rorkesdriftvc.com Forum Index


rorkesdriftvc.com
Discussions related to the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879
Reply to topic
Michael Boyle


Joined: 12 Dec 2005
Posts: 595
Location: Bucks County,PA,US
Reply with quote
Dawn, I'm not sure if newspapers can be considered 'primary' source info, was there any indication given as to their source for the names? (Presumably some official roster, the original of which would be great to find, or perhaps a telegraphed communication as often happened in the ACW? Either of which, as pointed out above, would leave room for error.)

Edward Spiers "The Late Victorian Army 1868-1902" has 'boys' being enlisted at "less than 17 years of age" but it may have been too broad a time fix. Skelley's work I've found to be more time specific when referring to ages and everything else (the times they were a' changin' for the world's armies in the 1870s, especially for the British!) As Martin has pointed out , 18 was the age. Even today with 17 year old enlistments one must be at least 18 before being posted to a war zone. Skelley also indicates that preference for 'boy' postings were given to sons of soldiers, especially if having been 'carried on the stregnth' and there's always the lying about the age bit. (Not just 'passing' for older but for many unemployed and destitute trying to 'pass' for younger!)

In my reading thus far there don't appear to have been many instances in the British Army where 'boys' had been killed in combat so perhaps in keeping with the sensitivities of the times 'Pte.' was sometimes added to alleviate those sensitivities or bestow a small posthumous 'brevet' to those who sacrificed their lives. I can't imagine how the survivors of Isandlwana felt when they learned of the young lad who refused to leave his superfluous post (and thus save his life) when offered a free ride out.

I'm afraid the whole 'Drummer Boy' thing is a result of the ACW : boys as young as 8 yrs. old were employed (as opposed to enlisted) and were ultimately made famous by Walt Disney's "Johnny Shilo" TV programme. They weren't employed on the 'front line' but some none the less lost their lives to anonymous shell fire. The concept seems to be historically compelling. I actually remember the death of the last ACW veteran, a Drummer Boy, when I was quite young. (Just to give a historical perspective, he died at a grand old age in 1959 I believe.)

Best

Michael
View user's profileSend private messageSend e-mail
Dawn


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 610
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Reply with quote
Ah, but this newspaper report is preceded by this:
"A supplement to the London Gazette published by authority on Saturday evening, contains the following despatches received by the Secretary of State for War from Lieutenant-General Lord Chelmsford, K.C.B, commanding the forces in South Africa" Then follows a series of reports including the proceedings of the Court of Inquiry, and thereafter the List of Officers and Men killed in camp. I think its as close as you're going to get to a casualty list direct from the field as is ever going to be possible.

Dawn
View user's profileSend private messageSend e-mailVisit poster's website
mike snook 2


Joined: 04 Jan 2006
Posts: 920
Reply with quote
Sean

Bit pushed at the moment, but it was at Wolseley's order and done not out of any concern about young men dying but as part of the ongoing debate about young soldiers and old soldiers, - Wolsleey's new terms of service were under a bit of pressure as a result of perceived 'windiness' of some battalions in AZW, and possibly as a result of the Majuba campaign, where 58th and 3/60th were topped up with large numbers of recruits prior to the fights on the bordre you will be well familiar with. The repulse at Laing's Nek was everyhting to do with the incompetence of Wolseley's best mate - Colley of course - rather than any indifferent performance by the young men in the 58th.

This nobodyless than 22 is just typical of Wolseley - trying to set the conditions for his own success and greater glory. He insisted that all the men in the Camel Corps of 1884-5 were above a certian age and were all qualified marksmen. He believed in handpicking rather than maintaining a universally high standard thoughout the regiemental system. This lay at the ehart of the conflict between him and HRH Duke of Cambridge.

No time to edit. Got to go!
Regards

Mike
View user's profileSend private message
Michael Boyle


Joined: 12 Dec 2005
Posts: 595
Location: Bucks County,PA,US
Reply with quote
Dawn

Quite so. I wonder if anyone's looking into putting a book together on the Gazette reports along the line's of the "Red Book" and "Through the Eyes..."? I'd love to have that at my fingertips as well! (I've always wondered why the Gazette was chosen as the official disseminator for the government.)

Mike, I'd love to see a discussion on Sir Garnet get going, I have a feeling that your insights would be fascinating. Unfortunately I don't know enough about him yet to posit anything coherent.

Best

Michael
View user's profileSend private messageSend e-mail
Sean Sweeney


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 185
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Reply with quote
Thanks Mike,

I wondered if it was maybe an 'experience/battle hardened veterans' thing,

but since they hadn't seen any action since the Mutiny, I thought, possibly not.

The order reduced their effective strength from a nominal establishment of 899 to 672 that actually went on campaign.

Sean
View user's profileSend private messageSend e-mail
diagralex


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 208
Location: Broomfield, Essex
Reply with quote
Colley must be the typical example of the wrong man in the right job, of all time.

This protege of Wolseley started his army career at the age of 13, graduated from Sandhurst in first place and then later passed through Staff collage. He managed to do this in just nine months and with the highest pass mark ever obtained. Academically, he was a genius. Wolseley quickly chose him as a man suited to his own circle or "ring" of officers.

However in command of troops, Colley was a disaster. Even Wolseley admitted that Colley always believed that he could succeed with far less troops than would be actually needed. He was responsible for the disaster at Laing's Nek and then was extremely fortunate to escape with his command at Ingogo river. The shambles of command and the resulting disaster at Majuba can also be traced back to his own failures. His brilliance never ever matched his lack of strategic thinking

Graham
View user's profileSend private message
mike snook 2


Joined: 04 Jan 2006
Posts: 920
Reply with quote
Sean

That's a very interesting insight into the effect of the order. Wow what a difference.

Michael

I'm working on something on at the moment for publication towards the end of the year which will throw a bit of light on Wolseley, though he is not the main focus.

Here are some Brief and strange things about him:

He held a grudge against Evelyn Wood for the peace treaty after the Transvaal rebellion even though he was merely implementing the orders of the London government.

He blamed Sir Charles Wilson for the failure to get to Khartoum in time - when he had gobbled up weeks and months with a painstakingingly methodical plan to approach Khartoum up(stream) the Nile. GOC Egypt and the Royal Navy both advised him to go Suakin-Berber-Khartoum. He disregarded the advice and then blamed poor Wilson who went through hell to get to Khartoum at all. The whole campaign was designed to be showy and flashy - to show off his military genius.

Except I am far from convinced that he was a military genius. I think we have only had two of those - Marlborough and Wellington. How for example could he have failed in the Red River Expedition; he couldn't really. How could he have lost in Ashanti - he would have had to try hard. What sort of opposition was he up against in the Tel-el-kebir campaign? Well look at the same army in the Sudan to find the answer. So I question whether as a soldier he was as marevellous as was made out at the time? Of course his great failing was his ego which eventually turned just about everybody against him. His loathing of newspspapermen lacked all sense of proportion. Fortunately he was such an egotist he couldn't resist writing everything down, so it's possible to get a much better feel for him as a man than it is for some of the other generals of the age.

I'm not entirely sure if he deserves his reputation as a great reformer either though I'm still work in progess when in comes to that. But it seems to me W was in his own way every bit as reactionary as the Duke of C.

I think a propensity to blame others for one's own mistakes is one of the least satisfactory human traits. He was also the vilest of snobs though never fought shy of levelling that particular accusation at others. His ill-informed and spiteful remarks about the defence of Rorke's Drift are shameful.

Bizarrely he stuck up for Colley who as Graham said above was genuinely to blame for the tribulations of the Majuba campaign. In W's time as High Commissioner post AZW and prior to T Rebellion he was unbelievably rude about the Boers and did not fight shy of letting his views be known publicly. Whatever their faults it would only have been common sense to have exercised some discretion at a time when he was mean to be governing them in the British colonial style which always relied on a certain amount of give and take from the governmental side.

