Rorkes Drift

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Military art prints of Rorkes Drift during the Zulu Wars. Defence of Rorke's Drift historical prints published by Cranston Fine Arts.  

Defence of Rorkes Drift.  After the British Defeat and the Zulu victory at isandhlwana. Zulu Chief Cetawayo entered northern Natal that night. On a tributary of the Tugela River stood the British garrison of 140 troops under the command of Lt Chard at Rorkes Drift. the Zulu force of 4,000 attacked the garrison repeatedly, using their assagais, (also with Rifles form the hillside,  taken form the dead British troops at isandhlwana.) The attacks lasted all night through 22nd into the 23rd. in the morning the Zulu withdrew, but only having lost 400 dead in the fighting. The British suffered 25 casualties. for this achievement of holding rorkes drift a total of 11 Victoria Crosses were received.

By about 6pm the Zulu attacks had extended all around the front of the post, and fighting raged at hand-to-hand along the mealie-bag wall. Lieutenant Chard himself took up a position on the barricade, firing over the mealie-bags with a Martini-Henry, whilst Lieutenant Bromhead directed any spare men to plug the gaps in the line. The men in the yard and on the front wall were dangerously exposed to the fire of Zulu marksmen posted in the rocky terraces on Shiyane (Oskarsberg) hill behind the post. Several men were hit, including Acting Assistant Commissary Dalton, and Corporal Allen of the 14th. Surgeon Reynolds treated the wounded as best he could despite the fire. Once the veranda at the front of the hospital had been abandoned, the Zulus had mounted a determined attack on the building itself, setting fire to the thatched roof with spears tied with burning grass. The defenders were forced to evacuate the patients room by room, eventually passing them out through a small window into the open yard. Shortly after 6pm Chard decided that the Zulu pressure was too great, and ordered a withdrawal to a barricade of biscuit boxes which had been hastily erected across the yard, from the corner of the store-house to the front mealie-bag wall. In this small compound the garrison would fight for their lives throughout most of the coming night. Text supplied by Zulu War Author Ian Knight.

The VC Winners:   Lieutenant J.R.M. Chard, R.E.; Lieutenant G. Bromhead, 2/24th; Surgeon J.H. Reynolds, A.M.D.; Acting Assistant Commissary J.L. Dalton, C. & T.D.; Corporal Allen, 2/24th; Corporal C.F. Schiess, N.N.C.; Privates F. Hitch, A.H. Hook, R. Jones, W. Jones, J. Williams, 2/24th.

  • Frederick Hitch
    • Hitch was associated with William Allen VC in a most courageous defence of a dangerous and important position. By their steady fire the two men held open the communication between the hospital and the Inner Defence, enabling the wounded to be carried across, when the Zulus had set light to the thatched building. He was very badly hit by a roughly made Zulu bullet, which inflicted a fearful gash on his shoulder, no less than thirty-six pieces of bone being taken away afterwards from the wound. He was presented with the Cross by Queen Victoria at Netley Hospital on his return in the summer of 1879.
    • Born at Southgate in Middlesex on 28th November 1856. Previous to the Zulu War, he had served through the Kaffir War of 1877-8. After leaving the Army held held the position of one of the Right of the Line Corps of Commissionaires at the Imperial Institute. He later drove a cab in London, owning two horses for the purpose.

The DCM Winners:  Col. Sgt. F.E. Bourne2/24th; 2nd Corp. F. Attwood, A.S.C.; 2nd Corp. M. McMahon, A.H.C.;Wheeler J. Cantwell, R.A.; Pte W. Roy, 1/24th.

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Stand Firm the 24th (Rorkes Drift) by Chris Collingwood.


Stand Firm the 24th (Rorkes Drift) by Chris Collingwood.

During the battle for Rorkes Drift, 24th Warwickshires man the improvised ramparts of the inner barricade as the Zulu attack reaches its height.


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Wounded by Mark Churms.


Wounded by Mark Churms.

