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


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

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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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Rorkes Drift - Zulu War.


Rorkes Drift - Zulu War.

Ian Knight and Ian Castle.

If Islandlwana was the supreme humiliation of the British Empire at the outset of the 1879 Zulu War, then the heroic epic of Rorkes Drift , fought on the same day, was its redemption. The defence of this isolated mission station and hospital by a scratch force commanded by a couple of junior officers and a handful of largely Welsh soldiers has long held legendary status - thanks partly to the film Zulu . In this fully illustrated battlefield guide, those acknowledged authorities on all things Zulu, Ian Knight and Ian Castle, give an account of the action in which more VCs (14) were won on one day than ever before or since. Given the epic facts the book cannot fail to thrill - but it is an expert analysis too.


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Item Code : NMP10393Rorkes Drift - Zulu War. - 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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Colour Sergeant Frank Bourne at the Defence of Rorke's Drift by David Pentland.


Colour Sergeant Frank Bourne at the Defence of Rorke's Drift by David Pentland.



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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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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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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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Rorkes Drift by Chris Collingwood.


Rorkes Drift by Chris Collingwood.

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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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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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Colour Sergeant Frank Bourne DCM by Stuart Liptrot


Colour Sergeant Frank Bourne DCM by Stuart Liptrot

Colour-Sergeant Frank Bourne of the 24th Regiment at the Defence of Rorkes Drift during the Zulu attack on Rorkes Drift. Colour Sergeant Frank Bourne, 2nd battalion South Wales Borderers. Frank Bourne was born on the 27th April 1854 in Balcombe Sussex. When Bourne was 18 he joined the 24th Regiment in 1872, being promoted to Corporal in 1875 and Sergeant in 1878. Sergeant Bourne was promoted to Colour Sergeant soon after the rgeiment arrived in Natal. Colour Sgt bourne was part of B company whose job was to guard the hospital at Rorkes Drift. Colour Sgt Bourne played a major role in keeping the defending troops effective. Colour Sgt Bourne was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his role in the defence and it is surprising that he was not awarded a Victoria Cross as 11 were awarded for the defence. Col Sgt Bourne retired form the army in 1907 but joined again for WW1, serving in Dublin. He was the last survivor of Rorkes Drift passing away at the age of 91 on the 8t.........


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Last Man Out by Mark Churms.


Last Man Out by Mark Churms.

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 Herefordshire . Both men were awarded the Victoria Cross.


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Defence of Rokes Drift, 1879 by Henry Dupray.


Defence of Rokes Drift, 1879 by Henry Dupray.



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Item Code : HD0021Defence of Rokes Drift, 1879 by Henry Dupray. - Editions Available
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Helping Hand, Rorkes Drift by Chris Collingwood.


Helping Hand, Rorkes Drift by Chris Collingwood.

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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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To the Meallie Bags, Rorkes Drift by Chris Collingwood. (P)


To the Meallie Bags, Rorkes Drift by Chris Collingwood. (P)

Item Code : CCP0036To the Meallie Bags, Rorkes Drift by Chris Collingwood. (P) - Editions Available
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Cpl Allen and Cpl Lyons, Rorkes Drift 1879 by Mark Churms. (P)


Cpl Allen and Cpl Lyons, Rorkes Drift 1879 by Mark Churms. (P)

Study for the original painting Wounded.


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Defence of Rorkes Drift by Lady Elizabeth Butler.


Defence of Rorkes Drift by Lady Elizabeth Butler.

On January 22nd 1879, during the Zulu War, the small British field hospital and supply depot at Rorkes Drift in Natal was the site of one of the most heroic military defences of all time. Manned by 140 troops of the 24th Regiment, led by Lieutenant John Chard of the Royal Engineers, the camp was attacke by a well-trained and well-equipped Zulu army of 4000 men, heartened by the great Zulu victory over the British forces at Isandhlwana earlier on the same day. The battle began in mid afternoon, when British remnants of the defeat at Isandhlwana struggled into the camp. Anticipating trouble, Chard set his small force to guard the perimeter fence but, when the Zulu attack began, the Zulus came faster than the British could shoot and the camp was soon overcome. The thatched roof of the hospital was fired by Zulu spears wrapped in burning grass and even some of the sick and the dying were dragged from their beds and pressed into the desperate hand-to-hand fighting. Eventually, Chard ga.........


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Item Code : DHM2000Defence of Rorkes Drift by Lady Elizabeth Butler. - Editions Available
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Defence of Rorkes Drift by Alphonse De Neuville.


Defence of Rorkes Drift by Alphonse De Neuville.

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 th.........


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Item Code : DHM0022Defence of Rorkes Drift by Alphonse De Neuville. - Editions Available
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