Wednesday, 23 January 2013

On this Day: 23rd of January 1879 - The Battle of Rorkes Drift

Rorke's Drift, known as kwaJim ("Jim's Land") in the Zulu language, was a mission station and the former trading post of James Rorke, an Irish merchant. It was located near a drift, or ford, on the Buffalo (Mzinyathi) River, which at the time formed the border between the British colony of Natal and the Zulu kingdom.

The Battle of Rorke's Drift, also known as the Defence of Rorke's Drift, was a battle in the Anglo-Zulu War. The defence of the mission station of Rorke's Drift, under the command of Lieutenant John Chard of the Royal Engineers, immediately followed the British Army's defeat at the Battle of Isandlwana on 22 January 1879, and continued into the following day, 23 January.

Just over 150 British and colonial troops successfully defended the garrison against an intense assault by 3,000 to 4,000 Zulu warriors. The massive, but piecemeal, Zulu attacks on Rorke's Drift came very close to defeating the tiny garrison but were ultimately repelled. Eleven Victoria Crosses were awarded to the defenders, along with a number of other decorations and honours.

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Research courtesy of Wikipedia

Images courtesy of National Archives UK under the Commons Agreement on Flickr


1 comment:

  1. I remember seeing the film Zulu as a child and immediately being drawn in by the bravery and battle against such huge odds. Having read further readings on the subject I now know the film wasn't entirely accurate in it's facts about the event, however it's still in an awe inspiring battle and one worth remembering.