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DateOriginal Topic
By melanie trinder
Please help, The men that did not have a V.C.
Be called UNSUNG HERO'S not to be called other defenders.its a shame that the true heros are not known for what bravey they showed.

5th May 2004Robert Jones
You are right---there must have been many instances of tremendous bravery shown by the UNSUNG HEROES at Rorke,s Drift and also at Isandlwana and they fully deserve to be recognised along with the ones who did receive the V.C.

6th May 2004Peter Ewart
Melanie & Robert

I'd hardly say that the 140-odd defenders who were not awarded the VC were "unsung." Surely the term "defender of Rorke's Drift" or "Rorke's Drift hero" says it all? Very, very few men could claim that honourable distinction and, in time, the description must have become almost a badge.

Only a tiny minority involved in any action will be rewarded with a gallantry award. Many (perhaps not yet most) of the non-VC Rorke's Drift defenders are very well known, although I acknowledge that the profile of many of these has been raised by modern biographical research, including by contributors to this forum.

During their lifetimes they would have been even better well known, especially in their home locality or regiment. Some no doubt "milked" this, others dismissed it, as their individual character dictated. A few were unsung, it is true, and it seems that some of them - including the drunks, the miscreants and the mentally unstable (this last NOT necessarily as the result of action at Rorke's Drift) disappeared into obscurity and penury, with more than one being incarcerated in Victorian lunatic asylums. In this respect they were no different to thousands of other "old sweats."

I strongly suspect that Pte Wall's attendants in his asylum, for example, had not the slightest knowledge of his heroism only a year or so earlier, as his condition was ascribed to heatstroke in Secunderabad, as was his unsoldierly behaviour before discharge, and his involvement at Rorke's Drift appears to have been unknown or unregarded. Certainly his ramblings were disbelieved by the medical staff.

Undoubtedly many soldiers performed continual acts of bravery at Rorke's Drift or Isandlwana, almost endlessly, but surely the absence of a VC or DCM wouldn't necessarily render them as "unsung"?

6th May 2004Julian whybra
Peter is right, the title 'defender of RD' was so admired that many men pretended to have been there and so earn admiration.
6th May 2004melanie trinder
my great great grandfather was PTE JOHN JOBBINS he lived in pontypool gwent, i still live there not many people in gwent no of him due to the name other defenders.
the name unsung heros would be meant for all defenders with no V.C.
If you type in V.C on the internet you will get a full life stories on each V.C winner if you type other defenders on the internet you get ww1.ww2 defenders.
By have the name UNSUNG HEROS it will mean rorke drift defenders.
If the name OTHER DEFENDERS says it all then why do people from where i live not remeber my greatfather and all other defenders.
7th May 2004Robert Jones
Peter &Julian,
People like yourselves who have a vast knowledge on the subject certainly recognise ALL the defenders but if you ask the man in the street, and there are plenty of the them, about Rorke,s Drift and they will tell you who fought there and how many V.C,s were won there.
They will also probably be able to name one or two of them for you.
But try asking them about all the other defenders who were there and they haven,t got the foggiest idea and that to people like Melanie and myself makes them UNSUNG HEROES.
7th May 2004Neil Aspinshaw
It is so difficult where to drew the line on this, for example Guy Gibson was decorated with the VC for the 617Sq raid on the Dams, but name the rest of his crew?.
The testimony to the defenders of Rorkes Drift can only be gleaned by reading "the Noble 24th" by Norman Holme, in it they are remebered as "heroes" every one of them, but in real life they probably did not see themselves as such, As normal privates and NCo's to have there names immortalised, in print is a testimony that we can only aspire. In their wildest dreams I suppose they would lauch at the fact that now 125 years on we still talk about thier exploits. How many more unsung heroes now lie under the whitewashed cairns of Isandlwana.?
This year two other defenders Robert Tounge and Caleb Woods, will have thier unmarked graves at Ruddington Notts, marked with memorial tablets, thanks to the sterling work by David Fox.
Like all the othe men , who by a fate found themselves at Rorkes Drift on 22nd Jan 1879, one can only say "why us", "because were 'ere lad .... and no-one else".
10th May 2004James Garland
A recent survey in the UK showed that 1 in 6 people thought Adolf Hitler was a fictional character. When you consider the ignorance of the general public about their history I suspect most of them wouldn't be able to name any Rorke's Drift VC winner let alone any other defenders. So I'm afraid the responsibility for remembering the "other defenders" rests with enthusiasts like the visitors to this site.
But just to keep it in perspective there are thousands of 1st world war soldiers who died in heroic circumstances who received no individual recognition and still don't because of their sheer numbers. It is the destiny of soldiers to die and be forgotten.
10th May 2004melanie trinder
These great men lived and die for there country.And there DESTINY lies in the hands of people like myself and i will NOT let them be forgotten.
And i hope there are a lot of other visitors that will agree with me.
10th May 2004Alan Critchley

