THE JANUARY meeting hosted a welcome return visit from Paul Barnett with his talk “In defence of the Drift – Alfred Henry Hook VC at Rorke’s Drift.

The Anglo-Zulu war was a simple matter of colonial expansion. The British led by Lt. General Lord Chelmsford were soundly beaten at the Battle of Isandlwana on January 23 1879 when 20,000 Zulu warriors armed with spears routed the British force of about 2,000.

A detachment from the 24th Regiment of Foot (2nd Warwickshire Regiment) commanded by Lt’s Chard and Bromhead were detailed to defend the Mission Hospital at Rorke’s Drift, so named after the Trading Station run by Irishman Jim Rorke.

Situated on the Buffalo River, the border between Natal Province and Zululand. Our speaker exploded several myths contained in the popular film “Zulu”.

The Warwickshires formed the main contingent not the South Wales Borderers and as he aptly put it there were more Brummies than Welshmen!

4,000 Zulus attacked the Hospital defended by 150 British troops. When running out of ammunition they kept the Zulus at bay with bayonets enabling most patients to be evacuated through a hole in the wall to a safer part of the hospital.

For this engagement 11 Victoria Crosses and 5 Distinguished Conduct Medals were awarded. One VC winner was Alfred Henry Hook of the Royal Fusiliers. born at Churcham, Gloucestershire on August 6 1850.

Another myth described him as an insubordinate malingerer and heavy drinker but in truth was a teetotal Methodist minister and model soldier rising to the rank of Sergeant. He died on March 12 1905 after working at the British Museum.

The vote of thanks was given by Andy Davis.

The next meeting will be held on Thursday, February 15 at 7.30pm in Uley Village Hall when Peter Evans will give a talk “Mainly Coasters – Mainly Local”. Visitors welcome. Tea, coffee and raffle.