I was reading the story of the Battle of Omdurman in a Military History magazine on my flight yesterday. A traditional colonial slaughter:

At the Battle of Omdurman (2 September 1898), an army commanded by the British General Sir Herbert Kitchener defeated the army of Abdullah al-Taashi, the successor to the self-proclaimed Mahdi Muhammad Ahmad. It was a demonstration of the superiority of a highly disciplined European-led army equipped with modern rifles and artillery over tribesmen with older weapons (note: spears, arrows, swords) and marked the success of British efforts to re-conquer the Sudan. However, it was not until the Battle of Umm Diwaykarat, a year later, that the final Mahdist forces were defeated.

At the end of the article, the author provided the following insights into the battle, he called these “Lessons”:

  • If armed with spears, don’t charge machine guns. In fact, infantry should never charge machine guns, a lesson Kitchener should have communicated to troops in France in 1914.
  • Career-wise, it never hurts to bring a journalist like Churchill  to write the story up.
  • Artillery, machine guns and gun boats are superb things to have on your side when fighting masses of poorly armed tribesmen.
  • Bring a gun to a sword fight.
  • Bring artillery to every fight.

Good advice all round.

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