Corporal Allen and Corporal Lyons, B. Company 2nd Battalion 24th Foot Rorkes Drift Back Wall, 6pm January 22nd 1879. After the initial Zulu assault on the back wall of the post failed at about 4.30pm, a fire-fight broke out between Zulu snipers posted on the terraces of the Shiyane (Oskarsberg) Hill and the defenders posted behind the barricade of wagons and mealie-bags. This section of the wall as commanded by Sergeant Henry Gallagher, of B Company. At about 6 pm, Corporal Lyons was leaning over the barricade to aim when he was hit in the neck by a bullet which paralysed him, as his friend, Corporal Allen, bent to help him, Allen too was shot through the arm. In the foreground Corporal Attwood of the Army Service Corps distributes ammunition. The wall was abandoned shortly after and the British retired to the small are in front of the storehouse. Allen was later awarded the VC, and Attwood the DCM. He was born at Churcham, Gloucestershire, and served for five years in the Monmouths.........


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Rorkes Drift by Chris Collingwood. (P)


Rorkes Drift by Chris Collingwood. (P)

Item Code : CCP0055Rorkes Drift by Chris Collingwood. (P) - Editions Available
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This Heroic Little Garrison, defence of Rorkes Drift by Chris Collingwood.


This Heroic Little Garrison, defence of Rorkes Drift by Chris Collingwood.

Men of the 24th of foot, or 2nd Warwickshire regiment (later in 1881 to become the South Wales Borderers) repel the massed Zulus attempting to smash through the mealie bag entrenchment. At the conclusion of the battle, hundreds of Zulus lay dead. According to official figures the British lost 25 men, 11 Victoria crosses were awarded.


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Item Code : DHM1197This Heroic Little Garrison, defence of Rorkes Drift by Chris Collingwood. - Editions Available
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Pinned Like Rats in a Hole by Mark Churms (P)


Pinned Like Rats in a Hole by Mark Churms (P)

The original oil study for the larger painting of Pinned Like Rats in a Hole, part of the Rorkes Drift series by Mark Churms.


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Zulu Warrior at Rorkes Drift by Chris Collingwood. (P)


Zulu Warrior at Rorkes Drift by Chris Collingwood. (P)

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Rorkes Drift 1879 - Against All Odds


Rorkes Drift 1879 - Against All Odds

The story of historys most famous rearguard action, The story of the extraordinary events of January 22nd 1879 has never lost any of its fascination. The defence of Rorkes Drift by a handful of British redcoat soldiers provides history with a tale of incredible courage and valour, qualities displayed by the brave men of both sides who fought to the death on that momentous day. While Britain cheered its heroes, she also plotted a merciless revenge on the Zulu nation. Featuring extensive re-enactment action footage and dramatised eye-witness accounts of the battle, this DVD tells the story of the British soldiers who successfully defended Rorkes Drift against more than 4000 Zulu warriors. It also includes period images and photographs, computer graphics and expert comment from Ian Knight, one of the worlds leading authorities on the Zulu Wars. Narrated by Hu Pryce
Item Code : CROM1071Rorkes Drift 1879 - Against All Odds - Editions Available
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Rorkes Drift by Chris Collingwood.


Rorkes Drift by Chris Collingwood.

Item Code : CCP0056Rorkes Drift by Chris Collingwood. - Editions Available
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Defence of Rorkes Drift by Brian Palmer


Defence of Rorkes Drift by Brian Palmer

Men of the 24th Foot defend Rorkes Drift against an overwhelming number of Zulus near the barricades, and the hand to hand fighting. Surgeon Reynolds can be seen attending a wounded soldier.


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Item Code : DHM0926Defence of Rorkes Drift by Brian Palmer - Editions Available
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Helping Hand, Rorkes Drift by Chris Collingwood.


Helping Hand, Rorkes Drift by Chris Collingwood.

Item Code : CCP0035Helping Hand, Rorkes Drift by Chris Collingwood. - Editions Available
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Rorkes Drift by Chris Collingwood.


Rorkes Drift by Chris Collingwood.

