The Shangani Patrol

As Rhodesian Administrator Leander Starr Jameson rode into the smoking ruins of Bulawayo in the aftermath of the first phase of the Matabele War he somewhat naively expected to find Lobengula waiting to surrender formally. This would have crowned an impressive advance with a clean victory and wrapped up the war in favour of the BSA Company with a minimum of dispute. However, with no formal surrender in hand and the King still at large,the game was still wide open. Technically the threat of an official decree from Sir Henry Loch on behalf of the Imperial Government remained.

Neither Jameson nor Lobengula had expected such a swift advance on Matabeleland, and Lobengula could certainly not have foreseen such a conclusive initial rout. The rapid pace of events, and his hurried departure left him confused and disorientated. He had in fact not been in Bulawayo during the fighting at all, but had retreated seven miles north to the smaller location of Umvutcha Kraal where he received news of the defeat.

Had the unfortunate incident at Tati not occurred, there is every chance that Lobengula would have begun early negotiations, but the apparent murder of his indunas at the hands of Gould-Adams convinced him that he would suffer the same fate if he were to try and make overtures to peace.

Instead the frightened King ordered the muster of four ox wagons and hurriedly assembled a small entourage including his household counsellors, available wives and family members. The group set off northwards towards the lands of the Gwaai and the lower Shangani rivers. Around them were spread the surviving regiments of the army, no single unit of which had yet given any indication of surrender. Despite being sick, demoralised and very probably dying, Lobengula remained the focus of the nation.

For the settler militias to pursue the war any further than the capture of Bulawayo would have necessitated a campaign more on military lines than had hitherto been the case. Jameson was commander-in-chief at that point, and although not a military man, his self-confidence had bloated to the point that he believed himself capable of anything. He was surrounded by a motley collection of adventurers who were equally brash and equally inclined to believe that the capture of Lobengula would be a simple formality.

Principal among these was Major Allan Wilson. Since Wilson was neither an orthodox soldier nor a commissioned officer, ‘Major’ in his case was something of an arbitrary rank. He had been put in charge of the Victoria contingent of the Mashonaland Volunteers, and as such he was in the fight largely for the plunder and the glory. Wilson was an affable 37-year-old Scotsman who had arrived in South Africa some 15 years earlier and had served in the Cape Mounted Rifles, seeing action during the Anglo-Zulu and first Boer wars. He was a tall powerfully built man of enormous daring and ability, and of a generally amiable and easygoing nature. This made him fairly typical of his command and typical of most if not all the other irregulars. He was also a popular and trusted commander.

As a military man, his fellow major could not have been more different. Patrick Forbes was a thickset, pedestrian and rather humourless man. He was also conspicuously loyal to the old spit and polish school of the British military establishment. Lately he had succeeded to the position of Resident Magistrate for the district of Fort Salisbury. He still commanded wide respect for his earlier actions in Manicaland where he had commanded the Salisbury Volunteers. At age 32 he was the youngest of Jameson’s senior officers. Most importantly, however, Forbes was the only one among Jameson’s technical subordinates who had any conventional military training. This he had received primarily from Sandhurst Military Academy, then with his first commission in the Inniskilling Dragoons. It goes without saying that as a product of the British Army, he would have found serving under a civilian quite a novelty. But life in the colonies was brimming with novelty and the whole enterprise was nothing if not unorthodox.

The most inscrutable of all the men attending Jameson’s strategy meeting that day was the enigmatic bush fighter Pieter Raaff who more than anyone typified the irregular colonial commando rider. He was a butcher/magistrate from Tuli who had joined the expedition as a privateer and raised a body of 250 Transvaal freebooters who called themselves Raaff’s Rangers. At 44, Raaff added a considerable weight of experience to the expedition. He and his Transvaal rangers had scouted for the British and been involved in a number of the battles of the Anglo-Zulu War. In stature he was short, standing only five foot four inches, but like Jameson he compensated for this fact with a tremendous ego. He was pampered in appearance, which was deceptive, for Raaff was doubtless the single most competent commander present in Bulawayo on that day.

