Isandlwana & Rorke's Drift

A Trip to the Zulu War Battlefields - August 2004


Back in 1964 when I was an impressionable six year old boy my parents took my sister and I to Skegness for the day. The sun was shining and the beach was beckoning. But on entering the town my father spotted something that just couldn't be resisted - the film 'Zulu' was showing. So he and I changed our plans and saw the film.

Thirty years later in 2004 I was on a family holiday in Durban, South Africa. The sun was shining and the beach was beckoning. But I'd looked at a map and I knew Rorke's Drift and Isandlwana were close. So I enlisted the help of Paul Naish, a guide who I can't speak highly enough, and off I went.  

Isandlwana - January 22nd 1879

 

Buffalo River

Crossing the Buffalo River

Zulu Memorial

Zulu Commander's Viewpoint

We took the old wagon track down from Helpmekaar and crossed the Buffalo River. Like those before me I felt drawn towards the odd shaped mountain in the distance.I could almost hear the wheels of the wagons turning and the shouted orders of NCOs as we crossed the river. The Isandlwana battlefield is vast and remains much as it was back in 1879. Brown grass, rocky outcrops and lots of water underfoot. and everywhere, white cairns marking the last resting places of Chelmsford's shattered army.

Artillery Memorial

Isandlwana Battlefield

Younghusband's Last Stand

The picture above on the left shows the spot where the two British 7 pounders were positioned prior to their withdrawal and loss on the track down to Fugitives Drift. In the distance is the conical hill to the left of which Major Russell and the Rocket Battery were lost early in the action. Durnford's first contact with the enemy was four miles away, beyond the hill. The middle picture shows British graves and Memorials. The picture on the right shows a large cairn on the slope of the Isandlwana 'mountain'. This where Younghusband's company fought until they ran out of ammunition. The cluster of white in the bottom left of the picture are around the site where Colonel Durnford made his last stand.

VC Heroes

Durnford's Grave

Many men fleeing from the battlefield found their way down to Fugitive's Drift. Two such men were Lieutenants Melville and Coghill who died trying to save the Queen's colours. The picture on the left shows their graves. Durnford was originally interred on the Battlefield at Isandlwana but was subsequently reburied in pietermaritzburg (see picture on the right).

Rorke's Drift - January 23rd 1879

Number Carved on Rock

Rorke's Drift - Zulu Viewpoint

24th Regiment

Rorke's Drift is a busy little place now. There is a school, a museum and a cluster of buildings on the site of those that were destroyed. The area held by the defenders is delinated on the ground. The pictures above were taken in the area occupied by Zulu snipers.

Rorke's Drift

Rorke's Drift Memorial

The Hospital

The picture on the left shows the site of the final redoubt marked by a circle. The British memorial (centre picture) is in the centre of a small cemetery. There are two Zulu mass graves nearby, both marked by simple memorials. The picture on the right shows the building which has been erected on the site of the hospital - the scene of so much bravery.

 Back to the Battlefield Visits Header Page  

 Back to the Main Home Page

Want a guide for any of the South African battlefields?

Contact Paul Naish on pnaish@eastcoast.co.za

or via www.africanbyways.com

Paul makes history come alive!