Lieutenant John Chard:What's our strength? Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead Seven officers including surgeon commissaries and so on Adendorff now I suppose wounded and sick 36 fit for duty 97 and about 40 native levies Not much of an army for you.
HomeHome  CalendarCalendar  GalleryGallery  PublicationsPublications  FAQFAQ  SearchSearch  RegisterRegister  Log inLog in  
Latest topics
» George Middleton
Yesterday at 10:05 pm by 1879graves

» Durnfords arrival at iSandlwana
Yesterday at 9:18 pm by rusteze

» 90th Foot. Did it go to the 1879 war from India or from England?
Yesterday at 8:49 pm by 1879graves

» Sir Thomas Keir Murray
Yesterday at 8:47 pm by 1879graves

» Last man alive
Yesterday at 1:16 pm by ymob

» Smith-Dorrien talk 26th January 2019
Mon Jan 14, 2019 9:52 pm by ADMIN

» Pte 1507 Edwin Lewis 2-24th
Mon Jan 14, 2019 7:13 pm by 1879graves

» A heads- up on the weather for visitors to Zululand
Tue Jan 08, 2019 12:40 pm by barry

» 140th Anniversary Events - January 2019
Mon Jan 07, 2019 2:16 pm by timothylrose

» Privates John Bly & James Dick 2/24th RD Defenders
Sun Jan 06, 2019 6:58 pm by Lee Stevenson

» Colonel Wilford Neville Lloyd, C.B., C.V.O., T.D.
Sun Jan 06, 2019 5:17 pm by 1879graves

» Studies in the Zulu War 1879 Volume V
Sun Jan 06, 2019 1:31 pm by Julian Whybra

» Festive Fun photograph quiz!
Sat Jan 05, 2019 6:31 pm by Kenny

» Artifact Sale
Sat Jan 05, 2019 12:12 am by 90th

» Petty Officer Tom
Fri Jan 04, 2019 3:45 pm by SergioD

Captain David Moriarity, 80th, KIA Ntombe
This photograph taken when he was in the 7th Regiment prior to his transfer to the 80th. [Mac & Shad] (Isandula Collection)
The Battle of Isandlwana: One of The Worst Defeats of The British Empire - Military History

Display results as :
Rechercher Advanced Search
Top posters
Frank Allewell
Mr M. Cooper
Fair Use Notice
Fair use notice. This website may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorised by the copyright owner. We are making such material and images are available in our efforts to advance the understanding of the “Anglo Zulu War of 1879. For educational & recreational purposes. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material, as provided for in UK copyright law. The information is purely for educational and research purposes only. No profit is made from any part of this website. If you hold the copyright on any material on the site, or material refers to you, and you would like it to be removed, please let us know and we will work with you to reach a resolution.
Top posting users this month
John Young
Frank Allewell
Most active topics
Isandlwana, Last Stands
Pte David Jenkins. 'Forgotten' Survivor of Rorke's Drift Returned to Official Records
Durnford was he capable.1
Durnford was he capable.5
Durnford was he capable. 4
The ammunition question
Durnford was he capable. 3
Durnford was he capable.2
Pte David Jenkins. 'Forgotten' Survivor of Rorke's Drift Returned to Official Records
The missing five hours.

Share | 

 Private Hector Grant

Go down 


Posts : 3782
Join date : 2008-11-01
Age : 59
Location : KENT

PostSubject: Private Hector Grant   Fri Mar 13, 2009 8:23 pm

Stephen Cashmore describes how a Caithness soldier, Private Hector Grant, became caught up in the dramatic events surrounding Rorke's Drift during the Zulu War.

There must be few folk who have not heard of Rorke's Drift, One hundred and thirty-nine British soldiers against 4000 Zulu warriors, fresh from a stunning victory at the battle of Islandhlwana. Eleven Victoria Crosses, immortality, an ever-popular film; the very essence of heroism, and time, political revisionism and historical research have not diminished this glory.

One thing, which may be unfamiliar to our readers, is a little-known Caithness connection with Rorke's Drift.

