That is a great sketch of the naval brigade. The men in the picture are from HMS Shah, which was diverted by her Captain (Bradshaw) while on their way back to England from service in the Pacific. They suddenly found their time away from home and loved ones extended, and had to make last minute preparations for service ashore.
On 2 March, 1879 one of the Shah's men, Henry Eason, wrote the following in his diary:
“We are expecting by next week at this time to be on the way to the relief of our comrades or brother blue jackets who are hemmed in by the enemy at Ekowe. Great preparations are being made on board here. Last night soda water bottles were served out to all the landing party with a piece of Fearnot to cover them, and today notwithstanding it being Sunday, all the sail makers were at work making tents for our men, and 29 blue jackets are making canvas leggings as fast as possible for all that land.” (From THE NAVAL MISCELLANY, VOLUME VII, THE DIARY OF SIGNAL BOSUN HENRY EASON: THE NAVAL BRIGADE IN THE ZULU WAR, 1879)
Petty Officer Tom