THE ZULU CAMPAIGN
Zulu medal with clasp: 1877-8-9 named to No. 985. PTE. EDWARD READ. 2-24 Regt. (South Wales Borders).
India - Burma medal named to the same man. South Wales Borderers 1885-1887; Clasp: Burma 1885-7.
Surgeon J.H. Reynolds (Army Medical Department)
Acting Assistant Commissary J.L. Dalton (Commissariat Department)
Lieutenant G. Bromhead (2nd Batt., 24th Regiment)
Corporal W.W. Allen (2nd Batt., 24th Regiment)
Private F. Hitch (2nd Batt., 24th Regiment)
Private A.H. Hook (2nd Batt., 24th Regiment)
Private R. Jones (2nd Batt., 24th Regiment)
Private W. Jones (2nd Batt., 24th Regiment)
Private J. Williams (2nd Batt., 24th Regiment)
Corporal F.C. Schiess (Natal Native Contingent)A total of five men were awarded the distinguished conduct medal:Colour-Sergeant F. Bourne (2nd Batt., 24thRegiment)
Private W. Roy (1st Batt., 24th Regiment)
Wheeler J. Cantwell (Royal Artillery)
Second Corporal F. Attwood (Army Service Corps)
Second Corporal M. McMahon (Army Hospital Corps)
(McMahon had his award withdrawn after being charged and found guilty of theft at Helpmekaar)
Acting Assistant Commissary J.L. Dalton (Commisseriat Department)
Corporal W.W. Allen (2nd Batt., 24th Regiment)
Corporal J. Lyons (2nd Batt., 24th Regiment)
Corporal C. Scammell (Natal Native Contingent)
Corporal F. Schiess (Natal Native Contingent)
Drummer J. Keefe (2nd Batt., 24th Regiment)
Private J. Bushe (2nd Batt., 24th Regiment)
Private P. Desmond (1st Batt., 24th Regiment)
Private F. Hitch (2nd Batt., 24th Regiment)
Private A.H. Hook (2nd Batt., 24th Regiment)
Private R. Jones (2nd Batt., 24th Regiment)
Private J. Smith (2nd Batt., 24th Regiment)
Private W. Tasker (2nd Batt., 24th Regiment)
Private J. Waters (2nd Batt., 24th Regiment)
Trooper R. Green (Natal Mounted Police)
Of the defenders at Rorke's Drift 49 were English, 16 Irish, 1 Scot, 32 Welsh and 24 'other
Acting storekeeper L.A. Byrne (Commissariat Department)
Sergeant R. Maxfield (2nd Batt., 24th Regiment)
Private R. Adams (2nd Batt., 24th Regiment)
Private J. Chick (2nd Batt., 24th Regiment)
Private T. Cole (2nd Batt., 24th Regiment)
Private J. Fagan (2nd Batt., 24th Regiment)
Private G. Hayden (2nd Batt., 24th Regiment)
Private W. Horrigan (1st Batt., 24th Regiment)
Private J. Jenkins (1st Batt., 24th Regiment)
Private E. Nicholas (1st Batt., 24th Regiment)
Private J. Scanlon (2nd Batt., 24th Regiment)
Private J. Williams (2nd Batt., 24th Regiment)
Trooper S. Hunter (Natal Mounted Police)
Corporal W. Anderson (Natal Native Contingent)
Plus: One Unknown Private (Natal Native Contingent)Died of Wounds:
Lance-Sergeant T. Williams (2nd Batt., 24th Regiment)
Private W. Beckett (1st Batt., 24th Regiment)
Colour Sergeant (later Lieutenant Colonel) of the 2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment (later The South Wales Borderers). He was born in Balcombe, Sussex on 27th April, 1854 and died on VE Day, 8th May 1945, being the last survivor of Rorke's Drift. His medals are on display at The Royal Regt. of Wales Museum. An account by Lieutenant-Colonel Frank Bourne, OBE, DCM
This is a transcript of a radio broadcast published in the Listener, dated 30th December 1936.
"Of course, back at Rorke's Drift we knew nothing of Isandhlwana disaster, although my Sergeants and I on our hill above it could hear the guns and see the puffs of smoke. But an hour later, at two o'clock, a few refugees arrived and warned us of what to expect. One man whispered to me 'Not a fighting chance for you, young feller.' Up to that time we had done nothing to put our small post in a defensive position, as our Force in front was nearly five thousand strong and had six guns, and the last thing we expected was that we should be the saviours of the remainder of that Force. The strength of our small garrison at the Drift was two combatant and six departmental Officers, and one hundred and thirty-three Non-Commissioned Officers and men, thirty-six of whom were sick, leaving about one hundred fighting men. Remember that twelve hundred men had just been massacred at Isandhlwana. Can you then be surprised that, flushed with their success, the Zulus were making for our small post, confident that we should be easy victims to their savagery?
Having had the warning - but only two hours in advance, as it turned out - we set to work to loophole the two buildings and to connect the front of the Hospital with a stone cattle kraal by sacks of Indian corn and oats, and to draw up two Boer transport wagons to join the front of the Commissariat Stores with the back of the Hospital. These proved excellent barricades, but by no means impregnable.
The native has always been credited with deep cunning, but luckily for us if the Zulu possessed any, he did not use it, for as the sacks connecting the Hospital had to be laid on a slope of the ground he could safely have crept along, cut the sacks open with his assegais, the corn would have rolled out and he could have walked in and I should not now be telling the story. When Lieutenant Chard of the Royal Engineers joined us he approved of what we had done, but considered that our inner space was too big, and suggested a line of biscuit boxes. This was done and proved of great value when the enemy set the Hospital on fire.
