Militaryfocus.com on osprey books. Rorke's Drift is possibly the best remembered of Britain's colonial battles. Immortalised by Michael Caine and the film 'Zulu' it sums up some of the best traditions of the British self- Osprey Trade Editions : Rorke's Drift 1879
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Osprey Trade Editions : Rorke's Drift 1879

Rorke's Drift is possibly the best remembered of Britain's colonial battles. Immortalised by Michael Caine and the film 'Zulu' it sums up some of the best traditions of the British self- image - steadfastness against the odds, victory in adversity and the thin red line. The story of a mere 150 British and Imperial soldiers defending an isolated outpost against over 3,000 Zulu warriors summed up the experience of the colonial adventure for the Victorians and remains part of our heritage even today. As Wilfred Robertson observed, 'to visualise the scene under the lightening sky of dawn - the piled Zulu dead, the exhausted handful of white men and the burned-out buildings behind them - is to understand why the name of Rorke's Drift will never be forgotten as long as gallant deeds are honoured amongst men'. In the wake of the disaster at Isandlwana it restored British self-respect and, although not strategically important, was seen by many at the time as a kind of moral victory - the few triumphing against the many. That 'the few' were able to do this however was a result of their being armed with the latest in military technology - the single-shot breach-loading Martini- Henry rifle - and being pitted against native warriors who relied mainly on their aptitude in close combat: although most Zulus were in possession of firearms, many of these were obsolete and in any case their owners were usually terrible shots and lacking in ammunition of quality. Nevertheless, the Zulu was still a formidable warrior, as he had shown at Isandlwana, and the British stand at Rorke's Drift against forces twenty times their number deserves to go down in history as one of the most heroic actions of all time. Ian Knight recounts the course of this famous action in which 11 Victoria Crosses were won - this is the greatest number of Victoria Crosses ever awarded.

 

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