Zulu War: Rorke's Drift...

Kevinmeath

Ad Honoris
May 2011
14,062
Navan, Ireland
In Ian Knights early book,"Brave mens Blood", there is a selection of photographs of the VC recipients of this battle. There is one photo of Hook in later life, in the uniform of a different regiment and having just attained the rank of corporal. The passage that accompanies the photo suggests that Hooks career in the army was frequently interspersed with demotions and punishments for unsoldierly behaviour.
Interestingly enough, there is another Photograph of Bourne having attained the rank of Warrent Officer. The photo is dated 1914.

JC
Read that book, nice overview. Adrian Greaves' excellent book 'Rorkes Drift' gives a little biography of each of the defenders;-

Hook purchased his discharge in 25/06/80 for £18, he moved to London in 1881 and worked as an attendant at the British Museum. He served as a sergeant in the 1st volunteer bat, Royal Fusiliers. He returned to Gloucsetershire with ill health and died 12/03/05 of TB.

Bourne was appointed colour sergeant in 27/04/78. He was appointed a lieutenant and quartermaster on 21/05/90. He retired from this post in 1907. When WWI broke out he returned to the colours and was appointed to the school of musketry Dublin. He retired in 1918 a second time with the rank of Lt Colonel.
 

Kevinmeath

Ad Honoris
May 2011
14,062
Navan, Ireland
I
Bourne eventually reached the rank of Lt. Colonel - interesting, considering Bromhead didn't make it past Major, and Bourne didn't receive a VC, whereas Bromhead did.
Bromhead died in 9th Feb 1891 of 'enteric fever' in Allahabad, India, aged 45 with the rank of major.

IMO I can not see why the CSM was not awarded a VC when the two officers were, he was awarded 'Silver Medel for Distinquished conduct in the field'
 

SPERRO

Ad Honorem
Mar 2011
3,480
North East England
Read that book, nice overview. Adrian Greaves' excellent book 'Rorkes Drift' gives a little biography of each of the defenders;-

Hook purchased his discharge in 25/06/80 for £18, he moved to London in 1881 and worked as an attendant at the British Museum. He served as a sergeant in the 1st volunteer bat, Royal Fusiliers. He returned to Gloucsetershire with ill health and died 12/03/05 of TB.

Bourne was appointed colour sergeant in 27/04/78. He was appointed a lieutenant and quartermaster on 21/05/90. He retired from this post in 1907. When WWI broke out he returned to the colours and was appointed to the school of musketry Dublin. He retired in 1918 a second time with the rank of Lt Colonel.
Sorry, I was wrong about Bourne, it was some time ago that I read the book. On reflection you are entirely correct. IMO, He should have received a VC.

JC
 

Naomasa298

Forum Staff
Apr 2010
35,368
T'Republic of Yorkshire
Bromhead died in 9th Feb 1891 of 'enteric fever' in Allahabad, India, aged 45 with the rank of major.
Yes he did, but in the aftermath of Rorke's Drift, he was immediately awarded a substantive promotion to Captain and a brevet promotion to Major, which was substantiated in 1883. He did not advance any further in rank after that.

He, along with Chard, was invited to visit the Queen and stay at Balmoral. Bromhead did not receive the invitation, as he was away fishing. He was not invited again. Chard did go, and apparently, the Queen enjoyed his company.
 

Kevinmeath

Ad Honoris
May 2011
14,062
Navan, Ireland
Yes he did, but in the aftermath of Rorke's Drift, he was immediately awarded a substantive promotion to Captain and a brevet promotion to Major, which was substantiated in 1883. He did not advance any further in rank after that.

He, along with Chard, was invited to visit the Queen and stay at Balmoral. Bromhead did not receive the invitation, as he was away fishing. He was not invited again. Chard did go, and apparently, the Queen enjoyed his company.
All agreed, but be careful about looking at times and promotion but because 'purchase' had been rightly abolished promotion could be very slow. After January 1879 promotion in the 24th was very fast indeed!