I was instructed to post a man as look-outs, in the Hospital, at the most vulnerable points, and to take out and command a line of skirmishers. Shortly after 3.30 an Officer commanding a Troop of Natal Light Horse arrived, having got away from Isandhlwana, and asked Lieutenant Chard for instructions. He was ordered to send detachments to observe the Drift and Pontoons, and to place outposts in the direction of the enemy to check his advance.
About 4.15 the sound of firing was heard behind the hill on our front; the Officer returned and reported the enemy close upon us. He also reported that his 100 men would not obey his orders and had ridden off. About the same time another detachment of 100 men belonging to the Natal Native Contingent bolted., including their Officer himself. I am glad to say he was brought back some days later, court-martialled and dismissed from the service. The desertion of these detachments of 200 men appeared at first sight to be a great loss, with only a hundred of us left, but the feeling was that we could not have trusted them, and also that our defences were too small to accommodate them anyhow.
We knew now that whatever might happen we had to fight it out alone, and about 4.30 the enemy, from 500 to 600 strong, came in sight round the hill to our south, and driving my thin red line of skirmishers, made a rush at our south wall. They were met, and held, by a steady and deliberate fire for a short time, then, being re-enforced by some hundreds, they made desperate and repeated attempts to break through our temporary defences, but were repulsed time and again. To show their fearlessness and their contempt for the red coats and small numbers, they tried to leap the parapet, and at times seized our bayonets, only to be shot down. Looking back, one cannot but admire their fanatical bravery.
About 7 o'clock they succeeded, after many attempts, in setting fire to the Hospital. The small number we were able to spare defended it room by room, bringing out all the sick who could be moved before they retired. Privates Hook, R. Jones, W. Jones and J. Williams were the last to leave, holding the door with the bayonet when all their ammunition was expended. The Victoria Cross was awarded to these men, and they fully deserved it.
The Zulus had collected the rifles from the men who they had killed at Isandhlwana, and had captured the ammunition from the mules which had stampeded and threw their loads; so our own arms where used against us. In fact, this was the cause of every one of our casualties, killed and wounded, and we should have suffered many more if the enemy had known how to use a rifle. There was hardly a man even wounded by an assegais - their principle weapon.
The attack lasted from 4.30 p.m. on the twenty-second to 4.00 a.m. on the twenty-third - twelve exciting hours - and when daybreak occurred, the enemy was out of sight. About 7 o'clock they appeared again to the south-west. But help was at hand; Lord Chelmsford with the other half of his original force was only an hour's march away. On the previous afternoon he had learned of the destruction of his camp at Isandhlwana. A certain Commandant Lonsdale had chanced to ride back to the Camp and had been fired at by Zulus wearing our men's uniform. He escaped by a miracle and was able to report the news to Lord Chelmsford.
Lord Chelmsford at once addressed his men and said: 'Whilst we were skirmishing ahead the Zulus have taken our Camp; there must be ten thousand in our rear, and twenty thousand in front, we must win back our Camp tonight and cut our way back to Rorke's Drift tomorrow'.'All right sir, we'll do it'.
They got back to camp that night, but they found a grim and silent scene as they cautiously approached. The next day they resumed their march and appeared at Rorke's Drift and our enemy retired.
In his dispatch afterwards, Lord Chelmsford said: 'To our intense relief the waving of hats was seen from the hastily erected entrenchments, and information soon reached me that the garrison...had for twelve hours made the most gallant resistance I have ever heard of against the determined attack of some 3,000 Zulu's, 350 of whose dead bodies surrounded the post.' Our losses were 17 killed and 9 wounded. Theirs 351 killed that we buried. Their wounded must have been 400 to 500, which they removed under the cover of night.
There are two things which I think have made Rorke's Drift stand out so vividly after all these years. The first, that it took place on the same day as the terrible massacre at Isandhlwana, and the second, that Natal was saved from being overrun by a savage and victorious foe.
Seven VC's were awarded to this one Company of the Regiment which is now the South Wales Borderers. I have told you the names of the four men who won the VC; the other three were Lieutenant Bromhead, Corporal Allen and Private F. Hitch. The Victoria Cross was also awarded to Lieutenant Chard, Royal Engineers, , Surgeon Reynolds and Corporal Schiess but not one, I regret to say, of those VCs is alive today. In fact, there are only six survivors of Rorke's Drift alive today: Ex-Privates W. Cooper, G. Edwards, H. Martin, W. Owens, H. Williams, and myself.
Lieutenants Chard and Bromhead and the men received the thanks of Parliament, the Officers being promoted to the rank of Major. I was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal with an annuity of £10 - the same awarded to the Victoria Cross - and awarded a Commission, but as I was the youngest of eight sons, and the family exchequer was empty, I had to refuse it that time.
Now just one word for the men who fought that night; I was moving amongst them all the time, and not for one moment did they flinch, their courage and their bravery cannot be expressed in words: for me they were an example of my soldiering days.
The following year, Queen Victoria received at Windsor Castle a Colour Party of the Regiment, and decorated the Queen's Colour with a silver wreath of immortelles in memory of Lieutenants Melvill and Coghill, 'for their devotion in trying to save the Colours on the twenty-second of January (that was at Isandhlwana) and for the noble defence of Rorke's Drift.' So if you ever have the great privilege of seeing the Colours of the South Wales Borderers uncased you will see the wreath. The original wreath presented by Her Majesty is now in the Regimental Chapel of Brecon Cathedral.
You may have seen the famous picture of 'Rorke's Drift' painted by that great French artist, de Neuville, and the original is in the Officers' Mess of the Second Battalion, now at Londonderry."
