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DateOriginal Topic
11th February 2004Watches Awarded Survivors
By Mary
Has any one heard of watches awarded survivors by Queen Victoria. There is a story in my family that my Great Great Uncle was a survivor and awarded a watch. I am trying to trace my ancestor and the watch.
12th February 2004Julian Whybra
Apocryphal I think. Although it's possible that he might have been an individual commemorative watch by someone else.
12th February 2004Martin Everett
Dear Mary,

RD survivors were certainly given individual Bibles by the ladies of Durban (The solder's name is in the flyleaf) and also a parchment copy of the address given by the Mayor of Durban. This parchments are very rare.
12th February 2004Peter Ewart

You didn't give his name (which I presume you know as you mention his exact relationship).

If you know his name, you can ascertain immediately whether he was one of the survivors of the Defence of Rorke's Drift as the names are well known (a list on this site somewhere, I think).

If he doesn't feature in these, he may have been a survivor of one of the other numerous battles and skirmishes during the war - and still have been to R/Drift, as thousands who were not involved in the defence in Jan 1879 actually passed through it or were encamped there for a while at some time during 1879. Or he may have simply served in S Africa, including Natal and/or Zululand, at some other time, such as 1880/1, later in the the 1880s, 1890s, or the Boer War of 1899-02 etc., and the story of his service may have become garbled in the (usual!) way.

Many British soldiers passed by the post over the next 20 years or so and no doubt wrote or spoke about this later - it is very easy for these stories to become mixed or mis-understood years later. For example, the 1st Bn., Rifle Bde were sniffing around the site in May 1900 and some of them wrote about seeing this famous spot, and their stories could very easily and accidentally be corrupted a few generations later.

Still, good luck!