Rorke's Drift Hero Recognised
EVERY picture may well tell a story but few tales can be as dramatic as the one recalled by a sketch of Welsh soldier David Jenkins.
The Private, of the1st Battalion, 24th (2ndWarwickshire) Regiment of Foot, took part in the valiant defence of Rorke's Drift during the Anglo-Zulu War in 1879.
However he was overlooked on the Roll of Honour of the soldiers who fought that day and would have been erased from British history forever if it had not been for the commitment of his determined family.
Thankfully Jenkins posed for Lady Butler's famous Rorke's Drift battle painting for Queen Victoria, which was based on a series of sketches of some of the 150 soldiers who had fought against that formidable force of 4,000 Zulus.
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However his appearance was wrongly attributed to a different Jenkins — one who had actually died at the battle.
Fortunately Private Jenkins's bible — given to all the survivors to commemorate their role in the bloody battle — was rediscovered a few years ago by great granddaughter, Sonia Gittoes, so proving that he had indeed been there.
Another great grandchild, Geoff Rees, of Swansea, said of his famous ancestor: "He was born just outside Brecon but after the army he settled in Swansea and became a store keeper for the Harbour Trust. He had seven sons, all of whom fought in the First World War."
Recalling his great grandfather's role in the painting, which still hangs in St James' Palace, he said: "Lady Butler famously used real models, who were actually there, to paint her war scenes. My great grandfather is in the painting having modelled for her.
"When King Edward VII visited Swansea years later Lady Butler's husband accompanied him and gave my great grandfather his wife's regards.
"There was another Jenkins at Rorke's Drift but he was killed in the battle so there's no way he could have posed for the painting. It's nice that the history books have been corrected as it were."
Rorke's Drift has been nominated as one of Britain's Greatest Battles in the National Army Museum's (NAM) poll.
Vote online at www.nam.ac.uk/battles and the public voting closes on Wednesday, March 20.