Why is it that all of these old sailor's stories come out of Australia?
Thomas Wilson, Yeoman of Stores, HMS Orontes was 25 years old in1879 (1881 Census).
Tom Willson was born about 1864; so he would have been 15 in 1879. Don't think they are the same fellow. Also the article on Tom Wilson does not mention service in the Royal Navy, other than in the Naval Reserve in 1884. There is no mention of Royal Navy ships on which he might have served, allthough he "is able to recall the name, captain and class of every ship in which he served." Nor is there any mention of his entitlement to the Zulu War Medal or any other.
As for being in the Zulu War, I doubt that, since the article stated that "from 1889 to 1899 he sailed in the Sobraon... During those 10 years he saw fighting in Ashanti, Zulu and Boer Wars." Wrong time frame for the Zulu War.
In 1892 the Sobraon was sold to the New South Wales Government for £ 15.000 and turned into a reformatory ship moored off Cockatoo Island in Sydney harbour.
I would say that he was not involved in the Zulu War without more evidence.
Petty Officer Tom