Perhaps the most dangerously underrated commander in the war, however, was not in Bulawayo at all, but moving rapidly north with the dislocated remains of the Matabele army. His name was Mjaan, or Mtjane, and his immediate objective was to support and protect his King’s retreat. Mjaan was a man in his early fifties with a lifetime of military experience behind him. Not least of his battles had been the two recent engagements of Shangani and Bembezi where he and his Mbizo Regiment had faced the settler militia and seen the pride of the Matabele decimated by a combination of trained musketry and machinegun fire. From this he learned that if such tactics were encountered again he would need to quickly revaluate the established procedures of his men and commanders, otherwise their defeat would be absolute.

Jameson’s first action, meanwhile, was to send a messenger to Lobengula with a letter inviting him to ‘come in’.

 I send this message in order, if possible, to prevent the necessity of any further killing of your people or burning of their kraals. To stop this useless slaughter you must at once come and see me at Bulawayo, when I will guarantee that your life will be saved and that you will be kindly treated. I will allow sufficient time for this message to reach you and return to me and two days more to allow you to reach me in your wagon. Should you not arrive I will at once send out troops to follow you, as I am determined as soon as possible to put the country in a condition where whites and blacks can live in peace and friendliness.

 Four days later a rambling and predictably equivocal reply arrived from Lobengula. It offered no definite promise of surrender, and as Jameson suspected, it was probably intended only to buy more time. On 14 November Jameson dispatched a strong mounted force under the command of Major Forbes with orders to scatter the remaining Matabele and intercept and capture the King.

No one could have been more surprised than Allan Wilson when Jameson announced the composition of the force, and Raaff too could scarcely believe his ears. With their age and combined experience, both men felt they were the obvious choice for this command – and of course each was supported in this by his respective unit. It is probable that even the Salisbury Volunteers felt that Forbes would have been better off in support of a man more experienced than he.

Initially Forbes was oblivious to the controversy, and since he was accustomed to accepting orders with a minimum of reflection, this is precisely what he did. However the seeds of his future difficulties were there to be seen had he only thought to look. Not only was he younger than his subordinate officers, but he also had almost no experience of conducting irregular operations. Of course neither Raaff nor Wilson, nor any of their men, were accustomed to the normal military discipline that Forbes would have taken for granted.

Johann Colenbrander, who was an extremely able and versatile company man, attached himself to the column as interpreter. Jameson added the flamboyant American, Major Frederick Russell Burnham, and his only slightly less colourful brother-in-law and compatriot Peter Ingram, as extra scouts.

The first thrust out of Bulawayo proved to be unpromising. Forbes felt that a vigorous push north along the Bubi River would catch Lobengula off guard and bring matters to a speedy conclusion. However, he soon found himself mired in difficulties, the first of which was the sudden breaking of the annual rains that turned the countryside into a slough. The second was the foot-dragging discontent of men who had been hauled away on an uncomfortable mission when most had assumed that the war was over. Forbes responded to this malingering in the customary military manner – by driving his troops on despite obvious resistance and generally plunging morale.

Complaints among his officers became so insistent that to silence them he ordered a general parade and invited all those who were dissatisfied to take one step forward. He was horrified when all but six men did. This flummoxed Forbes, but with little creativity to call upon he simply forced the unhappy column on. On it struggled until Raaff at last managed to persuade Forbes to pause and reconsider.

Numbers of Matabele fighters began to appear among the general throng of refugees, most of whom claimed that they were moving south to surrender. Raaff sensed differently and believed that a hostile mobilisation was underway – a sentiment he made known both widely and frequently. Forbes tried to ignore him – and continued to ignore him until the situation provoked the first of many open and biting exchanges between the two.

