1220 Pte. Thomas Burke, 'B' Company 2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment of Foot  
BORN 1861 - DIED 1925
Liverpool born veteran of Rorke's Drift
Aged 18 at the time
Buried in Ford Cemetery

Thomas Burke's Grave
Photograph © Ronnie Cusworth 2002

How Pte Burke would have appeared in 1879
Zulu Warrior - uVe ibutho Regiment


The battle at Rorke's Drift during the afternoon of 22 January 1879, is among the most famous in the history of the British Army. Approximately 4000 Zulus, under the command of Prince Dabulamanzi kaMpande, King Cetshwayo's half-brother, were opposed by 95 men of 'B' Company of the 2nd Battalion, 24th (Warwickshire) Regiment, commanded by Lt. Gonville Bromhead. Commissary troops, medical personnel, and hospital patients, brought the total number to 139 men.

The battle began at 4:30 PM and continued for twelve hours. The British were armed with .45 calibre Martini-Henry breechloading rifles, while the Zulus were armed with throwing spears (assegais), short, stabbing spears (iKlawa), oxhide shields (isiHlangu), war clubs (iWisa), and many rifles in various calibres. Just prior to the battle, Lt. John Chard (5th Field Company, Royal Engineers), who ranked Bromhead, took overall command. The British beat off repeated charges as the Zulus bravely pressed the attack. In fact, the Zulus were not fearful of the rifle fire, but were of the bayonet. The defenders were driven from the hospital/house and rallied aroung the storehouse/chapel. Fifteen defenders were killed, and two died later of their wounds. It is estimated that the Zulus lost 600 men. Eleven of Rorke's Drift's defenders were awarded the Victoria Cross, more than for any other single battle in history. Cpl. Friederich Schiess, a Swiss, belonging to the Natal Native Contingent (NNC), was awarded the first Victoria Cross given to a non-regular soldier.

Awarded to 1220 Pte. Thomas Burke


Instituted in 1880 this medal is probably best known for two important battles Isandhlwana and Rorke's Drift, although many other campaigns were awarded the same medal. Shown is the medal with the 1879 clasp.



Mark I and II Infantry Rifles, and Cavalry Carbine MkI's would have been the most prolific weapons on the British side during the 1879 Anglo Zulu War. The large, heavy .45 caliber bullets of the Martini-Henry inflicted horrific wounds on the attacking Zulus, and many who limped off the battlefield with bullet wounds died an agonizing, painful, slow death. At Isandlhwana and Rorke's Drift, it is presumed that volley firing commenced at a range of about 400 yards. At this range, the volley firing cut large swaths into the advancing line of Zulu warriors. Considering bullet weight and velocity, it is probable that many rounds fired from 200 yards or less went through one Zulu Warrior, and possibly onto a next, severely wounding or killing him as well. It is estimated that between 20,000 and 25,000 rounds were fired during the defence of Rorke's Drift, the vast majority of the shots having missed their targets altogether. Lt. Chard's report stated the number of Zulu dead buried by the British was 351. It is estimated that another 300 Zulus died later as a result of wounds sustained during the battle.

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This roll is based on those prepared by Lieutenant Chard and Colour Sergeant Bourne after the action.

