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Margaret

The dog's name was 'Pip' I think.

However, knowing what film studios have to adhere to regards animals in movies, the dog might be in CGI, to prevent the real thing being harmed, especially in the recreation of the famous battle at Rorke's Drift. Rolling Eyes

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Martin Everett


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The Scorer

To answer your question about the origins of the filmstar Sgt Jones VC - you have dig deep into the South African Film Archives. I always think that cinema is a wonderful medium - it can turn an iconic moment in British military history into a real cracking story which everyone truly believes:

Taken from magazine ‘Stage and Cinema’ (South Africa)
dated August 18th, 1917....>

SERGEANT J. A. JONES, V.C. – A Hero of Rorke’s Drift

RORKE’S DRIFT V.C. TO ASSIST HAROLD SHAW

The week before last ‘Stage and Cinema’ published an interview with Col. J.W. Colenbrander, C.B., who it was announced, is to help Harold Shaw with historical data for “The Symbol of Sacrifice,” his next big picture for the African Film Productions, Ltd. The picture, as then stated, will deal with the Zulu War of 1879. Mr. Shaw has now succeeded in finding another hero of the Zulu War, in the person of Sergeant J. A. Jones, V.C., who won the coveted Cross at Rorke’s Drift. Sergeant Jones will supply Mr. Shaw with first-hand details of that famous engagement, so that an exact reproduction of it made be made for the screen, and he will also re-enact for the camera the part on that memorable 22nd March 38 years ago, when he disposed of 32 of the enemy with his own bayonet.

A LONG RECORD OF SERVICE

Sergeant Jones arrived in Johannesburg the other day,from Potchefstroom, where he had just taken his discharge from the Veteran Reserve. He has seen a great deal of service, including the following: The Zulu War of 1879 when he was a private in the South Wales Borderers (then known as the 24th Regiment of Foot); the Matabele Campaign of 1896 when his served with the Natal Corps in Col. Plumer’s column; the Boer War, when he served for three years and six months with the I.L.H., and receiving both the Queen’s and the King’s medal, with seven clasps; the Zulu Rebellion of 1906, with Sir Abe Bailey’s “Rosebuds”; German South-West. With the 12th Pretoria Regiment; and German East, with 8th S.A.I., out of which he was drafted into the Veteran Reserve, and held a staff appointment at Potchefstroom.

CUT OFF FROM THEIR COMRADES

I had a chat with Sergeant Jones, when he told, in very modest language, how he won his Victoria Cross. His ‘military age’, as he put it, is 59, but, as he has a sister in England aged 87 (who, by the way, lives on his pension and has his Cross in her possession), he is probably actually older. Sergeant Jones is a native of Sussex, but when the Zulu War of ’79 broke out he was with his regiment, the 24th Foot in India, The were ordered on active service, and, under the command of their colonel, Colonel King Young, they landed at Port Elizabeth, and went through East Criqualand to Natal. The first engagement they got into was the terrible disaster of Isand’dlwana, when the regiment was practically cut to pieces, only 75 men escaping. The, under command of Lieuts. Chard and Bromhead, hastily fortified themselves in a sandbag laager at Rorke’s Drift, where there was an unprotected hospital full of wounded men. As they expected to be attacked by Zulus at any minute, the officers called for volunteers to transfer the wounded from the hospital to the laager,a distance of about 50 yards. Jones and his pal Jack Williams (who also won the V.C. that day, and who is now back in England) were among those who volunteered. They brought in 32 wounded men, and then, though they the attack was imminent, Jones and Williams went back to see if there were any more. Fortunately there were not, but while they were searching the hospital the attack was launched, and they were cut off.

TWO BRAVE MEN

While the main body of the Zulus attached the laager, a considerable number turned their attention to the hospital. Jones and Williams stood together in the doorway with crossed bayonets. After firing a couple of rounds, there was no time to re-load. It was all hand-to-hand work – two bayonets versus innumerable assegais. Sergeant Jones says he doesn’t know how many Williams accounted for, but he himself put down 32. The Zulus set fire to the thatched roof, but the two men stuck to their post till the roof fell in. The Zulus then, thinking their enemies had been buried alive in the debris, drew off, and Jones and Williams made a bolt for the laager. Besides running the gauntlet of the whole Zulu army, they also had to face a heavy fire from their own comrades. It was during the dash across the open that Jones was wounded in the left hip with an assegai. But they won through – Williams uninjured. Inside the laager Jones lost consciousness, and when he came to himself he was in a hospital tent in Tugela. He was told afterwards that the relief force from Helpmakaar had arrived just in the nick of time to save the gallant little handful of men from annihilation.