Pencil detail of men of the 24th of Foot, or 2nd Warwickshire regiment (later in 1881 to become the South Wales Borderers) standing in preparation to repel the massed Zulus attempting to smash through the mealie bag entrenchment. At the conclusion of the battle, hundreds of Zulus lay dead. According to official figures the British lost 25 men, 11 Victoria crosses were awarded.
Item Code : CCP0057Rorkes Drift by Chris Collingwood. - Editions Available
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Private William Jones, VC by Stuart Liptrot


Private William Jones, VC by Stuart Liptrot

Private William Jones VC is shown in the art print standing in fornt of the doorway in the hospital as the Zulu warriors break into the hospital and rush the entrance. Private Robert Jones. Decorated for conspicuous bravery and devotion to the wounded at Rorkes drift. Private Robert and William Jones, posted in a room of the Hospital facing the hill, kept up a steady fire against enormous odds, and while one worked to cut a hole through the partition into the next room, the other shot Zulu after Zulu through the loophooled walls, using his own and his comrades rifle alternatively when the barrels became to hot to hold owing to the incessant firing. By their united heroic efforts six out of the seven patients were saved by being carried through the broken partition. the seventh, sergeant Maxwell being delirious, refused to be helped, and on Robert Jones returning to take him by force he found him being stabbed by the Zulus in his bed, Robert Jones died in 1898 in Peterchurch Hereford.........


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Item Code : LI0003Private William Jones, VC by Stuart Liptrot - Editions Available
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Eve of Distinction by Mark Churms.


Eve of Distinction by Mark Churms.

Lt. John Rouse Merriot Chard, Royal Engineers.At about 3.30 on the afternoon of 22nd January 1879, Lieutenant John Rouse Merriot Chard, Royal Engineers, was supervising repairs on the military pont on the Mzinyathi river, at the border crossing at Rorkes Drift, when survivors brought news that the advanced British camp at Isandhlwana had been over-run by the Zulus, and that a wing of the Zulu army was on its way to attack Rorkes Drift. Chard ordered Driver Robson to pack up the wagon and return to the mission station, where a stockpile of supplies was under the guard of B Company, 2/24th Regiment. Chard, in consultation with his fellow officers, made the historic decision to make a stand at Rorkes Drift.
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Rorkes Drift by Jason Askew.


Rorkes Drift by Jason Askew.

The painting depicts the climax of the Zulu attacks at the defence of Rorkes Drift. The Zulus were unable to effectively penetrate the mealie bag defenses at Rorkes Drift, even though they succeeded in burning down the hospital, and peppering the storehouse with bullet holes. The confined space available to the British garrison caused a certain degree of physical compression, but this in fact worked against the Zulus, as it drove the defenders closer together with the result being that the volley fire from the defenders was concentrated and subsequently very effective at close range, as opposed to the spread out skirmish line type formation used at Isandlwhana. The Zulu attacks also became uncoordinated, being driven forward by charismatic individuals, but lacking the support of the necessary numbers needed to overwhelm the desperate defenders, who now appreciated that they were literally fighting for their lives.


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Item Code : DHM1791Rorkes Drift by Jason Askew. - Editions Available
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Rorkes Drift 22nd January 1879 - Defending the Store House by Jason Askew


Rorkes Drift 22nd January 1879 - Defending the Store House by Jason Askew

By about 6pm the Zulu attacks had extended all around the front of the post, and fighting raged at hand-to-hand along the mealie-bag wall. Lieutenant Chard himself took up a position on the barricade, firing over the mealie-bags with a Martini-Henry, whilst Lieutenant Bromhead directed any spare men to plug the gaps in the line. The men in the yard and on the front wall were dangerously exposed to the fire of Zulu marksmen posted in the rocky terraces on Shiyane (Oskarsberg) hill behind the post. Several men were hit, including Acting Assistant Commissary Dalton, and Corporal Allen of the 14th. Surgeon Reynolds treated the wounded as best he could despite the fire. Once the veranda at the front of the hospital had been abandoned, the Zulus had mounted a determined attack on the building itself, setting fire to the thatched roof with spears tied with burning grass. The defenders were forced to evacuate the patients room by room, eventually passing them out through a small window int.........


