you are currently viewing: Discussion Forum


The Rorke's Drift VC Discussion Forum
(View Discussion Rules)


PLEASE NOTE: This forum is now inactive and is provided for reference purposes only. The live forum is available at

(Back To Topic List)

DateOriginal Topic
19th November 2003Monmouthshire - the hot potato
By Alan Critchley
Once again I feel I must raise the topic of where Monmouthshire belongs, then and now. I'd like to lay this one to rest once and for all.
On refering to Monmouthshire, my uncertainty as to where it belongs leads me to itemise it separately on this site and allow people to decide for themselves. This might appear as a slur on the Welsh or appear to be detracting from their contribution to events. This is not intended.
For the purposes of this site I want to establish where it belonged in 1879. If that is established without doubt, I will amend our details accordingly. If there is still doubt, it will stay as it is. Someone must know.

19th November 2003Martin Everett
If to wish to know this for the purposes of trying to produce a league table of VC holders (note the word holder - they are not winners, it is not game), then forget it. Each soldier was awarded the VC for his gallant individual action.

To answer your question Monmouthshire in 1879 was neither in Wales nor England.
20th November 2003John Young

As we know from bitter experience on this site not to trust the word of the BBC, however might I suggest the following link -

There are other links regarding 'The myth of Monmouthshire', and that the term 'Wales & Monmouthshire' was used by English land- owners.

Can't we just say that the inhabitants were British, or is that asking too much?

John Y.
20th November 2003Alan Critchley
it is not for league tables, it is to stop Welsh people from pestering me to alter the details.
20th November 2003John Young

Isn't it just as of much of a 'league table' in 'The Silver Wreath' or 'The Noble 24th', then?

The latter book which I believe you had a hand in compiling, clearly states Monmouthshire as being in Wales, which contradicts your statement above. Or were you applying pre-1543 or post-1974 rules to your reasoning there?

John Y.
20th November 2003John Young
On the subject of tinkering with place names, and to inject an element of humour into this debate, I refer to the song 'The Noble 24th'. When G.C. Anewick penned his chorus for this lament it stated:-
"All honour to the 24th
Of glorious renown.
England, avenge your countrymen,
And strike the foemen down."

Yet in version released in 1979, on the l.p. 'Tribute to Bravery', by the Royal Regiment of Wales, the word 'England' is replaced by 'Welshmen'.

I have also heard, and seen 'England' replaced by the word 'Britons', and I've got no problem with that!

John Y.
20th November 2003Martin Everett
Let us just say that the 24th Regiment has been a part of the regular British Army for over 300 years. It is currently serving in Iraq. Nearly 200 years after it was first raised by a Land Owner in Kent, it came to the Border Counties of Wales. From 1973 and up until WW1 less than 30% of recruits came from Wales. This was true at Rorke's Drift. Many of the soldiers although living in Wales whne they were recruited, were not Welsh or Monmouthshire born - such is the population movement caused by the industrial revolution in South Wales.

The difficulty of producing biographical notes on soldiers is that:
(1) Do you use the information as stated on the enlistment form? - not always accurate as many recruits did not know exactly where they were born.
(2) The description of the parish as it was in 1870s, e.g. Brynmawr was in Brecknockshire in 1870s, it then became part of Gwent, now it is in Blaenau Gwent. Merthyr was in the 1870s described as Merthyr, Dowlais, Glamorgan. Now Dowlais is sub-district of Merthyr.

I can only say again that you have the luxury of concentrating on one campaign. Sadly Norman Holme died just as he produced his draft for 'The Noble 24th' and I was given about 3 days to proof read it. With more time, I would have probably deleted Wales from Monmouthshire, and perhaps Lancashire from Liverpool, and Middlesex from many of the London Boroughs. I am sure you will be able to answer any queries whilst I am in South Africa.

20th November 2003John Young

What a hard life a Museum Curator must lead? India, the Crimea, France and now off to South Africa, again!

I will endeavour to answer any questions posed, President Bush's visit permitting, in my best unpaid, amateur way. Whilst professionals suchas yourself, don't even answer questions posed directly to you since January of this year.

