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New entry point at Fugitives' Drift
Neil Aspinshaw


Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 289
Location: Loughborough
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Anyone familiar with the drawing of the fugitives escaping across the Drift that appeared in the Illustrated London News, (the one with the mounted rider mid river, revolver hanging from his mouth), may not be aware that this spot has now been positively identifed down at Fugitives' Drift.

During my last visit is December, I was shown the spot which in actual fact is approx 300 yards upstream of the recognised "beach area" when the majority of the fighting took place. Recent vegetation loss has clearly identified the narrow causeway beyond the cliff edge. (The bit that the colour waving zulu runs away in the film Zulu Dawn, then shot by a wonder round by Simon Ward). Which leads down to the river.

Apparently H L Smith Dorrien identfied this spot to the illustrator, and, lo and behold it is identical, rocks and all. I hear Adrian Greaves has also now been and identifies it as being the most likely place.

This raises an interesting question to the escape being over an even greater river front.

For anyone who is visiting Fug Drift, (get permission first obviously), follow the track beyond Melvill and Coghills graves, past the white gate and down the slope. If you follow the tyre track marks, just before they turn to follow the river course, head at 11 o'clock to the bank and look directly across at the cliff side you will see what I mean.

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Neil
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Martin Everett


Joined: 01 Sep 2005
Posts: 784
Location: Brecon
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Hi Neil,
Just returned today from three weeks at Fugitives' Drift working on the book about William Whitelock Lloyd 1/24th - your illustrator - which David Rattray is writing and we have 115 watercolours by Lloyd done on campaign and just good as the Fugitives' Drift. Will not be published before end of 2006 as we are both busy meanwhile.

Like the MH plus bayonet Very Happy

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Martin Everett
Brecon, Powys
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Martini
Neil Aspinshaw


Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 289
Location: Loughborough
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Martin
Glad you liked the bayonet, we fixed it tight to the Martini so it doesn't get nicked!. It is a P1876 (hypothetically the wrong one but who cares)
Rob C was a bit nervous as I took the Martini off the wall and had it in bits, but I stripped it down to the mainspring and restored it to its former glory. It would now fire, if only I could sneak a round over.

If Adrian Whiting see's this, Adrian are you aware of any service stock marking for 24th's Martini's?. The Martini is an early pattern Mk2 as an upgraded Mk1, the rearsight is a Mk1 shallow v type, the trigger assembly has the hole where the tumber for the 2nd pattern Mk1 tumber and shear, buttplate chequer pattern.

Aah! Martini's in a native environment!
Neil

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AG


Joined: 14 Sep 2005
Posts: 12
Location: Bristol, UK
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Neil
On a forthcoming trip to Fugitives Drift, I would like to visit this spot, as I am familiar with the Illustrated London News drawing. The narrow causeway you mention, do you mean on the Natal side, or the Zululand side of the river ? And could you clarify the statement you made in brackets ? Is it an area where they shot a scene from Zulu Dawn, is that what you mean ?

AG
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Dawn


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 610
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
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Neil
Having walked Fugitives Trail and crossed the Buffalo (albeit in an inflatable) I would have imagined that the entry point into the river would have been across a wide front anyway. There is one spot where it is easier to descend to the river but that does not say that all the fugitives entered the river at that point. I would imagine that, being pursued on all sides, fugitives would have taken any route that appeared to have less Zulus on it blocking their way and the entry point could have been anywhere along that stretch of river. Some might even, on reaching the river bank and facing a sheer drop, may have moved along until circumstances forced the issue. It must be remembered that there is no 'trail' as such, just a rough landscape with plenty of dongas and boulders to hinder progress. Fugitives, therefore, could have taken any route and ended up anywhere along the river's edge. From memory, I think the way the cairns are scattered all along that route indicate a rather erractic approach to the river.

Dawn
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Neil Aspinshaw


Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 289
Location: Loughborough
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AG
In the film zulu dawn, at the end Vereker (Ward) shoots a zulu running along the top of the cliff, the film was done at the drift. This is the spot where H L S D was supposed to have leapt.

Dawn
The descent from the ridge that the trail now takes you is what I would class now as the first descent, into the "beach area". unless that is the fugitives crossed further down the stream bed away from the river, although this is unlikely as HLSD saw Stuart Smith, RA at the edge of the ravine. The new point is a further 300 yards (approx) UPSTREAM of this point, what is in effect a natural narrow causeway in the side of the cliff face. Interestingly in 2004 we saw two local kids using this route to go fishing at the "Crack".

I am not aware of the route that the path over Sodonthose's drift actually took prior to the battle, I know it went past the later grave of melvill & Coghill, thence descending to the river.

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Neil
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Dawn


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 610
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
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Neil
I'm not surprised. What does surprise me is that the fugitives found it seeing that they had no idea where they were going or where they would end up. I guess they had a general idea but the main priority would have been staying alive long enough to make it that far.

Dawn
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Martin Everett


Joined: 01 Sep 2005
Posts: 784
Location: Brecon
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Dawn,

Many of the Europeans were guided by the NNC who knew of a possible crossing point at FD. Interesting is comparing photographs of FD I taken over a 15 year period, to see the small changes that have taken place. I have to say that the ultimate has to be undertaking the FD trail and crossing the river unaided (but with guides and safety boat in attendance

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Martin Everett
Brecon, Powys
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Dawn


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 610
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
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Martin
Did you manage to do it on your visit?

I suppose that even with the NNC as guides, it would still have been a disorganised rout.

Dawn
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Martin Everett


Joined: 01 Sep 2005
Posts: 784
Location: Brecon
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Dawn,

This visit was about my twelveth - I was working on appendix for David Rattray's new book - due end of 2006 or early 2007 - plus the short history of the Royal Welsh - the new regiment from 1 March 2006. Not much time for sightseeing - I did the fugitives' trail in 2003.

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Martin Everett
Brecon, Powys
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New entry point at Fugitives' Drift
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