Scottish Military Disasters

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In the end, Spain lost about 20, men. Most of them perished due to storms and ship worms rather than actual combat with the English. The Austrian army, numbering to as many as , strong and able men, set camp near the town of Karansebes now Caransebes which is located in Romania. The vanguard of the army crossed the river to scout for signs of the Ottoman Turks. The Hussars found none. Soon, a group of infantrymen crossed the river and, upon seeing the drinking party, demanded a share of the alcohol.

The drunk hussars refused and set up a makeshift fortification around the barrels. Eventually, a heated argument arose and one soldier fired. The rest of the army heard the gunfire, and chaos broke out. Thinking that an attack had begun, soldiers began to open fire at every shadow that moved, convinced that the Turks were closing in.

Others fled the scene in terror. It was only two days after this disaster that the real Ottoman Army arrived and found 10, dead and wounded Austrian soldiers. They easily took hold of Karansebes. The Battle of Wabash is, arguably, the worst military defeat suffered by America throughout its history. In this event, American General Arthur St. He was younger brother to 'Willie' Blackwood, who in had become editor of 'Blackwood's Magazine'. Another piece of my self-made jigsaw was falling into place. The Maiwand letters in MS. The recipient was an Army Medical Service as it then was officer, John Stewart Lithgow, an Edinburgh graduate and subsequently a much-decorated Major-General, whose papers came to the Library in Doyle certainly, and possibly the fictional Dr Watson too, were also Edinburgh medical students.

Ready's account brings us close to the horror of that dreadful day, from which he and all too few others escaped in the rout due to luck and their role in the action. His commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel James Galbraith, nine other officers and nearly men of his battalion fell and 50 more were wounded, Galbraith and some others the badly wounded Blackwood among them, unable to ride with his battery having made three desperate rallies in an attempt to save the colours of the 66th, those potent symbols of regimental identity and of Queen and country still being carried in action as late as Both colours were lost in the wreck of the shattered battalion, of which the last remaining 11 officers and men made a final stand, all to be killed.

The two Indian infantry battalions of Burrows' brigade suffered even greater losses, with the 1st Bombay Native Infantry Bombay Grenadiers faring particularly badly with some dead. Jacob's Rifles, 30th Bombay Infantry, lost nearly dead. The two Indian cavalry regiments also present proved less resolute than might have been expected.

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The importance of traditional research in primary and serious secondary sources such as official military histories that for the Second Afghan War having been published by the firm of John Murray cannot be over-stressed today, when so much of what passes for 'research' is done from the internet. If one looks at some electronic sources, one would believe that when mention is made of 'the [Bombay] Grenadiers' it was the Grenadier Guards that is being referred to.

That most distinguished regiment was neither present at Maiwand, nor even engaged in the war; yet one article on the internet maligns them for cowardice in the battle. When I last looked at it, the Wikipedia article on Maiwand used a celebrated painting by Richard Caton Woodville showing the Royal Horse Artillery saving their guns - a sacred duty for Gunners - under heavy fire when out of ammunition and with the enemy almost on their position.

This gallant episode was captioned as the 'Royal Horse Artillery fleeing before Afghan attack', which is not quite the same thing! Maiwand lives in memory as a shocking defeat for British imperial arms, the disgrace being relieved only by the Boy's Own heroism of the Berkshires' last stand and the RHA's daring extraction of their guns. Major Ready's first note to Lithgow, written from the relative safety of a besieged Kandahar, asked him to let his wife know in Reuters cipher that he was all right.

The message ended in a pencilled scrawl, as he listed his brother officers as either killed, wounded or missing as he knew the facts to be.

During the action he had personally bandaged the serious wound in Blackwood's thigh. Among the wounded, Ready mentioned 'Dr Preston'.

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Dawson Johannesburg: Truth Legion, p. Great Britain had counted on France as an essential military partner not only in Europe but also in Africa. Britain did not envisage, by any stretch of the imagination, fighting a war against Germany or Italy without the aid of the substantial French military. The fall of France together with Italy entering the war, immediately placed British colonies in East Africa and its presence in North Africa in a precarious position by exposing a large proportion of the African Empire to the significantly larger Italian and Vichy French colonial forces.

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The Union that had been largely dependent on Britain for her military needs, would now have to become self-sufficient as Britain had to reequip her devastated army evacuated from Dunkirk. South Africa not only achieved self-sufficiency militarily but was able to become an important producer of arms and munitions for the Allies.

Smuts became politically indispensable to Britain, being a great supporter and friend to Winston Churchill and somewhat of a military expert, becoming a Field Marshal in the British Army, and sharing a common belief in the concept of Empire. The British were hopelessly outnumbered by the Italians in terms of manpower and fighting equipment in North and East Africa.

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Although mere numbers were not the only factor in determining fighting power, there was no reason for the British to feel complacent. This was a situation far from the truth, with Britain backed by the millions of people and vast 26 resources of the Empire including South Africa. Figure 1B Fougasse cartoon in Punch magazine on 17 July — This was perhaps a better reflection of the true 27 situation.

The strategic threats to the British Empire and the threats facing South Africa did not necessarily coincide, although when it came to Africa and South Africa's interest in a greater South Africa, there was a close strategic congruency. South Africans in general regarded East Africa and especially Kenya as being in their backyard. This denial of expansionist aims was a major cause of political conflict between South Africa and Britain in the run up to the Second World War.

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The first threat that of a seaborne invasion, was hardly credible in the light of the British control of the Southern Oceans and the absence of another sea- power to challenge the British in this part of the world. The second threat of a landward invasion was no less remote and with the exception of Portugal, no European power controlled colonies in close proximity to South Africa. The strong relationship enjoyed by Britain and Portugal demonstrated by the oldest alliance in the world dating back to ensured that a threat to South Africa from this direction through the Portuguese colonies of Angola and Mozambique were highly unlikely.