Most of the men of the column took Raaff’s side in the matter. Forbes had never experienced factionalism in his ranks, and for the first time in his career had no choice but to defer to the opinions of a subordinate. Nevertheless, his capitulation was not total. He would not consider turning back but gave an undertaking to withdraw if things became too difficult. Raaff patiently explained to him that if things became too difficult the column would probably no longer have the option of withdrawal.

Allan Wilson listened to all this but kept his opinions to himself. Like everyone else, however, he was dismayed at Forbes’ bulldog attitude and his absolute lack of tact. However if Wilson was content to keep his peace, his junior officers were not. Lendy in particular carped incessantly among his fellow officers about Forbes’ treatment of Raaff. He was the most vociferous member of Raaff’s informal inner circle that Forbes later referred to as ‘Raaff’s Staff’. Forbes was eventually forced to concede that the column had been too lightly provisioned to penetrate very far, and so on 23 November he ordered it to fall back on Inyati.

Conditions continued to deteriorate. Forbes was simply unable to grasp the fact that with a force of irregulars, a driving approach would not work. Had Wilson or Raaff been in command, both would have known that men of an individual tendency could be led but never driven. Such a mood of pessimism had taken root in the column that Forbes was eventually obliged to order it back to Shiloh Mission to await fresh orders and re-supply.

At Shiloh the column stood down temporarily while the bickering continued. Raaff protested to Forbes that the military situation had become untenable, and added for the benefit of a fertile audience of troopers that the column was in real danger of annihilation. To many of the Salisbury men, this was all that they needed to hear. They announced that since they were volunteers and could not be forced to go anywhere, they intended to return. Another vote was held and this time Forbes was not particularly surprised to find only 17 out of the 90 men of his Salisbury Column were prepared to stand with him. Of Raaff’s rangers only four elected to go on while of the Victoria men all voted to continue. The small Bechuanaland Police contingent, being the only regular imperial troops assigned, was not consulted.

In the meantime fresh supplies arrived from Bulawayo along with orders from Jameson to reorganise and re-deploy. The majority of the Salisbury Volunteers turned back, leaving Wilson’s Victoria men as the only complete unit. Although they remained part of the column the Victoria contingent stayed firmly loyal to Wilson, leaving Forbes effectively without support. However, the more pressure Forbes found himself under, the more trenchant he became. This lack of adaptability fatally undermined his leadership and placed the remainder of the column under a magnified risk.

Forbes then drew supplies of three quarter food rations per man for 12 days, and on the 25th set off with his remaining 290 men. A little later, when hauling wagons in the wet conditions proved futile, another group returned with the transports, leaving only 160 mounted men and two Maxims.

As the column made its way north, lightly wooded country and rolling savannah began to thicken into forests. This, together with the persistent rain and ever-present mist, caused visibility to diminish considerably. Frayed nerves were stretched even tighter as scouts brought in new reports of a large body of armed Matabele moving parallel to the column. Those they encountered gave the appearance of being demoralised, maintaining that they were moving south to Bulawayo. Raaff and others sensed a bluff, a feeling reinforced by regularly untrue reports that the King was just a short distance ahead.

From Shiloh Mission the column struck directly north, crossing the Bubi River on 1 December. It was later revealed that at this point it came to within a stones throw of Lobengula’s retreating entourage. Matabele who were travelling with the King later reported that a small group of scouts moving ahead of the column had actually ridden into a village where Lobengula was taking shelter. The King apparently panicked when this happened and sent a trusted induna back in the general direction of the column with two bags containing 1000 gold sovereigns and a note that read: ‘White men, I am conquered. Take this and go back.’4 Tragically the induna, nervous of approaching the leading edge of the column, came up from the rear and handed the bag and the note to two troopers. The pair destroyed the note, secreted the gold and mentioned the incident to no one. The fact was only revealed later, and the whereabouts of the gold never discovered. The two troopers were charged with theft, but later their sentences were quashed and they were freed of any culpability for subsequent events.

