Tag Archives: Charge of the Light Brigade

Scrap Book Project – Good Losers

There is something about coming second or even outright failure and disaster that is important about being British because, unique amongst nations, we have a talent for turning disappointment into success and accepting failure equally as we embrace victory and triumph.  This ability to absorb failure and turn it into a triumph is an exclusive characteristic that contributes to the British Bulldog spirit.

Captain Robert Falcon Scott was a Royal Navy officer and explorer who led two expeditions to the Antarctic regions, the Discovery Expedition, 1901–04, and the ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition, 1910–13.  During this second venture, Scott led a party of five which reached the South Pole on 17th January 1912, only to find that they had been preceded by Roald Amundsen’s Norwegian expedition.  They Failed!  Let’s not misintepret this, they Failed!  On their return journey, Scott and his four comrades all perished from a combination of exhaustion, starvation and extreme cold.   And here is the point because even though he failed in his quest Scott became an iconic British hero, a status maintained ever since.

History is in fact littered with failed military battles and disasters that we have perversely turned into iconic moments of British history.  1066 and the Norman invasion – we were invaded and conquered!  Dunkirk was a defeat and a miltary withdrawal,the Charge of the Light Brigade was a disaster but my favourite example is the Battle of Isandlwana on 22nd  January 1879, which was the first major encounter in the Zulu War between the all conquering British Empire machine and the  Zulu Kingdom of South Africa.

Eleven days after the British commenced their invasion a Zulu army attacked a portion of the British main column consisting of nearly two thousand mixed British and colonial forces.  The Zulus were armed with the traditional assegai iron spears and protected by cow hide shields and the British were armed with the then state of the art Martini-Henry breech loading rifle. Despite a vast disadvantage in weapons technology, the Zulus ultimately overwhelmed the poorly led and badly deployed British, killing over one thousand, three hundred troops, whilst suffering only around a thousand casualties of their own.

The battle was a decisive victory for the Zulus and caused the defeat of the first British invasion. The British army had received its worst ever defeat fighting against a technologically inferior indigenous force. However, the defeat of the British forces at Isandlwana was turned into a victory just a few days later with the successful defence of Rorke’s Drift which simply erased the memory of the ignominious defeat!

Other disasters have also been turned into iconic successes.  The RMS Titanic was the largest passenger steamship in the world and pronounced unsinkable when she set off on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York on 10thApril 1912.  Four days into the crossing, at twenty to midnight on 14th April, she struck an iceberg and sank just over two hours later the following morning, resulting in the deaths of 1,517 people in one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in history.

In sport, the boxer Henry Cooper became a national hero for failing to beat Cassius Clay in a 1966 World heavyweight championship fight, Tim Henman is revered for only ever reaching the Wimbledon tennis semi-finals which is another example of the British stoic acceptance of failure.  Sir Stirling Moss never won the world drivers’ championship, but became a hero to millions through his chivalrous conduct on the racetrack. He famously did himself out of the title in 1958 by leaping to the defence of a rival who was in danger of being docked points.  John Francome would have won the National Hunt jockeys’ championship in 1982, but chose to share it with a rival who had been injured. Judy Guinness would have won fencing gold for Great Britain at the 1932 Olympics if she hadn’t pointed out errors which the judges had made.

And let’s not forget that in the world of entertainment we actually seem to enjoy the annual ritual humiliation of the Eurovision Song Contest.

Scrap Book Project – Military Battles

 

Reveille Story

Dad always liked military stories of bravery and daring-do and Reveille was a popular British weekly tabloid newspaper that was first published during the second world war and would certainly have appealed to him. 

Launched in May 1940, it was originally the official newspaper of the Ex-Services’ Allied Association.  It was bought by the Mirror Group in 1947 and in In the 1950s it moved away from its military base and increased its light-entertainment pages.  During the 1960s and 1970s it became known as Reveille Magazine and would publish large double-page pop posters and also feature glamour models.

