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
12th February 2004MABIN
By Graham Mason
I have been fortunate enough to have a number of articles published on a man rarely mentioned in awe as the VC winners of Rorkes Drift , he ended up as a Sgt MAJOR with SIX ( THE MAXIMUM ) GOOD CONDUCT stripes , 30 years service without a blemish and yet is constantly denied in the record books with his correct rank on JAN 22 / 23 1879 . George William MABIN was a C / Sgt some THREE Years before C/ Sgt BOURNE having been promoted to this rank in 1875 . The award of a L:S :G :C medal was not given to the newly created rank of Warrant officer and so a man who died the penultimate defender of Rorkes Drift was denied his correct status as a Colour Sgt at the defence , was " cheated " i feel for a well deserved LSGC medal and i think a campaign should be raised to get him this well overdue honour .

I would also like to be clarified the fact ( ? ) that the colonial records of the men inn the Anglo Zulu War ( 1879 ) were pulped for paper in World War ONE , is this true and by what reason ? , thank you , Graham Mason .
12th February 2004John Young

Given the fact Mabin was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, I think your idea of a campaign is somewhat pointless.

The M.S.M., was instituted in 1845, and was also known as "The Serjeants' Medal" or "The Medal with Annuity".

Up until 1917 the M.S.M. had the same ribbon as the Army L.S. & G.C. Medal. Up until that date the M.S.M. displaced the L.S. & G.C. Medal, and both, according the then War Office could not be worn.

Personally, the best people qualified to answer your second query would be the staff at Kew, might I suggest a visit there to establish the facts.

On a point of fact regarding uniform, a Sergeant-Major would not have been entitled to wear 'six (the maximum) Good Conduct stripes', as no-one above the rank of Corporal wore Good Conduct stripes.

John Y.
12th February 2004Julian Whybra
As i understand it, the records were destroyed by a German bomb in WW2.
12th February 2004Peter Ewart
Make absolutely sure before you give up on the search - presumably, though, the experts on the AZW colonial contribution would have "chapter & verse" on this point? No doubt they have used these records or are aware that there are gone?

For years & years the MoD and PRO said that all WW1 soldiers' service records had been destroyed in the Blitz, whereas it simply wasn't so. Thousands of boxes of them survived, so that between the "burnt" and unburnt" remaining records, around 38%-40% survived, so today one has a 2 in 5 chance of locating a surviving WW1 British soldier's service record at the NA.

As John says, they should know at Kew.

12th February 2004Lee Stevenson
Further to the original posting which states that Mabin "died the penultimate defender of Rorkes Drift." Surely this is not so. When GW Mabin died in October 1938, there were at least six other defenders still alive; Dunbar, Edwards (Orchard), Hayes, Cooper, Lockhart and of course Frank Bourne. (not forgetting that Martin is still investigating a story that Bourne was not the last defender...)

Documents, which are currently still available, at the National Archives, (the Public Record Office), state that Mabin received "an Annuity of 10 with silver medal for long and highly meritorious service, including Zulu and Boer Campaigns 1879 -1881"

12th February 2004Graham MASON
I stand corrected , i of course was refering to some SOUTH AFRICAN sources and to set the record straight these are the years the 6 mentioned defenders who are known correctly to have died after 1938 . DUNBAR 1940 , EDWARDS ( ORCHARD ) 1940 , HAYES 1940 , COOPER 1942 , LOCKHART 1943 and of course FRANK BOURNE in 1945 , whether or not there was an alleged later date of an as yet un-named defender who passed away after 1945 i can`t say , at least i say i was wrong and do so in public .

As regards Sgt MAJOR MABIN i resent the fact that some " person " thinks a pursuance of i believe a merited medal a waste of time, is an insult to that man and is certainly not pointless . I do not as some think they are the world expert on all matters in the Universe without question or reproach , if i have made a mistake then i admit it as i have done , at least my integrity stands up as the BLUE PLAQUE in Chiswick testifies .

Some people do not read things properly , i said MABIN was entitled to wear SIX but not having seen a photo of him as a Sgt MAJOR i could only go by his records as to his ENTITLEMENT . I claim expertese in NO matters of the ZULU WAR but admit to being keen to learn and how awful to know EVERYTHING , at least i am correct instating that MABIN was a C / Sgt THREE YEARS before BOURNE or is that incorrect as well ? . What is pointless is to discuss further these points with people who incorrectly think they know it all and i thank Julian , Lee and Peter for their comments , Graham .
13th February 2004John Young

There is no insult meant to G.W. Mabin, who received the medal to which he was entitled to the Meritorious Service Medal. I strongly suggest you read the Authority for the M.S.M., which should also be at Kew.

Given the fact that G.W. Mabin had stopped serving in 1898, it was not until January, 1917, that the change in the conditions of the Authority of the M.S.M., permitted the entitlement for M.S.M. holders to also wear the L.S. & G.C. Medal. If you are merely endeavouring to make a case for Mabin, I think there are a few more men that would fit into the category.

