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Post British Execute Zulu Prisoners after Rorke's Drift
Created by John Eipper on 01/23/18 4:30 AM

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British Execute Zulu Prisoners after Rorke's Drift (Timothy Ashby, Spain, 01/23/18 4:30 am)

Thanks to Patrick Mears (22 January) for sharing the entry from History Ireland regarding the battles of Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift.

To answer John's question regarding the execution of hundreds of wounded Zulus left behind by the retreating Undi Corps of the Zulu army: there is no mention of this in the museum. There is, however, no doubt that it took place, as several British soldiers recorded the killings, including Isandlwana survivor Lieutenant Horace Smith-Dorrien, a member of Lord Chelmsford's staff, who wrote that the day after the battle an improvised gallows was used "for hanging Zulus who were supposed to have behaved treacherously." (Smith-Dorrien became a general and served in World War I.)

As Chelmsford's relief force had camped the previous night amongst their the body parts and viscera of dismembered comrades who were literally butchered at Isandlwana, the troops had no mercy for any captured or wounded Zulus they came across. Also, several Rorke's Drift defenders and invalids were similarly butchered by the Zulus. Trooper William James Clarke of the Natal Mounted Police, a member of the relief force, described in his diary that "altogether we buried 375 Zulus and some wounded were thrown into the grave. Seeing the manner in which our wounded had been mutilated after being dragged from the hospital ... we were very bitter and did not spare wounded Zulus."

Voltaire put it aptly: "It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets."

JE comments:  Note Smith-Dorrien's deft syntax:  "were supposed to have behaved treacherously."  S-D was barely 21 at Islandlwana, and was one of only five British officers to survive.  Afterwards, he seems not to have missed a single British military enterprise through WWI--Sudan, Boer War, and (finally) the hellhole of Ypres.  Wikipedia describes him as "urbane and kind-hearted" towards his troops.  He was a close ally of Lord Kitchener, the stern finger-pointing fellow who urges WAISers to donate.

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