The Anglo Zulu War 1879 and Two Local VC Heroes
with Max Keen
Thursday 22 February 2018.
When Max Keen, resplendent in regimental red entered the room to the sound track of Zulu Dawn, we knew we were in for a treat!
Using his knowledge of the conflict, Max was able to give a rapid volley of detail with authority and sensitivity, explaining the background of the conflict and stance of each of the factions which made war inevitable. He discussed the unsuitable equipment and uniforms, the unfortunate decisions made by British officers and the formidable military tactics of highly fit Zulu warriors used to the heat and terrain, and the heroism and terrible loss of life that followed at Isandlwana, Rorke’s Drift and Fugitive’s Drift.
Along with the films that he clearly held dear, and the recent trip he took with some mates to the extensive battle site, Max was able to provide an insight into the layout of the battle sites both actual and as portrayed in the film sets. He recounted his own adventure, following the progression of the action and dipping into the script of that film to re-enact scenes (in one case, much to the bewilderment of a local – and his dog – he did so with a rendition of Michael Caine yelling out orders).
By splicing together facts, film, and his experience of that landscape, Max enabled us to gain an insight into the discomfort experienced by the soldiers, their utter bravery as they fought against overwhelming odds, the VC’s awarded, and the might of the Zulus and their skilful use of the pincer movement.