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Rorke's Drift

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The heroic defence of a small supply station called Rorke's Drift by about one hundred & forty British soldiers - mostly 2/24 Regiment of Foot, the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Their opposition was up to four thousand Zulu warriors, who were fairly hacked off at missing the action at Isandlwana that morning when the 1/24th and attached units were slaughtered by the Zulu army of Cetshwayo.

There were more Victoria Cross's awarded at Rorke's Drift than at any other single action, a total of eleven together with other 'lesser' awards. Although there have been suggestions that this was an attempt by the government of the day to divert public and media attention from the earlier disaster, this is not the case. No British government would ever be so crass as to try and divert public attention away from a bad news story!

The reality is that the British Army were getting themselves in to similar rather dicey 'last stand' situations all over the Empire, but such occurrences didn't look good in the papers and upset civilians at their breakfast. Whatever. The defence of Rorke's Drift has passed in to legend - due, in no small part, to the movie industry. It is worth noting that many of the poor fuckers present ended up as paranoid, suicidal basket cases, and this was long before PTSD was invented.

It was also the subject of one of the best historical films ever made: Sink the Bismark.

For a revisionist take, see Zulu 1000, by award-losing author Cyril Clunge.