I think it would be absolutely certain to say that my dad’s favourite military story was the defence of Rorke’s Drift as told in the film ZULU!

Zulu has to be one of my favourite ever movies because it was one of the first grown up films that I was ever taken to see at the cinema.  As I have explained elsewhere dad was fond of anything military or heroic and stories don’t come much more heroic or military than this.

These are the facts: On 22nd January 1879 the Imperial British army suffered one of its worst ever defeats when Zulu forces massacred one thousand five hundred of its troops at Isandlhwana in South Africa.  A short time after the main battle a Zulu force numbering over four thousand warriors advanced on a British hospital and supply garrison guarded by one hundred and thirty nine infantrymen at Rorke’s Drift.  The film tells the true story of the battle during which the British force gallantly defended the hospital and in doing so won eleven Victoria Crosses, which is the most ever awarded for one single engagement. The film takes a few historical liberties but it remains one of my favourites and of course I have a copy of it in my own DVD collection.

Talking about historical liberties what I find interesting is that if you buy the DVD now, Michael Caine is billed as the star but if you watch it Stanley Baker had top billing and he was the film’s producer as well, the film simply introduces Michael Caine in his first big film role.  That’s how easily history is rewritten.

I like battle films and perhaps could have chosen ‘Waterloo’ or ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ but the fact is that none of these comes close to the dramatic impact of ZULU!  Later that year dad bought the Zulu soundtrack LP for Christmas to play on our new record player. I’ve still got it but I don’t play it any more.  I’ve also got dad’s book on the Zulu wars and his favourite Royal Doulton water colour painting of the defence of Rorke’s Drift.

  

 

‘Zulu’ and the defence of Rorke’s Drift

Zulu has to be one of my favourite ever movies because it was one of the first grown up films that I was ever taken to see at the cinema.  As I have explained elsewhere dad was fond of anything military or heroic and stories don’t come much more heroic or military than this.

These are the facts: On 22nd January 1879 the Imperial British army suffered one of its worst ever defeats when Zulu forces massacred one thousand five hundred of its troops at Isandlhwana in South Africa.  A short time after the main battle a Zulu force numbering over four thousand warriors advanced on a British hospital and supply garrison guarded by one hundred and thirty nine infantrymen at Rorke’s Drift.  The film tells the true story of the battle during which the British force gallantly defended the hospital and in doing so won eleven Victoria Crosses, which is the most ever awarded for one single engagement. The film takes a few historical liberties but it remains one of my favourites and of course I have a copy of it in my own DVD collection.

Talking about historical liberties what I find interesting is that if you buy the DVD now, Michael Caine is billed as the star but if you watch it Stanley Baker had top billing and he was the film’s producer as well, the film simply introduces Michael Caine in his first big film role.  That’s how easily history is rewritten.

I like battle films and perhaps could have chosen ‘Waterloo’ or ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ but the fact is that none of these comes close to the dramatic impact of ZULU!  Later that year dad bought the Zulu soundtrack LP for Christmas to play on our new record player. I’ve still got it but I don’t play it any more.  I’ve also got dad’s book on the Zulu wars and his favourite Royal Doulton water colour painting of the defence of Rorke’s Drift.

Good Losers

There is something about coming second or even outright failure and disaster that is important about being British because, unique amongst nations, we have a talent for turning disappointment into success and accepting failure equally as we embrace victory and triumph.  This ability to absorb failure and turn it into a triumph is an exclusive characteristic that contributes to the British Bulldog spirit.

Captain Robert Falcon Scott was a Royal Navy officer and explorer who led two expeditions to the Antarctic regions, the Discovery Expedition, 1901–04, and the ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition, 1910–13.  During this second venture, Scott led a party of five which reached the South Pole on 17th January 1912, only to find that they had been preceded by Roald Amundsen’s Norwegian expedition.  They Failed!  Let’s not misintepret this, they Failed!  On their return journey, Scott and his four comrades all perished from a combination of exhaustion, starvation and extreme cold.   And here is the point because even though he failed in his quest Scott became an iconic British hero, a status maintained ever since.

