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Telegraph equipment
Keith Beavon


Joined: 16 Oct 2008
Posts: 6
Location: Johannesburg
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Can anyone inform me whether the British forces/command had the use of field telegraph keys/transmitters during any part or the whole of the Anglo-Zulu war of 1879?
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John Young


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 980
Location: Lower Sheering, Essex
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Keith,

Part of the reinforcement after Isandlwana included the Right Half of 'C' (Telegraph) Troop, Royal Engineers composed of 5 officers (Major A.C. Hamilton, Lieutenants J. Hare, J.C. MacGregor, H.B. Rich & F.G. Bond); 172 other-ranks; 109 horses & 13 wagons, which included wire-laying wagons. At best it was early May 1879 before any of 'C' Troop were deployed in the field.

Hamilton on his arrival assumed the role of Director of Telegraphs & Signalling.

Hare was in charge of the southern line of telegraphs to St. Paul's, and subsequently on to Ulundi.

MacGregor had charge of the northern line of telegraphs and signalling up to Ulundi.

Rich was deployed on the southern line of telegraphs.

Bond served on the lines of communication of the HQ's Column from May until the end of the campaign.

By the 30th of May 1879, a Morse telegraph line connected Fort Pearson with Forts Crealock & Chelmsford in Zululand.

In addition to the telegraph the unit also used heliographs.

John Y.


Last edited by John Young on Fri Oct 24, 2008 3:26 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Keith Beavon


Joined: 16 Oct 2008
Posts: 6
Location: Johannesburg
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Hi John,

Thanks very much indeed for all the info.

Is there a source that I can/should acknowledge if I use the info?

Is there a source where I might establish names of the Other Ranks?

Do you know whether the telegraph and/or heliograph were used to pass on the news that the Prince Imperial was dead/had been killed/murdered?

Thanks again for what info you have supplied.

Keith
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Keith Smith


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 540
Location: Northern NSW, Australia
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Keith

You can certainly cite the following from an unnumbered Local General Order, dated 15th May 1879, Natal Witness 17th May 1879
"1. Half of C. Troop R. E. Field Telegraph, with Lieut. J. Hare, R. E., and Lieut. H. R. Rich, R. E., will proceed as soon as they are ready to do so, to the 1st Division, Fort Pearson, to carry out such work as may be ordered. The remaining half, with Lieut. J. C. MacGregor and Lieut. F. G. Bond, R. E., will proceed, when ready to do so, to Ladysmith; also to carry out such work as may be ordered. Lieut. J. C. MacGregor will proceed by mail cart tomorrow to Ladysmith, to make preliminary arrangements. General and Commanding Officers will be so good as to assist by every means in their power this officer to carry out the orders he has received. Major A. C. Hamilton, R. E., in command of the troop, will supervise the whole of the work to be done."

Keith Smith
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Martin Everett


Joined: 01 Sep 2005
Posts: 783
Location: Brecon
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The museum has a watercolour sketch of RD by F.G. Bond - later made it to General rank.

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Martin Everett
Brecon, Powys
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Peter Ewart


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 1797
Location: Near Canterbury, Kent, England.
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Interesting that it was the "Right Half" of that troop, as I believe it was in that position that Lt RG Bond had appeared for the Royal Engineers team which contested the FA Cup Final against The Wanderers in the previous March. Perhaps he took his runners-up medal out to S Africa with him?

Of the five officers John mentions, it would seem that 40% were already FA Cup Finalists, as Lt Henry Rich had also appeared at outside left for the RE in the first ever FA Cup Final in 1872. He was no more successful than Bond as far as the result of his match was concerned, although of course the sappers were victorious in 1875. I'm not aware of any of that side serving in the AZW.

Peter
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Did You Know.
TonyJones


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 188
Location: Essex
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Dear Forum,
in a recent experiment the speed of telegraph messages was pitted against the speed of text messages by mobile phone. The use of telegraph messages came out as the quicker way to send messages!

Tony Jones.
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John Young


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 980
Location: Lower Sheering, Essex
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Keith, (Sorry for the earlier Kevin, now amended! Embarassed )

My sources were:

Narrative of Field Operations connected with the Zulu War of 1879 published 1881 prepared in the Intelligence Branch of the Quartermaster-General's Office by Captain J.S. Rothwell, Royal Artillery.

The South African Campaign of 1879 by J.P. MacKinnon & S.H. Shadbolt, published 1880.

The History of the Corps of Royal Engineers Volume II by Major-General Whitworth Porter, R.E. published 1889.

If you're looking for a certain name from the other-ranks please feel free to run it by me. Otherwise it could be confirmed by the 1877-8-9 Medal Roll.

Re-the Prince Imperial I would say by galloper to Utrecht from there by telegraph down the line to Pietermaritzburg. Details of a number of telegrams appear in Volume 3 of Archives of Zululand - the Anglo-Zulu War published in 2000.

John Y.
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Bill Berndt


Joined: 29 Apr 2007
Posts: 67
Location: Allentown, PA, USA
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The Royal Engineer museum website, www.remuseum.org.uk has an article on the AZW with a section on messages and signals. In the early months of the war there apparently was a reliance on a makeshift heliograph to communicate with Eshowe until the arrival of proper equipment in May 1879. Telegraph lines began to be laid in May and were in use in the later stages of the campaign.

Bill
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Keith Beavon


Joined: 16 Oct 2008
Posts: 6
Location: Johannesburg
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My thanks to you all. What a phenomenal collective of facts, figures, sources, and marginal notes you represent. I am busy with a novel and need to make sure my factual backdrops are correct. In part my 'excursion' into the period of the AZW was prompted by anecdotal material that has thrown up a surname that matches or approximates my own.

So in addition to what I have now learnt from your contributions I am trying to establish whether there was a William Beavon, William Beaven, Henry Beavon, or Henry Beaven (almost certainly an other-ranker) in one or other of the British units.

I have been informed by the Museum of the Royal Welsh Regiment that amongst the data they have on other regiments they have found a W. Beavon (2467) [What does the number mean/signify?] serving with the 2nd Battalion of the 21st Regiment in Zululand in 1879. I am also reliably (?) informed that the unit just mentioned is/was also known as the Royal Highland Fusiliers.

I have also checked the 'Military' category of the online records of the (UK) National Archives without any sucess.

So if by chance any of you have any indication/information of/on one of the Beavon/Beaven names I would love to hear it. Hard to believe all this took place 130 years ago next year.

Keith

Johannesburg
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John Young


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 980
Location: Lower Sheering, Essex
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Keith,

Here goes:

Pte. Samuel Beavan, 2nd/24th kia @ Isandlwana

Pte. William Beavan, 2nd/21st RNBF. His original number of 1979, has been crossed through. Then 21B/2467 added which is odd as the 21st RNBF were part of No. 61 Brigade with their depot in Glasgow & No. 21 Brigade's depot was Shrewsbury and was comprised of 43rd & 53rd Regt.'s. I can only assume he transferred in between the campaign and the medal being issued.

Pte. Albert Beaven, 99th Regt.

Pte. George Beaven, 99th Regt.

Pte. Samuel Beaven, 57th Regt.

Corp. William Beaven, 99th Regt.

Best I can do I'm afraid.

John Y.
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mike snook 2


Joined: 04 Jan 2006
Posts: 920
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Keith

Royal Scots Fusiliers (RSF). Was not is.

Regards

Mike
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Keith Beavon


Joined: 16 Oct 2008
Posts: 6
Location: Johannesburg
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Hi John,

Well at least there is some basis for the anecdotal claim that there was a Beavon/Beavan/Beaven somewhere in the marching columns.

Please confirm that the 1979 you mention is in fact 1979 or did you mean 1879?

Is there any way that I would be able to gain access to information that would 'tell' me when (or even where) the likely looking soldiers (listed by you) were born?

By the by have you ever stayed at the old Imperial Hotel in Pietermaritzburg? I made a point of staying there in the mid-1970s. At that time the old hitching rail that the Prince Imperial had used was still outside the main entrance to the Hotel.

Thanks again for your interesting info.

Keith
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Keith Beavon


Joined: 16 Oct 2008
Posts: 6
Location: Johannesburg
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Thanks Mike.

Keith
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John Young


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 980
Location: Lower Sheering, Essex
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Mike,

Glad someone spotted that! Let me explain in 1877 the 21st's title changed from 'The Royal North British Fusiliers' to 'The Royal Scots Fusiliers'; however the change of title wasn't accepted by all within the regiment especially by Collingwood and some of his stalwarts who still styled themselves as the 'RNBF' in 1879. Another tit-bit of A-ZW trivia.

Keith B. (to avoid confusion),

Yes '1979' was Beavan of the 2nd/21st's old regimental number. If any of Beavan/Beaven's was near to where the Prince Imperial was killed then it would have been him! The 2nd/21st destroyed the village where the ambush took place.

As to the Imperial I lunched there back in 1999 - a fine curry in excellent surroundings!

John Y.
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