayonet into the plaster...and of course the obvious miles-away-miss from Sgt Bourne when he is supposed to knock over a Zulu with the rifle.

I am nitpicking, this is a superb movie and I shall not criticise it one iota! Just pointing out interesting things I've noticed that's all ;-)
11th January 2005Greg
Coll,I`m sure everyone would be interested ot know how your project goes.Could you keep us informed.
11th January 2005Coll

In my previous topic, concerning a statue of Col. Durnford, R.E., I sort of got sidetracked and started talking about the possibility of somebody, I kinda included myself as well, attempting to write a screenplay for a new film about Isandlwana, but with a modern take on the battle, covering more of the actual events that took place, other main participants, the flight down Fugitives' Trail, etc., something like the film, ' Saving Private Ryan ', a type of 'being there' documentary approach, especially in the more dramatic scenes during the fight and the last stands, and particularly the survivors fleeing for their lives and making stands all the way to the Manzimyama and beyond.

In many ways, accomplishing all the things thought to be missing from the other film on the subject.
11th January 2005Coll

The idea to obtain a replica of Col. Durnford's uniform is only at the initial stage, as the first challenge is to build up a list of sources where each of the specific items can be supplied, the procedure used to order these goods, regarding made-to-order clothing etc., finally and most importantly, the cost, as I can imagine it would add up to a fair amount..

If I start making progress with this project I will let you know.

12th January 2005Peter Ewart

Never having seen the film "Zulu Dawn" (apart from a short clip around twenty years ago, about which I can remember virtually nothing) and having read about all these things which weren't included, I'm intrigued to wonder what, after all, WAS in this film!

All I do recall is my amazement that one of the principal characters should be played by an American and my horror (or should that be hilarity?) at his effort at an "Irish accent" which rivalled Dick van Dyck's notorious "Mary Poppins" appearance. (A shame, as I always considered Burt Lancaster a good actor, and still do). I had to put all previously accumulated knowledge into suspended animation and somehow imagine that the scene at Isandlwana had been blundered into by an Irish navvy rather than an educated officer and gentleman.

12th January 2005Paul Cubbin
Peter - I am the proud owner of Zulu Dawn and would be happy to try to make you a copy (as long as you promise to burn it immediately so as not to violate copyright law). Otherwise, I think mine was from Amazon (it was a Birthday present), and they may have some available. And yes, Burt Lancaster's accent is a tad iffy (file with Dick van Dyke [not a Dutch sex toy] in 'Mary Poppins', Mel Gibson in 'Braveheart' and the entire cast of 'How Green is My Valley'). Its well worth the watch, though, if only for Bob Hoskins as the 24th's Colour Sergeant.
12th January 2005Coll

I'm surprised that you have never seen the film at all, even out of curiosity.

I think the clips that you did see were enough for you to consider avoiding it.

Burt Lancaster was an unusual choice, when so many other characters were played by british actors, and there was a rushed aspect to the whole production.

I may be mistaken, but I 'm sure I read somewhere that there were financial difficulties and the filming schedule went over the deadline for the film to be completed.

I don't know if the above details are correct, but if they are, it might explain the lack of attention to detail and the hurried feeling to get the film finished, which I'm sure other enthusiasts noticed.

It definitely was a missed opportunity to recreate Isandlwana and the participants on the big screen, but I guess Zulu was a hard act to follow anyway.
12th January 2005Chris

Yes that would be superb. To capture the flight to the river, focusing more on this than the few minutes that were allocated which were primarily focusing on Coghill and Melville's bid to save the colours! The panic, tension and terror as you say done a la Private Ryan could make superb viewing.

I also saw recently on a TV documentary (there are quite a few now I can't remember which) which showed a digi-generated view of the mass of 20,000 Zulus attacking the slopes of the mountain. I guess due to sheer numbers and budgets, the film in 1979 could never hope to re-create that. And you could tell. Described by one person's account as being "literally black with Zulus" the film was found lacking in re-creating the sheer volume of warriors on the plain.

Re: the attempt at an Irish accent. I like the bit where Durnford's sitting having wine with Vereker of the Sikali horse "I theenk it would be wise to pick at the heeeeeels" :)

There are certain good points though. It shows the difficulty in shows a very good river crossing scene (although it was shot going FROM Zululand to Natal)...

I thought how fab it would be to have a 3 hour film (like Schindler's List duration) covering the skirmishes but focusing mainly at Isandhlwana and Rorke's Drift. But the seige at Eshowe, and battles of Kambula, Gingindlovu and eventually Ulundi could be covered. Okay, maybe a 2 DVD set like SHAKA ZULU?
13th January 2005Peter Ewart

Many thanks for your kind offer. As it happens, I did notice a DVD of Zulu Dawn a few weeks ago in WH Smiths, & toyed for a moment with the idea of getting it. Never did, though!

I've never possessed a television set, so a video wouldn't be much good. Did acquire the DVD of ZULU last year though, and have smiled at the enjoyment my two young lads have obtained from frequent viewing. In my day, when it first came out, after seeing it twice I had to wait a year or so for it to return to our cinema or else find out where it was showing and embark upon a long bus journey! Still, at least it was very impressive on the large screen at the pictures in those days. I hadn't seen it on the small screen until last year (it looked really " titchy" in comparison!) when we watched the DVD version on the computer. I noticed the very sharp improvement in sound quality, as I had always felt that the quality of the sound in some of the speech in that film had been a bit dodgy, mostly by Baker & Booth, who mumbled & slurred quite a bit in places.

I may acquire Zulu Dawn for my boys at some stage but , for myself, I'm probably too prejudiced against anything that isn't accurate simply for accuracy's sake, which I appreciate one isn't even nearly going to get from a film, which understandably has different aims and priorities.

It would also use up valuable reading time!


P.S. If there had been such a thing as film cameras in 1879, I'd certainly watch avidly any original "footage"!

13th January 2005Chris
I remember around 17 or so years ago the Royal Concert Hall in Nottingham showed Zulu on a large screen. Most unusual, it was advertised in the paper. Of course, I went to see it, but I think I annoyed my mate at the time by pre-empting the next lines :) I knew the script when I was 13 and it was the very first thing we ever taped on a video cassette recorder back in 1982. I still have that video as well :) and one from 1984 as that was BBC (at that time seemed uncut from advertising breaks unlike the 1982 one which was on ITV).

I won't even 'go there' with the Xmas showing on terrestrial TV in December 2004. It was cut to ribbons. I mean...What's the point???
13th January 2005Paul Cubbin
Peter - ah, original footage, that would probably be too poignant for me. Am I the only one who feels a chill when he looks at the faded photographs? The one that has the most profound effect on me is the one of a company (I forget which one) of the 1/24 who were wiped out at Isandlwana just a few weeks after the photo was taken. The faces are hardly visible and appear so ghostly I find it extremely unnerving.
15th January 2005Coll
Does anyone know what type of revolver Durnford would have possessed and the calibre that it used ?.
15th January 2005Paul Cubbin
Something in the back of my mind recalls that he had a penchance for American Colt revolvers, although goodness knows where I got it from, I can't find it in any of my books. If that were the case it would be about .45in calibre.
17th January 2005Coll

Of the guns I was thinking he may have owned, I never considered a Colt revolver, which I can't recall being mentioned either.

My attention was more towards it being an Adams or, I might be wrong, a Tranter, although I am aware that officers acquired different types.

I would like to obtain the right make to compliment the uniform, should I manage to pursue this project.

Thanks for your reply.


17th January 2005Coll

I've took your advice and sent a detailed description of the items I require to the Sutlers Stores, to check for availability and price.