List of Zulu War Victoria Cross recipients
The Victoria Cross (VC) was awarded to 23 members of the British Armed Forces and colonial forces for actions performed during the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879. The Victoria Cross is a military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of some Commonwealth countries and previous British Empire territories. The VC was introduced in Great Britain on 29 January 1856 by Queen Victoria to reward acts of valour during the Crimean War, and takes precedence over all other orders, decorations and medals. It may be awarded to a person of any rank in any service and to civilians under military command. The first ceremony was held on 26 June 1857, when Queen Victoria invested 62 of the 111 Crimean recipients in Hyde Park.
The Anglo-Zulu War (also known as the Zulu War) was fought in 1879 between the British Empire and the Zulu Kingdom (Zululand; part of modern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa). Although British and colonial forces under General Lord Chelmsford entered Zululand unopposed, on 11 January 1879, the Zulu army soon inflicted a heavy defeat on them at the Battle of Isandlwana, in which more than 1,300 British and colonial forces were killed. Immediately after the battle, Zulu troops moved onto the small garrison at Rorke's Drift. Here, just over 150 British and colonial soldiers defended the outpost against 4,000 Zulu warriors. The action was later made famous by the film Zulu. The defence of Rorke's Drift is considered by historians as a masterly defensive action and an example of heroism against overwhelming numbers. Eleven VC recipients received their awards for deeds performed during the defence of the small garrison — one of the largest number awarded for a single action, and the largest number (7) awarded to a single unit (the 2nd/24th Foot) for a single action. The severe losses at Isandlwana resulted in Lord Chelmsford having to abandon his initial invasion plan and to request significant reinforcements before another could be attempted. After these reinforcements arrived, a second invasion was launched in May. The second invasion culminated in the defeat of the Zulu army at the Battle of Ulundi, on 4 July 1879. The war saw the end of the Zulu nation's independence as it became a protectorate of the British.
Under the original Royal Warrant, the VC could not be awarded posthumously. Between 1879 and 1901, several notices were issued in the London Gazette regarding soldiers who would have been awarded the VC had they survived. In a partial reversal of policy in 1902, six of the soldiers mentioned were granted the VC, but not "officially" awarded the medal. In 1907, the posthumous policy was completely reversed and medals were sent to the next of kin of the six officers and men; Nevill Coghill and Teignmouth Melvill were two of the soldiers who were decorated thus. The Victoria Cross warrant was not officially amended to include posthumous awards until 1920 but one quarter of all awards for the First World War were posthumous.
- This along with the *, indicates a posthumous award
- Arthur, Max (2005). Symbol of Courage; Men behind the Medal. Pan books. pp. 119–131. ISBN 978-0-330-49133-4.
- Ashcroft, Michael (2006). Victoria Cross Heroes. Headline Book Publishing. ISBN 0-7553-1632-0.
- Best, Brian (1997). "Zulu War Victoria Cross Holders". Journal of the Anglo Zulu War Historical Society. 1: 36–48.
- Crook, M.J. (1975). The Evolution of the Victoria Cross. Midas books. ISBN 0-85936-041-5.
- "No. 24717". The London Gazette. 2 May 1879. pp. 3177–3178.
- "Victoria Cross Registers". The National Archives. Retrieved 11 April 2008.
- Ashcroft, Michael; preface; XI–XIII
- "No. 27986". The London Gazette. 15 January 1907. p. 325.
- Crook, MJ, Chapter 8 pp.68–90
- "No. 31946". The London Gazette. 18 June 1920. p. 6702.
- Sometimes spelled 'Allen', though spelled 'Allan' on his marriage certificate and on his tombstone (see http://www.rorkesdriftvc.com/vc/allen.htm). Also N. Holme (1999) The Noble 24th p.321