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DateOriginal Topic
28th March 2002Lucky Escape ?
By Graham Alexander
The escape of the 5 Imperial officers from Isandlwana has been attributed to them wearing blue patrol jackets. Is it possible that the Zulus would have ignored these men while killing civilians, native allies and artillerymen who were also dressed in blue. Could their escape be put down to luck, coincidence or just plain good fortune ? It seems unlikely that the Zulus would have been so good natured to seek other victims instead of attacking an obviously military man and his likewise attired horse.
29th March 2002Alan Critchley
in his instructions to his warriors, Cetyweyo had instructed them to kill the red soldiers. I think most of them took this literally and this may explain why the soldiers in blue escaped.

29th March 2002John Young

I'd opt for the 'just plain good fortune' option. Although much has been made of it since, yet there were plenty of Isandlwana casualties wearing blue uniforms as well as the Royal Artillery - the Natal Carbineers; Army Hospital Corps; Army Service Corps etc. Others units suchas the Newcastle Mounted Rifle, the Buffalo Border Guard & the Natal Mounted Police wore dark uniforms, yet they too fell alongside 'the red soldiers'.

It was Horace Lockwood Smith-Dorrien, one of the surviving Imperial officers who, in my opinion sparked some of the myth in his autobiography, in which he states; '...Into the mass I rode, revolver in hand, right through the Zulus, but they completely ignored me. I heard afterwards that they had been told by their King Cetywayo(sic) that black coats were civilians and were not worth killing. I had a blue patrol jacket on, and it is noticeable that the only five officers who escaped - Essex, Cochrane, Gardner, Curling, and myself -had blue coats. ...'

John Young,
Anglo-Zulu War Research Society.