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Imperial Mounted Infantry At Isandlwana
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As far as I can gather, there were at least 30 I.M.I. remaining at Isandlwana, perhaps under the command of Capt. Bradstreet.

However, I've read about and seen images of I.M.I., but can't be sure if they retained their Martini Henry rifles, or these were eventually replaced with Martini Henry carbines. I've seen pictures of them with both.

Which is it, M.H. rifle or M.H. carbine ?

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AMB


Joined: 07 Oct 2005
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One would assume rifles, as they ar MI.

AMB
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AMB

That is what confuses me. I'm sure they were termed M.I. because the men were selected from different infantry regiments, but doesn't necessarily mean they retained their M.H. rifles, which I think would be cumbersome on horseback.

However, I have seen photographs of such, but also M.H. carbines, which does make me think the rifles were replaced with these, more for practical purposes.

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mike snook 2


Joined: 04 Jan 2006
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They were. They started with rifles but later carbines were provided. No. 1 Sqn IMI carried carbines in the Isandlwana campaign.

As ever

Mike
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Neil Aspinshaw


Joined: 05 Sep 2005
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Most certainly Swinburn Henry Carbines, I have seen pictures (80th IMI with them), As previous postings, MH Carbines were in very short supply in Jan-March 1879 if at all in SA. Enfields Production year 1878 (when they were first made) was March '78- March 79, and only 25000 had been made in that year, RSAF Enfield superintendent commented that that was toward the latter part of the production year.

Buller commented about the poor perfomance of the "Martini Henry carbine", I doubt if he knew the discrimination as externally they are very similar. The Swinburn pattern was Long forend, c/w bayonet lug brazed to barrel.
Check out my article in Pot Purri.

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Neil

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John Young


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
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Likewise the 90th's Mounted Infantry carried the Swinburn-Henry.

John Y.
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AMB


Joined: 07 Oct 2005
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Neil,

Interesting that Buller referred to the carbines as MH. As a professional soldier, I would have expected him to know the wpn systems used. Do you have evidence to suggest that he did not know the wpn type?

Am I right in saying that the NMP carried the SH carbine?

AMB
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Neil Aspinshaw


Joined: 05 Sep 2005
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AMB
Unlikely, as the external appearance, and indeed the "action" is very similar, it is the "guts" which are completely different.
We did have a good topic on this earlier in the forum, however whilst the actual evidence, is a mix of photographic and historical, what is indisputable is the records from Enfield as to the production figures.

Carbines in service in Jan of 1879 would have had to be made, proofed, boxed and shipped on a four-six week boat transport before say, October..even to be there, with home service cavalry being impatient at the top of the waiting list?. I will record the production figures tonight for the period 1877-1879 and post tomorrow.

I have been given an article by Brain Knapp which he wrote on the Swinburn rifle and carbines, which were fairy unique to service in South Africa. Most were made in Birmingham, or assembled from trade parts by gun makers such as King in Durban, with production years from 1874. The colonials were already well equipped with them prior to the war.
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AMB


Joined: 07 Oct 2005
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Neil,

Roger your last. Noted - thank you for the clear answer. Whether Buller knew the difference betwixt SH and MH intrigues me. Not least as one would expect a modern soldier to distinguish between a L85A1 and an L85A2, regardless of the similar appearance - the detail is important and one would expect and officer to get it right

AMB


Last edited by AMB on Thu Feb 28, 2008 10:03 pm; edited 1 time in total
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All

Thanks for your replies.

AMB

Interesting you should mention modern firearms.

I sort of studied these for a while, so when I took an interest in 19th Century military history, I thought weapons recognition wouldn't be a problem, but I was wrong.

Unless there are 2 (very) visibly different 19thC firearms, whether carbines or rifles, I struggle with identification.

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Neil Aspinshaw


Joined: 05 Sep 2005
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Colonials were getting the Martini Henry carbine in the Spring of 1879.

Browsing Barthorps book last night I came across an interesting picture, it is of Raffs' men posing in camp Circa March-June (no date given), one of the men has a Martini Carbine, he has it in order arms positon. The give-away is the forend/receiver hook fixing, adopted on the IC1 carbine and the Mk111 rifle of 1879. Previously the Mk2 rifle had a pin through the forend wood and into a lug hole under the barrel. The image clearly shows this feature.

Another image is of the 17th Lancers posing, they too have the IC1 carbine.

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The pictures I've seen of the I.M.I. usually has them wearing a single bandolier of 50(?) rounds. How much extra ammunition did they carry along with these rounds, and where did they keep it - in the saddlebags ?

In a highly hostile area, or when out on patrol, away from ammunition wagons, were they known to wear 2 bandoliers ?

Not an important point, but one of interest to myself.

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mike snook 2


Joined: 04 Jan 2006
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No. You would probably strangle yourself if you tried to wear two 50 round bandoliers stuffed with .450 cartridges. It was bad enough carrying 50 in that fashion.

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Mike
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Sawubona


Joined: 09 Nov 2005
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Preamble: "Don't shoot the messenger, shoot the message!' That being said, From Ian Castles Osprey book: " All Natal Volunteers received two bandoliers of ammunition (Swinburn-Henry carbine, so I presume MH carbine or rifle rounds) when mustering for the Zulu War." But that doesn't mean they wore both I'll admit, but from Zulus at Bay by Dennis Barker, quoting from the "History of the Natal Carbineers": "After paradings, the men were marched to the Drill Stand, where new belts were issued, each of which carried 120 rounds". The History goes on to add that "He (Chelmsford) was pleased with their equipment", mostly I imagine since he didn't have to lift 120 rounds of ammo himself!
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AMB


Joined: 07 Oct 2005
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As I understand it, carbine rds were distinct from those for the rifle as they had a lesser charge. Using the rifle rds in a carbine cuased excessive stoppages due to the build up of carbon. Sorry not at home, so am unable to give the book and chapter references for these observations.

AMB
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Imperial Mounted Infantry At Isandlwana
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