I do hope you are not questioning my integrity, as it is the second time of late, you have chosen to use the 'person'. The first being when you alluded to a mischief-maker marring the event in Chiswick, I do hope that people don't draw the conclusion that 'person' is this 'person'. I was, as many who visit this forum will vouch for, otherwise preoccupied on that day.

I learn new things about this campaign, and the men who fought in it, nearly every day, so no I don't know everything, nor will I ever.

I think I have previously admitted the fact there is an error, in my my own work regarding Mabin's rank, I believe I actually did so on the site, but I can't vouch for it.

John Young,
Anglo-Zulu War Research Society
14th February 2004Graham Mason
John ,
As i amm aware of your address if i felt the need to write to you on any matter i would do so . I know nothing rergarding the intrigues of medals , uniforms etc and leave this to those with knowledge on these matters , the research side of things is something i have years to learn before i can call myself as someone with knowledge in the ANGLO Zulu war , i get to KEW as much as i can and time is always pressing , i have not yet had any explanation form ANY source regarding why ALL books refer to MABIN as a Sgt on Jan 22 1879 when in fact he was a C/ Sgt of some three years standing and why when CHARD & BROMHEAD had a Chief Clerk there did they not get a roll-call via him ! , perhaps then we might know just how many were there and who !

Whoever the mischief maker ( s ) are in this small community are they are staining the memory of these men who fought bravely those 125 years ago and that is why i re-acted in such a manner as i did . The BLUE PLAQUE ceremony clashed with other celebrations both in CHATHAM and South AFRICA and i can tell you i was proud to be part of the day in CHISWICK and hope common sense prevails in all matters of research and opinion , thank you for the explanation re the medal & uniforms , Graham MASON Chief ARCHIVIST 1879 Group .
14th February 2004Mark Taylor
Well said Mr Mason and I believe there is room enough for all of you and your comments on this site so keep up the good work even if you are all not always correct !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

14th February 2004Mark Taylor
Well said Mr Mason and I believe there is room enough for all of you and your comments on this site so keep up the good work even if you are all not always correct !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

15th February 2004John Young

Just to clarify something over the Frederick Hitch V.C. blue plaque ceremony. When I saw the event announced on this website I contacted via e-mail someone who I thought might have been involved.

I suggested that if transport was available then at least one member of the Zulu Royal House was prepared to represent His Majesty King Goodwill in Chiswick. That person failed to reply to my e-mail, and consequently the available members of the Royal House attended Rochester Cathedral instead.

Hopefully you will appreciate these are hardly the actions of a mischief maker.

John Young,
Anglo-Zulu War Research Society
15th February 2004Graham MASON
John ,
Had i known of this person then i would have contacted them , if we were to know the name then i could tell you if indeed that person was there amongst the 300 or so that did attend . As you might realise there are those out there for whatever reason they have nothing more would please them than to disrupt such an event at both Chatham , South Africa and Chiswick . As i was so involved in the BLUE PLAQUE ceremony i was unable to attend CHATHAM , as long as ALL the men of that campaign wil eventually be honoured the small element that causes mischief cann be ignored and those who seek the truth and live by it will prosper .

I know a number of men said they were there on Jan 22 / 23 but in fact were not , as in the case of Pte COMBERTON of the 24th who explains in great detail in an article i have dated 1966 what he did on Jan 22 / 23 , only thing he did not get to South Africa till March / April 1879 i believe , thank you , Graham MASON Chief Archivist 1879 Group
16th February 2004John Young

"No names, no pack-drill" - suffice to say that you know the person I e-mailed. Given the fact the Chiswick event had no contact details, I e-mailed the person, believing that they might have had some involvement.

John Y.
16th February 2004Melvin Hunt
I hope all this James Bond stuff has a happy ending.
Serious question: Why on earth would some "mischief maker" want to disrupt an event like this?
17th February 2004Martin Heyes
I am absolutely intrigued as to how anyone alive in 1966 could claim they had been a serving soldier in 1879 - and expect people to believe them!
18th February 2004Graham Mason
Dear Martin HEYES ,
I am sorry if my spelling is awry at times , this is a new medium for me and i am getting the hang of it , i`ll get there ! , with regard to Pte Comberton can i tell you this if i appeared to elude that he was alive in 1966 this is incorrect ! . Pte COMBERTON died in Jan 1919 in the east end of London , currently i do not know where he is buried but DO have a copy of his death certificate , perhaps someone out there DOES know where he is intered ? . The date , 1966 refers to the date the article about him was PRINTED and it tells of his " activities " as a Butcher according to him at the time at Rorkes Drift , PTE Comberton if my memory is correct did not arrive in South AFRICA till APRIL 1879 and so could not have taken part in the defence . I was just wondering how many " published " accounts there are available of men who may well have been at Rorkes Drift but NOT as part of the Garrison on the 22 / 23 Jan 1879 ? Sgt Jones VC ( ? ) and Pte COMBERTON were two that i knew of and i believe a Pte HUDD ( ? ) claimed he survived Isandlwana and so the intrigue continues .
26th February 2004Martin Heyes
Ah, I see. Thanks for explaining that - now it all becomes clear!
Martin Heyes