History is in fact littered with failed military battles and disasters that we have perversely turned into iconic moments of British history.  1066 and the Norman invasion – we were invaded and conquered!  Dunkirk was a defeat and a miltary withdrawal,the Charge of the Light Brigade was a disaster but my favourite example is the Battle of Isandlwana on 22nd  January 1879, which was the first major encounter in the Zulu War between the all conquering British Empire machine and the  Zulu Kingdom of South Africa.

Eleven days after the British commenced their invasion a Zulu army attacked a portion of the British main column consisting of nearly two thousand mixed British and colonial forces.  The Zulus were armed with the traditional assegai iron spears and protected by cow hide shields and the British were armed with the then state of the art Martini-Henry breech loading rifle. Despite a vast disadvantage in weapons technology, the Zulus ultimately overwhelmed the poorly led and badly deployed British, killing over one thousand, three hundred troops, whilst suffering only around a thousand casualties of their own.

The battle was a decisive victory for the Zulus and caused the defeat of the first British invasion. The British army had received its worst ever defeat fighting against a technologically inferior indigenous force. However, the defeat of the British forces at Isandlwana was turned into a victory just a few days later with the successful defence of Rorke’s Drift which simply erased the memory of the ignominious defeat!

Other disasters have also been turned into iconic successes.  The RMS Titanic was the largest passenger steamship in the world and pronounced unsinkable when she set off on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York on 10th April 1912.  Four days into the crossing, at twenty to midnight on 14th April, she struck an iceberg and sank just over two hours later the following morning, resulting in the deaths of 1,517 people in one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in history.

In sport, the boxer Henry Cooper became a national hero for failing to beat Cassius Clay in a 1966 World heavyweight championship fight, Tim Henman is revered for only ever reaching the Wimbledon tennis semi-finals which is another example of the British stoic acceptance of failure.  Sir Stirling Moss never won the world drivers’ championship, but became a hero to millions through his chivalrous conduct on the racetrack. He famously did himself out of the title in 1958 by leaping to the defence of a rival who was in danger of being docked points.  John Francome would have won the National Hunt jockeys’ championship in 1982, but chose to share it with a rival who had been injured. Judy Guinness would have won fencing gold for Great Britain at the 1932 Olympics if she hadn’t pointed out errors which the judges had made.

And let’s not forget that in the world of entertainment we actually seem to enjoy the annual ritual humiliation of the Eurovision Song Contest.

A Life in a Year – 22nd January, Zulu and the defence of Rorke’s Drift

Zulu has to be one of my favourite ever films because it was one of the first grown up films that I was ever taken to see at the cinema.  As I have explained elsewhere dad was fond of anything military or heroic and stories don’t come much more heroic or military than this.

These are the facts: On 22nd January 1879 the Imperial British army suffered one of its worst ever defeats when Zulu forces massacred one thousand five hundred of its troops at Isandlhwana in South Africa.  A short time after the main battle a Zulu force numbering over four thousand warriors advanced on a British hospital and supply garrison guarded by one hundred and thirty nine infantrymen at Rorke’s Drift.  The film tells the true story of the battle during which the British force gallantly defended the hospital and in doing so won eleven Victoria Crosses, which is the most ever awarded for one single engagement. The film takes a few historical liberties but it remains one of my favourites and of course I have a copy of it in my own DVD collection.

Talking about historical liberties what I find interesting is that if you buy the DVD now, Michael Caine is billed as the star but if you watch it Stanley Baker had top billing and he was the film’s producer as well, the film simply introduces Michael Caine in his first big film role.  That’s how easily history is rewritten.