Of Lobengula’s efforts to communicate, nothing was known to either Forbes or any of his officers. Had his letter reached Forbes, Colenbrander or either of Forbes’ deputies, it is likely that the King could have been persuaded to surrender In turn this would have meant a guarantee of a safe return for all. In the event, the column arrived in the vicinity of the Shangani River with Lobengula again in retreat and reportedly less than a days march ahead.

By this time Mjaan had gathered together as many of his fighting men as he could and was observing the progress of the flying column as it moved towards the Shangani River. He had decided to use the King as a decoy, hoping that he could lure the column across the Shangani River where he would cut off its means of retreat. From that vantage he could attack and easily overwhelm it from the front and rear. To this end he placed the King’s wagons in clear sight of the south bank. A herd boy was meanwhile prepared with false intelligence and positioned where he could be easily detained by roving scouts.

At about 3 o’clock on the afternoon of 3 December the column reached the banks of the Shangani, where it paused to regroup. The young cattle herder was duly detained and brought in by scouts who delivered him to Raaff. Raaff drew the information that the boy had been coached to deliver before handing him over to Colenbrander who also interrogated the boy. Both men were somewhat sceptical. Forbes, perhaps desperate for a conclusion, was inclined to believe the boy and, to verify the facts, he crossed the river with a small escort and rode down towards a collection of huts. There he found fresh evidence of occupation and returned to the column in a high state of excitement. As he alighted from his horse he called a meeting of his two senior officers.

Forbes outlined the situation. According to him the column was in very close proximity to the King. He intended to consolidate defences on the banks of the river and be in a position to mount an attack the following morning. Furthermore, it was his intention to leave both Wilson and Raaff in command while he took a small force to complete the final phase of the operation.  Needless to say, both Raaff and Wilson were appalled at this news.

Forbes continued with a short summary of the herd boy’s story – at which point Raaff interrupted, reminding him that it had been he, Raaf, who had first interrogated the boy, so he knew exactly what the position was. Upon that he spun on his heel and stalked off. Forbes watched him leave and for a moment stood speechless. In that moment Wilson was thinking fast. Like Raaff he badly wanted to be part of the capture, but unlike Raaff he had some control over his impulses. He needed permission to leave camp so he could operate freely and on his own initiative. By the time Forbes regained his composure, Wilson was ready to offer him an alterative strategy.

Wilson proposed that while sufficient daylight remained, he would mount a brief reconnaissance across the river. With a small detachment of men he would attempt to establish the exact whereabouts of Lobengula’s camp. If it were possible to capture the King that night he would do so, although his main object would be to reconnoitre.

There are many reasons why Forbes should have refused this request, or at least seen through it, not least because of waning daylight and heavy rain. Also Forbes could not have been ignorant of the partisanship already rife in his force. With more experience, and certainly in retrospect, he might have seen his folly. However he authorised the patrol with just the vague proviso that if Wilson captured Lobengula he was to bring him back on horseback. Failing this, he should keep him under observation until the main column came up. Finally he made it clear that they were all to return to the column by nightfall. Such ambiguity was manna to Wilson and license for him to do precisely as he pleased.

Wilson wasted no time, and before Forbes could change his mind he selected the 12 best mounted men of his Victoria contingent and made ready to leave. Several officers who were friends of Wilson sought permission from Forbes to accompany the patrol. Forbes consented and added to the group on his own account the two American scouts Burnham and Ingram. Thus 19 mounted men formed up and set off across the vlei towards the river. As he watched the riders fade into the twilight Raaff, was heard to grumble that not one of them would return alive.

The strategy for the King’s capture now rode on the simple testimony of a Matabele herd boy, Forbes’ wishful observations and the tempers of a trio of feuding egos. Lobengula had been moved on to a safer location a day earlier and a simple trap had been laid, and baited by the tantalising possibility of the King being in close proximity. Raaff might have suspected all this, but when it counted his lips were sealed. Colenbrander was certainly puzzled, but by nothing that he could put his finger on. As a defensive camp was struck that evening, a mood of expectation mingled with uncertainty. Men separated into groups, fires were lit and conversations muted. No one strayed too far from his weapons.