A CURIOUS COINCIDENCE

After the campaign the regiment was reformed, and sent to Gibraltar, and here, in 1884, Jones, Williams, and eight other men who had won V.C.’s by acts of heroism at Rorke’s Drift, were presented with their Crosses by the Governor of ‘The Rock’, who was none other than the father of Lieut.-Col. F. H. P. Creswell, M.L.A., the leader of the South African Labour Party could not foresee then that, thirty-two years later, he would be serving under that Governor’s son in German East Africa. In 1889 Jones left the army, time-expired, and came back to South Africa, where he has remained ever since, mining and fighting. In the Boer War he fought in the battles of Dundee, Elandslaagte, and Wagon Hill and all through the Siege of Ladysmith. He has three sons fight in Europe. In ‘The Symbol of Sacrifice’ Sergeant Jones, V.C., will again defend the hospital at Rorke’s Drift.

QUEENS AND EMPRESSES

Harold Shaw informs me that many applications have been received, from all part of the country, in response to the call in ‘Stage and Cinema’ a couple of weeks ago for two ladies to impersonate Queen Victoria and the Empress Eugenie in ‘The Symbol of Sacrifice'.

_________________________________________

Just to help those who are struggling with the story - Lt-Col FHP Creswell's father was only Postmaster-General in Gibraltar - not Governor. The Governor was Lord Napier of Magdala - who commanded the Abyssinian campaign in 1867-68 with young Thesiger (Chelmsford) handling the logistics.

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Martin Everett
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Alan
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The Scorer wrote:

I was interested to see that one of the actors (playing "Private Jones") was "Sergeant Jones VC".....
I realise that many of the cast can't be verified, but does anyone have any idea who this person could have been, please?


The extract supplied by Martin seems positive he was a RD VC.

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Martin Everett


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Alan

Jonesy may have a bit late for the battle - or his memory failed him in 1917 - he quotes 22nd March 1879!

For medal collectors - VC, South Africa 1879, Cape of Good Hope GSM, QSA, KSA and Natal Rebellion medal. A valuable group!

Harold Shaw, the producer, is an interesting character:

http://thebioscope.net/2008/11/24/harold-shaw-and-de-voortrekkers/

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Peter Ewart


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
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Presumably "Sgt J A Jones VC" is one of many impostors who later claimed to have fought at Rorke's Drift? The list of these spurious claimants is not short and I believe Julian Whybra has collected the names of quite a few. As Scorer says, both the Jones VCs were dead before Symbol of Sacrifice was made and the two other men called John Jones who served in the 24th at R/Drift were clearly not the VCs. Did any of the R/Drift VCs have to wait until 1884 before being presented with their award, as this chap claimed?

Although most of the footage seems to have been lost many years ago, Ian Knight & Ian Castle describe the making of this film in a few paragraphs on p254 of their The Zulu War Then & Now (1993). It appears to have followed quickly the making by the same film company of De Voortrekker, which contained depictions of the Retief massacre and Blood River, etc.

The mention of Pip the dog reminds me of an animated discussion between several visitors at R/Drift (as to what his name really was and whose dog he'd been!)which culminated in an exasperated but good humoured sigh from David Rattray, accompanied by a resigned acceptance that, one day, a student of the AZW would decide to do a PhD on the identity of the animal!

Coll: "Mix in some US actors." You are joking, of course.

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Peter

Me joking ? - You know I don't have a sense of humour. Wink

Notice that I say some, but if the film was mostly funded by the U.S., the main roles might all be American actors ! Shocked

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The Scorer


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Peter Ewart wrote:
Presumably "Sgt J A Jones VC" is one of many impostors who later claimed to have fought at Rorke's Drift? The list of these spurious claimants is not short and I believe Julian Whybra has collected the names of quite a few. As Scorer says, both the Jones VCs were dead before Symbol of Sacrifice was made and the two other men called John Jones who served in the 24th at R/Drift were clearly not the VCs. Peter


I'm surprised that none of the defenders who were still alive at the time that the film was made didn't come forward and ask who this person was.

Of course, I'm assuming that the film was shown in the UK and there was publicity here. If I'm wrong (I often am!) it's not surprising that there wasn't anything said. Does anyone have any views on this, please?

Thank you.

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Peter Ewart


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Scorer

I wonder if most of them even knew about the film, or were remotely aware that someone claiming to have been a VC of the 1879 war had taken part in its making. It doesn't look as if much checking of his bona fides was done in S Africa.