2459 Colour Sergeant Frank Bourne DCM
Harrow School Chapel memorial (below)
The following letter from a young soldier engaged in the Zulu campaign to his friend in Bath has been placed, in our hands (the Pro). It will be seen that the writer belongs to the ill-fated 24th. Though fortunately for him he is attached to the 2nd battalion. The first being the one that was over-whelmed at Isandhlwana. Dated 16th 1889
Lt-General The Rt. Hon. Lord Chelmsford
The photograph shows the kit layout of the 1st North Staffordshire Regiment Several recognizable photographs are visible on his wall on the right-hand edge of the print. The group portrait, taken in August 1895, shows V.C. winners [Front row, from left to right: David Bell, E.S. Brown, Fred Hitch and John Williams, and William Griffiths. Back row, from left to right: Robert Jones, Henry (Harry) Hook, and William Jones. Bell won his V.C. in the Andaman Islands in 1867, for service not in the presence of the enemy. Robert and William Jones, and Alfred Hook were all in the Hospital Guard at Rorke’s Drift in the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879. E.S. Brown was awarded his V.C. for bravery at Kambula on 29 March 1879, in the same campaign.] The two smaller photographs above the group portrait show, on the right, E.S. Brown, who also appears in the group portrait, and on the left, RSM Hooten, who served in Zululand with the rank of Sergeant, regimental number 1st/24th 1771. The other photographs on the wall all appear to be of actresses.
From Your Son, February 8th, 1879."
Zulu at Isandlwana.
"I am a private in the 2/24th, and left England about sixteen months ago and was engaged in the Cape Colony under Lord Chelmsford. On the threatened Zulu outbreak my regiment was ordered to Natal, and we went up in one of the coast mail steamers. The first news I had of what happened at Isandhlwana was when one of the mounted infantry, named Evans, came galloping up to the mission house, and said that a part of the camp across the river had been destroyed by the Zulus, that two guns had been taken as well as all the ammunition, and that the enemy was advancing in force to attack Rorke's Drift. This was about three o'clock in the afternoon. I was ordered by Lieutenant Bromhead to mount the roof of the stores to watch for the Zulus. I went up immediately, being the only man up there, and in about five minutes I saw an advanced guard of the enemy coming over the brow of the hill on our right front. Every man in Rorke's Drift set to work piling up the mealie-bags, and had soon finished. The big mob of the enemy soon came up, extending from the right, and the column appeared to me, as I watched them from the roof of the house, to be about a mile and a half in length. They were then just beyond gunshot, but were perfectly quiet. They then made a right wheel, and the extreme right moved into the caves on the adjoining hill, and as I was about the only man they could see, being on the roof, they took a potshot at me but missed. I reported the movements to my comrades below, and fired three shots, these being the first that were fired at the Zulus at Rorke's Drift; the enemy made a yell and came at the little front with a rush, and then I got down and took my position with the rest of the company, on the right front, Mr. Bromhead being close to me. The sun was just beginning to set at the time the Zulus came close up to the front, and after they had taken the hospital and was burning it Lieutenant Bromhead and three privates, with Colour-Sergeant Bourne, kept the position in the right front, in order to keep the enemy from getting a line of fire at the men of the 24th, who were fighting to the front from behind a pile of biscuit boxes. I was here for about an hour, being all the time between three cross-fires. I saw one of my comrades - private Nichols - killed; he was shot through the head, his brains being scattered all about us!He had up to his death been doing good service with his rifle. Another, Corporal Sheath, of the Natal Contingent, was shot on my left. I myself kept shooting into a good mob of the enemy, who were very quiet in all they did. About a quarter to seven I was shot from the left, the ball striking me under the right shoulder blade, and came out through the shoulder. I knew at the time that the ball passed right through me. I fell down, and Mr. Bromhead said, "Mate, are you hit?" and I said "Yes". I had not had time to form an opinion as to whether the Zulus would take the fort or not. My only wish was - as I believe was that of every other man - to fight as hard as I could, and I did it until I was wounded. I crept up to the rear, and with the assistance of private Deakin, tied up my wound as well as I could by tearing off the sleeve of a great coat for the purpose. I then knocked about as well as I could, serving the others with ammunition until I became exhausted from loss of blood and fell down unconscious. I did not come to until the morning, just as peep of day, and I then found myself in a stable. The Zulus, meanwhile, had retired, but were again advancing to attack us, and they saw the General and his column coming and again retired. I was sent down to Durban, but did not reach there until the end of April, the journey down being rather rough. I was under medical care at Durban, and was sent home in the Tamar." Unknown participant in the Zulu Campaign
"My charge extended from Greytown to Helpmakaar, about 100 miles, but the important part of it was the thorn country from Burrup's Store to Sandspruit, about 50 miles. This included the passage of the Mooi and Tugela Rivers and several dangerous " spruits." There were certain rules which had to be observed when actually in the thorn country. (1) On no account should cattle be allowed to graze, for redwater (a fatal disease) would almost surely result. To avoid this, forage should be carried on the wagons, so that, on outspanning at a camp, bullocks could be tied to the poles and fed instead of being loosed to graze. (2) Should a wagon get stuck in a dry spruit, no matter how improbable rain might appear to be, it must be got out at all cost and not left there the night. Each wagon was drawn by sixteen oxen; convoys consisted of any number, but were usually of about twenty, and were mostly in charge of an officer senior to myself, and my difficulty was to get these orders carried out. One Cavalry Captain scorned my instructions and broke both of the above rules, and lost three quarters of his cattle from redwater and the wagon loaded with all the stores for the C.-in-C.'s mess, and then called on me to help him out. This part of the country during November and December was liable to terrific thunderstorms, the worst I have seen anywhere, and a dry spruit would in an hour or so become a raging torrent 12 or even 20 feet deep, and this is how Lord Chelmsford's wagon was lost. At sundown the bullocks would not pull it out of a spruit, and instead of getting it out somehow by fresh teams or by off-loading, my friend left it for the night, and in the morning it had disappeared, having been swept down into the main river (the Tugela) several miles below. Curiously enough, I was the person to suffer, for the C.