Battle of Isandlwana

August 8, 2014 TPC-ADMIN

A battle which “stunned the world” was the subject of this month’s Tavistock Probus Club talk. Lou Fletcher gave a colourful and graphic account of the defeat of the British by the Zulu Army at Isandlwana in 1879 under the leadership of Lord Chelmsford.

What was to be a straightforward battle turned into a massacre for the British Army. Total official casualties numbered some 1,350 men but the true figure was much greater. They were outmaneuvered by the Zulus who used their traditional “horns and chest of a buffalo” formation and encircled the British position pitting their traditional assegai spears against the formidable firepower of the Martini-Henry rifles. The Zulus were close to defeat until the British, hampered by administrative red tape, ran out of bullets. Having been encircled by the horns, the British made their courageous but unsuccessful last stands. There were few survivors.

Lou provided a variety of photographs showing the picturesque and rocky landscape in which the battle took place, southeast of Johannesburg and midway between Lesotho and Swaziland.  The ground is dotted with mounds of white stones and granite pillars marking the war graves of the British Soldiers.

Geoff Willetts, on behalf of members, thanked Lou for his talk and its most interesting historical and geographic content. The subject of the September meeting of the Tavistock Probus Club is “Prostate Cancer”. Anyone interested in Probus may contact the secretary on 01822 615669.

Anyone interested in Tavistock Probus Club may contact the secretary on 01822 615669.

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