The British 'Blackhawk Down'?

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The British 'Blackhawk Down'?

Postby Frogsmile » 21 Jul 2015 17:23

The British 'Blackhawk Down' - Battle of Gumburu, April 1903 - discuss?
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Re: The British 'Blackhawk Down'?

Postby jf42 » 21 Jul 2015 18:39

Well, one small point occurs....oh, I'm just being pedantic. Never mind.
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Re: The British 'Blackhawk Down'?

Postby Frogsmile » 22 Jul 2015 19:09

jf42 wrote:Well, one small point occurs....oh, I'm just being pedantic. Never mind.


The only link is perhaps the embarrassment of a superpower and a Somali enemy. I know next to nothing about the battle and am hoping to be educated.
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Re: The British 'Blackhawk Down'?

Postby jf42 » 22 Jul 2015 19:26

Ah, nothing to do with early flying machines, then. Curses.
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Re: The British 'Blackhawk Down'?

Postby Frogsmile » 22 Jul 2015 19:44

jf42 wrote:Ah, nothing to do with early flying machines, then. Curses.


It's connected with a 'broken square', but that is all that I know.
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Re: The British 'Blackhawk Down'?

Postby jf42 » 22 Jul 2015 20:46

Blimey! How do you come to find out about it?

I assume you consulted Herr Google. I came up with these:

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Q3C ... 03&f=false

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=t9M ... 03&f=false

I suppose the fact that the British force annihilated by the 'Mad Mullah' and his 'Dervishes' was composed of Sikhs, King's African Rifles and Somalis just under 200 strong with only 9 British officers, explains why we do not hear about Gumburu more often. Indeed, it seems we tend to hear much less about British adventures in the old Imperial stamping grounds of the Northwest Frontier, Afghanistan and East Africa after 1900. Less epic, less glamorous, perhaps? DId the Boer War and the Great War kill public appetite for tales of Imperial adventure?
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Re: The British 'Blackhawk Down'?

Postby Frogsmile » 24 Jul 2015 14:06

jf42 wrote:Blimey! How do you come to find out about it?

I assume you consulted Herr Google. I came up with these:

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Q3C ... 03&f=false

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=t9M ... 03&f=false

I suppose the fact that the British force annihilated by the 'Mad Mullah' and his 'Dervishes' was composed of Sikhs, King's African Rifles and Somalis just under 200 strong with only 9 British officers, explains why we do not hear about Gumburu more often. Indeed, it seems we tend to hear much less about British adventures in the old Imperial stamping grounds of the Northwest Frontier, Afghanistan and East Africa after 1900. Less epic, less glamorous, perhaps? DId the Boer War and the Great War kill public appetite for tales of Imperial adventure?


Thank you for the links, very interesting, unusually for me I had not googled the battle.

I read of the incident in Ian Knight's book, 'Go to your God like a Soldier' (recommended).

In his day the Mad Mullah was the same kind of bogeyman as Osama Bin Laden.

I get the impression that the 'choleric' Lt Col in command in this incident underestimated his enemy. Such hubris has been the root cause of so many soldier's deaths.
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Re: The British 'Blackhawk Down'?

Postby jf42 » 24 Jul 2015 15:53

Frogsmile wrote:[

I get the impression that the 'choleric' Lt Col in command in this incident underestimated his enemy. Such hubris has been the root cause of so many soldier's deaths.


Especially in the era of the breech loader and Gatling -

(or even the Lee-Enfield and Maxim).

"Play up..."
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Re: The British 'Blackhawk Down'?

Postby Frogsmile » 29 Jul 2015 11:37

There is a good, illustrated account of the Campaign and the battle itself here: http://somtribune.com/notes-the-kings-a ... ad-mullah/

As a coincidence I was reading in the TIMES yesterday that there has been a scientific study that shows naturally aggressive people have less of the grey (as opposed to white) matter in the brain that decides judgement. It made me think of Major and Local Lieutenant Colonel Arthur William Valentine Plunkett (Manchester Regiment)!

No reserve ammunition was taken, the senior officer (Cobbe) was disobeyed and there were numerous cases of .303 bullets failing to stop even wounded men from advancing and breaking repeatedly into the square. How they must have wished for a Martini Henry's stopping power.

It was especially curious to learn that there were two British other ranks from the 60th KRR present in the square and subsequently killed along with all the other 'whites'. What could have been their role? At first I thought that perhaps they were officers' servants, but thinking more logically my guess is that they were the Maxim MMG gunners, as it would have been difficult to teach the African Askaris of the KAR the numerous types of potential stoppage and the complex drills to rectify them. Apparently the guns were put beyond use shortly before the order to attempt a break out was given. Perhaps one of the last acts of these men.
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