Mjaan was disappointed. He had not expected the column to split up as it did with just a small patrol venturing across the river. As he observed events, he ordered his men not to interfere with the patrol, and it was for this reason that Wilson crossed the river without being engaged and without seeing any obvious signs of a sizeable military force.

The patrol rode on for a mile or so in high spirits. The time was a minute or two past five o’clock, and on a summer evening they might expect another hour and a half of usable daylight. This ought to have allowed plenty of time to intercept the King if the patrol managed to locate him promptly. Each man felt – for a while at least – relieved to be free of the oppressive atmosphere in the column. Also, of course, they were convinced that they were hot on the trail of the King and that the credit for his capture would soon be theirs.

Back in camp, Forbes was also indulging in a moment of comfortable certainty. Content that Wilson would locate the King, he was also satisfied that he would be unable to bring him in alone. Forbes himself would do that in the morning and he would take the credit.

Wilson led his men a few miles upstream before crossing the river and moving in under cover of woodland. They were led further away than Wilson would have liked by a native guide who did not seem particularly knowledgeable. The patrol soon found itself hampered by dwindling daylight, with an uncertain distance yet to cover and separated now from the main column by some miles. They were also coming into increasing contact with Matabele who appeared hostile when Captain Napier called out for directions.

Wilson had by then begun to mull over a fateful strategy. It was becoming clear to him that the patrol would not find or capture the King that evening, but at the same time he was reluctant to give up the advantage that the extra few miles of reconnaissance gave him. The first stars were peering through gaps in the cloud, while in the distance a murmur of thunder promised rain. Under the last light of day, the sails of Lobengula’s wagons suddenly came into view, and that was all that Wilson needed to confirm his intentions. He elected to retire to higher ground and under cover of dense woodland make camp for the night.

At that point Wilson had no means of knowing that back in camp Forbes had made a very grim discovery. Soon after the patrol rode out of camp he and Colenbrander questioned the herd boy again, and this time they succeeded in exposing the truth. Now, to his horror, Forbes realised that a mobilisation of several thousand Matabele warriors was underway around them, meaning that the Shangani Patrol was in mortal peril.

Forbes’ initial response was to sit on the information and do nothing. As he recalled, he had been quite specific in his instructions that the patrol should return by nightfall. For the time being then, he felt it unnecessary to try and warn or reinforce them. However, as he anxiously paced the ground inside camp, pictures of disaster, recrimination and a ruined career began to pass before his eyes.

Minutes turned into hours. From the edge of camp he peered periodically into the night, but all there was to disturb the pitch darkness were distant flashes of lightning and the low rumble of thunder. Gnawing doubt defeated any attempt to rationalise his position. He should have seen it before…with hindsight it was perfectly obvious. Wilson had manipulated him to seize the advantage and naturally he would not willingly surrender it. He would now be perfectly poised for the coup, and any effort to alert him to his danger would be seen as a ruse to get him back.

Forbes tried to console himself with the thought that the herd boy might have been wrong. If he rode out promptly the next morning with his own force then Wilson’s advantage would serve him too. But in the pit of his stomach he knew that the whole edifice he had held together by sheer force of character was about to crumble. There was no doubt in his mind that Wilson intended to lead his Victoria men on a solo dash in the face of all rational strategy and contrary to a direct order. Added to this, Forbes also sensed that an attack on the column itself was probably imminent. There was no other way to look at it. The situation was dire.

As Forbes agonised, on the far side of the river, and deep in the silent bushveld, Wilson was not without grave concerns of his own. The cloud had closed in overhead and the early evening drizzle was thickening into a steady downpour. The woodland surrounding him was saturated and he could hear the waters of the Shangani, that he had crossed so easily an hour or two earlier, beginning to rage. Above the river and the steady beating of the rain, he and his men could hear another sound. It was a soft murmur – a combination of half-heard footfalls and the whispered conversations of many voices. It was clear now that many more enemy fighters were massed in the vicinity than they had at first thought. Although troop morale remained high, confidence was perceptibly waning as the lonely night closed in.

