Vryheid

The South African Police Silver Cross for Gallantry was instituted in January 1985 and it was only awarded to members of the South African Police who had displayed conspicuous and exceptional gallantry or had performed a fearless or outstanding act through which they lost or imperilled their own lives.

The battle of Kambula (29 March 1879) is the definitive battle of the Zulu War. After the disaster at Isandlwana, when Lord Chelmsford’s Centre Column had temporarily ceased to exist, the focus of the Zulu War had turned to Evelyn Wood’s Column in the north. Not that the British had yet fully learned their lesson about underestimating the Zulus. The Northern Column suffered two disasters – one at Ntombe Drift (12 March) and the other at Hlobane (28 March), before the rampant Zulu army tried their luck on the British base camp at Kambula the following day.

“We once bumped into a column of Russian POW’s. They were in a very bad way and some of them could hardly walk, being assisted on either side by their friends. We had just been given a rare treat - a parcel on the march and our chaps had got stuck in - so much so that some became sick and brought up. A Russian was a witness to this, and no trouble started to wolf down the vomit with his bare hands. This gives an idea of what real hunger can do.”

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