John Young
Friend No 44,
Museums of the R.R.W.
20th November 2003Mike McCabe
I cannot now find it, but I recall mention in 'The Red Soldier' of the main body of one of the battalions of the 24th marching up from Greytown with the band playing 'Here's to the Noble 24th'. Has anybody considered reviving this (I asume firmly traditional) piece of regimental music for the 125th. As a 'non-Welsh' regiment, the memory of the 24th might be better recalled using that rather than the inappropriate 'Men of Harlech' that might have been known by only a minority of both battalions.
20th November 2003Clive Dickens
Oh Dear, For once I am keeping out of this it is much safer.
20th November 2003Julian Whybra
I would refer you to the earlier discussion would gave much historical evidence for the status of Monmouthshire at various dates in its history. Alan, the standard academic approach to giving geographical locations is to provide the contemporary (ie contemporary with the event) county, thus, Kensington, Middlesex and Southwark, Surrey and Liverpool, Lancashire. If you fear you might offend some people - why not just leave out 'Wales' and simply record locations as for example Chepstow, Monmouthshire. End of problem.
21st November 2003Alan Critchley

the purpose of adding the country of origin of the defenders was merely to add another dimension to their details. To itemise the county of birth of the defenders would be lengthy and probably innaccurate. I had tried to avoid offending people by putting Monmouthshire separately because of the uncertainty, not to make a point!
I could leave the details out altogether, but I don't think I should.
I must say, the objections I receive are from Welsh people, not English who could conceivably feel equally aggrieved.

21st November 2003Julian Whybra
Then I sugest putting the simply the county of birth rather than the country. If the county is not known then put unknown. Everyone knows that the soldiers were all British
21st November 2003Alan Critchley

would you classify the 16 Irish as British? There are already 21 others of 'unknown' nationality.

21st November 2003John Young

In 1879, all of Ireland was within the United Kingdom of Great Britain, so personalIy I would count the Irish amongst the British.

What about the 'Kiwi' from the A.H.C., is he a New Zealander or a subject of the British Empire?

Is Bromhead a Frenchman, by virtue of his birthplace?

John Y.
21st November 2003Peter Ewart
Or Jardine an Indian, Dexter an Italian, Plum Warner a West Indian or even Gubby Allen an Aussie?

Good point, John!

21st November 2003paul neville
Please Peter, let us not bring cricket into the discussion also. Many cricketer's were born when those countries were part of the Empire. So let us call them British soldiers as any British soldier could win the VC no matter what company or regiment they belonged too. The only reason colonial officers did not win was because the "English", of which I am one myself, were too arogant to recognise colonial battalions.
22nd November 2003Peter Ewart

In agreeing with John on Bromhead's example I made the point by using an exact analogy, which the names I quoted provide. In other words, the soldier's birthplace did not necessarily define his nationality - so Bromhead was never referred to as a Frenchman, nor Dexter as an Italian, neither of whose birthplace was part of the British Empire incidentally, but whose nationality was derived from their ancestry.

23rd November 2003Julian Whybra
What has place of birth to do with nationality?
If Alan is recording place of birth, then that is all he is doing, he can write New Zealand, France, or whatever. In the case of UK subjects (ie GB and Ireland in the 1800s) he can simply put village and county or 'unknown'.
27th November 2003Alan Critchley
All very confusing. Firstly, I make no apology for the listing of participants according to country. It merely adds another aspect to the details of the defenders at Rorke's Drift. This is nothing to do with VC 'holders' or league tables as Martin suggested or is that 'accused'.
I assume, rightly or wrongly that Nationality is based on what would be considered to be the normal place of residence if parents weren't serving abroad or on holiday etc. at the time of birth. The nationality which would be on your passport if it weren't under the general umbrella of 'British' in our (my) case.
I placed Monmouthshire as a separate entity only because of my confusion.
The following is an extract from a BBC History website which does nothing to clear the matter up.

"Early Modern Wales
The Status of Monmouthshire 1543

The county of Monmouthsire came into existence in 1536 and consisted in the main of the marcher lordships of Newport, Abergavenny, Monmouth, Chepstow, Caerleon and Usk. The second Act of Union, that of 1543 established the Court of Great Session, a distinct Welsh system of courts based upon four three-county circuits: Anglesey, Caernarfon and Merionnydd; Flint, Denbigh and Montgomery; Cardigan, Carmarthen and Pembroke; Radnor, Brecon and Glamorgan. As Monmouthshire was not included in the system, the notion arose that it had ceased to be part of Wales.

The notion had little substance and became meaningless after 1830 when the Court of Great Session was abolished. Nevertheless, some of the rare examples of specific Welsh legislation passed between 1536 and 1900 assumed that Monmouthshire was not part of Wales. For example, the act closing public houses on Sunday in Wales did not initially apply to Monmouthshire. Even in the 20th century, it was usual to refer to the thirteen counties as Wales and Monmouthshire. The Welsh status of Monmouthshire passed beyond doubt in 1974 when it was recreated as the county of Gwent. Gwent was abolished in 1996, and the new units of local government which replaced it paid scant attention to any presumed boundaries between Wales and the old Monmouthshire."

For this reason, in the absence of stronger arguments, I won't consign it to Room 101, and leave the entry as it is.


5th December 2003Mike McCabe

If you think that you get anywhere by introducing facts and logic into this debate then I can only take my hat off to you!