Frontline Figures

VC Winners, Rorke's Drift, Zulu land, 22-23 January 1879

While disaster struck the British Army at Islandwana, an action of extreme bravery occurred at the small missionary station of Rorke's Drift. Hospital staff and sixty casualties, and eighty one men from B Company, 11/24th Foot, under the command of Lieutenants Chard and Bromhead, hastily built defensive works and successfully held the Station against a force of 4,500 Zulus.

After 2 days of intensive and often hand to hand fighting the Zulus eventually withdrew, thus ending an action that resulted in eleven VC awards being presented, the Eleven before Breakfast! of the Regimental history, and the highest ever for a single action that the British Army were engaged in. It should also not be forgotten that Colour Sergeant Bourne was offered either a VC medal or an Officers Commission, and that he eventually opted for the Commission in lieu of his medal.