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Item Code : JA0005Rorkes Drift 22nd January 1879 - Defending the Store House by Jason Askew - Editions Available
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Victoria Cross Winners at the Defence of Rorkes Drift, January 22nd - 23rd 1879 by Stuart Liptrot


Victoria Cross Winners at the Defence of Rorkes Drift, January 22nd - 23rd 1879 by Stuart Liptrot

Individuals shown: Lieutenant G. Bromhead, Lieutenant J.R.M. Chard, Private F. Hitch, Corporal W.W. Allen, Private W. Jones, Private J. Williams, Private R. Jones, Surgeon J.H. Reynolds, J.L Dalton and Private A. Hook.


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Item Code : LI0004Victoria Cross Winners at the Defence of Rorkes Drift, January 22nd - 23rd 1879 by Stuart Liptrot - Editions Available
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Pinned Like Rats in a Hole by Mark Churms.


Pinned Like Rats in a Hole by Mark Churms.

Depicting Private Hook and Private Williams, B Company, 2nd Battalion, 24th Foot inside the burning hospital at Rorkes Drift, 7pm January 1879. At about 6 pm the Zulus first forced their way into the hospital building where some thirty patients were defended by a handful of able-bodied men. A running fight ensued as the patients were evacuated from room to room, a desperate struggle made all the more terrible when the Zulus set fire to the thatched roof. Here Private Alfred Henry Hook holds Zulus of the uThulwana regiment at bay whilst Private John Williams helps a patient escape, Hook received a head wound when a spear struck off his helmet.


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Item Code : DHM0372Pinned Like Rats in a Hole by Mark Churms. - Editions Available
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Night of the Zulu by Bud Bradshaw.


Night of the Zulu by Bud Bradshaw.

Depicting one of the nighttime Zulu attacks on Rorkes Drift. The South Wales Borderers defend the outpost by the light of the burning hospital building.


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Item Code : DHM1593Night of the Zulu by Bud Bradshaw. - Editions Available
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Rorkes Drift 22nd January 1879 - Defending the Hospital by Jason Askew


Rorkes Drift 22nd January 1879 - Defending the Hospital by Jason Askew

By about 6pm the Zulu attacks had extended all around the front of the post, and fighting raged at hand-to-hand along the mealie-bag wall. Lieutenant Chard himself took up a position on the barricade, firing over the mealie-bags with a Martini-Henry, whilst Lieutenant Bromhead directed any spare men to plug the gaps in the line. The men in the yard and on the front wall were dangerously exposed to the fire of Zulu marksmen posted in the rocky terraces on Shiyane (Oskarsberg) hill behind the post. Several men were hit, including Acting Assistant Commissary Dalton, and Corporal Allen of the 14th. Surgeon Reynolds treated the wounded as best he could despite the fire. Once the veranda at the front of the hospital had been abandoned, the Zulus had mounted a determined attack on the building itself, setting fire to the thatched roof with spears tied with burning grass. The defenders were forced to evacuate the patients room by room, eventually passing them out through a small window int.........


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Item Code : JA0002Rorkes Drift 22nd January 1879 - Defending the Hospital by Jason Askew - Editions Available
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Rorkes Drift January 22nd, 1879 by Stuart Liptrot


Rorkes Drift January 22nd, 1879 by Stuart Liptrot

Defending the barracades, men of the 24th of Foot, or 2nd Warwickshire regiment (later in 1881 to become the South Wales Borderers) repel the massed Zulus attempting to smash through the mealie bag entrenchment. At the end of the battle, hundreds of the Zulu warriors of the uThulwans, iNdlondo and uDloko regiments lay dead. According to official figures the British lost 25 men, 11 Victoria crosses were awarded for the defence of Rorkes Drift.


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Item Code : LI0001Rorkes Drift January 22nd, 1879 by Stuart Liptrot - Editions Available
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