Battlefield virtual tours

Isandlwana Battlefield 

The Battle of Isandlwana was fought on the 22nd January 1879 and was the first major encounter in the Anglo-Zulu War. Eleven days after the British commenced their invasion of Zululand, a Zulu force of some 20,000 warriors attacked the 1,700 British soldiers who were camped at the base of Isandlwana Hill. Despite a huge disadvantage in weapons technology, the Zulus ultimately overwhelmed the British and the battle remains one of Britain’s worst defeats against a native army.

 

Rorke's Drift Battlefield

The Battle of Rorke's Drift was fought on the same day as the Battle of Isandlwana. Just as it was incomprehensible to the public in Britain that British troops armed with modern weapons could be overwhelmed by native troops, it was equally astounding that a just over 100 of the same British troops could withstand an attack from approximately 4,000 Zulu warriors on the mission station later that day. The defence of the mission station saw a record award of 11 Victoria Crosses.

 

Spioenkop Battlefield 

Towards the close of the 19th century, Britain tried to gain control over the Transvaal and this led to the declaration of war in October 1899. Boer troops moved into the Colony of Natal and laid siege to the town of Ladysmith, where a large number of British troops were stationed. The Battle of Spioenkop took place on the 23rd and 24th January 1900 and was the scene of the bloodiest and most futile of the four battles fought to relieve Ladysmith. The British had captured the summit of Spioenkop in the early hours of the 24th. Thick mist surrounded the summit and the British entrenched in the centre instead of the forward slopes. When the mist lifted they realised that they were exposed to the surrounding hills. Boer rifle fire, supported by artillery fire, rained down on the summit with deadly accuracy. Despite British reinforcements it became clear that they would not be able to hold out and they started to withdraw. Unbeknown to the British, the Boers had also started to withdraw. A Boer party later discovered that the only occupants of the Hill were the dead and dying, and quickly reoccupied the hilltop.

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