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|Subject: The Zulu War medal awarded to Sapper James Gibson, Royal Engineers, a member of Lieutenant Chard’s No. 5 Company, who was a witness to the immediate aftermath of Rorke’s Drift and took part in the battle of Ulundi Wed Jul 24, 2019 9:15 pm|| |
Sold with two small photographs of Gibson in old age with family members, and two news cuttings, one dated 12 August 1993, ‘The battle of Rorke’s Drift remembered’ with quotes about James Gibson; the other earlier, undated and an old copy, announces his death:
‘So’ton Veteran of the Zulu War - Mr. James Gibson, a Zulu War veteran, died at his home at Colebrook avenue, Shirley, Southampton, today, at the age of 84, after being ill for only two days. His eldest daughter, Mrs J. Grossett, with whom he had lived, died in the same house on February 6, and her death was a great blow to her father.
Mr. Gibson, who was a Glasgow man, joined the Royal Engineers as a young man, and belonged to the company, about 100 strong, that marched from Helpmakaar to Rorke’s Drift to the relief of the little garrison there. When the Engineers arrived the garrison, composed of 80 men of the 24th Regiment, South Wales Borderers, of whom half were in hospital, had beaten off the main attacks of the Zulus.
Mr. Gibson also took part in the battle of Ulundi in which, after a fierce struggle, the Zulus were finally defeated. It is fascinating to listen to Mr. Gibson’s reminiscences of the Zulu War. Among those he had met were Lieut. Chard, V.C., the hero of Rorke’s Drift, and the Prince Imperial (Prince Louis Napoleon), whose death was one of the tragedies of the war.
When interviewed by the “Echo” some years ago, Mr. Gibson said: “Lieut. Chard was one of the greatest heroes of the defence of Rorke’s Drift, where all were heroes. It was he who superintended the making of a laager of mealie bags and biscuit tins. Behind those defences the tiny British force held 4,000 Zulus at bay for over 10 hours with their rifle fire and at the point of the bayonet. It was undoubtedly the mealie bags and biscuit tins which saved the day.”
A stonemason by trade, Mr. Gibson had the task of cutting stones for the graves of two officers who died trying to save the Colours of their regiment after the disaster of Isandlana (sic), 10 miles from Rorke’s Drift, in which only 40 of 800 British soldiers escaped after being surprised by an army of 20,000 Zulus.
Mr. Gibson received a leg wound during the campaign, and was invalided home. He remembered Queen Victoria visiting Netley Hospital when he was there.’ "
Source: DNW Footnotes