I like battle films and perhaps could have chosen ‘Waterloo’ or ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ but the fact is that none of these comes close to the dramatic impact of ZULU!  Later that year dad bought the Zulu soundtrack LP for Christmas to play on our new record player. I’ve still got it but I don’t play it any more.  I’ve also got dad’s book on the Zulu wars and his favourite Royal Doulton water colour painting of the defence of Rorke’s Drift.

A Life in a Year – 17th January, Street Cred and Coming Second

There is something about coming second or even outright failure and disaster that is important about being British because, unique amongst nations, we have a talent for turning disappointment into success and accepting failure equally as we embrace victory and triumph.  This ability to absorb failure and turn it into a triumph is an exclusive characteristic that contributes to the British Bulldog spirit.

Captain Robert Falcon Scott was a Royal Navy officer and explorer who led two expeditions to the Antarctic regions, the Discovery Expedition, 1901–04, and the ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition, 1910–13.  During this second venture, Scott led a party of five which reached the South Pole on 17 January 1912, only to find that they had been preceded by Roald Amundsen’s Norwegian expedition.  They Failed!  Let’s not misintepret this, they Failed!  On their return journey, Scott and his four comrades all perished from a combination of exhaustion, starvation and extreme cold.   And here is the point because even though he failed in his quest Scott became an iconic British hero, a status maintained ever since.

History is in fact littered with failed military battles and disasters that we have perversely turned into iconic moments of British history.  1066 and the Norman invasion – we were invaded and conquered!  Dunkirk and the Charge of the Light Brigade but my favourite example is the Battle of Isandlwana on 22nd  January 1879, which was the first major encounter in the Zulu War between the all conquering British Empire machine and the  Zulu Kingdom of South Africa. Eleven days after the British commenced their invasion a Zulu army attacked a portion of the British main column consisting of nearly two thousand mixed British and colonial forces.  The Zulus were armed with the traditional assegai iron spears and protected by cow hide shields and the British were armed with the then state of the art Martini-Henry breech loading rifle. Despite a vast disadvantage in weapons technology, the Zulus ultimately overwhelmed the poorly led and badly deployed British, killing over one thousand, three hundred troops, whilst suffering only around a thousand casualties of their own.

The battle was a decisive victory for the Zulus and caused the defeat of the first British invasion. The British army had received its worst ever defeat fighting against a technologically inferior indigenous force. However, the defeat of the British forces at Isandlwana was turned into a victory just a few days later with the successful defence of Rorke’s Drift which simply erased the memory of the ignominious defeat!

Other disasters have also been turned into iconic successes.  The RMS Titanic was the largest passenger steamship in the world and pronounced unsinkable when she set off on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York on 10th April 1912.  Four days into the crossing, at twenty to midnight on 14th April, she struck an iceberg and sank just over two hours later the following morning, resulting in the deaths of 1,517 people in one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in history.

In sport, the boxer Henry Cooper became a national hero for failing to beat Cassius Clay in a 1966 World heavyweight championship fight, Tim Henman is revered for only ever reaching the Wimbledon tennis semi-finals which is another example of the British stoic acceptance of failure and in the world of entertainment we actually seem to enjoy the annual ritual humiliation of the Eurovision song contest.

And it would seem that we can as a nation get mixed up about heroes and villains. I think that few would disagree that Winston Churchill was probably the greatest Briton of all time.  I know that I can say this with some confidence because in 2002 the BBC conducted a nationwide poll to identify who the public thought this was.  The result was a foregone conclusion and Churchill topped the poll with 28% of the votes.  Second in the poll was the engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel who received nearly 25% of the votes.  These two I fully agreed with but in third place, and goodness knows what the public must have been thinking, was Princess Diana!  Now, the only thing that I can see that Princess Diana ever did was to whine a lot about having to live in palaces, wear expensive jewellery and eat gourmet food and try to undermine and destroy the Royal Family.  Not so long ago you could have your head cut off for that sort of thing but by some bizarre twist the British have turned this disastrous woman into a heroine.