General Staff
Maybin, G.W. Colour-Sergent.
Royal Artillery N Battery 5th Brigade
Cantwell, John. Gunner 2076. awarded Distinguished Conduct Medal
Evans, Abraham. Gunner 1643
Howard, Arthur. Gunner 2077
Lewis, Thomas. Bombardier. 458
Royal Engineers 5th Company
Chard. John Rouse Merriott. Lieutenant, awarded Victoria Cross
Robson, Charles John. Driver. 12046 (Chard’s Batman)
2nd Battalion, 3rd (East Kent) Regiment of Foot (The Buffs)
Milne, Frederick. Sergeant. 2260
1st Battalion, 24th (2nd Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot
Beckett, William. Private. 25B/135
Desmond, Patrick. Private. 25B/568
Horrigan, William. Private. 1-24/1861
Jenkins, James. Private. 25B/841
Nicholas, Edward. Private. 25B/625
Payton, Thomas. Private. 25B/372
Roy, William Private. 24/1542, awarded Distinguished Conduct Medal
Turner, Henry. Private. 25B/104
Waters, John. Private. 1-24/447
Wilson, Edward. Sergeant. 25B/56
2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment (2nd Warwickshire)
Adams, Robert. Private. 25B/987 D Company
Allen, William Wilson. Corporal. 2-24/1240, B Company, awarded Victoria Cross
Ashton, James. Private. 2-24/913, B Company
Barry, Thomas. Private. 25B/1381, B Company
Bennett, William Private. 25B/918, B Company
Bessell, William. Lance-Corporal. 25B/l287, B Company
Bly, John. Private. 2-24/2427, B Company
Bourne, Frank Edward. Colour-Sergeant. 2-24/2459, B Company, awarded Distinguished Conduct Medal
Bromhead. Gonville. Lieutenant B Company, awarded Victoria Cross
Bromwich, Joseph. Private. 25B/1524, B Company
Buckley, Thomas. Private. 25B/1184, B Company
Burke, Thomas. Private. 25B/1220, B Company (Buried Liverpool (Ford) Roman Catholic Cemetery)
Bushe, James. Private. 2-24/2350, B Company
Camp, William Henry. Private. 25B/1181, B Company
Chester, Thomas. Private. 25B/1241, B Company
Chick, James. Private. 25B/1335, D Company
Clayton, Thomas. Private. 25B/755, B Company
Cole, Robert. Private. 25B/1459, F Company
Cole, Thomas. Private. 25B/801, B Company
Collins, Thomas. Private. 25B/1396, B Company
Connolly, John. Private. 25B/906, C Company
Connors, Anthony. Private. 2-24/2310, B Company
Connors, Timothy. Private. 2-24/1323, B Company
Cooper, William. Private. 2-24/2453, F Company
Davies, George. Private. 25B/470, B Company
Davis, William Henry. Private. 25B/1363, B Company
Daw, Thomas. Private. 25B/1178, B Company
Deacon, George. Private. 25B/1467, B Company, alias George Power
Deane, Michael. Private. 25B/1357, B Company
Dick, James. Private. 2-24/1697, B Company
Dicks, William. Private. 2-24/1634, B Company
Driscoll, Thomas. Private. 25B/971, B Company
Dunbar, James. Private. 25B/1421, B Company
Edwards, George. Private. 25B/922, B Company, alias George Orchard
Evans, Frederick. Private. 25B/953, H Company
Fagan, John. Private. 25B/969, B Company
French, George. Corporal. 2-24/582, B Company
Galgey, Patrick. Drummer 2-24/1713, D Company
Gallagher, Henry. Sergeant. 25B/81, B Company
Gee, Edward. Private. 2-24/2429, B Company
Hagan, James. Private. 25B/978, B Company
Halley, William. Lance-Corporal. 25B/1282, B Company
Harris, John. Private. 25B/1062, B Company
Hayden, Garret. Private. 2-24/1769, D Company
Hayes, Patrick. Drummer 2-2412067, B Company
Hitch, Frederick. Private. 25B/1362, B Company, awarded Victoria Cross
Hook, Alfred Henry. Private. 25B/1373, B Company, awarded Victoria Cross
Jobbins, John. Private. 25B/1061, B Company
Jones, Evan. Private. 25B/1428, B Company, alias Patrick Cosgrove
Jones, John. Private. 25B/1179, B Company
Jones, John. Private. 25B/970, B Company
Jones, Robert. Private. 25B/716, B Company, awarded Victoria Cross
Jones, William. Private. 2-24/593, B Company, awarded Victoria Cross
Judge, Peter. Private. 2-24/2437, B Company
Kears, Patrick. Private. 25B/972, B Company
Keefe, James. Drummer 2-24/2381, B Company
Key, John. Corporal. 2-24/2389, B Company
Kiley, Michael. Private. 25B/1386, B Company
Lewis, David. Private. 25B/963, B Company, alias James Owen
Lines, Henry. Private. 2-24/1528, B Company
Lloyd, David. Private. 25B/1409, B Company
Lockhart, Thomas. Private. 25B/1176, B Company
Lodge, Joshua. Private. 25B/1304, B Company
Lynch, Thomas Michael. Private. 25B/942, B Company
Lyons, John. Corporal. 25B/1112, B Company
Lyons. John. Private. 2-24/1441, A Company
Manley, John. Private. 2-24/1731, A Company
Marshall, James. Private. 25B/964, B Company
Martin, Henry. Private. 25B/756, B Company
Mason, Charles. Private. 25B/1284, B Company
Maxfield, Robert. Sergeant. 25B/623, G Company
Meehan, John. Drummer 2-24/2383, A Company
Minehan, Michael Private. 2-24/1527, B Company
Moffatt, Thomas. Private. 25B/968, B Company
Morris, Augustus. Private. 25B/1342, B Company
Morris, Frederick. Private. 25B/525, B Company
Morrison, Thomas. Private. 25B/1371, B Company
Murphy, John. Private. 25B/662, B Company
Neville, William. Private. 25B/1279, B Company
Norris, Robert. Private. 25B/1257, B Company
Osborne, William. Private. 25B/1480, B Company
Parry, Samuel. Private. 25B/1399, B Company
Partridge, William. Private. 25B/1410, G Company
Pitt, Samuel. Private. 25B/1186, B Company
Robinson, Edward. Private. 25B/1286, B Company
Ruck, James. Private. 25B/1065, B Company
Savage, Edward. Private. 25B/1185, B Company
Saxty, Alfred. Corporal. 25B/849, B Company
Scanlon, John. Private. 25B/1051, A Company
Sears, Arthur. Private. 2-24/2404, A Company
Shearman, George. Private. 2-24/1618, B Company
Shergold, John. Private. 2-24/914, B Company
Smith, George. Sergeant. 2-24/1387, B Company
Smith, John. Private. 25B/1005, B Company
Stevens, Thomas. Private. 25B/777, B Company
Tasker, William. Private. 2-24/1812, B Company
Taylor, Frederick. Private. 25B/973, B Company
Taylor, James. Lance-Sergeant. 25B/82, E Company
Taylor, Thomas Edward. Private. 25B/889, B Company
Thomas, John. Private. 25B/1280, B Company, alias Peter Sawyer
Thompson, John. Private. 25B/1394, B Company
Tobin, Michael. Private. 25B/879, B Company
Tobin, Patrick. Private. 25B/641, B Company
Todd, William John. Private. 25B/1281, B Company
Tongue, Robert. Private. 25B/1315, B Company
Wall, John. Private. 25B/1497, B Company
Whetton, Alfred. Private. 2-24/977, B Company
Wilcox, William. Private. 25B/1187, B Company
Williams, John. Private. 25B/1395, B Company, awarded Victoria Cross, alias John William Fielding
Williams, John. Private. 25B/934, E Company
Williams, Joseph. Private. 25B/1398, B Company
Williams, Thomas. Lance-Sergeant. 258/1328
Windridge, Joseph. Sergeant. 2-24/735, B Company
Woods, Caleb. Private. 25B/1316, B Company
90th Light Infantry
Graham, James. Corporal. 1123, alias Daniel Sheehan
Army Service Corps
Attwood, Francis. Second Corporal. 24692, awarded Distinguished Conduct Medal
Army Commissariat and Transport Department
Byrne, Louis Alexander. Acting Storekeeper (civilian)
Dalton, James Langley. Acting Assistant Commissary, awarded Victoria Cross
Dunne, Walter Alphonsus. Assistant. Commissary
Army Medical Department and Army Hospital Corps
Reynolds, James Henry. Surgeon. BA MB ChB, awarded Victoria Cross
Pearse, Mr., Surgeon Reynolds’s servant
Ludding, Thomas. Private.
McMahon, Michael. Private. 3359, awarded Distinguished Conduct Medal, later withdrawn after he deserted.
Miller, Robert. Corporal.
1st Battalion 3rd Regiment Natal Native Contingent
Adendorff, James. Lieutenant. (See later note)
Mayer, Jessy H. Corporal. A native of Mkungo’s tribe.
2nd Battalion 3rd Regiment Natal Native Contingent
Anderson, Michael. Corporal.
Doughty, William. Corporal.
Scammell, Carl. Corporal.
Schiess, Ferdnand Christian. Corporal, awarded Victoria Cross
Wilson, John. Corporal.
Natal Mounted Police
Green, Robert S. Trooper.
Hunter, Sydney H. Trooper.
Lugg, Henry. Trooper.
Acting Chaplain to the Volunteers
Smith, George. The Reverend
The Rev Smith’s native servant
Daniels, Mr. ferryman