You're right to want to give recognition to others involved in the defence of Rorke's Drift. There have been many heroes in the countless engagements over the centuries and I'm sure there are descendents of many of them who would wish their memory to live on. It's impossible to give as much attention to them as they undoubtedly deserve.
On this site, we have focused on a small part of history and I hope that we give due recognition to part played by everyone, including the heroes. We will have to leave it to others to fully recognise all the others in other conflicts. I think that your relative does receive fitting acclaim for his efforts and courage, as he deserves.
Please don't take offence at any remarks made. They are not meant to diminish the role which we know Pte. John Jobbins played at Rorke's Drift.

10th May 2004Colin Partridge
As the Poem says " Ours is not to reason why, Ours is but to do and die".
We British coudnt do much else that day but fight.
The only real heroes at Rorkes Drift where the Zulus, trying to defend their homeland.
Please dont reply that Rorkes Drift wasnt their homeland
10th May 2004Trevor
I have a very good friend who has been a history teacher for 25 years. He tells me that slowly but surely over the years. We have generations of kids who don't give a monkeys what happened in the past, and even less of what sacrifices others have made for us all.
If anyone out there disagrees? Ask any 15 year old dates for the 1st and 2nd ww. Ask them basic stuff. Like who were the Chindits? Or what war was the charge of the light brigade in? Or who were the apposing kings at hastings. But I warn you. Be prepared to be amazed! For the wrong reason!!!!!!!!
My the way Melanie. Rorks Drift was never taught in my friends time. I think it should have been. It was something very special, that action! But like alot of other people today. I think the zulu should have won the war! You have my deepest respect for having such a brave relative.
11th May 2004James Garland
When I wrote that it is a soldiers destiny to be forgotten I didn't mean to imply that we shouldn't at least try. What I was trying to say was that so many soldiers have paid the ultimate sacrifice over the years that they can't possibly all be remembered except as a group.
Rorke's Drift is a small enough battle that it is relatively easy to learn about the defenders and perpetuate their memory.
11th May 2004Julian whybra
Actually the poem says 'Theirs not..theirs but..'
12th May 2004Melvin Hunt
Perhaps you could write a small article about John Jobbins with a view to getting it printed in your local newspaper? It would help to raise more awareness in your area.
The word "hero" is to my mind often used, shall we say, rather loosely sometimes. For instance, is a pilot who has skillfully landed his damaged passenger plane a true "hero" or was he primarily trying to save his own life?
Please don't lose sight of the fact that just because some one was at Rorkes Drift it does not necessarily make them a "hero". Indeed there were recorded instances of what could be called cowardice.
Could I take this opportunity to ask the forum what, in their opinion, defines a hero?
12th May 2004James Garland
I was always taught that to be brave is to do something despite being afraid. i.e. if you dont feel fear your action isn't brave. So I guess that a hero is someone who does some act despite his fears and the act is such that most people would be too scared to do it themselves.
My personal opinion is that women are generally braver than men.
13th May 2004Roger Lane

I have read with a great deal of interest all the comments that have been made on this subject so far. This is the first time I have felt the need to respond to comments made on this site. I suspect it may be a very rare event.
As a descendant myself of a man who was a relatively senior defender and is not often mentioned I can understand your deep feelings. I would go along with other advise that you have been given on this site and write his lifes story down before it is lost I can assure you it is of utmost importance, my other advise would be to go, were you can, to events were there are likely to be people who are also descendants and be sure to make yourself known, we are a very unique family. Others who are not in that family have great difficulty in understanding the very deep feelings we have to our men and our desire for them to have the recognition that they so rightly deserve, thats for all as well as the VC holders.

