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Monday 22nd January

This morning, we have planned a walk down toward the River Buffalo to look at Fugitive's Drift, where lieutenants Melvill and Coghill were killed, and the colours lost after the battle of Isandhlwana. Our guide today is Emmanuel Xolani Mkhize, a Zulu who has grown up in Rorke's Drift.

He is full of interesting information, and it really is quite something to hear the story of the saving of the Queen's Colours from Isandhlwana whilst surveying the actual area!

We then walk the final steps that Melvill and Coghill took themselves up a sharp incline, to their final resting place. The monument on this hill has the immortal words, "For Queen and Country. Jesu Mercy".

They must have thought they were safe, after having crossed that torrent of water, only to find themselves in the midst of a throng of Zulus. The Colours themselves were washed down the river, and recovered some weeks later. Both Melvill and Coghill were awarded the VC for this gallant action.

Emmanuel Xolani Mkhize

Coffin Rock
Coffin Rock

The spot where Melvill and Coghill fell

The very fact that these men managed to make it up this hill was impressive enough, let alone have ridden from Isandhlwana. I think I can safely say that we were all pretty tired after the climb, and Melvill and Coghill did it whilst injured!

In the afternoon, we were privileged to be taken on a tour to the site where the Prince Imperial, the last in the line of the Boneparte's, was killed. It is indeed an interesting story, and one which surely deserves more publicity. In my opinion, it would certainly make an excellent story for a film!

On our way there, we once again listen to the "Day of the Dead Moon" tapes, which inform us of all the surrounding events that lead up to the taking of Ulundi by the British, and the aspects of the story you do not normally hear.

All the while, the people of KwaZulu Natal are making an impact on us with their unparalleled friendliness, yet obvious poverty. This, to westerners, is hard to understand. How, in this material world, can one be happy without having money and possessions? Well, these people manage it.


That is not to say for one second that their poverty is acceptable, just that it doesn't define their state of mind - Quite astonishing.

Once the story had been told by our guide, Steve, we returned to the Land Rover. Now, there was a small hamlet of huts around the memorial, which was itself in a remote area near Nqutu. The people who live in these huts are paid by the government to look after the site, and bring the visitors book out to anyone who visits.

We duly signed the book, and on our return to the Land Rover, Steve produces a small box of flap-jacks. Now, I can take or leave flap-jacks, but if you could have seen the children running for a flap-jack, it would have moved you as it did me. They held out both hands, and jostled for position in order to receive their allotted piece.

Steve later told us that biscuits and cakes are a once-yearly occurrence, hence the small amount of frenzy. It was a gesture that the guides give, but it seemed so pathetic to see the desire that they produced, considering our expectations in the west. How we take so much for granted.

We were all touched by this, and spent the ride home fairly subdued. This trip is producing some serious food for the grey matter!


The group sitting next to the monument and tree

Martin Everett
The memorial to the Prince Imperial

Our guide, Steve

In the evening, a number of officers from the Royal Regiment of Wales, currently stationed in Germany, arrived. They were staying for just one night, after having spent 10 hours at Isandhlwana. They would be visiting Rorke's Drift the following day. It was, of course, a particularly important date for these men, as it was their comrades who fell at the battle of Isandhlwana, and defended the post at Rorke's Drift.

I shall find it hard to forget the toast that was made later in the evening at the quite fantastic meal - "The Immortal Defence of Rorke's Drift!"

The Officers of the Royal Regiment of Wales

The Officers of the Royal Regiment of Wales


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