-in-C., becoming convinced that the officer referred to was unfit for transport work, posted him to an irregular mounted corps instead of myself, as I had been led to expect, leaving me with the Transport. To give an instance of the terror of these thunderstorms : one day I, to avoid one, was standing inside Burrup's Canteen Store. Hail was descending as big as pigeons' eggs, the thunder was deafening, and the lightning blinding. On the road in front of the store stood a wagon with sixteen oxen, The trek-tow or rope, to which their yokes were attached, was a steel hawser. Suddenly there was a blinding flash, and when it cleared, lo and behold ! sixteen oxen stretched and lying like dead, and six of them were dead. It was in the thorn country that I first met Hallam-Parr (afterwards General Sir H. Hallam-Parr) of the 13th (Somersets), then a Captain on the Staff of the Lieutenant-Governor of Natal, Sir Henry Bulwer, one of the smartest and best beloved officers I have ever met, an enthusiastic Mounted Infantryman and for years Adjutant-General of the Egyptian Army. Alas! I attended his funeral from his own house in Somersetshire in April 1914. By the 19th January 1879 the force, consisting of the two Battalions of the 24th, one Battery R.A., one Company each of R.E. and M.T., and eight locally raised units, was ready at Rorke's Drift astride the Blood River, and, moving forward next day some ten miles, it camped that night on the east of that remarkably shaped and ill-starred hill called Isandhlwana (literally, " a little hand "), erroneously called by some " Isandula." Some of the Transport with an escort did not arrive until the morning of the 22nd. I was in charge of the Transport depot at Rorke's Drift, and had been warned before starting that I should have to return there at once from Isandhlwana with a convoy of empty wagons to bring up more stores, so I left my camp kit in a tented wagon at Rorke's Drift. At about midnight I was sent for by General Lord Chelmsford and told to take a dispatch back to Rorke's Drift for Colonel Durnford, R.E., who was expected there with reinforcements consisting of native levies. I rode back, 10 miles, arriving at Rorke's Drift just before dawn on the 22nd, and delivered my dispatch. It ought to have been a very jumpy ride, for I was entirely alone and the country was wild and new to me, and the road little better than a track; but pride at being selected to carry an important dispatch and the valour of ignorance (for I only realised next day that the country was infested with hostile Zulus) carried me along without a thought of danger. Colonel Durnford was just moving off with his levies towards Sandspruit (away from Isandhlwana), but on reading the dispatch, which conveyed instructions to move up to reinforce the Isandhlwana camp (as Lord Chelmsford, with the main body of the force, leaving the camp standing, was moving out some miles to the east to attack the Zulu Army), he at once changed the direction of his march. I had several arrangements to make for Transport at Rorke's Drift, amongst others the erection of a gallows for making riems. This gallows was some 15 feet high, and the process consisted of cutting hides of bullocks into strips about an inch wide, working in a circle ; the strips then had the appearance of the peel of an apple all coiled up, and in order to be fashioned into straight straps had to be passed over the gallows and through a weighted wagon-wheel below. These strips were then worked over the gallows and through the wheel, stretched and rubbed with fat until the curves were lost, resulting in very long, soft strips of hide, which could eventually be cut into lengths for tying to the horns of oxen as head-ropes. It is interesting to relate that the first use I saw the gallows put to was for hanging Zulus who were supposed to have behaved treacherously the day after the Rorke's Drift fight. After starting the gallows, I went up to see Captain " Gonny " Bromhead, in command of the company of the 24th, and I told him a big fight was expected, and that I wanted revolver ammunition. He gave me eleven rounds, and hearing heavy guns over at Isandhlwana, I rode off and got into that camp about 8 a.m., just as Colonel Durnford's force arrived. Colonel Durnford was having a discussion with Lieutenant-Colonel Pulleine of the 24th, who had been left by Lord Chelmsford in command of the camp, Lord (Chelmsford and all the troops, including the 2/24th, having gone out to attack the Zulus. Lieutenant-Colonel Pulleine's force consisted of six companies of the 1/24th, two guns under Brevet-Major Smith and Lieutenant Curling, and some native levies. As far as I could make out, the gist of Colonels Durnford and Pulleine's discussion was that the former wished to go out and attack the Zulus, whilst the latter argued that his orders were to defend the camp, and that he could not allow his infantry to move out. Colonel Durnford and his rocket battery under Russell, R.A., and his mounted Basutos under Cochrane (32nd), then rode off towards a small hill, apparently a spur of the main range, and 1.5 miles from the camp (see A on sketch). Of the 24th, one company (Lieutenant Cavaye) was on picket out of sight of the camp and about a mile to the north on the main range. We could hear heavy firing in this direction even then (8 a.m.). This company was reinforced later by two more (Mostyn's and Dyson's), and the three fell back fighting about noon and covered the north side of the camp. The remaining three companies present (for two under Major Upcher, with Lieutenants Clements, Palmes, Heaton, and Lloyd, only reached Helpmakaar on the 22nd from the old colony) were extended round the camp in attack formation, covering especially the front and left front. Two battalions of native levies were also in this line, but they were not to be relied on and were feebly armed, only one man in ten being allowed a rifle, lest they should desert to the enemy. In consequence of the heavy firing to the north and the appearance of large numbers of Zulus on the main range of hills, and partly, I believe, to support Colonel Durnford's movement, the line was pushed out on a curve, but to no great distance from the tents. Farther than this it never went. Our two guns were at the same time pushed out into the firing-line to the north-east of the camp (see sketch). At about 12 a.m. the Zulus, who had apparently fallen back behind the hills, again showed in large numbers, coming down into the plain over the hills with great boldness, and our guns and rifles were pretty busy for some time, causing the Zulus again to fall