Your original question as to should the boys be called unsung hero's rather than just other defenders is very justified. However I do know that many of those men when they had visiting cards printed ( as they did in those days) had printed under their names

That I believe just says it all.

My very best wishes to you and your quest and maybe we will meet sometime.

13th May 2004melanie trinder
I like to say thankyou for all your comments made on this subject it has made me think about a lot of things. Maybe one day will right a book on John Jobbins but i think i have a lot to learn first.The name (A RORKES DRIFT MAN) is a good title for a book.
13th May 2004Melvin Hunt
I tend to agree that to be brave means that you are doing something you are afraid of and it goes without saying that all the participants (on both sides) at RD who took an active part in the fight must have been very brave in varying degrees.
However, to my mind a Hero is some one who goes one step further beyond the "brave" catagory. ("Above and beyond the call of duty" perhaps?)
The pilot who can only save his own and his passengers lives by staying at the controls of the crippled plane is certainly brave. His only other options available would have been to panic, blub, cower and do nothing.
But now consider the pilot who has the additional option of escape by the only parachute but instead stays to land the plane in order to save his passengers. He now transcends to become a Hero.
We all have to be aware that for the defenders at RD (to quote an excellent book), nothing remained but to fight.
Most defenders were indeed brave to face their obvious fears (and I repeat that it could be argued that there were some cowardly acts too) but a few carried out deeds (beyond that which is normally expected) by which they transcended to the catagory of "Hero". This is, unfortunately, why everone cannot, quite rightly, be called a hero and every one cannot be awarded a VC "just because they were there."
None of my comments are meant to be disparaging to the partcipants at RD.
14th May 2004melanie
A true hero is a man or woman who puts other lifes in front of there own.
Just has a mother or father would for there children.
17th May 2004Julian whybra
"Courage is not freedom from fear; it is being afraid and going on." I've forgotten who said it - can anyone remember?
17th May 2004Petrr Ewart

I suspect it is fairly modern & probaby anonymous. Just as appropriate and perhaps better known might be Milton's

"And courage never to submit or yield:
And what is else, not to be overcome."

(from his "Paradise Lost.")

Now can't you just hear good old Parson Smith invoking Milton and exhorting the men with such a phrase?

17th May 2004Melvin Hunt
The problem with discussing the required qualities of a "hero" and any definitions of courage and bravery, is that it is easy to appear to denigrate the achievements of, for example, the defenders of RD. I would repeat that I certainly do not wish to do so. I often wonder how I would have reacted in their situation. Would I have been brave and confronted my fears or would I have hidden in a cupboard or in the garden?
I think that you have answered your own original question. The majority of the defenders did not choose to be there. ("Because we're here lad. There's no one else... just us!")
The majority carried out their duties bravely and fought for their lives. In doing so did they put other lives in front of their own? Or were their own lives paramount? Do they all automatically become heros or just the few who were singled out for outstanding gallantry?
Whoever said that is correct but, the same question to you, does having the courage to face your fears automatically make you a hero?
I am only trying to open up what is, I think, a very interesting topic.

18th May 2004Lee Stevenson
Here's one from the Cape Times of 1879;

"Any man may be a hero in the sense of doing a brave thing in a moment, but the highest degree of heroism requires qualities besides physical courage. Fortitude in the face of overwhelming difficulties, strict obedience to duty, the calm courage that accepts labour when necessary as equal to fighting, endurance under seemingly crushing odds, these and other qualities were displayed at Rorke's Drift by Lieutenant Chard and his companions."