Note :- Lieutenant Adendorff was added to Chard’s roll of those present at Rorke’s Drift, mainly because he said he would stay, but there is overwhelming evidence he rode off soon after his arrival. He was later arrested at Pietermaritzburg on the charge of desertion in the face of the enemy. There was also a strong suggestion that he had left Isandhlwana earlier than was necessary because he was the only one to escape via the track which was cut early on by the Zulus. There is no evidence that a trial ever took place, possibly because Chard’s report said he had warned the garrison at the drift.

Not included in these figures are those who did not remain to assist in the defence viz. Stevenson’s Natal Native Contingent detachment, Vause’s fugitive Natal Native Horse from Isandhlwana, Otto Witt and his native companion, Lieutenant Thomas Purvis 1st Battalion, 3rd Regiment, Natal Native Contingent - a hospital patient - who accompanied Witt to safety, Chard’s native voodooper, Chard’s native wagon driver who hid in a cave on the Oscarberg throughout the attack, and all those fugitives from lsandhtwana who stopped to give a warning and rode on. Of all the latter only Adendorff was incorrectly credited with remaining to assist in the defence and was thus the only man said to have fought at both the Isandhlwana and Rorke’s Drift actions.

British Casualties.

Killed in action 22nd January 1879:
Acting storekeeper L.A. Byrne (Commissariat Department)
Sergeant R. Maxfield (2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment)
Private R. Adams (2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment)
Private J. Chick (2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment)
Private T. Cole (2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment)
Private J. Fagan (2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment)
Private G. Hayden (2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment)
Private W. Horrigan (1st Battalion, 24th Regiment)
Private J. Jenkins (1st Battalion, 24th Regiment)
Private E. Nicholas (1st Battalion, 24th Regiment)
Private J. Scanlon (2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment)
Private J. Williams (2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment)
Trooper S. Hunter (Natal Mounted Police)
Corporal W. Anderson (Natal Native Contingent) Killed whilst deserting.
Plus: One Unknown Private (Natal Native Contingent)
Died of Wounds 23rd January 1879:
Lance-Sergeant T. Williams (2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment)
Private W. Beckett (1st Battalion, 24th Regiment)
Seriously Wounded:
Acting Assistant Commissary J.L. Dalton (Commissariat Department)
Corporal W.W. Allen (2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment)
Corporal J. Lyons (2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment)
Corporal C. Scammell (Natal Native Contingent)
Corporal F. Schiess (Natal Native Contingent)
Drummer J. Keefe (2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment) Private J. Bushe (2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment)
Private P. Desmond (1st Battalion, 24th Regiment)
Private F. Hitch (2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment)
Private A.H. Hook (2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment)
Private R. Jones (2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment)
Private J. Smith (2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment)
Private W. Tasker (2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment)
Private J. Waters (2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment)
Trooper R. Green (Natal Mounted Police)
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