Work Begins On Rorke’s Drift

Well its been much longer than planned and to get things along I have enlisted my mate Kieran (6mm Wargaming) to build my Rorke’s Drift Models and Base Board for me. I have been inspired by the SSWG’s (Southend & Shoeburyness Wargames Group) wonderful demo game from several years ago (you can see a full set of photos here, it was at Salute 2006 in the UK and I believe has been at shows prior to that), and they still reuse it regularly today (see this blog post from 2011). So Kieran has completed assembly of the buildings and we’ve done two mock-ups of the layout…

SSWG's Rorke's Drift at Salute 2006 in the UK.

SSWG’s Rorke’s Drift at Salute 2006 in the UK.

The first layout is a full approximately to scale version – it’s about 4’6″ (137cm) across from Stone Kraal to the outer Hospital wall on the right of the picture… It obviously requires quite a few additional mealie bag sections and a second barricaded wagon for the rear wall. The other challenge is it will also require about 100 figures (i.e. 1:1 with real life) to defend under TSATF (The Sword And The Flame) – and even then the defence will be pretty thin. So the expectation is that while this will look the best and the most historically accurate it’ll be a bit too big for typical single afternoon gaming and will also be a large model that needs a lot of input.

The Full Size, Roughly To Scale, Proposed Rorke's Drift Layout.

The Full Size, Roughly To Scale, Proposed Rorke’s Drift Layout.

The second image shows an alternate layout – this reduces the total width of the defences to about 3’8″ (110cm) across which requires less input in terms of barricades and such and requires only about 80 figures to defend with some depth (still a ratio of around 1.3:1 but much more manageable – roughly 4 TSTAF units). Basically the layout is proportionately decreased (although the buildings obviously still occupy the same area) and the stone Kraal at the extreme left of photo is smaller stylised representation simply to recognise it’s presence (it was not overly significance in the actual battle – and no Zulu attacks actually came from that direction.

This second design is what we will be going with, and the boards will represent the raised part of the little plateau (see the SSWG photo above) with the stony embankment round their edge. The lines on the boards aren’t accurate – they are just a very rough guesstimate outline of the terrain features for working out the positions of the buildings and such… The other major thing Kieran will be doing for me is painting the buildings the right side – contrary to popular belief (and the Warlord Games illustrations) they were not a bright white-wash but were a more yellowy sandy colour (see the preserved Rorke’s Drift at the Anglo-Zulu War Society Website) – currently it seems de rigueur to mimic the WG colour scheme, so there’s lots of excessively bright white Rorke’s Drift Buildings out there right now!

The Alternate, Scaled Down To About 80% Size Layout...

The Alternate, Scaled Down To About 80% Size Layout…

For more historical reading see the Website and the Rorke’s Drift Page at Wikipedia. Rorke’s Drift saw 11 VC’s awarded – the third highest total ever for a single battle, however 7 of these were issued to a single unit – the 2nd/24th Regiment Of Foot – which is the record for the most ever issued to a single unit ever in a single action in the history of the Victoria Cross.

The Warlord Games "Horns Of The Buffalo Rorke's Drift Set.

The Warlord Games “Horns Of The Buffalo Rorke’s Drift Set (Click to go to Warlord Games).

Rorke’s Drift is nearly finished – read more in the Rorke’s Drift Update post.

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  • ZULU (The battle of Rorke’s Drift) by Alan Gray

    “Zulu’s attacking, hundreds Sir” the sentry did report

    “Hundreds?” said Bromhead glass to his eye

    “Dear chap you missed off a nought !”

    So swiftly they came where none stood before

    out of the grass they appeared

    Big giant fellows muscled and lithe

    Banging hide shields with short handled spears

    Transfixed by the sight fear in our eyes

    the Sergeant cried out “fix bayonets”

    “You’re British” he said “let’s see some pride”

    and my heart danced a jig in my tunic

    The order “fire !” was barked in our ears

    Brave Zulu’s fell like Martyrs

    Our barrels glowed with bullets expelled

    and the Boer said “that’s for starters”

    Words rang true relentless they came

    engulfing the red with the brown

    The blood of the brave was split on that day

    like seeds on hallowed ground

    Night brought respite exhausted we lay

    nursing our wounds like sick dogs

    Zulu’s had gone quick as the came

    drifting away like a fog

    Morning came like a thief in the night

    stealing our dreams as we slept

    Brave were the men who stood for the fight

    so few seemed so inept

    For as the sun crept over the hills

    and warmed us with his breath

    Ten thousand Zulu we espied swathed in silhouette

    Hearts they sank from our mouths to our boots

    as we looked on with intrepid fear

    When an old Zulu chief from afar waved his shield

    we sensed that our ending was near

    Then strange things occurred, did the Lord intervene

    or was it a dream we implored

    For the Zulu’s turned from the front to the rear

    leaving us lonely standing in awe

    Up went a cheer gallant men wept

    for the pure gift of life they received

    “Bloody British” the old Boer muttered

    It’s heroes they’ve reprieved, it’s heroes they’ve reprieved…

    Hi, wrote this a few year ago. Hope you can use it…best wishes, Alan

    • Awesome! Great post Alan!

  • Neil Thornton

    Looks great! Regarding the cattle kraal and the comments stating it wasn’t attacked during the defence – It was actually faced with some very determined attacks. The defenders at first had to give up the outer wall and retire to the middle wall (which is not depicted in the model) Once the inner sandbag redoubt was completed, the middle wall was also abandoned and the defenders pulled back again, insied the actual compound, using the inner side of the kraal wall as their position.

    • Cheers Neil – Will look into that further as hope to finally get the model finished with Kieran’s help this year (2015) – so still time to make minor changes to our planned layout to accommodate a more accurate Kraal…