The series of 19th-century wars waged by the British in South Africa were inspired by three great historical motivators: gold, diamonds and greed. The Boer farmers were the natural enemies of the financier-backed British, but there was another military power ranged against these European interlopers -- the Zulus, From the time that the great Shaka became their ruler in 1818, the Zulus had been an efficient, disciplined and all conquering military nation.

Their motto 'To Conquer or to Die" sums up the Zulu military-ethos. Defeated warriors were put to death, enemies were ruthlessly massacred, and every able male was, without exception, a warrior. By 1872, when Cetshwayo became their king, the Zulus controlled over 20,000 square miles of southern Africa, their empire was expanding, and confrontation with the British seemed inevitable.

When the Zulu War broke out in January 1879, the British sent a force of some 16,000 men into Zulu territory under the command of Lord Chelmsford. The majority of these troops were Natal natives; of regular British soldiers there were only 5400.

Among the ranks of British regulars was a Private Hector Grant. Private Grant's regiment was the 1/24th (2nd Warwickshire) but he was a native of Latheron. Just how someone from the Far North found himself in the Warwicks is uncertain, but it was not unusual for men to enlist in units whose nominal home was many miles away.

Whatever the reason, on January 22 private Grant was serving with a rocket battery under a Colonel Durnford's. At around 10.30am Colonel Durnford's detachment arrived at Islandhlwana, a rocky outcrop commanding an extensive view of a wide plain, where 1800 men were camped. This force was part of Lord Chelmsford's invading army which the commander had divided into three columns.

A group of Zulus was sighted in the distance. Although Colonel Durnford was in charge of the Islandhlwana camp, he chose to ride out with a rocket battery in pursuit of the Zulus. Private Grant was a member of this battery.

The British soldiers chased the retreating Zulus to a ridge where they disappeared. Reaching the brow of the ridge, Durnford's men saw a sight to freeze the blood - in a ravine 20,000 Zulus were squatting in silence. Durnford was brave but he was no fool; he realised his main duty was to inform the camp at Islandhlwana.

But as Durnford's detachment withdrew, the Zulus swarmed after them. Soon the rocket battery was embroiled in a desperate hand-to-hand struggle. From the camp at Islandhlwana the rest of Durnford's force dashed out to join the fight but, despite that courage which came from the sure knowledge that the Zulus took no prisoners, the British soldiers were overwhelmed by sheer numbers and wiped out to a man.

Some 1200 men were massacred with ruthless savagery by their Zulu antagonists. The rest, including Colonel Durnford's party, fled, pursued by the victorious Zulus for some four miles. In the confusion that followed the Islandhlwana disaster, Durnford's troop became split up. Some lost their bearings, wandered aimlessly and were killed by roaming bands of Zulus; others sought shelter in hiding; a few made their way towards Rorke's Drift, a British post on the Buffalo River.

By the time Hector Grant arrived at Rorke's Drift he had lost most of his equipment and his morale was, understandably, at a very low ebb. In vain he tried to warn the Rorke's Drift garrison of the terrible danger they were in. They ignored his warning and, perhaps realising the effect a demoralised soldier can have on his fellow troops, sent Private Grant to Helpmekaar where there was a detachment of British troops under Major Spalding.

But Major Spalding had already been appraised of the danger to Rorke's Drift and was leading two companies there. About three miles from his destination Major Spalding met some of the fugitives heading towards Helpmekaar, among them Private Grant. These men the Major ordered to join him and return to Rorke's Drift.

A mile further on, Spalding's troop noticed an ominous column of black smoke rising into the blue African sky. A moment later two more fugitives appeared with a report that the post at Rorke's Drift had fallen to the Zulus. The logic of the situation seemed irrefutable: Major Spalding took his two companies, Private Hector Grant included, back to Helpmekaar, certain that the little garrison at Rorke's Drift had all perished. The truth was dramatically different, however, and Spalding's retreat from Rorke's Drift may, perhaps, have denied Caithness a Victoria Cross.

I would like to thank Thurso's David Bews, a tireless researcher into the military history of the North, for contributing the information on which this article is based.

One final thought -- are there any descendants of Hector Grant reading this?
Back to top Go down
Private Hector Grant
Back to top 
Page 1 of 1

Permissions in this forum:You cannot reply to topics in this forum
Jump to: