Thursday, 14 July 2016

Quiz answers ... and a few inaccuracies!

As promised, here are the answers to the four quiz questions I set yesterday:
  1. 24th Regiment of Foot (2nd Warwickshires); they did not become the South Wales Borderers until two years after the battle.
  2. 32 of the 122 defenders were Welsh (26%). Of the rest 49 were English (40%), 16 were Irish (13%), 1 was Scottish (under 1%), and 3 were born outside the British Isles (2.5%). The origins of the remainder (17%) are unknown.
  3. One, a VC to Private Robert Jones. Of the other nine VCs, seven went to Englishmen, one to an Irishman, and one to a Swiss. Of the four DCMs awarded, two went to Englishmen, one to a Scot, and one to an Irishman .
  4. Colour Sergeant (later Lieutenant Colonel) Frank Bourne, who died on VE Day.
ZULU was and is a great film, but in terms of accuracy it leaves a lot to be desired. For example Sir Evelyn Wood described Lieutenant John Chard as a 'useless officer ... a dull, heavy man, scarcely able to do his regular work'. Sir Garnet Wolseley was also unimpressed, stating that a 'more uninteresting or more stupid-looking fellow I never saw'. Not quite how Stanley Baker portrayed him in the film!

Michael Caine's portrayal of Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead is also not very accurate. He was becoming deaf by the time of the battle (this is sometimes cited as the reason why he was left behind at Rorke's Drift and was not with the rest of his regiment), and his commanding officer – Lieutenant Colonel Henry James Degacher – described him as 'hopeless' even though he seems to have been liked by the men he commanded.

Other inaccuracies include:
  • Colour Sergeant Frank Bourne – who is played in the film be veteran actor Nigel Green – was in his early twenties at the time of the battle, and was known by the other soldiers as 'The Boy'
  • Private Henry Hook – who is portrayed as a semi-criminal, hard-drinking malingerer – was in truth a teetotaller who was in receipt of Good Conduct pay and who later became a Sergeant-Instructor in 1st Volunteer Battalion, Royal Fusiliers. After his discharge from the army he worked at the British Museum as an Inside Duster and was later promoted to become a Cloakroom Attendant.
  • Otto Witt – the Swedish missionary who ran the mission at Rorke's Drift – left just before the battle started because his family lived in an isolated farmhouse about 20 miles away and he wanted to be with them, and not because he was drunk and was a threat to the morale of the defenders.
  • Acting Assistant Commissary James Dalton was a very experienced soldier (he had reached the rank of staff sergeant in 1867 and had served with Sir Garnet Wolseley's Red River Expedition in Canada in 1870 before retiring and emigrating to South Africa) was the driving force behind staying and defending Rorke's Drift and not retreating towards Helpmekaar. He pointed out to Chard and Bromhead that the Zulus would easily overtake and wipe out an escorted column of wagons full of hospital patients travelling in open country and moving at walking pace.
None of this detracts from the fact that ZULU is a great film, but as the reporter says at the end of the film THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE, 'when the legend becomes fact, print the legend.'

12 comments:

  1. Interesting. Now I'm curious as to how many other Swiss VC winners there have been.

    Have you seen Chard's memorial in Rochester Cathedral?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nigel Drury,

      I must try to find out if there were any other Swiss winners! As far as I know, there weren't ... but I would have to check the register of award winners to be 100% certain.

      I must take a look at Chard's memorial the next time I am in Rochester.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  2. Hmmm, I thought there were 11 VCs awarded? Assuming the Irishman is Surgeon Reynolds, the 11th has to be Private John Williams who was born in Wales to Irish parents - Does that make it 1.5 Welsh and 1.5 Irish recipients of the VC?

    Nice little quiz - it got me to go and look things up (although I didn't find the answer to 4)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. TamsinP,

      You are right; it's my maths that is at fault! That said, only one winner was Welsh born and bred, which rather makes the film a little too Welshcentric (if such a word exists).

      Frank Bourne was our cleaner's great uncle, and I have seen a copy of his Will and some of the family's photographs. Very interesting.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
    2. But then the scene where they sing Men of Harlech wouldn't have been in it....and that is one of the key scenes in the film

      Delete
    3. Phil Broeders,

      True. It is an iconic scene, along with the scene where the Zulus attack the redoubt.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  3. Oh- very interesting- by the facts you've totally destroyed my images of the men and leaders at Rorkes' Drift...there is an old saying: " Never let the facts get in the way of a GOOD Story". Regards . KEV.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kev,

      There were quite a few contemporaries who were not happy that so many VCs were awarded for the action at Rorke's Drift, and felt that it was what we would now term a public relations exercise to offset the defeat suffered at Isandhlwana.

      It's still a great story, and the film is still one of my favourites.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  4. Great quiz. Must dig out my Zulus some time...they've languished in the loft for too long

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Alastair,

      Glad to read that you enjoyed my little quiz ... even if I got one answer slightly wrong.

      Funnily enough I've never owned any Zulus; plenty of Sudanese and Arabs, but never any Zulus. I really ought to buy some one day.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  5. I agree that it's a great film.

    As far as taking movies (any movies) as factual, well, the phrase "fool's errand" comes to mind. They can be a good basis for analysis and discussion and for sparking an interest in self-education into what the actual facts were/are.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fitz-Badger,

      I totally agree that films can be a great starting point for discussions, unpicking the fact from the fiction etc. The problem is that sometimes the fiction becomes accepted as fact ... and then the real problems start!

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete