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» Letter of officer during Zulu wars.
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» Bearing The Cross by Ken Blakeson | BBC RADIO DRAMA: Ken Blakeson's play tells the story of the Battle of Rorke's Drift and the effect it had on three of the soldiers who fought in it.
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 RORKES DRIFT BUILDINGS AND AMMO WRAPPERS

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Neil Aspinshaw
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impi
Chard1879
semakh
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semakh




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PostSubject: RORKES DRIFT BUILDINGS AND AMMO WRAPPERS   RORKES DRIFT BUILDINGS AND AMMO WRAPPERS EmptySun Dec 19, 2010 2:41 pm

Hello everyone, I`am new to this forum so please put up with a few questions.

Firstly, about the Rorkes Drift buildings of 1879.
can anyone direct me to a good source regarding the architecture and building techniques used at the site.

After reading various books, magazine articles an even various archaeological reports of 1980`s I have a rough idea what the House/Hospital and store looked like but it is basic info with little real details of construction.

For example - the baked red bricks used and the mud bricks used - what size were these? Hook states that these were "ordinary bricks" but what is ordinary for 1879 may not be for 2010..

The window glass used at that time looked like it was a multi pane affair as seen in the photos of the store as in Fort Bromhead post Jan 1879 - the bricks look larger than the standard house brick of the time too..

Did the Hospital have a ceiling or did it open directly to the thatched roof with the walls going up to the roof?

how high were the windows from the floor? - one writer says that in the hospital they had to lift the wounded up "6 foot to get to the window"... yet that would be the end stone sections but there are no windows in that section. the side walls of red Brick could not accommodate that height???...

Secondly, with any battle preparation it can be a real problem to supply ammunition quickly without creating a huge pile of wooden boxes and wrappings lying all over the place - has anybody seen or heard of the use of this paper to write letters home? - the reason for this odd little question is that a auction lot of old letters from the 1880`s have surfaced some of which are written on long lengths of thin butchers type paper indicating the wrapper between the cartridges being used?!...any truth to this?
Would make sense considering the shortage of writing paper out in the field?...

Thanks in advance..

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Chard1879

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PostSubject: Re: RORKES DRIFT BUILDINGS AND AMMO WRAPPERS   RORKES DRIFT BUILDINGS AND AMMO WRAPPERS EmptySun Dec 19, 2010 7:49 pm

semakh. Well come to the forum. Here's as Extract from Private Hook's (VC) account of Rorke's Drift 1879 he describes the building.

"The ends of the building were of stone, the side walls of ordinary bricks, and the inside walls or partitions of sun-dried bricks of mud." As for the other information height of windows ect. Really do have a clue.. Interesting post though.

Ammunition wrappings, I would have thought the wrappings would have been a wax paper of some kind, which would have prevented the paper being used to write on. (Could be wrong)
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impi

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PostSubject: Re: RORKES DRIFT BUILDINGS AND AMMO WRAPPERS   RORKES DRIFT BUILDINGS AND AMMO WRAPPERS EmptySun Dec 19, 2010 8:16 pm

"There were two important buildings on the site - the house and the store. Rorke's house had been converted into a hospital. It had eleven rooms and a veranda but like many colonial houses of the period, some of the rooms had no interior communication with the rest of the house, the doors being on the outside. Not all had windows, but those that did exist were small and shuttered. The outside walls were of round stones and homemade bricks, but the interior ones were of mud bricks. The roof was thatched, and was thus high and steep. The store built by Rorke, and converted to a chapel by the Swedish Missionaries, was built of stone, and had a very high roof, making it appear almost double storied. It was used as a commissariat store. There was a toilet west of the house, a cookhouse and ovens south of the store, two kraals to the east and a wall one metre high in the garden, which lay below the 1,5 metre high rocky outcrop on which the buildings stood. The tents of the garrison were below the garden, to the north."
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24th

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PostSubject: Re: RORKES DRIFT BUILDINGS AND AMMO WRAPPERS   RORKES DRIFT BUILDINGS AND AMMO WRAPPERS EmptySun Dec 19, 2010 9:50 pm