back. It was difficult to see exactly what was going on, but firing was heavy. It was evident now that the Zulus were in great force, for they could be seen extending (i.e. throwing out their horns) away across the plain to the south-east, apparently working towards the right rear of the camp. As far as I can make out, Colonel Durnford with his force never actually left the plain, but was close under the foot of the small spur he originally went to seize. Nothing of importance occurred, beyond the constant increase of the Zulus and the spreading out of their horns, until about 1 p.m., when they started their forward movement direct on the camp. Our troops were in the positions they had occupied hours before, our two guns busy throughout shelling the enemy. Forty-five empty wagons stood in the camp with the oxen in. It was a convoy which I was to have taken to Rorke's Drift for supplies early in the morning, but which was stopped until the enemy should be driven off. These wagons might have at any time been formed into a laager, but no one appeared to appreciate the gravity of the situation, so much so that no steps were taken until too late to issue extra ammunition from the large reserves we had in camp. I will return to the advancing Zulus' line at about 1 p.m. It was a marvellous sight, line upon line of men in slightly extended order, one behind the other, firing as they came along, for a few of them had firearms, bearing all before them. The rocket battery, apparently then only a mile to our front, was firing, and suddenly it ceased, and presently we saw the remnants of Durnford's force, mostly mounted Basutos, galloping back to the right of our position. What had actually happened I don't think we ever shall know accurately. The ground was intersected with " dongas," and in them Russell with his rocket battery was caught, and none escaped to tell the tale. I heard later that Durnford, who was a gallant leader, actually reached the camp and fell there fighting. And now the Zulu Army, having swept away Durnford's force, flushed with victory, moved steadily on to where the five companies of the 24th were lying down covering the camp. They were giving vent to no loud war-cries, but to a low musical murmuring noise, which gave the impression of a gigantic swarm of bees getting nearer and nearer. Here was a more serious matter for these brave warriors, for the regiment opposed to them were no boy recruits, but warworn, matured men, mostly with beards, and fresh from a long campaign in the old colony where they had carried everything before them. Possessed of splendid discipline and sure of success, they lay on their position making every round tell, so much so that when the Zulu Army was some 400 yards off, it wavered. After the War the Zulus, who were delightfully naive and truthful people, told us that the fire was too hot for them and they were on the verge of retreat, when suddenly the fire slackened and on they came again. The reader will ask why the fire slackened, and the answer is, alas! because, with thousands of rounds in the wagons 400 yards in rear, there was none in the firing line ; all those had been used up." I will mention a story which speaks for the coolness and discipline of the regiment. I, having no particular duty to perform in camp, when I saw the whole Zulu Army advancing, had collected camp stragglers, such as artillerymen in charge of spare horses, officers' servants, sick, etc., and had taken them to the ammunition-boxes, where we broke them open as fast as we could, and kept sending out the packets to the firing-line. (In those days the boxes were screwed down and it was a very difficult job to get them open, and it was owing to this battle that the construction of the ammunition-boxes was changed.) When I had been engaged at this for some time, and the 1/24th had fallen back to where we were, with the Zulus following closely, Bloomfield, the Quartermaster of the 2/24th, said to me in regard to the boxes I was then breaking open, " For heaven's sake, don't take that, man, for it belongs to our Battalion." And I replied, " Hang it all, you don't want a requisition now, do you ? " It was about this time, too, that a Colonial named Du Bois, a wagon-conductor, said to me, " The game is up. If I had a good horse I would ride straight for Maritzburg." I never saw him again. I then saw Surg.-Major Shepherd, busy in a depression, treating wounded. This was also the last time I saw him. To return to the fight. Our right flank had become enveloped by the horn of the Zulus and the levies were flying before them. All the transport drivers, panic-stricken, were jostling each other with their teams and wagons, shouting and yelling at their cattle, and striving to get over the neck (see sketch) on to the Rorke's Drift road; and the red line of the 24th, having fixed bayonets, appeared to have but one idea, and that was to defeat the enemy. The Zulu charge came home, and, driven with their backs to the rock of Isandhlwana, and overpowered by about thirty to one, they sold their lives dearly. The best proof of this is the subsequent description of the Zulus themselves, who, so far from looking on it as a decisive victory, used to relate how their wagons were for days removing their dead, and how the country ran rivers of tears, almost every family bemoaning the loss of some near relative. When this final charge took place, the transport which was in-spanned had mostly cleared the neck, and I jumped on my broken-kneed pony, which had had no rest for thirty hours, and followed it, to find on topping the neck a scene of confusion I shall never forget, for some 4,000 Zulus had come in behind and were busy with shield and assegai. Into this mass I rode, revolver in hand, right through the Zulus, but they completely ignored me. I heard afterwards that they had been told by their King Cetywayo that black coats were civilians and were not worth killing. I had a blue patrol jacket on, and it is noticeable that the only five officers who escaped—Essex, Cochrane, Gardner, Curling, and myself—had blue coats. The Zulus throughout my escape seemed to be set on killing natives who had sided with us, either as fighting levies or transport drivers. After getting through the mass of Zulus busy slaying, I followed in the line of fugitives. The outer horns of the Zulu Army had been directed to meet at about a mile to the south-east of the camp, and they were still some distance apart when the retreat commenced. It was this gap which fixed the line of retreat. I could see the Zulus running in to complete their circle from both flanks, and their leading men had already reached the line of retreat long before I had got there. When I reached the point I came on the two guns, which must have been sent out of camp before the Zulus charged home. They appeared to me to be upset in a donga and to be surrounded by Zulus. Again I rode through