Thursday, 11 November 2010

Shangani Patrol

In memory of all those who have died or still die in wars. I wrote this in honour of a group of men in Rhodesia who died fighting and were honoured by those who they fought. It was a battle that should never have been fought and it began a legend.
A retreat was already taking place but the greed of white man caused caused this particular battle by talking gold tribute and running away not taking the message and gold to their officers in charge.
Greed from all colours to all has caused so many deaths be it minerals, water or oil.

Lobengula lost 80 Royal Guard and 500 warriors. The remains of the Shangani Patrol were finally moved in 1904 & interred in the Matopas at Worlds View which had been consecrated and set aside “For ever for those who deserved well of their country Worlds View is the one place that has not been desecrated still.

The exact spot of the last stand is only approximately known. A granite obelisk was erected in 1937 at the “site”. The carved tree “To Brave Men” is in the Bulawayo Museum. There were 37(?) men but 3 Men on the patrol escaped at the start of the fight. 33 skulls were found after the fight. 34 were involved

At one point the survivors went to try and escape but their leader(?) stopped them, looked at the wounded and said nothing, they dismounted and stayed.

It is generally agreed but not confirmed that the abdomens were split open to allow their spirits to escape. This is how the Matbele honoured those they felt faught bravely their finest honour they could bestow. It is also said the men sang and cheered throughout.
The last man has never been identified but his acts were confirmed.

All information of the battle has been handed down by the Matabele.

Shangani Patrol

4th December 1893, Allan Wilson and his 33 marched towards their end.
In a dark and brooding forest, near the banks of the flooded Shangani.
Lobengula’s empty royal kraal, a trap that had been set
The click of Winchesters and by the anthill death was felt.
No protection, no place to hide, men staring fearfully around.
The gentle hum of bees was heard, bees whose stings were death,
were killing lumps of flying lead.
Grouped around the wounded they turned and in fear fled
Their only hope to cross, the flooded river bed.

Funnelled by the impis to a barricade of death
They stopped and killed their horses, at their final place of rest,
In a smoking hell of noise and pain from the pit of Dante’s realm.
Dead lay where they’d fallen while wounded tried to fight.
Water gone and throats rasped dry they lapped at trickling wounds.

Surrender…. the Matabele offered but were scornfully refused.
Through the morning they fought on knowing they would die.
The barrier of horses, bodies bloated high.
Held at bay the impis, and the stabbing assegai.
Death sought hard the fighting men… refusing to be denied.

Finally, their bullets spent and few men left alive
They stood and looking past their fear they shook each others hands.
Sung a final song and in the sudden, waiting silence, they walked out into myth,
onto the killing ground to face their lonely deaths.
The last survivor to an anthill walked killing as he went.
His hip was shattered by a bullet and finally he fell,
Kissed by ripping assegai, his passing was the end.

For the courage of the 34 the Matabele generals decreed
No one would touch their bodies their courage had shone through.
“For they are Men of Men and shall lie where they have died”.
3000 Thousand throats in unison sung the royal salute
Weapons held high in honour of the fallen 34

Two months later trees still bullet scarred and raw.
The stench of death a memory
Trader Dawson passing through found the scattered bones.
He collected and he buried them and on a tree he carved
The simple but the poignant words
“To Brave Men”

© C.L 5/2/07

1 comment:

LibraLass said...

Thank you Caro for the remeberance of home and the Shangani Patrol.

I Remembered with Pride all the people lost at home and in all other wars both past and present.

With Love