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] This gives a good representation of the beams ect.
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Neil Aspinshaw

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PostSubject: Re: RORKES DRIFT BUILDINGS AND AMMO WRAPPERS   RORKES DRIFT BUILDINGS AND AMMO WRAPPERS EmptyMon Dec 20, 2010 8:38 am

Mk3 Martini ammo was wrapped in a heavy brown paper, 10 cartridges in 2 x rows of five, heads to tails. Sheet size a little under A4 before wrapping. The bundle was then tied with a twine. The only way to open it is to tear open the paper and pull out the contents, not condusive with easy access, In between each cartridge was a fine white (almost tissue) paper to prevent each round contacting together. No use for writiing.

For example, this is a Packet of Eley Pattern K ammo circa 1885 unfired from my collection, but pretty much Identical to the C1877 Mk3 ammo from the R^L.
[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]

You have to tear the packet apart like a 6 year old kid on xmas day to access all cartridges. Last year I made five packets of ammunition, matching paper, white tissue and twine, its was a devil of a job to open, in the end, I tore them open and tipped the contents onto the shooting point, or into an expense pouch which I hasten to add simply holds 10-15 rounds, it cannot take any more.

Take a look at the image here,C 1895 the packets are tore open in front of the marksman. Trent Range, Long Eaton.
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semakh




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PostSubject: Re: RORKES DRIFT BUILDINGS AND AMMO WRAPPERS   RORKES DRIFT BUILDINGS AND AMMO WRAPPERS EmptyMon Dec 20, 2010 11:13 am

Thanks for the replies.

I have a carbine packet of MH from 1880 and various photocopies of early wrappers from 1875 to 1877 and they all have notes that the paper separating each round was a light type done in a zig zag configuration.
I noticed that the string used was blue/natural colour combination and was tied tightly.

I would have thought one wrapper may have made it back as a souvenir but this has not happened or is yet to be found.
Status International here in Australia had the letters some 18 or more months ago.




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DundeeBoer

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PostSubject: Re: RORKES DRIFT BUILDINGS AND AMMO WRAPPERS   RORKES DRIFT BUILDINGS AND AMMO WRAPPERS EmptyThu Dec 23, 2010 10:56 pm

I thought this might be of interest. As this is my first time posting pictures I hope I have attached them correctly.

I’m very fortunate to have several examples of full 10 round Martini packets from both the Royal Laboratories and Eley Brothers in my collection. Neither the paper between the rounds described as “fine white” nor the heavy brown wrapper was waxed. I did however remember a reference to a “waterproof wrapper” of SA Ammunition. I checked several sources and found the reference I’d remembered in the L.o.C. #247 30 Jan. 1861. It was however only a trial in selected areas and units.


These photos are of a packet of Martini MK III rounds from the Royal Laboratory that I carefully dissected and put back together some time ago. It gives you a good idea of the packing method of the rounds and the paper placed in between them.


[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]

In addition I thought this a very interesting example of a letter home. Although this one is from the Boer War and of Boer manufacturing the paper is the same. This wrapper was used as the paper for the letter, then folded into itself to form the envelope also.

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Regards, Jeff
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ADMIN

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PostSubject: Re: RORKES DRIFT BUILDINGS AND AMMO WRAPPERS   RORKES DRIFT BUILDINGS AND AMMO WRAPPERS EmptyFri Dec 24, 2010 12:07 am

Thanks for sharing the photo's, Excellent first photo post. Keep them coming.. The rounds are in very good condition.
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impi

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PostSubject: Re: RORKES DRIFT BUILDINGS AND AMMO WRAPPERS   RORKES DRIFT BUILDINGS AND AMMO WRAPPERS EmptyFri Dec 24, 2010 1:38 pm

Nice photo's DundeeBoer. Sure would like to have that in my collection.
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DundeeBoer

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PostSubject: Re: RORKES DRIFT BUILDINGS AND AMMO WRAPPERS   RORKES DRIFT BUILDINGS AND AMMO WRAPPERS EmptyWed Dec 29, 2010 10:11 pm

Rorkes Drift Buildings:

Not the best picture with the glair but....part of the original hospital wall to help picture it a little.