unheeded, and shortly after was passed by Lieutenant Coghill (24th), wearing a blue patrol and cord breeches and riding a red roan horse. We had just exchanged remarks about the terrible disaster, and he passed on towards Fugitives' Drift. A little farther on I caught up Lieutenant Curling, R.A., and spoke to him, pointing out to him that the Zulus were all round and urging him to push on, which he did. My own broken-kneed transport pony was done to a turn and incapable of rapid progress. The ground was terribly bad going, all rocks and boulders, and it was about three or four miles from camp to Fugitives' Drift. When approaching this Drift, and at least half a mile behind Coghill, Lieutenant Melvill (24th), in a red coat and with a cased Colour across the front of his saddle, passed me going to the Drift. I reported afterwards that the Colour was broken; but as the pole was found eventually whole, I think the casing must have been half off and hanging down. It will thus be seen that Coghill (who was Orderly Officer to Colonel Glynn) and Melvill (who was Adjutant) did not escape together with the Colour. How Coghill came to be in the camp I do not know, as Colonel Glynn, whose orderly officer he was, was out with Lord Chelmsford's column. I then came to Fugitives' Drift, the descent to which was almost a precipice. I found there a man in a red coat badly assegaied in the arm, unable to move. He was, I believe, a mounted infantryman of the 24th, named Macdonald, but of his name I cannot be sure. I managed to make a tourniquet with a handkerchief to stop the bleeding, and got him half-way down, when a shout from behind said, " Get on, man; the Zulus are on top of you." I turned round and saw Major Smith, R.A., who was commanding the section of guns, as white as a sheet and bleeding profusely ; and in a second we were surrounded, and assegais accounted for poor Smith, my wounded M.L friend, and my horse. With help of my revolver and a wild jump down the rocks I found myself in the Buffalo River, which was in flood and eighty yards broad. I was carried away, but luckily got hold of the tail of a loose horse, which towed me across to the other bank, but I was too exhausted to stick to him. Up this bank were swarming friendly natives, but I only saw one European, a Colonial and Acting Commissariat Officer named Hamer, lying there unable to move. I managed to catch a loose horse, and put him on it, and he escaped. The Zulus were pouring in a very heavy fire from the opposite bank and dropped several friendly natives as we climbed to the top. No sooner had I achieved this than I saw that a lot of Zulus had crossed higher up and were running to cut me off. This drove me off to my left, but twenty of them still pursued for about three miles, and I managed to keep them off with my revolver. I got into Helpmakaar at sundown, having done twenty miles on foot from the river, for I almost went to Sandspruit. At Helpmakaar I found Huntley of the 10th, who had been left there with a small garrison, and also Essex, Cochrane, Curling, and Gardner, from the field of Isandhlwana, all busy placing the post in a state of defence. We could see that night the watchfires of the Zulus some six miles off, and expected them to come on and attack, but we knew later they had turned off to attack Rorke's Drift. I at once took command of one face of the laager, and shall never forget how pleased we weary watchers were when, shortly after midnight, Major Upcher's two companies of the 24th, with Heaton, Palmes, Clements, and Lloyd, came to reinforce. These two companies had started for Rorke's Drift that afternoon, but had been turned back to Helpmakaar by Major Spalding, a Staff Officer, as he said Rorke's Drift had been surrounded and captured, and that the two companies would share the same fate. Luckily, his information proved to be wrong. Such is briefly my story of the 22nd January 1879, and I have endeavoured to avoid personal incidents as far as possible, though I should like my boys to know that on the evidence of eye-witnesses I was recommended for the V.C. for two separate acts on that day. These recommendations drew laudatory letters from the War Office, with a regret that as the proper channels for correspondence had not been observed, the Statutes of the Victoria Cross did not admit of my receiving that distinction, and having no friends at Court the matter dropped. In view of my latest experiences I am sure that decision was right, for any trivial act of good Samaritanism I may have performed that day would not have earned a M.C. much less a V.C., amidst the deeds of real heroism performed during the Great War 1914-18. I cannot refrain from remarking that had Lord Chelmsford's orders, as laid down in his Standing Orders for the Field Force in Zululand, been carried out, the disaster would never have happened, for there it clearly directed that no force should ever camp in the enemy's country without entrenching, and yet not a sod was turned at Isandhlwana. Had our magnificent body of men been entrenched, the Zulus would have been driven off, as they were subsequently at Kambula, and even as it was, they would have repulsed the Zulus in the open had not ammunition run short. The bodies of Lieutenants Melvill and Coghill were found together with the Colour, although they were so far apart in the retreat, and the explanation I would offer is as follows. Below Fugitives' Drift the river flows into a deep gorge and the right bank is inaccessible. The river was in flood, and a lot of fugitives, men and horses, must have been swept away through this gorge, or only have succeeded in effecting a landing well below the path leading from Fugitives' Drift up the right bank. I surmise that Melvill and Coghill may both have been swept down-stream towards X (see sketch, p. 12), and there have met, and in endeavouring to get back together to the path of the fugitives were killed by Zulus who had crossed higher up. As far as I can make out, their bodies were found near Z. The official account, published in 1881, is quite incorrect as to the movements of these two officers. I may say that I was never consulted. I had had a long enough day, having been on the move, including a stretch of twenty miles on foot, much of it at a run, for forty-two consecutive hours, and directly Lieutenant Clements (afterwards Major-General Clements of Boer War fame) told me he had relieved me, I lay down then and there on two sacks of grain and was fast asleep in a second. The next day I rode down to Rorke's Drift, some twelve miles, to resume charge of my depot. There was the improvised little fort, built up mostly of mealy-sacks and biscuit-boxes and other stores which had been so gallantly defended by Chard, Bromhead, and their men, and Parson Smith, and all around lay dead Zulus, between three and four hundred; and there was my wagon, some 200 yards away, riddled and looted; and there