True identity of Welsh soldier at Rorke's Drift uncovered
EVERY picture may well tell a story but few can be as dramatic as a sketch of a Welsh soldier.
Private David Jenkins, 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 the soldier was overlooked on the Roll of Honour of the soldiers who fought that day and misidentified in a famous sketch.
In fact Jenkins would have been erased from British history forever if it had not been for the commitment of his determined family.
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Rorke's Drift has been nominated as one of 'Britain's Greatest Battles' in the National Army Museum's (NAM) poll.
In the sketch chosen to represent the battle, Geoff Rees recognised his great-grandfather who was shown as the star attraction – but realised that no one else
Lady Butler's famous Rorke's Drift battle painting for Queen Victoria was based on a series of sketches of some of the 150 soldiers, one being David Jenkins, who had fought against that formidable force of 4,000 Zulus. However, because he had been omitted from the Roll of Honour, the sketch was wrongly attributed to a different Jenkins, one who had actually died at the battle.
When his great-grandson contacted us with irrefutable evidence proving David Jenkins's presence at the battle and his identity in the museum's sketch book, the NAM set the record straight.
Each soldier in that valiant group was given a bible to commemorate their role in the bloody battle. Rediscovered a few years ago by Mr.Rees's cousin, Sonia Gittoes, Private Jenkins's bible proved that he had indeed been there.
Proud of his great-grandfather's part in history, Mr.Rees, who now lives in Swansea, said: "What I find most inspiring about the battle is that it was won by ordinary men who outwitted and outfaced the Zulus and who fought so heroically for one another.
"How exposed must they have felt at that moment, how their blood must have run cold, yet they defended the outpost to a man over a nightmarish twelve hour period."
Britain's Greatest Battles Online Poll www.nam.ac.uk/battles the public voting closes on Wednesday, March 20.