Rorke's Drift eyewitness account estimated at $50,000 with Bonhams


2015-06-26 13:44:35


Rorke's Drift eyewitness account estimated at $50,000 with Bonhams

An eyewitness account written the day after the Battle of Rorke's Drift excites Zulu fans

Fans of the film Zulu are getting ready for Bonhams' Books, Maps, Manuscripts and Photographs sale on June 18 in London, as an eyewitness account of the famous Battle of Rorke's Drift comes to auction.

The Battle of Rorke's Drift came amid a disasterous campaign for the British, but the victory marginally improved public opinion of the Anglo-Zulu war

Immortalised in the 1964 film with Michael Caine, the Battle of Rorke's Drift was a desperate last stand of a small number of British troops against thousands of Zulu warriors.

Walter Adolphus Dunne wrote the letter on a requisition chit for mealie bags, the 200lbs sacks that the troops famously used as defences against the Zulus.

"About 1,000 of them came in here and attacked us on the same day (22nd). We had got about 2 hours notice and fortified the place with bags of grain biscuit boxes &c. They came on most determinedly on all sides.

"They drove our fellows out of the hospital, killed the patients and burned the place. They made several attempts to storm us but the soldiers (B Co of 24th under Bromhead) kept up such a steady killing fire that they were driven back each time.

"We had only 80 men, the contingent having bolted before a shot was fired. The fight was kept up all night & in the morning they retreated leaving 351 dead bodies," it reads.

Bonhams' head of books, Matthew Haley commented: "There's a vivid and appealing immediacy to this letter, scribbled down on a receipt for the makeshift fortifications that would save the day.

"Politically the victory restored some credibility to the British Army but Walter Dunne isn't concerned with that. His thoughts are about the companions he has lost and the courage and resourcefulness of the men he fought alongside. A fantastic insight into history as it was being made."

Paul Fraser Collectibles' medals & militaria for sale includes items from Britain's greatest military actions.

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