Original Zulu War Boer-style Wooden Canteen Recovered from the Battle of Isandlwana

Item Description

Original Item: One-of-a-Kind. Recently purchased from a deceased English Collector's widow, this is most likely a War Trophy liberated from some Regimental Museum sometime after the Battle in 1879, perhaps because of closure through Government cut backs after WW1 and WW2.

The Battle of Isandlwana was the greatest disaster to befall the Victorian British Army. Half a Regiment, more than 1,000 men of the 24th Regiment of Foot, together with Boer farmers and military reservists, were wiped out by 5,000 rampaging Zulus. So great was the disgrace, and dare we say the "Lack of Leadership" demonstrated, that the British Government immediately shifted focus to the following two day stand at the Mission Station at Rorke's Drift.

The later Battle of Rorke’s Drift, the subject of the movie "ZULU", had just over 120 British Soldiers being attacked by the same 5,000 Zulu warriors. For this later action ELEVEN Victoria Crosses were awarded and those brave men have gone down in British Military History and into the hearts of every red-blooded historical military collector. The disaster of the massive defeat of two days earlier at Isandlwana was quietly forgotten and was the subject highlighted in the Movie "ZULU DAWN" continues to be a great British national embarrassment.

The wooden Canteen we have here is not British, but instead is a Dutch Boer Wagon Canteen. It is truly large, 12" across and 5 1/2" deep which would contain a lot of water, far more than any Infantryman would want to carry. It is suspended by an old link chain and has two corked holes in wood mounts. This allows water to be quickly dispensed, as it avoids building an internal vacuum. In itself this wood canteen is extremely interesting, however the compelling part is the worn white metal plaque mounted by two old screws on one of the sides stating:-


We assume that N.M.P. stands for "Natal Mounted Police" (remember Sergeant Christian Schiess V.C. in "ZULU"). They certainly had men at both of the engagements and in the relief column that followed a few days later.

This Canteen was treasured by its owner for close to 50 years before being made available to us. A very unusual Canteen with a fabulous story to tell.

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