After a brief consultation with his men Wilson elected to send Captain Napier and two troopers back to brief Forbes. He made no definite request for support, perhaps assuming that Forbes would make immediate plans to follow in his direction. But it is also possible that he did not want any support. This would prompt a race for the King’s capture that might have either Forbes or Raaff claiming the laurels. To appeal for assistance would also mean admitting that he had swum out of his depth – which would give Forbes the last laugh after almost three weeks of jostling. Moreover, a rapidly rising river would in any case soon render an attempt at reinforcement impossible.

Around o’clock that night Forbes’ worst fears were confirmed when Napier and his party arrived to report the news. Napier added on his own initiative that Wilson expected Forbes to mobilise the main column and proceed in support at once. He pointed out, however, that the river was now so high that moving the whole column across that night would be very difficult, although perhaps not yet impossible.

At this point there was absolutely nothing Forbes could have done that would alter the course of events, and nothing that would not be seized upon and used against him by his junior officers. He was dismayed by Wilson’s independence of mind, and for the first time at a complete loss. Nothing in his background equipped him for either mobile planning or the vagaries of undisciplined subordinates. He consoled himself with the fleeting hope that the patrol might not be in such tremendous peril after all. Napier and the two troopers had, after all, come through unscathed. For a moment he even allowed himself to contemplate an immediate mobilisation, but about this at least his instincts were true. The mere possibility of a general massacre froze the idea out of his mind.

Mjaan, meanwhile, had been carefully observing movements in and around the camp. He by then was aware that the patrol was separated from the column but he continued to allow movement between the two groups to continue unhindered. He was still hoping that he could draw the main force to move during the night – which would indeed have set the stage for a comprehensive slaughter.

After several hours of indecision, Forbes was eventually persuaded to send Captain Borrow with 20 mounted men in an attempt to reinforce Wilson. In agreeing to this, he made the worst of all possible decisions. He diminished the strength of the main column while at the same time consigning more men to their deaths. Raaff attempted to intervene at this late stage but succeeded only in infuriating Forbes. The two eventually agreed not to weaken the column by sending a machine gun – which prompted Captain Lendy to remark that this seemed ridiculous to him.

Before dawn on 4 December, Captain Borrow and his men slipped quietly out of camp and headed through the darkness towards their stranded comrades. Wilson was horrified when he peered into the dawn light and saw only 20 figures emerging. For most of the night the patrol had heard and sensed the movement of Matabele fighters around them. The hunger for the chase had by then become fear for their own lives, and most had hoped at least to see a Maxim if not the entire column riding to their support.

Wilson then sought the advice of his men. All were pessimistic and pleaded with him to order an immediate retreat, failing which none of them gave much for their for chances of survival. Wilson disagreed, vetoing the majority and urging them to move against Lobengula immediately. It says much for Wilson’s personal authority and the respect he commanded that even under those dismal circumstances all his men agreed. It may still have been possible for them to get back to the column if they had moved quickly, but from the moment they mounted their horses and cantered off in the direction of Lobengula’s camp, they were doomed.

A little later the patrol arrived at the place where they had seen Lobengula’s wagons the previous evening. There they were confronted by a body of Matabele fighters emerging out of the dripping dawn and ominously announcing that all the white men would be dead before the day was over.

The first attacks began with a volley of misdirected fire from the direction of the wagons and from tree cover a short distance beyond. One horse was killed and a trooper wounded as the patrol fought a brief rearguard action before falling back and forming a defensive circle around a termite mound. The first rushed attack was beaten back reasonably easily, after which the Matabele retreated and observed the patrol from a short distance.

