Rorke’s Drift Part 4 – Casualties of war

I know what you were think, you thought I’d given up on my Rorke’s Drift project. I can’t blame you for thinking that because my track record for finishing projects (especially big ones) isn’t great haha.
Have you seen casualties of war starring Michael J Fox and Sean Penn? It’s brilliant and probably my favourite Vietnam War movie.

My casualties of War are to do with that famous battle engagement back in 1879 though.

Believe it or not only seventeen defenders of Rorke’s Drift lost their lives in the battle. Quite remarkable really especially if you compare it to the events that unfolded at isandlwana earlier the same day.

Sadly, there were many more losses on the Zulu side. However, as already mentioned in part 2 of this project, many of those casualties were slain after the battle by the vengeful British.

I sometimes wonder how much longer the defenders could have held out? Ammunition was severely depleted by the end so they would have, eventually, resorted to hand to hand combat only. Even though it is said that the Zulus feared the long bayonets affixed to the Henri Martini rifles of the Brits I still think the Zulus superior number and hand to had fighting prowess would have made light work of the red coats.

So really, it was only because the Zulus (so called savages) showed mercy and respect for their adversaries and left the battlefield that the Brits claimed victory.

I think the Brits were lucky to survive.

Now that’s not to say that the defenders didn’t put up a tough and brave fight. To face off against thousands of zulus must mean they had balls of steel in my opinion.

I decided to paint one casualty, per side, for my Rorke’s Drift project for two reasons.

1. To sort of pay homage to both sides of the conflict.

2. To trial the colours and techniques I will be employing for this project.

I’m not entirely sure who died first, on the British side, that fateful day and there’s no particular reason why I’ve chosen this bloke but here he is.

Fagan, John. Private. 25B/969 B Company, killed in action 22 January 1879.


Unfortunately I don’t have a list of the Zulu warriors that died but I decided to call this poor chap…


As it, ironically, means “Peace”


To be honest I felt confident with painting the British trooper because of my experience with the Praetorian Guard, but I was a little worried about getting the Zulu skin just right. I’m really happy with the result though.

They were both a little tricky to photograph but I hope you can see what I’ve done with each of them.

One more thing…

I wanted to recommend a film to you all. It’s a classic from 1984 and based on true events.

It’s The Bounty, starring Anthony Hopkins and Mel Gibson. Also starting a young Liam Neeson, Daniel Day Lewis and that dude from Men Behaving Badly.

I saw it as a little tacker and enjoyed it back then but as an adult I enjoyed it even more so.



29 thoughts on “Rorke’s Drift Part 4 – Casualties of war”

  1. Nice work on both of them, IRO. I was gong to make a joke when I’d only seen the first image, but then your write up was much more thoughtful so I’ll skip the black humour this time and say well done.
    As for the films, I’ve seen and enjoyed Zulu, and I’ll have to add the others to my extremely long “to watch” queue. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Nicely done mate. The one thing that did surprise me was the size of the bases. With the number of figures you have planned you’re going to need a lot a space I reckon. There is no doubt about it us Brits have a hiatory which has pissed a lot of nations off. The reality I guess is when you build an Empire which rules the seas and occupies a quatter of the worlds surface one or two people are going to get a bit miffed! I belive the Romans had a similar experience from what Spartacus told me! Good film choice by the way.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks man. These sized bases are only for the casualties. I wanted to do a vignette for each as a sign of respect. All the others minis will get a 25mm base and I’ll also be doing movement trays for the Zulus, which I’ve never done before.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I never would put you down to a quitter mate ! when I fist saw your plans I knew that a project this big and with so many figures was going to take a long time ,especially when you want it to be a really great tribute . So don’t rush, we will all try to be adults and be patient !!!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. i think there is a lot of respect it what you did here, you haven’t glorified the butchery or savagery there must have been, instead a great tribute to both sides for their losses. Love the little dioramas they each have, but as Dave says you going to need quite a bit of room to fit it all in. The colours of both are really good IMO, waiting for the next installment.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. These are excellent mate, well painted and very respectfully presented. It’s just the pattern in the table tricking the eye I think but in the top picture of the Zulu he appears to be holding a ghostly sword.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Kids just don’t get how important things like this is, hence why every electrical device needs taking to bits to look for possible parts that might look good on 40k bases before going in the bin

        Liked by 2 people

  6. You’ve done a fine job at painting these miniatures!

    I think whenever a hobbyist works on a project like this they have to consider the fact that it’s not just all about the glory and the propaganda Merry train. Historical events no matter how far back they are need to be viewed with respect when handling such events. It’s all to easy to ignore the reality of war and the consequences of such actions. Also such projects can easily become biased towards one side, either by political leanings or self opinionated views.

    I’m happy to see that your seeing both perspectives of Rorke’s Drift, and building the events as close to reality rather than the fictional story.

    Treating the casualties of war as named individuals gives the project another layer of connection. It’s not just ‘here’s a dead soldier’ or ‘here’s some nice decorative stuff to add to the immersion of the project’. It’s about respecting the historical subject, which you’ve done good job on.

    I’d find it difficult to do a project like yours as it takes a lot of research and time to prepare and build. My Stalingrad project is only skimming the surface when it comes to the historical reality of that time in the Second World War. I’d be on edge if I got my facts wrong and presented something inaccurate and out of touch.

    I always wanted to do a diorama on both my Great Grandad (enlisted in the A.S.C in WW1) and my Great, great uncle (Second Class stoker in WW2). But I haven’t got much research evidence to create a historically accurate display diorama.

    Overall your doing a fine work so far, can’t wait to see more from the project.

    Keep up the fantastic work!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks very, very much. It’s funny because when I first started, or thought of doing, the project it was all about the movie. However the more I read and learned the more I wanted it to be as accurate as possible. It’s unlike any other project I’ve done because of that. Glad you’re liking it.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. A really great pair of mini dios. Your painting of the zulu warrior’s skin is very successful and all the muscular definition is clear to see.

    I wonder if the Zulus would have continued the fight at Rorke’s Drift or not, but the following morning they could see the rest of the British column which had not been at Isandlwana on its way back to the drift anyway and I think that may have made up their mind to abandon the attack if nothing else.

    Great shading on the helmet – as you say, you’re getting very experienced in those kind of uniforms now with the Praetorians. The colours look good and I’m always impressed with the browns, beiges and whites which you make look natural, like on the shield.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Marv. I was quite worried I wouldn’t be able to get the skin right on the Zulu but it turned out quite well. I guess we will never know what could have been as far as continuing the fight but one thing is for sure, both sides fought gallantly that day.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s