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The Memorial to the 24th Regiment at Rorke's Drift
Text and engraving image supplied by Martin Everett of the South Wales Borderers Museum, Brecon

Immediately after the battle, the remains of those who were killed in the action and those who died of disease were buried.  A rustic wood cross was erected under the direction of Lieutenant John Chard, Royal Engineers.  An illustration of this cross appeared shortly afterwards in The Graphic.

Front of the memorial

Left side of the memorial
The men of the 2/24th remained encamped near Rorke's Drift until mid-April 1879 and some were tasked to build a small cemetery around the graves.  The work was supervised by Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead 2/24th.  A stone obelisk some 10 feet high replaced the wooden cross and a low stone was built surrounding the graves.  The obelisk was the work of 1613 Private Mellsop 2/24th who had apparently worked as a stonemason before he joined the army.  It has been suggested that Mellsop used army bayonets to carve the memorial, but this seems unlikely in view of its size and the quality of his work.

Mellsop's illustration of the cemetery at Rorke's Drift
On one face of the memorial is a wreath of laurel inclosing the regimental number 'XXIV' with a cross above it.  On the other three faces are the names of the dead.  All the work to complete this little cemetery would have been finished some time between February and March 1879.  An illustration of the completed cemetery, drawn by Mellsop himself, appeared in The London Illustrated News published on 14 June 1879.  Mellsop purchased his discharge in South Africa in November 1879 and remained there.  His two sons later served with the South Wales Borderers with distinction ; both being commissioned in the Regiment during World War 1.

Rear of the memorial

Right side of the memorial

24th Regiment Casualties at Rorke's Drift

22nd/23rd January 1879

1st Battalion

135 Private BECKETT William, Dangerously wounded - assegai penetrating abdomen. DIED 23/1/1879.

568 Private DESMOND Patrick, Slightly wounded - gunshot through fleshy part of thumb.

1861 Private HORRIGAN William, KILLED (in hospital).

841 Private JENKINS James, KILLED.

625 Private NICHOLAS Edward, KILLED - gunshot through head.

447 Private WATERS John, Severely wounded - gunshot through arm and shoulder.

2nd Battalion

623  Sergeant MAXFIELD, Robert KILLED (in hospital) - assegaied to death.

1328 L/Sergeant WILLIAMS, Thomas, Dangerously wounded - gunshot left side of chest fracturing ribs.  Ball not lodged.  DIED 25/1/1879.

1240 Corporal ALLEN, William (VC), Severely wounded - gunshot through arm and shoulder.

1112 Corporal LYONS, John Dangerously wounded - gunshot through neck (?) fracturing spine.  Ball lodged - later removed.

987 Private ADAMS, Robert, KILLED.

2350 Private BUSHE, James, Slightly wounded - struck on nose by ball that had previously killed Private Thomas Cole.

1335 Private CHICK, James, KILLED.

801Private COLE, Thomas, KILLED - gunshot through head.

969 Private FAGAN, John, KILLED.

1769 Private HAYDEN, Garret KILLED (in hospital) - stabbed in 16 places, abdomen cut open in 2 places and part of cheek cut off.

1362 Private HITCH, Frederick (VC) Dangerously wounded - gunshot through shoulder joint.

1373 Private HOOK, Alfred Henry (VC) Slightly wounded - assegai contusion of forehead.

716 Private JONES, Robert (VC) Slightly wounded - assegai contusion of abdomen.

1051 Private SCANLON, John KILLED.

1005 Private SMITH, John Slightly wounded ablation of abdomen.

1812 Private TASKER, William Slightly wounded - gunshot, splinter of ball breaking skin

1398  Private WILLIAMS, Joseph KILLED (in hospital) - body mutilated and possibly dismembered.

The following soldier was a defender at Rorke's Drift on the 22nd/23td January, but died later, and is buried in the cemetery at Rorke's Drift.  His name is recorded on the memorial.

934 Private  WILLIAMS, John DIED of disease 5/2/1879.