It was only at this stage that Wilson began to consider a hot retreat. Forming a square, the patrol managed to cover a short distance before it became apparent that they would not escape unless they mounted an aggressive charge. This would mean leaving those on foot as well as the wounded to the mercy of the Matabele. As Ingram later observed, these were not men given to abandoning their friends.5 Instead it was decided that they would form another defensive circle, dig in, and then send Burnham and Ingram – who had the best chance of getting through – to the column to urge Forbes to send reinforcements.

The two Americans duly mounted up and spurred their horses through a forming body of Matabele warriors. By the time they reached the column, firing could already be heard from the direction of the patrol. The pair struggled across the swollen river and found when they arrived that the column was also engaged in action against a large force of Matabele. It was evident at that point that the patrol had no chance of survival. The column fended off the worst of the attack but there was no possibility that Forbes could consider relieving the patrol.

Mjaan rightly concluded that the column with its riflemen and machine guns was invulnerable and began redirecting his troops across the river and throwing more into the assault against the patrol. Since no white man survived that action, accounts of it are vague and are coloured largely by the views of surviving Matabele fighters.

Whatever may have transpired during those last hours, it is certain that an uncommon meeting of minds occurred between the two sides. The Matabele were a brutal and often crude society. Warfare defined their cultural identity and killing was their supreme expression. Terrible cruelty born of contempt was usually inflicted on inferior persons, but men of calibre – those who fought with courage – heard in death the sincere accolades of their enemy. Men, both white and black, met for a moment in time in an engagement more intimate than any other known to man. It was a rare instance when each side understood the other and met on a plane of equality. Never again in the history of Rhodesia would the black race achieve anything close to a victory of this magnitude over whites. It was the first and the last, and as such it lives in the memory of the Matabele as one of greatest of all their glories.

Legend portrays the event in all its awful magnificence. Initially the usual practice of throwing waves of men armed with assegais into withering rifle fire was employed. As the morning wore on and Matabele losses mounted, the warriors retreated into dense woodland and were content to wear down the doomed patrol by insistent and overwhelming sniper fire.

Mjaan was interviewed some time later and his fragmented account paint a vivid picture of the final moments:

 Shouted demands for surrender met with defiant refusal. I would have spared their lives, for they were brave men. Then from the ranks of the doomed came the suggestion that one should live to tell the tale. Matabele agreed. But I think they could find no-one willing to leave his brothers lest he was accounted a coward among women in after years.

 At sunset, Inyamazane, we made an end of it. It was quick. They were finished. There was great rejoicing in our camp that night, for many assegais were wet with the blood of the white man and meat was eaten and beer drunk.

Having assegaied the wounded, who were too weak to fight…‘they do not die like Mashonas. They never cry or groan. They are men. No! I will never fight whites again. They are not afraid to die: They are men.’

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  • Philip PoziArt

    Hallo all my fellow Rhodies. I am battling to find the gps coordinates of the final stand as i want to pay the spot a visit and pay my respects

  • Phil Judd

    Hi Philip.
    Did you have any luck with finding the GPS coordinates for the position of the actual last stand? I was brought up in Salisbury Rhodesia and Capt William Judd is my Great Grandfather. I am going back to Zimbabwe in May, I have visited the Matopos before but am keen to visit the actual battle spot. I have travel directions but need something more accurate. Regards Phil Judd

  • Philip Braybrooke

    howzit the other Phil,
    I trust all is well today. I have been given some GPS figures and I hope they help as I have not tested them yet.
    18 degree 46’1.35″S 28 degrees 7’28.31″E.
    The Rhodesian Government erected a memorial on the site and what is left of it is still there, less the brass plates and chains.
    A picture was posted on a birding site of a couple of lads sitting on the memorial with very cold beers in hand. love the way they think.
    stay well

  • Phil Judd

    Thanks very much Phil. That sort of ties in with the map I have and the instructions. I will give it a go in May and let you know how I get on. All the best. Phil

  • John McArthur

    Hi Phil,
    Spotted your request on GPS location of Memorial to those at Shangani. As a distant relative, I’d be interested in the directions to and true GPS location of the memorial, as would my Aunts.
    Yours sincerely,
    John McArthur