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 'Padre' George Smith Rorkes Drift Defender 22nd/ 23rd Jan 1879

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PostSubject: 'Padre' George Smith Rorkes Drift Defender 22nd/ 23rd Jan 1879   Fri Mar 27, 2009 9:57 pm

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Reverend George Smith, Army Chaplain, was born in Docking in Norfolk on 8 January 1845. 'Padre' George Smith served as a missionary in South Africa from 1870.

However, he is best remembered for his part in the famous defence of Rorke's Drift during the Zulu War of 1877–79 which won him the praise of several officers involved in that action in their reports. As an assistant army chaplain, and therefore a non-combatant, Smith played a supportive role in the defence, where he distributed ammunition to the soldiers of the 24th Regiment of Foot (2nd Warwickshires) who were manning the barricades. Smith was not portrayed in the 1964 film Zulu by which most people know of the battle.

After the Zulu War he was often referred to as "Ammunition Smith". As an assistant army chaplain, and therefore technically a civilian, Smith was not entitled to receive a campaign medal or other award for his part in the defence. Instead he was offered, and accepted, a position as a regular army chaplain.

After South Africa he served as Chaplain in several other wars including the Battle of Tel el-Kebir in Egypt, the war against the Dervishes in the Sudan and during the Nile expedition in Egypt.

Padre Smith also served in many posts in the UK, and on his retirement he resided in the Sumner's Hotel in Preston, where he died on 26/27th. November 1918 from bronchial trouble which had afflicted him for six months. After a small military ceremony, he was buried in the Church of England plot in New Hall Lane cemetery in Preston, Lancashire.

See Pictorial catalogue of AZW graves


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PostSubject: Re: 'Padre' George Smith Rorkes Drift Defender 22nd/ 23rd Jan 1879   Sat May 01, 2010 11:58 am

Never mind Henry Hook and the other ten V.C. winners, the most colourful character at the Defence of Rorke’s Drift during the Zulu War of 1879 was Reverend George Smith. A massive man 6’6” tall and weighing 18 stone, the red bearded Smith must have presented a fearsome sight to Tommies and Zulus alike. At the height of the action he was seen pacing the defensive perimeter handing out Martini Henry cartridges to the men, exhorting the men with Biblical quotations and shouting, “Don’t swear, boys. Just shoot.” After Rorke’s Drift he was always known as “Ammunition” Smith.

thanks joe
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