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"Rorke's Drift battle was war crime scene" Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP16 Jul 2022 8:10 p.m. PST

"It is one of the glories of British military history. A garrison of just over 100 men, including sick and wounded, holding out against an army of 3,000 Zulus.

Wave after wave of warriors with spears and rifles crashed against the makeshift defences at Rorke's Drift, South Africa, and still the redcoats held firm.

After a number of unsuccessful attacks in the 11-hour battle, the Zulus were finally forced to withdraw. Queen Victoria and her empire had reason to celebrate. In a way Britain still does: the 1964 film Zulu, starring Michael Caine as one of the officers at Rorke's Drift, endures as a television favourite…"

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BillyNM16 Jul 2022 8:32 p.m. PST

What did anyone think happened to all the Zulu wounded? IIRC the fate of the wounded Dervish after Omdurman was the same and described as such in Churchill's ‘The River War'.
It's a pretty gruesome episode but I do wish people would stop pretending they've just uncovered something that's been known about by those already read into the period.

Bunkermeister Supporting Member of TMP16 Jul 2022 9:47 p.m. PST

What happened in most battles in history and pre-history?
Death to the wounded of the enemy and often even death to your own troops.
Did the Zulus ask the British to allow them to retrieve their wounded? They would have marched off leaving their own wounded to die in the sun.
What happened to the wounded at Waterloo? At Gettysburg?
Often local resources were not able to care even for friendly wounded.
I agree with BillyNM. This just another opportunity to try to make history look bad based on our standards of care for wounded today.

Mike Bunkermeister Creek

Londonplod17 Jul 2022 1:05 a.m. PST

Typical Guardian piece, l wonder if the book mentions Zulus taking prisoners at Isandhlwana?

Dave Jackson Supporting Member of TMP17 Jul 2022 3:16 a.m. PST

Load of old tosh.

Murvihill17 Jul 2022 6:05 a.m. PST

Everyone followed the Geneva Convention back then, except Perfidious Albion!

mjkerner Supporting Member of TMP17 Jul 2022 12:07 p.m. PST

Nothing new to anyone interested in the Zulu wars. I read it somewhere just after the movie came out, and I was 10 that year! The Guardian article is from 2003, and I read the book when it came out…it doesn't "expose" anything regarding killing the wounded (and with a .577/450 round wound, it could be a blessing in many cases, I suppose), but is in fact a very good analysis of the battle and just how the collapse of the British line likely came about. As I recall the authors examined the various cover-up/blame games for the defeat itself--Durnford, for one--but the "war crimes" were simply mentioned in the various excerpts from soldiers testimony, letters and such. In other words, the article is full of shy-ite.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP17 Jul 2022 2:50 p.m. PST



Zephyr117 Jul 2022 8:39 p.m. PST

There was a battle in Africa where a cannibal army won and ate the dead (and wounded) after the battle (including their own, iirc…)

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP18 Jul 2022 3:02 p.m. PST



Heedless Horseman24 Jul 2022 7:42 p.m. PST

Hits from a large caliber, soft round… especially from a relatively high velocity rifle…for the period…would 'pulp' flesh and shatter bone.

In climate, with little medical supplies… or capability to treat ANYONE effectively for survival.. wounded Zulus would undoubtedly be 'dispatched'. Especially if any rumours about Isandlwhana had reached the Drift.
No surprises there.
I would be surprised if ammo used… Rifle Butt or Bayonet.

Zulu were definitely Brave Warriors… but, their 'ending' would often 'be for the best'. And without much 'Cultural' mutillation'… although I do not doubt that some body parts MAY have become 'Trophies'. This Happens… even in recent past… eg, Nam.

There is now, a tendency to render 'Imperial' as 'evil'. But 'killing wounded', was done by ALL. Including by Zulus… with reference to their 'cultural' issues.
'Strangely', what could very well have been termed as 'war crimes' committed by 'Native Americans' has become 'hushed', in recent years. YES… 'europeans' and 'Mexicans' did as Bad, or Worse… and without any 'justification' from 'culture'. But… commentators, politicians… and 'legal profession', say little.

And it still happens. The 'dispatch' of a wounded Taliban by a UK Soldier, became an issue in recent past. Bring in Medevac and expose to fire? No F'ng Way.

War is NOT NICE.

Die Engelsman25 Jul 2022 2:09 a.m. PST

And the Zulu practice of disemboweling the dead and wounded of their enemies? I guess that is just written off as a quaint cultural practice. Or do we hold them to lower standards because…well ….. you know …. they're …. er ….. well …. Africans?

Robert le Diable01 Aug 2022 4:11 p.m. PST

I've read – probably in "Washing of the Spears" – that this practice was intended to free the dead warrior's soul/spirit; no doubt the climate accelerated any swelling, thus making the practice readily understandable. Surprised no-one has yet mentioned the Second Boer War; there's a book entitled "Shoot straight, you B#st#rds" in which it is argued that Kitchener authorised the shooting of prisoners, though it was a few Australian horsemen who were shot as part of another cover-up.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP03 Aug 2022 2:22 p.m. PST



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