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Hope This helps, Jeff
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Chelmsfordthescapegoat

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PostSubject: Re: RORKES DRIFT BUILDINGS AND AMMO WRAPPERS   RORKES DRIFT BUILDINGS AND AMMO WRAPPERS EmptyThu Dec 30, 2010 12:43 am

Jeff. I took a close-up photo of the wall. as it looks like its some kind of rush repair job. Was this display section put together some years after the Battle. Or is it the original wall as it was before the battle.
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DundeeBoer

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PostSubject: Re: RORKES DRIFT BUILDINGS AND AMMO WRAPPERS   RORKES DRIFT BUILDINGS AND AMMO WRAPPERS EmptyThu Dec 30, 2010 2:30 am

Chelmsford,

If I recall all this correctly after the battle only a small portion of the outer walls and the bricks forming the foundation were sound so everything else was pulled down. I think what was torn down was then used to form parts of Fort Bromhead. I admit I’m going from memory here so I welcome someone to correct this and or be more specific. After the war Witt had it rebuilt 1880 ish?? using original bricks again from Ft. Bromhead. The new building was build slightly larger than the 1879 structure. The picture is of what is believed to be part of the original wall (1879). As you walk into the museum and turn left the excavation from 1988 display is there. A large portion of the floor is open exposing the original foundation and the wall in the picture but I can’t remember if that is the side wall (east) or front wall (north.) I’ll try to go through some more of my pictures and thumb through "British Fortifications in Zululand" tonight In the mean time I’m sure someone will be able to add some details and corrections.

Here is the same picture. A little better angle and quality.

All the Best, Jeff

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Ken Gillings




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PostSubject: Re: RORKES DRIFT BUILDINGS AND AMMO WRAPPERS   RORKES DRIFT BUILDINGS AND AMMO WRAPPERS EmptySun Jan 02, 2011 4:12 pm

After the Defence, the buildings were demolished and much of the building material was used to construct a three metre high loopholed fortification. Then the rest of the material was used to build Fort Melvill, overlooking the site of the pontoons. They were occupied until the end of the war. When the Swedish missionaries re-occupied the site, they demolished what remained of the fort and built a house that was somewhat larger than the original one. The existing verandah is 4.5 metres further forward of the original one. The bricks that are on display on the north wall in the museum on the battlefield are therefore comparitively new. When the old Natal Provincial Museum Service converted the (newer) mission buildings into an interpretation centre, a section of the plaster was removed to expose the 'green' brick, which was used to rebuild the house. It is, of course, a very good example of how the original (James Rorke) house was built BUT IT ISN'T THE ORIGINAL! As far as I am aware, the only original material may be seen in the excavated section of the museum, which is covered with thick glass.
It is also quite amusing to listen to some guides tell their clients: "At this very window, so-and-so fended off the Zulus..." It simply isn't true!
There MAY be some original material in the existing church, which was built in 1882 but by far the majority was used to build Fort Melvill.
The museum and interpretation centre were opened in 1979 and after the 1994 elections, when the Natal and kwaZulu became a single entity, they were taken over by Amafa aKwaZulu-Natali / Heritage KwaZulu-Natal (which replaced the KwaZulu Monuments Council and the Natal Regional Committee of the National Monuments Council).
Incidentally, I have also heard several Guides claim that the phenomenal model of the battle was made by schoolchildren; that is also incorrect. It was made by a Mrs Patrick.
Regards, Ken
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Chelmsfordthescapegoat

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PostSubject: Re: RORKES DRIFT BUILDINGS AND AMMO WRAPPERS   RORKES DRIFT BUILDINGS AND AMMO WRAPPERS EmptySun Jan 02, 2011 4:15 pm

Thanks for clearing that up Ken. Very informative.. Idea
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semakh




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PostSubject: Re: RORKES DRIFT BUILDINGS AND AMMO WRAPPERS   RORKES DRIFT BUILDINGS AND AMMO WRAPPERS EmptyFri May 06, 2011 12:19 pm

I have here a few images of MH wrappers (orig & p/copy).
thanks for the building info - it is a start.
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