Rorke’s Drift Part 27 – Private William Jones  

On 22/23 January 1879 at Rorke’s Drift, Natal, South Africa, Private 593 William Jones and Private 716 Robert Jones (who I covered in part 14) defended one of the wards in the field hospital, as described in their joint VC citation:

In another ward, facing the hill, Private William Jones and Private Robert Jones defended the post to the last, until six out of the seven patients it contained had been removed. The seventh, Sergeant Maxfield, 2nd Battalion 24th Regiment, was delirious from fever. Although they had previously dressed him, they were unable to induce him to move. When Private Robert Jones returned to endeavour to carry him away, he found him being stabbed by the Zulus as he lay on his bed.

Born in Bristol in 1839. He was attested at Birmingham in December 1858 aged 19 years. One of the founder members of the 2nd/24th. Served in Mauritius, Burma and India. Awarded the Long Service & Good Conduct Medal.

Discharged at Netley Hospital due to chronic rheumatism on 2nd February 1880. He was unable to find regular employment. He did some acting and also toured with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show where he would, apparently, ham up the retelling of the story of Rorke’s Drift. Haha. 

Queen Victoria awarded him his VC at Windsor Castle on 13th January 1880. He pawned his VC in later years out of desperation. However his VC and campaign medal are now in the SWB Museum Collection. 

In 1910, he was admitted to Bridge Street Workhouse in Manchester. He died in April 1913 and is buried in Philips Park Cemetery in Manchester.



19 thoughts on “Rorke’s Drift Part 27 – Private William Jones  ”

  1. Agreed. Hardly adequate acknowledgement at all. In effect just a piece of bronze from an old cannon, and a bit of ribbon for putting your life on the line. I know the sentiment has far more value but when your starving and on the street it is adequate food and lodgings that really count. Seems we haven’t learnt much in 52,418 days about how to look after our veterans. Hobby horse is now put away! Another great rendition, story and painting Luke. When you run out of VC winners I hope you are going to work through every other OR! Don’t want this series to end!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Great looking model Luke, and another sad piece of history, as Dave says we’ve learned nothing about taking care of our vets from then to now.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. It never fails to amaze me how difficult of experiences these men had. While it might have been humiliating, being a part of Buffalo Bill’s show is pretty cool. I read a book about that many years ago and while it is a completely different topic, you may find it worth exploring with your interest in the Wild West, mate.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. “Bridge Street Workhouse”? Not sure what that was. Don’t know how conscious Maxfield was, but dying in bed while an enemy stabs you is not the way anyone wants to go! Poor William, sounds like he had some physical health issues, but often the mental issues of being a soldier have a huge impact on the ability to return. Treatment back then wasn’t much better than drilling a hole in people’s skulls either.

    Liked by 3 people

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