"The second son. Colonel John Chard, Royal Engineers, of whom I cannot think or write without thrills, was the hero of Rorke's Drift, on January 22nd, 1879, when he — then
Lieutenant Chard — and Lieutenant Bromhead, 24th Regiment,
accomplished almost superhuman tasks in defending the hospital
and the stores when taken by surprise and surrounded by three
This where we all come in to play.
This is not the place to recount the magnificence of those
men's bravery, for I am writing about parsons, but it is im-
possible to mention the name of Chard without referring to it,
and I would like to recount the story afresh every year, so that
the rising generations may hear all about it, and be fired with
the hero-worship so inspiring and good for any son of man.
If I were a parson I would set apart special days to preach
sermons on the lives of some of these great men ; I would take
them for my text ; I would point out what possibilities lie
within us all of forgetting self -what it is that makes men stand
out like beacons in the hours of darkness and strife.
I can remember that black January, 1879, when the news
of the awful disaster at Isandula reached England, and we were
dumb with grief at the thought of all our brave soldiers that
perished there, marched to their death with contradictory orders
and insufficient ammunition. We felt crushed as a nation,
broken-hearted as individuals.
Quickly on top of this blow came the news of the attack on
Rorke's Drift, held against such overwhelming numbers by a
handful of England's best. It was here Lieutenant Chard,
taken by surprise, without even time to cut down the bush
surrounding them, which gave such excellent cover for the
enemy, quickly made defences of biscuit -tins, all with him
following his orders and working hard.
At the last moment the Natal native contingent, dis-
heartened at the disaster at Isandula, deserted, making matters
worse for this brave handful, who only had time to build up the
biscuit -tins and boxes two tins high, when the enemy were on
them and the hospital attacked.
Lieutenants Chard and Bromhead carried out all the sick it
was possible to move, but in spite of their efforts the hospital
was set on fire ; the three privates stationed at the doors to
protect the helpless inside, came to the end of their ammunition
and stood at their posts repulsing the enemy at the point of the
It was growing dark, and, as the burning hospital fell in, the
gallant defenders were forced to retire to another defence of
heaped-up meal-bags, and a desultory firing was kept up at them
all night by the light of the burning hospital. They were
completely surrounded, but evidently the enemy had no idea
how few were opposed to them, and at dawn on January 23rd
moved off, giving Lieutenant Chard time to collect the arms of
the fallen Zulus, and fortify themselves in case of fresh attack.
This was accomplished none too soon, for at 7 a.m. the enemy
appeared in sight again ; but Lieutenant Chard succeeded in
getting a message taken to Helpmakaar, a few miles away, for
help, which arrived about eight o'clock, seeing which, the enemy
retired, and thus ended this most gallant defence."