was the riem gallows I had erected the previous morning. Dead animals and cattle everywhere— such a scene of devastation ! To my young mind it appeared impossible that order could ever be restored, but I set to work, and next day, whilst sitting in my wagon, I saw two Zulus hanging on my gallows and was accused by the Brigade Major, Clery (afterwards General Sir Francis Clery), of having given the order. I was exonerated, however, when it was found that it was a case of lynch law performed by incensed men, who were bitter at the loss of their comrades. Other incidents of the same sort occurred in the next few days before law and order were re-established. At that time our enemy appeared to us to be possessed of savagery beyond description, but we had no conception then of how civilisation would produce a refinement of brutality and bestiality alongside which our Zulus would be regarded as comparative angels. As a matter of fact, the Zulus were a very noble race with a high standard of morality, but they bought to kill, and undoubtedly killed the wounded and mutilated the bodies; but a predominant superstition with them was that if they did not disembowel a fallen enemy, their own stomachs would swell up when that of their dead enemy did, and that therefore they must let out the gas. It was a rule of their race that no man could marry until he had " dipped his spear "—in other words, had killed his man in battle. There had not been a war for a long time. The whole nation was military; a copy of their Army List was obtained, and it disclosed a regular territorial system. Each kraal (native village) or group of kraals provided a regiment called after the locality from which it came. Each regiment had its regular drills. The country was at the time we fought full of young men anxious to qualify for matrimony. Immorality was not tolerated; a woman falling was instantly killed, and one of the causes of the war was the fact that two such women had escaped across the border into Natal and we had refused to give them up to certain death. They were not only a moral but a sober and honest race, and remained so until civilisation touched them. When the war was over and peace declared, so far from showing any bitterness, they were cordiality and hospitality itself, in many cases giving of their milk and food and refusing to take payment. The only spot in Zululand I know of where this high morality did not obtain was at a Christian mission station called Kamagwassa St. Paul's and over the border where the white men ruled. They were, too, very simple and truthful, and loved to speak in metaphor. They made no attempt to minimise their own losses at Isandhlwana, and when I add that our own killed amounted to 52 officers, 806 white N.C.O.s and men, in addition to 200 or 300 native troops, some idea of the desperate nature of the fighting can be formed. To quote from the speech made by General Sir Reginald Hart, V.C., K.C.B., K.C.V.O., when he unveiled the 24th obelisk at Isandhlwana in March 1914: " The terrible disaster that overwhelmed the old 24th Re giment will always be remembered, not so much as a disaster, but as an example of heroism like that of Leonidas and the three hundred Spartans who fell at the pass of Thermopylae." The next few days after the battle, St. Matthew's simile, " Wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together," was fully illustrated, for literally the sky was darkened at times by continuous streams of " Aasvogels " heading from all directions to the battlefield marked by that precipitous and conspicuous crag, like a lion couchant, " Isandhlwana " where nearly 900 British and 2,000 or 3,000 natives, friend and foe, had breathed their last on the fatal 22nd. Meanwhile Lord Chelmsford had withdrawn all troops from the enemy's country, had given orders that the border-line should be guarded by a series of small fortified posts, and had gone with his staff to Maritzburg to await reinforcements from home. My fate was Helpmakaar. There the Commandant constructed a fort with a huge ditch, revetting the parapet with sacks full of mealies. The wet season came on, the grain went rotten, and the ditch filled up with putrid water, the smell of which was appalling, and out of thirty-two officers all but one were down within a couple of months with fever, mostly typhoid. I got it, and was carted in a mule-wagon via Dundee down to Ladysmith some seventy miles, where a General Hospital had been formed in the Dutch Church. Hospital comforts were conspicuous by their absence in those days. Straw on the stone floor formed our beds, and there I lay for two months, hovering between life and death. The hospital was full, as far as I recollect, almost all typhoid cases, and dead were carried out every day. At last I was convalescent, and could get about with two sticks when I was told I was to start the following morning in a sick-convoy to Durban and thence to England. It was the middle of May. The reinforcements had all come out, the new centre column was forming at Dundee (forty-five miles off), and it was expected would start against the enemy in a fortnight's time. I was very feeble, but the last place I wanted to go to was England until we had defeated the Zulus. Luckily I had a splendid old soldier-servant, Private Elks of the 24th, and also three horses. I told Elks to have the horses ready at the corner of the churchyard at midnight, one saddled for myself to ride, one with my pack-saddle and valise strapped on, and the third barebacked. All went according to plan; Elks lifted me into the saddle and off I went. Mercifully there were no telegraphs in those days, so I was lost to all intents and purposes, and the convoy started without me. I fetched up at Dundee all right, and when I was helped off and supported into the tent of my boss. Major Essex of the Gordons and Chief Transport Officer, he nearly had a fit, for he thought I was a walking corpse. I am full of gratitude to this day to him, for he acceded to my request that I should lie low in a tent, trusting to nature to pull me round sufficiently to do duty by the time the advance commenced. It was glorious weather, clear and bright with frost every night, and I picked up every day, and by the time the doctors traced where I had gone to I was well into Zululand. We had crossed the Blood River at Landsman's Drift, near Kopje Allein, on the 1st June, and it was soon after this I first became acquainted with that fine old soldier, now General Sir Charles Tucker, then Major C. Tucker of the 80th, commanding the fort at Kopje Allein. Our first day's march was productive of a tragic incident which touched the heart of every man in the force and marred the joy of being on the move again against the enemy. H.I.H. the Prince Imperial of France, previously a Cadet at Woolwich, and wearing the undress uniform of the Royal Artillery, had been allowed to accompany the expedition attached to the C.