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Anglo-Zulu War

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The Anglo-Zulu War was fought in 1879 between the British Empire and the Zulu Empire. From complex beginnings, the war is notable for several particularly bloody battles, as well as for being a landmark in the timeline of colonialism in the region. This was a decisive six-month war in eastern South Africa, which resulted in a British victory over the Zulus. Before the war the Tugela River formed the boundary between Zululand and the British colony of Natal. Cetshwayo became king of the Zulus in the early 1870s. Unwilling to submit to British hegemony, he assembled a well-disciplined army of 40,000 to 60,000 men. Late in 1878 he received an ultimatum from Natal to disband his army and pay reparations for alleged insults. When he did not respond, British troops invaded under the leadership of Lord Chelmsford. Although the January 1879 rains impeded travel and the tall grasses of Zululand blocked their view, the invaders advanced into Zululand without taking normal precautions (such as scouts and sentries). The Zulu army attacked and annihilated the central British column at Isandhlwana, killing 800 British soldiers and taking nearly 1,000 rifles, with ammunition.

Later, British reinforcements arrived and Cetshwayo fled. The British advantage met a setback in April with the unsolicited arrival of a French prince, Napoleon III?s son, in search of adventure. He joined a British expedition, underestimated the enemy, and was killed in a surprise attack in May. His death was an embarrassment for the British, who had been unable to protect him. Their victories continued, nevertheless. In July Cetshwayo was decisively defeated at Ulundi. Zululand then came under informal British control. It was annexed to Natal in 1887.

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Although the company was formed to portray an 1880's home service unit it was obvious that we would be associated with the most well known actions of the period - the Zulu War from an early stage.

In 1994 we portrayed the 24th Foot in the Cromwell Productions video ?Campaigns in History Rorkes Drift.?

In 1999 we took part in the 120th Anniversary events in Zululand. In January the Company made a 6,000 mile trip to the battlefields of the Anglo Zulu War to stand with the kwaZulu people 120 years to the day on the sites to commemorate and honour the fallen from both sides of the conflict.
The Diehard unit has a fifty strong membership and we are members of the Victorian Military Society, an internationally respected study organization that covers the period 1837 to 1914. Founded in 1993 we represent a number of images of the late Victorian Soldier, both on campaign and on home service.
  • (Home service) 1st Battalion, Middlesex Regiment 1886
  • (Boer War) 2nd Battalion, Middlesex Regiment 1899
  • (Zulu War) 2nd Warwickshire's, 24th foot, 1879


The unit has regularly worked for many prestigious sponsors including English Heritage, The Royal Armouries, The National Army Museum and both South African and Maltese Tourist Boards. We were awarded the Military Illustrated "Best of British Re-enactment Group" trophy in 1998.
[h3]What do we do?[h3]
We populate period barracks and sites, bringing them to life. Whilst the public is on site we carry out a number of activities that can either be watched, such as signalling displays, guard mounting, church parades etc or are interactive such as recruiting parties and lectures on kit and equipment. We also carry out set piece arena shows (for about 25 to 30 minutes) featuring show and tell displays of kit and equipment, drill and tactical manoeuvres and firing displays using Martini Henry rifles of the period.

We believe in bringing history alive and are very high profile user friendly, with plenty of hands on experiences for the general public.

[h3]Who have we worked for?[/h3]

Our past clients include regular events for English Heritage, the Royal Armouries, National Army Museum and Aldershot Military Museum Service. We have worked for numerous councils and event organizers and are well disciplined and a reliable unit. Overseas clients included the Maltese Heritage Commission (in 1997) and kwaZulu Natal Heritage (in 1999). In both cases we were fully sponsored to take around 35 unit member out in the first instance for 10 days to mark the 100th Anniversary of the opening of the Jubilee Lines in Malta in 1897 and in the second reenact the battle of Isandlwana and Rorkes Drift on the sites 120 years to the day later. In 2006 we were invited to take part in the Changing of the Guard ceremony celebrating the the 100 anniversary of the British Army leaving Canada.

We have worked on a number of television and film productions including Channel 5's documentary 'Zulu - the Warriors return' that was about our trip to South Africa in 1999. We have also worked as historical advisers and trainers for films like the remake of "The Four Feathers".

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