|Quoting L-188 (Reply 259):|
I don't see how. And as history has shown at many places including the British Army Isswanlanda(spl?) during the Zulu War and By the US Army and Navy at Pearl Harbor, you don't beat off attackers by locking up your ammo.
Dunno, L-188 - as I said earlier, unless a pitched battle is going on, ammunition in disciplined forces is usually only issued against a signature and is required to be returned to store as people go off duty. The reason for that is not so much 'tactical' as practical - otherwise people could (and now and again did) do utterly-stupid things with it (which appears to have happened in this case). It's only too possible that, if Bales did in fact return to base and go out again, he did in fact draw additional ammo. If so, since he wasn't on 'official duty,' that surely has to be a failure of command?
A digression, but I hope an entertaining one.
The place was called 'Isandlwana,' and was the location of an invading British force, plus 'native contingents,' which was pretty well wiped out in the early stages of the Zulu War in 1879. The reason for the defeat was not any ammunition shortage - it was due to the overall British commander dividing his force, and the local commander failing to see that his detachment dug itself in. A contributing factor was that the column concerned also included a large number of local 'native levies,' who were very poorly armed, and understandably mostly made themselves scarce when a huge Zulu force (some estimates put its size at up to 20,000) attacked and wiped out a column which boiled down to less than a thousand 'redcoats.'
Most of the dead soldiers were members of the '24th. Regiment of Foot,' which was in process of being re-named as the '2nd. Warwickshire Regiment.' This was almost an 'insult,' as the regiment concerned was mainly based in Brecon in South Wales, not in the English county.
The next day the British exhibited their talent for 'winning the last battle' after the odd early disaster. One company of the 24th. Regiment (only about 100 redcoats plus about forty locals) had been assigned to guard a supply depot at the nearby mission station at Rorke's Drift; and the officer commanding that force 'did the right thing' and had them dig in. They successfully held out through the night and in the morning the Zulus, pretty badly 'mauled,' withdrew. The British force was assisted, of course, by the fact that the Zulus had already fought one battle that day; and also by the fact that the attackers, after a long march on an exhausting day, tended to arrive in 'dribs and drabs' rather than in a mass. Nevertheless the unit did very well; and was recognised by the award of no fewer than eleven VCs (Victoria Crosses) - which remains a record for a single action to this day.
Their achievements were all the more praiseworthy since they were armed only with the first breechloading rifle issued to the British Army - the single-shot Martini-Henry, which naturally only offered a slow rate of fire. But at least (reverting to your original point), given that they were guarding the supply depot for the whole British force, they were in no danger of running out of ammo.....
Rorke's Drift was later 'commemorated' by a notable film. There's a bit of 'poetic licence' in it, given that, as mentioned above, the Zulus were unable to carry out a mass assault, and instead had to attack more in 'penny packets' - but at least it gives a pretty good impression of what the blokes had to face in those days. Pleased to say that, a couple of years later, the regiment was given a proper Welsh name (the 'South Wales Borderers') and is now part of the Royal Regiment of Wales.
[Edited 2012-03-25 19:26:49]
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