Coll

You can't seriously be suggesting that an audience, lured to the cinema by the claim of a better or more accurate film on these battles than had previously been achieved, will then be asked to suspend its sense of reality completely and somehow pretend not to notice a lot of Americans running about at Rorke's Drift or Isandlwana, without once wondering where they had come from or why they were there. Or, more to the point, what the film-makers were playing at.

We're all familiar with the idea (I've no idea whether it's true or not) that American audiences are incapable of understanding or appreciating a film about somewhere outside the US unless they recognise at least one token American "star", or that it can't succeed at the box office there without Americans in the cast, but surely an intelligent American audience would also recognise the ridiculous incongruity of a Yank at R/Drift? Would they have to pretend to themselves that he was British? Or would the publicity machine have to persuade them all that an American or two had actually got caught up in the scrap? (As in U571, The Great Escape et al). Or that the Zulu were really pesky Redskin varmints blacked up for the film and not to worry about Adendorff and Schiess being replaced by Buck Jones & Kit Carson?

Or would we just be asked to pretend the American actors were British soldiers? Not sure which of these possibilities is the least plausible, Coll! And all just because the funding might have been American?

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Peter

Us Scots had to swallow the idea of an Australian who lived in America playing the part of our historical hero William Wallace, which I think was actually filmed in Ireland to save money !

Of course, we also have '300' and the Scotsman Gerard Butler playing the part of the Spartan King Leonidas, with the Connery accent too.

Burt Lancaster was considered to have played Chard in the original 'Zulu' for a reason I cannot remember, though funding again raises its ugly head, as with 'Zulu Dawn' having him as Durnford.

Many films nowadays appear to ask audiences to accept whomever is chosen to play historical figures, no matter where they are from, but just to enjoy the film for what it is.

Sheldon may agree with the latter, as accuracy and the ideal cast, don't necessarily make money, or even a good film.

I'll have to agree with this, so long as a decent Isandlwana film came out of it.

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rich


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Following up a bit on Martin's initial research on the film Symbol of Sacrifice (a "history-teaching picture" according to Shaw as well as a picture to celebrate the wartime alliance of Britain and France), I thought it was fascinating to find out that Col Colenbrander, who played Lord C in the film, actually lived for 5 years with the Zulu chief Usibepu who commanded his own Impi at Isandhlwana and who described the engagement to him. It looks like with the Colonel we get his and the chief's remembrances in the film. Too bad he didn't write them down and they'd be in some South African library today. I'm sure he would've been more expansive in print.

Here's where I found it...

http://www.latrobe.edu.au/screeningthepast/25/rose-of-rhodesia/parsons-2.html

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rich


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Burt Lancaster was considered to have played Chard in the original 'Zulu' for a reason I cannot remember, though funding again raises its ugly head, as with 'Zulu Dawn' having him as Durnford.

I have to hand it to Lancaster, an American actor, for going on a jaunt to South Africa and play a soon-to-be dead commander in a lost battle. Not many would even think about playing that role or even had the "world-view" to do it. I can only say that maybe you should thank the lucky stars that Johnny Wayne didn't infiltrate a "Zulu" picture. You'd no doubt get the angle that Americans had to have a say somewhere in Brit-Zulu history. Hollywood would make sure!... Wink

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Rich

I'm told that in the interview Burt Lancaster gave during the making of 'Zulu Dawn', he expressed admiration of Col. Durnford ! Very Happy

As an aside, I remember being informed that Quentin Tarantino is a 'Zulu Dawn' fan, even going so far as including a bit of its soundtrack in his film 'Inglourious Basterds'.

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The Scorer


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Peter Ewart wrote:
Scorer
I wonder if most of them even knew about the film, or were remotely aware that someone claiming to have been a VC of the 1879 war had taken part in its making. It doesn't look as if much checking of his bona fides was done in S Africa. Peter


Yes, I guess that you're right; thanks.

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Wobblefilms


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I think having some US actors in a remake would be a shrewd idea. Not big name stars but up and coming talent

I think we owe the "Yanks" a few favours after letting Damien Lewis play Col Winters in "Band of Brothers", and what a great job he did as well

Also who would have thought Hugh Laurie would make such an impression as an American doctor in "House"

No doubt there are plenty of other examples
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rich


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Re; Damien Lewis

You know I didn't realize he was Englishwhen I was watching the series. His "accent" in BOB sure was convincing and he played the part of the American commander very well..

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Zulu remake cast
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