-in-C.'s Staff. He had endeared himself to all with whom he came into touch and had been especially friendly to myself. He took deep interest in the organisation of every branch of our force, and was in my tent up to 11 p.m. the night before extracting from me a promise to write him a treatise on bullock transport. We had moved forward a day's march, and on reaching the next camp rumours (which were soon confirmed) came in that the Prince had been killed ; and next morning, when we halted for the day at Itelezi Hill camp, the body with sixteen assegai wounds was brought in on a stretcher formed of lances and a blanket. The brief account of this lamentable event which I am about to give is based on the stories given by those who were present, and by the story of Zulus, as told in their naive and truthful way by themselves after peace had been declared. The Prince had gone ahead of the force that morning with a small reconnaissance party consisting of a Staff Officer and a few (six, I think) mounted men. At about 8 p.m. they had ridden into a kraal and off-saddled for a short time to feed men and horses. The outlook, if kept, was indifferent, and unbeknown to them a few Zulus crept up through the crops and long grass and fired a volley at close range as the party was in the act of mounting. No one appeared to have been hit then, but the horses were frightened and the party galloped away, doubtless thinking H.I.H. was with them. Two men were left in the kraal, and one of them, on mounting, was hit and knocked off his horse. Their bodies were found next day. The Prince's horse, however, was exceedingly restive, and he came out of the kraal on foot, endeavouring to mount, but at last the horse broke loose. By this time the remainder of the party were some little way off, and the Zulus, seeing the Prince alone on foot, rushed in and killed him. The Zulus described that, being only six or eight in number, they had no intention of fighting the whole party, but seeing one man alone, took courge and attacked him. They had no idea that he was a person of the highest importance, and that the deed performed by them that day would affect very materially European politics for years. The Staff Officer was tried by court-martial and sentenced to be shot, and was only saved at the request of the Prince's mother, the Empress Eugenie. The officer died a few years later of fever in India. Lord Chelmsford's plan for our column, the one with which he was marching, was to establish food depots along our line of advance at intervals, building forts for the purpose. The column consisted of a Cavalry Brigade, the King's Dragoon Guards and 17th Lancers, under Major-General Fred Marshall; the 2nd Division, under Major-General Newdigate, of two Brigades, the first formed by the 2/21st R.S. Fusiliers and the 58th under Colonel Glynn, and the second by the l/24th and the 94th under Colonel Collingwood ; Batteries, R.E. etc. The first depot was at Kopje Allein, where half a Battalion of the 80th were left under Major C. Tucker. The next place selected was near the River Nondweni, twenty-five miles from Kopje Allein, and was called Fort Newdigate, after the 2nd Divisional Commander. From Fort Newdigate I accompanied Wood's Flying Column to the frontier to escort 240 empty wagons to be refilled at Landsman's Drift. It was the 17th June before we got back to Fort Newdigate again, and then with some 600 loaded wagons, having picked up some 400 extra at Landsman's Drift. Meanwhile, some of the force had been moved on, and Fort Marshall, sixteen miles farther on, was being commenced. On arriving at the spot where Fort Newdigate was to be constructed on the 6th June, our camp was laid out as usual in the shape of a great rectangle; the wagons formed the wall, and about 200 yards outside it the new fort was commenced. By sundown the walls had begun to rise. Piquets were posted all round at some distance from the laager. It was a moonlight night and clouds were flitting across the moon, and a shadow from one of these was mistaken for an advancing body of Zulus. The piquet gave the alarm and the men manned the sides of the laager. Unfortunately some of the piquets, in falling back, took refuge in this partially constructed fort. I was asleep in a tent outside the laager. The order was for all tents outside the laager to be lowered when the alarm sounded. My stable companion, Alexander of the 21st R.S. Fusiliers, had some difficulty in awakening me, and before I could get out of the tent firing had commenced from the laager, so, striking the tent as best we could, we rushed into the laager. Undoubtedly the men's nerves were in a bad state, owing, I consider, to the fact that they were young soldiers and that the Staff never missed an opportunity of instilling into their minds the fierceness of the enemy and their love of night attacks. In a few minutes every face of the laager was blazing away and a battery in action at one corner was firing " grape." It was a long time before the firing could be stopped, and then it was found to be a false alarm, but a disastrous one for there were four casualties, three of them in the embryonic Fort, where the walls were not high enough to give cover from fire from the laager. It was found afterwards that there was no enemy within fifteen miles. Our expenditure of ammunition was heavy, 50,000 rounds it was said at the time. This place was more generally known after this as " Fort Funk." We had several more false alarms before we fought the battle of Ulundi, but these I will not describe here. So far I have only been referring to the column to which I belonged, but there were two other forces operating, the one assembled at Eshowe, some seventy miles south-south-east of Landsman's Drift and about forty miles south of Ulundi, the 1st Division under General Hope Crealock; the other to the north-west under Colonel Evelyn Wood, V.C. Both these columns had had their share of fighting. Before General Crealock assumed command, a force under Colonel Pearson of the Buffs drove off an attack at the River Inyezane on the 22nd January, the same day as the battle of Isandhlwana, and later on had been besieged at Eshowe, but had been relieved on the 4th April by a force under the C.-in-C. by the battle of Ginginlovo, fought two days previously
The defeat of the British at ISANDHLWANA was news around the world. This chroma lithograph post card must and is a most unusual depiction of the Battle of Isandhlwana. While neither the battle by name or the 24th Regiment of Foot is mentioned in the Japanese text there can
be little doubt as to the action that is being depicted. The green facings on the British uniforms, the fallen African
warrior and the Zulu-style shield next to him and the Martini-Henry rifle all point to the greatest defeat suffered by
the British during the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879. Japan