Hertzog was no less anxious then Smuts to incorporate the three protectorates of Swaziland, Basutoland, and Bechuanaland into the Union. Smuts tried to take advantage of Britain's preoccupation with the war, to secure the transfer of Swaziland in order to strengthen his hand against the Afrikaner nationalists. Smuts sought to form a united state stretching possibly to the equator, including South-West Africa and southern Mozambique. Pretoria would be the true geographical capital of the greater South Africa.

Smuts saw this expansion as part of an Imperial plan, whereas Hertzog and most Nationalists shared the same objectives more as an Afrikaner right. Therefore the differences lay in their motives and not their objectives. Despite Portugal's long alliance with the United Kingdom and the unlikelihood of Portugal posing a threat to South Africa, in the Chief of General Staff van Ryneveld seemed to think that Portugal would launch an invasion of the Union through Lourenco Marques with a modern expeditionary force. Birkby, Uncle George p. South Africa found rare political unity around the issue of Italy and the mischief she had caused by invading and conquering Abyssinia in South Africa was one of the louder voices calling for hard hitting sanctions against Italy in the wake of her aggressive grab for Abyssinia, and while ambivalent in supporting the United Kingdom against Germany, took a much harsher view regarding Italy and its threat to peace.

It is the third threat, that of internal unrest, which was perceived as the major threat to South African stability and which dominated and shaped the preparation of the South African military between the two world wars. The threat came from both black and white disaffected communities, and if combined with an invasion from an enemy, had the potential of posing a serious challenge to the UDF.

These parties envisaged that South Africa could deploy beyond its borders in Africa together with commonwealth forces to meet a European enemy threatening the Empire.

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This possibility was introduced in the defence bill that underlined the importance of defence as being an imperial matter. The interwar period was dominated by forces that moved for the greater independence of South Africa and sought to ease ties with Britain 34 The Cambridge History of Africa , ed. There was also a considerable submarine threat posed by the Italian navy operating from East Africa. Oswald Pirow was concerned with Italian bomber aircraft whose speed out performed fighters of the South African Air Force.

Sir Pierre van Ryneveld the UDF Chief of the General Staff reiterated in that all thinking, plans, organization, equipment, and training must be directed towards the highest possible efficiency in a campaign in tropical bush country.

Conan Doyle, Blackwood's and two Afghan Disasters

The Rebellion that split the nation after all the tentative steps towards conciliation combined with the horrors of trench warfare, conspired to unite most South African politicians in ensuring that military support of the Empire would be confined to the continent of Africa. After the war, Major General J. Collyer, Chief of the General Staff in , and much of the general staff, did not foresee the eventuality of South Africans fighting in the European theatre again.

His work highlighted the disadvantages of mechanization and almost dismissed the role of the tank and airplane in any future sub-Saharan war. The Imperial Conference gave the question of Imperial defence high priority and sought yet again to install an Imperial Defence Council unsuccessfully and to standardise establishments, equipment, military thought and intelligence.

The South Africans were unable to maintain the quotas for training courses in the United Kingdom due to the inability to pass physical and literacy tests. Two future generals that were able to take advantage of these training programs were Lieutenant General George Brink who was to command the 1st Division at Sidi Rezegh and Major General Dan Pienaar who commanded the 2nd Brigade under Brink in the same battle. Brink considered that Camberley had been of estimable value to him, and there is no doubt that had more 37 I. Staff training in the German Armed Forces was of the highest priority and most of their early victories can be attributed to the excellent staff work enjoyed by the German army. This was to be accomplished despite the lack of an Intelligence arm subsequently re-established in , the lack of decent maps, non-existence of brigade headquarters and a defence force that had dwindled in numbers from its peak in World War One of to 39 The Pact government followed by the Fusion government in , ensured that the next fifteen years up to the outbreak of the war were relatively calm with little or no industrial or black unrest.

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At the Imperial Conference Colonel F. Provision was not made for deployment outside southern Africa, and no South African citizen other than a volunteer would be sent to aid the Empire. General von Seeckt described the task of the General Staff as not being to produce geniuses but to concentrate on the training of ordinary men who could display efficiency and common sense. The German General Staff sought to create a core of leaders were able to ascribe to a common set of principles of operational thought. The prevention and suppression of internal unrest was the priority of the Union Defence Policy formulated in Adding to the general political lethargy towards the UDF, the great depression played a further role in decimating the UDF when 49 Active Citizen Force units and a multitude of Defence Rifle Associations were closed down.

Between July and June all continuous training for the Citizen Force ceased. See Figure 2 This anachronism was at the behest Pirow, who supposedly relied on the advice of the Chief of the Imperial General Staff and no less a figure than General von Lettow-Vorbeck, the legendary master of bush-warfare. I have heaps of relatives there. At home we speak German. The issue of the infamous bush carts receives kinder treatment by G.

Bentz who offers up two reasons for procuring the bush cart as a question of reliability in a country lacking infrastructure for a mechanized wear and economic necessity in a country recovering from the depression. Simpson is scathing in his attack on Bush cart episode calling it a product of some non-military brain.

Scottish Military Disasters Scottish Military Disasters
Scottish Military Disasters Scottish Military Disasters
Scottish Military Disasters Scottish Military Disasters
Scottish Military Disasters Scottish Military Disasters
Scottish Military Disasters Scottish Military Disasters
Scottish Military Disasters Scottish Military Disasters
Scottish Military Disasters Scottish Military Disasters
Scottish Military Disasters Scottish Military Disasters

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