(by the way cheers for posting a reply , I do find Anglo-Zulu war very interesting)
:)
 
Apr 2011
1,461
Melbourne Australia
Chard and Bromhead had 152 men, against a force of 3-4000 Zulus, odds of around 26:1. The British had significantly superior weapons to the Zulu
Hitch received a shoulder wound that shattered the shoulder blade into thirty nine pieces. I'd argue that some of the weapons of the Zulus carried quite a punch

Field Marshal Sir Hugh Gough famously remarked in one battle, when told that his men were running out of ammo, "Thank god! We'll be at them with our bayonets!".
Generals are great at having an IDEA of what front line combat is but few have been there. I remember the advice of my sergeant after a session of bayonet drill back in the days of Lee Enfields (yes I am that old.) " Always have one up the spout. If you're close enough to stab him, you're close enough to shoot him. If you haven't got one up the spout, then for chrissake don't be there cos he'll have one for sure." To the ordinary soldier there's no glory in war.

I think that if the zulu had continued attacking on the following day, the battle would have been disasterous for the small garrison.
As it happened, they retired from the area around first light, thus the garrison survived and the event became celebrated.
Three things about that "border skirmish".
One -- If the Zulus had continued next day I agree, they would have won. There were 20 000 rounds there before the "skirmish" and they were down to 900 next day.
-Two-- Reports can be conflicting. A mixed race wagon driver was hiding in the cave and saw the battle. He commented on the accuracy of the defenders fire. That is difficult to reconcile with the number of Zulu dead. He may have been commenting on the daylight fight and naturally at night the marksmanship would have been less accurate.
Three-- It does however give credance to the reputation of the Lee Enfield as a superb rifle. 150 + men firing that number of rounds is quite a feat.
 
Apr 2011
2,578
I couldn't care less if the press was looking for an uplifting story.

The Brits proven they had good tech, impressive creativity, and amazing courage.

All of these are things to respect.
 

Kevinmeath

Ad Honoris
May 2011
14,062
Navan, Ireland
I couldn't care less if the press was looking for an uplifting story.

The Brits proven they had good tech, impressive creativity, and amazing courage.

All of these are things to respect.
Correct and even those generals who did not agree that Chard and Bromhead 'deserved' the VC agreed that the private soldiers of the 24th behaved very well especially as they were a 'green' regiment.

I agree with your comment 'upliifting story' because most of the men awarded the VC did deserve it. In fact Private Joseph Williams should have been awarded one. At the time posthumous awards were not made but in reports comments were made that if he had lived he to would have been awarded a VC.

The same comment was made about Lt's Melvill and Coghill (rightly wrongly) but they had educated families who for years lobbied for posthumous awards and eventually succeded.

Private Joeseph Williams had no such family, very little is known about him.
 

Kevinmeath

Ad Honoris
May 2011
14,062
Navan, Ireland
Hitch received a shoulder wound that shattered the shoulder blade into thirty nine pieces. I'd argue that some of the weapons of the Zulus carried quite a punch.

Good point and Greaves book looks at the medical reports, but most of the GSW's did not break major bones which would support idea of poor quality ammunition and weapons.
However he also makes your point that some did break point and witnness accounts state of several people killed outright by what appeared to be powerful rifles. The anser I think is the Zulu guns were of mixed quality.


Three-- It does however give credance to the reputation of the Lee Enfield as a superb rifle. 150 + men firing that number of rounds is quite a feat.
The Lee-Enfield was a great weapon but in 1879 the 24th were using Martini-Henrys.
 

Naomasa298

Forum Staff
Apr 2010
35,368
T'Republic of Yorkshire
Hitch received a shoulder wound that shattered the shoulder blade into thirty nine pieces. I'd argue that some of the weapons of the Zulus carried quite a punch
The Zulu had firearms acquired from traders. As outdated as they were, if they hit, then yes, they would have packed a punch as you would expect from most firearms of approximately that era. But as far as accuracy and rate of fire is concerned, the weapons of the Zulu, as a whole, would have been significantly inferior to those of the defenders. Not to mention the superior firearms discipline of the British.

Generals are great at having an IDEA of what front line combat is but few have been there. I remember the advice of my sergeant after a session of bayonet drill back in the days of Lee Enfields (yes I am that old.) " Always have one up the spout. If you're close enough to stab him, you're close enough to shoot him. If you haven't got one up the spout, then for chrissake don't be there cos he'll have one for sure." To the ordinary soldier there's no glory in war.
The formative years of Gough's career were before the widespread adoption of breech-loading weapons. In his day in the front ranks, the men would have been equipped with muzzle-loading muskets, making "having one up the spout" rather more impractical than in later years.

The British bayonet charge still proved itself effective against men armed with spears and cowhide shields - at Kambula, British troops were able to force back a Zulu line at bayonet point.