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DateOriginal Topic
1st January 2005Civilians at Rorke's Drift
By Nick Thornicroft
Does an accurate list of civilians known to be present at Rorke's Drift exist? I've recently read a newspaper obituary of a Helen Milford who died in 1940. She claimed that, as a two year old, she was at her father's estate close to Rorke's Drift. His name was Andrew Kennedy. The report states that her father
harboured the remnants of the British forces,
& that Helen Milford received an assegai wound from a Zulu spear. She also claimed to have been taken captive by the Zulus & still bore the marks on her wrists. The article itself expressed its doubts as to the authenticity of the claim. Any thoughts?

Thanks. Nick Thornicroft
2nd January 2005Glenn Wade
The only civilians present at Rorke's Drift that I can think of were Acting Storekeeper Louis Byrne (KIA), Mr Daniels the ferryman, Mr Pearce, Surgeon Reynold's servant and the Reverand George Smith's native servant. As for the story of which you speak, it seems unlikely. I have read many works on the war and have never found any reference to the above incident. Maybe someone else has?
2nd January 2005Julian Whybra
I suspect Helen Kennedy's account is a mixing of two or three events but she was not at RD. The no. of civilians at RD was Geo Smith himself (his was not a military appointment), Pearse, Daniels and Revd smith's African servant. Byrne was technically not a civilian being attached to the ACTD.
3rd January 2005Michael Boyle
'Close to Rorke's Drift' may be the key. Perhaps her father's estate was on the road to Helpmakaar and did shelter fugitives? Didn't some farms fall victim that night as well as RD? A two year old surviving an assegai wound does beg credulity but it doesn't say it happened then (or who used the spear).The Zulus didn't seem too big on battlefield prisoners but are there any references of them taking civilian prisoners?(Aside from Haggard.)

It would seem such an interesting story would have been written up in the Natal papers but I haven't come across it yet in the Red Book.


3rd January 2005Nick Thornicroft
Thanks to all for your input. The report also mentions Helen Milford's thoughts on Cethswayo - she called him an "inhuman monster". There does not seem to be any supportive evidence for this story, although there is no doubt her family was in Natal at some point. Another of these "I was there" tales which maybe got out of hand.

19th January 2005Julian whybra
Haggard? No, Haggard was never a prisoner.
19th January 2005Peter Ewart
I suspect Michael meant "aside from in the works of Haggard."