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War monuments allways tell a story. Sometimes even more than the story it intends to tell. In Isandhlwana a monument commemorates the 1879 battle in the Anglo-Zulu war. Just outside the village, everywhere against the hill one sees heaps of white stones. Every spot indicates the place an Englishmen was killed. Simple, yet very impressive.

Apart from that, obviously one also encounters the monuments with the placards with names. And so the visitor reads the names of those killed in Isandhlwana, also somebody who died in the next village, Rorke's drift. But what about the others?

According to what I can read they died of fever in another town called Helpmakaar (beautiful African name btw, translated it would be 'Help each other '). Not as heroic is it? Corporal Chaddock and his men were suffering in a tent probably, while others fought against the Zulu's. I try to imagine the scene. At some point in 1879 his family back home got a message that he had passed away. What did they tell them? He died of fever or did they make up a heroic story about a battlefield? Did a (great)grand child of him visit the battlefields half a century later and saw this monument? How do they remember him, as a hero killed by a Zulu or as a loser who died away from the battle?

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gerbie

May 2009

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