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 Private Henry Hook Letter

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PostSubject: Private Henry Hook Letter   Thu Aug 12, 2010 10:12 pm

From Private Henry Hook, B Company, 2-24th Regiment to his mother, Mrs E. Hook, Drybridgestreet, Monmouth.

Rorke's Drift.

“After the enemy had fled from the general's camp, they came across the river here and attacked our commissary stores but fortunately we got an hour's warning and made a fort. By-and-bye down they came in thousands---one black mass---so many we did not know where to fire first, they being so many and we were about 100 all told. But, thank God, after a night of great fighting, we drove them off and we saw the general's forces coming over the hill and that gave us great relief, I can tell you. There were four Monmouth men killed, viz. Sergeant Maxfield (Cinderhill-street), Private Hopkins (formerly a servant at Gibraltar House, Monmouth and later a policeman stationed at Llanarth), Private Charles (Penalt near Monmouth) and Thomas Bennet (Monnow-street). Sergeant Maxfield was burnt alive in the hospital; the enemy swarmed around and burnt the place before we could save him and, as he was raving mad with fever, he could not save himself. Hopkins and the others were killed in the fight at the general's camp. I had a very narrow escape, for I was in the hospital and when the enemy set fire to it, I had to get out of the window and fight my way through them .... I am now servant to Major Black (his man having been killed) and a nice gentleman he is and I like him very much...”
Extracted from “Welsh Soldiers in the Zulu War” by Alan Conway, National Library of Wales journal Vol. XI/1 Summer 1959.


Petty Officer Tom
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Posts : 131
Join date : 2010-07-04
Location : Gloucester, UK

PostSubject: Re: Private Henry Hook Letter   Fri Aug 13, 2010 6:33 pm

Quote :
... I am now servant to Major Black (his man having been killed) and a nice gentleman he is and I like him very much...”

A little anecdote to the above that might raise a smile:

"[Black's voice] could be heard above the Fort calling for "H-o-ok!" many times a day. So the men had their little joke, and whenever Hook was called for they themselves shouted for Hook and then yelled out, "I think he's hooked it, sir!", which always caused great merriment."

From Barry C Johnson's "Hook of Rorke's Drift - The Life of Henry Hook VC"

What a way to treat a VC - and a man of Gloucestershire at that ! Wink

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