On the other hand W could be charming. I have just been making my way through the Shadbolt production on Afghanistan which cites his condolence letter to the father of Ltt Thomas Henn RE who was KIA at Maiwand. Mr Henn senior must have glowed with pride.

Enough already!!

Mike
View user's profileSend private message
Sean Sweeney


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 185
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Reply with quote
Mike, you say some of the British Regiments were a bit windy.

It appears that they were a bit 'flighty', as well.

I read an article in the SAMHS by Elizabeth Cox, on the KDG in S.Africa that stated that they lost 62 men through desertion in Natal and the Transvaal, between 1879 and 1880,
and that desertion reached an all-time peak in 1880.
The British Army in Natal and Zululand, as a whole lost 260 men through desertion in 1880, alone.

Maybe Wolseley wanted only 'stayers', as well,
although desertion into the communities in Natal, and especially the Transvaal would have been pretty easy, compared with deserting in Zululand, West Africa, or Egypt/Sudan.

Sean
View user's profileSend private messageSend e-mail
mike snook 2


Joined: 04 Jan 2006
Posts: 920
Reply with quote
Sean

Yes desertion was a real problem for all the regiments left behind in the interval between the AZW and the Transvaal Rebellion: KDG, 2/21st, 94th in particular. Worth getting a few old photographs and maps of say Newcastle, Lydenburg, Potchefstroom, Standerton and so on. Then you will immediately see why people deserted. There was next to nothing there - the tedium of garrison duty in these remote and uninspiring places was awful. The grass had to be greener on the other side. I fancy most of the deserters would have slipped across into the Orange Free State, as it would be quite difficult to remain undetected in the Transvaal, and OFS was much less hostile to Anglos anyway.

Regards

Mike
View user's profileSend private message
Julian whybra


Joined: 03 Sep 2005
Posts: 436
Reply with quote
A couple of quick points:
M' was a C19 alternative to writing Mc/Mac. It doesn't represent a different spelling.
The point about Ghost and Hankin is most valid. They can also only have been 17 by 22.1.1879. I must admit I've never come across any reference to them in print as boys (yet!).
The Times/Gazette list is copied from the despatch which appears in the Blue Books and doesn't really represent anything critically important in itself. It does contain numerous errors of spelling and fact and cannot be relied upon.
View user's profileSend private message
David Langley


Joined: 30 Nov 2012
Posts: 20
Reply with quote
This is my first post, although not the beginning of interest in the events of 1879 ..... my paternal grandfather served in KRRC that year, and my paternal grandfather was born in the same year. Both were called George, both fine men.
However! The age of drummers, boys or otherwise, appointed or de facto.
The rules on regimental [brigade if you like] numbering were strictly laid down, and usually adhered to. The principles were: all recruits allocated number in sequence on attestation, and retained it for their entire engagement [including any reserve service] unless transferred to another regiment/corps/department.
The main exceptions to the sequence are to be found in enlistments away from the depot, mainly in foreign stations, where a unit authorised to recruit locally had a block allocation at its disposal.
Therefore a man or boy's number is dateable to within about a year, and, given that a boy could not remain so for more than 4 years at most, any drummer with regimental number issued more than 4 years before 1879 can not be other than an adult.
View user's profileSend private message
Martin Everett


Joined: 01 Sep 2005
Posts: 783
Location: Brecon
Reply with quote
Dear Awful Row (what an awful name!)

This is something I drafted some 10 years ago - remember prior to 1873 if a soldier changed battalions he was allocated a new number. Again if he re-enlisted after the introduction of Brigade numbers (1873) and regimental numbers (1881) he received a fresh number.

These notes refer to the 24th Regiment later South Wales Borderers - other regiments followed a similiar practice - but there could slight variations:

When working with Norman Holme on his book about the soldiers who served in the 1879 Anglo-Zulu War ‘The Noble 24th’, it was found that many of the documents relating to the soldiers who were casualties have not survived in the National Archives at Kew, so it was not possible to determine when a soldier enlisted. So perhaps, his regimental number could provide the clue and from that by deducting ‘18’ (the normal age of enlistment) from the date of enlistment, a rough date of birth could be ascertained.

A soldier’s personal or regimental number (engraved on the rim of campaign medals) can be a valuable practical piece of information in order to determine his period of service. For the regiments who recruited in Wales it is vital data to distinguish soldiers of the same name (Edwards, Davies, Jones, or Williams) serving in the same battalion at the same time. Until 1920, it was possible for a soldier to have more than one number as he moved between battalions of the same regiment or transferred to another regiment or corps in the army.

1856-1873

During the period 1856-1873, individual numbers were allocated to recruits by the depot (or recruit) company of each battalion of the 24th Foot. The depot would normally be co-located with the battalion when it was stationed in UK or Ireland. When the battalion was abroad, its depot company would remain in the UK usually based in a garrison town. The established strength of each battalion was about 800 men.

Thus No. 1 was issued by the 1st Battalion to Recruit Perkins in December 1856 - usually written as 1-24/1. When 2nd Battalion was re-raised on 3 June 1858, recruiting started at Sheffield; and by December 1856 number 593 (or 2-24/593) was allocated to a recruit named William Jones (later of Rorke’s Drift VC fame!). Each man enlisted for a period of 10 years with an option to re-engage at the end of the period. Later, the normal enlistment period was for 7 years with the Colours and a further 5 years on the Reserve. These engagement conditions remained until the outbreak of WW1. It can be seen that during this period there were soldiers serving in the 24th with the same number albeit in different battalions.

1873-1881

The 24th Regiment was finally given a permanent depot in the barracks at Brecon in 1873. Recruits came to Brecon for processing and training and each was allocated a 25th Brigade number (Brecon was then known as the 25th Brigade Regimental District). 25th Brigade Number No. 2 (or 25B/2) was allocated to Drummer John Orlopp (killed at Isandhlwana ) in July 1873. This system eliminated duplicate numbers within the 24th. However at the time of the 1879 Anglo-Zulu war, there were three number series in operation, viz. 1-24th, 2-24th and 25th Brigade in the Regiment and all series were used on the regiment’s roll for the 1877-79 South Africa War Medal.

1881-1920

When the title of 24th Regiment changed to the South Wales Borderers in 1881, a new series of personal numbers for soldiers was introduced. This remained in force until 1920 when a universal series was introduced for the whole British Army. In the early years of this series, soldiers re-engaging with an earlier battalion or 25 Brigade number would be given a new number in the SWB series . SWB number 1 (or SWB/1) was allocated to Private Thomas King who enlisted on 2 July 1881.

The Militia battalions had their own numbering series. A man joining the regular army would be allocated a fresh number on enlisting.

I trust this helps. You could go to Kew and see whether KRRC pay & muster rolls have survived for 1879 - there should be rolls for each battalion (five?) and the depot.

_________________
Martin Everett
Brecon, Powys
View user's profileSend private messageSend e-mailVisit poster's website
David Langley


Joined: 30 Nov 2012
Posts: 20
Reply with quote
I was surprised and disappointed that you did not recognise the etymology of "Awful Row"!
Thank you for your notes.
Are you familiar with the multi-part article on regimental numbering in the MHS Bull. of a couple of years ago? I ask because I co-authored it with Graham Stewart, and we found the ground-work done on the 24th very useful, thank you.

I am not sure if you agree or disagree with my basic point, which was:
a man or boy's number is dateable to within about a year, and, given that a boy could not remain so for more than 4 years at most, any drummer with regimental number issued more than 4 years before 1879 can not be other than an adult..
Several cases of doubt might be thus resolved?
View user's profileSend private message
Alan
Site Admin

Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 1415
Location: Wales
Reply with quote
As members will see, awful row has been avoided and we now have 'David Langley'.

_________________
View user's profileSend private messageSend e-mailVisit poster's website
David Langley


Joined: 30 Nov 2012
Posts: 20
Reply with quote
I gave in gracefully.
View user's profileSend private message
The 'Boys' at Isandlwana
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
All times are GMT  
Page 2 of 3  

  
  
 Reply to topic