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David Jenkins 295
Alan
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Joined: 30 Aug 2005
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There is still debate about whether or not David Jenkins was a defender at Rorke's Drift.
Julian Whybra and Norman Holmes' list include him. Martin Everett is still researching.
Kris Wheatley's Book 9 is quite compelling. Jenkins' descendants have recently been involved
in promoting the idea that he was there. Has anyone an opinion? Who would have the
final say in the matter?

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Bill Cainan 3


Joined: 19 Feb 2011
Posts: 105
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Hi Alan

Yes, the debate has raged on another website and on occasion got quite heated (and abusive) !

As far as the Regimental Museum is concerned we are, from the evidence available, of the opinion that he WAS there. Martin Everett did a lot of research over five years ago and that has been confirmed and added to by some recent research by Julian Whybra. Our website includes a list of defenders and we have included him on that.

However, there are those who continue to believe he was not there.

Bill
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Alan
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Is there one group who would say 'yes' he was there? I would have thought it was Brecon. You Bill?

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peterw


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 863
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Alan

Based on the information outlined by Julian and others I would include him in the list of defenders. He was discussed here previously:
http://www.rorkesdriftvc.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2541

Peter
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Alan
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Peter,
for some reason I'm not able to find previous threads through a search. Thanks for the links.

I will enter David Jenkins on the list on this site but my question really is, who has the final say?
We seem to have a consensus but is that enough?

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Peter Ewart


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 1797
Location: Near Canterbury, Kent, England.
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History is written by historians. If anyone has the "final say" (and in many aspects of historical research there is no final say, even if it sometimes seems the final say has finally been "said"!) it is the historians.

In the case of Rorke's Drift, the final say will be had by genuine experts on the Defence who have tackled the known primary sources in an acceptably rigorous manner; who have endeavoured to scour relevant collections for new material and who have presented their findings in such a way as to convince other historians of equal calibre. Trained historians (it doesn't matter whether they are writing academic or popular works, as long as their scholarship is sound) will dominate the field but even they will recognise the value of the expertise of specialist amateurs in that narrow field. Conversely, there are several published authors of the Rorke's Drift story whom I certainly would not place in the category of "expert." And some good RD authors would, I suspect, readily admit anyway that they would not presume to judge whether Jenkins was there or not, simply because they don't know and are not too worried one way or the other, as it is of no consequence to them or to the overall story.

Among those one might rely upon for good work on the specific Jenkins question or its background, the names of, say, Lee Stevenson, Ian Knight, Kris Wheatley & Julian Whybra would come immediately to mind. They have given the primary sources relevant to this topic many years of study. They may agree or they may differ on certain points. On Jenkins, Ian may have moved on from his position outlined in Nothing Remains but to Fight over 20 years ago as and when newer material has come to light; Lee will also have considered carefully the developments over the years, before & after publication of Rorke's Drift by Those Who Were There. Julian has outlined his position only recently in his Studies in the AZW (2).

Matters such as the Jenkins question and similar topics change, and change again. Although there is no "official" roll - very few battles, if any (as distinct from, say, campaigns) spawned an "official" roll - the historians will consider, among the sources they use, the relative values of the Chard Roll, Bourne Roll, Cantwell Roll & the rolls published in the Natal Mercury, The Times, The Standard or regimental publications, as well as every other relevant source he/she locates. The regiment (or, more specifically, the custodians of its archives: Earle, Egerton, Everett, Cainan etc) will assist the historian in his/her research by making available the sources in their custody when requested by the historian, and the archivist & librarian worldwide will do similarly. Then the historian - his/her researches as complete as he/she can acceptably make them - will decide and publish, and the custodians of the regiment's traditions - or websites such as this - will, of necessity, consider those findings very carefully and, usually, be guided by them.

I recall some well informed debates about the Jenkins topic on this forum some years ago - 2006 and 2013 among other times, it turns out after a quick look. I think the question had already been put to bed in 2005 to everyone's satisfaction, and only a basic misunderstanding at the NAM last year and, as a consequence, in the popular media gave it any artificial life again, the debate being by then pretty moribund and the attempt to resurrect it rather spurious as far as I could see.

The latest & recent published offering on the matter suggests to me a rigorous approach as comprehensive as one could hope for. It is again put to us that Jenkins was - indubitably - there. If I am to question seriously these findings, I will have to examine every single primary source the author has consulted. If I am still not convinced, I must demonstrate where & how the author has misunderstood, misrepresented or misconstrued, and/or produce "new" primary sources from my hat to show how they countermand what has been published.

Even with an open mind, the argument placed before us by Julian Whybra looks pretty convincing to me. However, if a trained historian or a specialist expert with years of experience of the relevant sources places alternative findings before the public, then I'll read their offering too. I wouldn't really be interested in the views of those who haven't done the work, unless they themselves have discovered important new material which demands our attention, and I can't really see that there is any genuine debate on the matter these days. Would I think again if Lee, Kris or Ian were to differ very strongly? Yep. Anyone else? Nope!

Still, it's a free country, as they say (or used to).

Peter
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Julian whybra


Joined: 03 Sep 2005
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Interestingly, since publication, I have come across yet more evidence showing Jenkins's presence. And no doubt, information will continue to turn up when I'm long gone. But so far, nothing has been found to disprove anything I've written about him.
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Alan
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The list of defenderson this site is being altered to include him as we speak.

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David Jenkins 295
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