I have recently read an article written by Dr Mike Snook where he describes the difficulties encountered by men being promoted through the ranks. In the article, 'Refusing Promotion', Dr Snook states, 'When you get promoted as a soldier, responsibility for all sorts of things passes into your hands. Let's begin with the responsibility to see orders properly executed. As a private soldier, you are your own self-contained unit. Nobody else can let you down; you can only let yourself down. It's different for NCOs. There is a military offence called 'negligently performing a duty'. It has been around forever and can attract serious punishment. If you are a corporal, (noting in passing that there were fewer of them in a Victorian infantry company than there are today - thus greater responsibility for larger numbers of men), and you have failed to be properly attentive to your duties, you might end up taking the rap for something done by, (or left undone by), one or more of the men you are supposed to be supervising. The obvious inference to be drawn by the company commander is that you are not up to the job; better to get rid of you (reduce back to private) and let somebody else of promise draw the pay and assume the responsibility that goes with it. So you had to be, (and today would still have to be), a certain kind of man; keen to be successful in life, knowledgeable, enthusiastic, credible, motivated, smart, honest, intelligent, sharp, trustworthy, respected, literate and, above all else, a leader, whether the necessary attributes come naturally or have been groomed through training, education and personal development'
With the above statement in mind I started to think about the NCO's at Rorkes Drift, and the difficulties that they must have encountered in their role as NCO's. I had a look at the 'The Roll of those present at Rorke's Drift 22/23 January, 1879', and I counted at least 26 NCO's. I am interested to know if these men had any additional NCO training like we have today or was it a case of learn as you go. I would also like to know if any of the survivors of Rorkes Drift declined offers of promotion.