you are currently viewing: Discussion Forum


The Rorke's Drift VC Discussion Forum
(View Discussion Rules)


PLEASE NOTE: This forum is now inactive and is provided for reference purposes only. The live forum is available at

(Back To Topic List)

DateOriginal Topic
17th February 2003colour sergeant
By Paul Ross-New
Did the colour sergeant depicted in the film Rorkes drift actually exist if so why did he miss out on a VC
17th February 2003Robin Hickman
Colour-Sergeant Frank Bourne was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (D.C.M.) for his part in the defence of Rorke's Drift. He later rose through the ranks to become a Lieutenant-Colonel and was awarded the O.B.E. during a long and distinguished career. He died on 8th May 1945 at the age of 91 and was the last known survivor of the Rorke's Drift garrison.
17th February 2003glynne davies
I'm no expert, but I think Frank Bourne was given the option of V.C. without promotion or
D.C.M. with promotion.
I may be wrong!
18th February 2003James Garland
I havn't heard of Frank Bourne being given that option and to be honest I can't see why anyone would want to make any medal conditional on not taking promotion.

18th February 2003Andy Lee

I too have never heard of Frank Bourne D.C.M being offered such an option. However, on this subject have you ever come across the Rev.Smith being offered a VC or some sort of
church order (source. Rev.Smith of Rorke's Drift by Cannon Lumis).

18th February 2003Diana Blackwell
I read somewhere that Bourne didn't get the VC because Colour-Sergeants were *supposed* to be braver than other soldiers as part of their job description. Don't know if this is true. Does anybody else?
18th February 2003Martin Everett
Colour Bourne was awarded the DCM with a pension of 10 pa. The same monetary award as the VC recipients. He was also put forward for a commission which he declined but accepted later in 1892.
I think everyone seems to base their assessment of Frank Bourne at RD largely on his portrayal by Nigel Green in 'Zulu'. Nigel Green deserved a VC for his acting - no doubt in 1879 the authorities thought hard about the awards for RD and Bourne was selected for a DCM.
19th February 2003Clive Dickens
This is compleat rubbish if this where correct then no commissioned officer would have beenawarded the VC.
19th February 2003Bill Cainan

I feel I must leap to Diana's defence here. I don't believe what she says is "complete rubbish"at all.. She is right to an extent when she refers to a "job description". The Infantry Colour Sergeant of 1879 filled the appointment of Company Sergeant Major (CSM), which today holds the rank of Warrant Officer Class 2. The CSM is the highest no-commissioned officer in the Company and as such has a RESPONSIBILITY for maintaining both the efficiency and the morale of the other ranks. At Rorke's Drift, I believe that Frank Bourne was instrumental (along with Dalton - an ex Sgt Major) in holding things together - but this was clearly his job. There is also little doubt that Frank Bourne was an exceptional CSM - the fact that he was holding the rank of Colour Sergeant at such a young age testifies to this, as does his later rise through the ranks, to finish as a Lt Col.

HOWEVER, the VC and DCM medals are awarded for individual acts of gallantry ABOVE AND BEYOND that normally expected of a man's rank. You need to look at the awarding of individual VCs and DCMs to the defenders of Rorke's Drift and decide yourself as to whether the award was merited or not. Some are clear cut and are specific to an individual act of gallantry, others (say to Chard and Bromhead) are probably more a reflection of the overall gallantry of the action.

You could query as to why Bourne got the DCM and Dalton the VC, but at the time Bourne WAS the CSM and Dalton wasn't - job descriptions ? Bourne was doing what he was meant to do (albeit superbly), but not withstanding that, his exceptional contribution was recognised by the award of the DCM, which is second only to the VC itself. His leadership ability was further recognised by the offer of a commission, which he initially declined (as do many SNCOs, probably on the basis that they would not "fit in" with the officers !), as Martin Everett has mentioned above.

The question as to whether or not too many VCs were awarded to the defenders of Rorke's Drift has been discussed many times on this site, so I'll avoid going down that road.

19th February 2003James Garland
Let's not forget the DCM is also a medal only awarded to exceptional soldiers and any soldier would be more than happy to be nominated for it let alone be awarded it.
20th February 2003Clive Dickens
Bill, Let me get this correct in NO way was I trying to belittle Diana it seemed and still does to me to be compleat rubbish, however I accept that a different view in the Victoria era as you so ably point out and they would possibly look at it in that way
20th February 2003Bill Cainan

The good thing about this site is that that people can have completetly opposing views on various asspects of the AZW, the PRIME example being "what REALLY happened on the firing line at Isandlwana !" I expect there are as many theories as there were redcoats on the firing line !

On the question of Frank Bourne and a VC, I suggested that one of the factors taken into consideration in deciding whether or not Frank Bourne should have been recommended for the medal MAY have been looking at what duties his appointment as a CSM consisted of. You say this is "complete rubbish", I would disagree. However, I would emphasise that the point I was making I do not believe to be peculiar to the Victorian era alone. The existence and role of WOs and SNCOs in the British Army has been, and remains, one of the very foundations of our unique military system. I have had the honour to serve in a CSM capacity in the British Army for a number of years and was quite clear as to what my role and duties (= job description) were. I can therefore very much understand (and appreciate) what Frank Bourne did at Rorke's Drift. However, despite everything, he was basically just doing his job as a CSM in much the same way as the six CSMs who died with their men at Isandlwana. The fact that he did his job far better than could have been expected led to the recommendation for the DCM.

20th February 2003Mark Hobson
Let's not forget about Zulu acts of bravery at Rorke's Drift. They may have failed to over-run the post but it was not through lack of trying, and they showed equal courage throughout the action.

Cetshwayo, like Queen Victoria, bestowed awards on his warriors during the course of the war. There was actually one award which could be said to be the Zulu equivalent of the Victoria Cross. This was the iziqu - a necklace of interlocking beads of willow-wood, bestowed on men who had distinguished themselves on the field of battle. A symbol of courage, they were worn with pride throughout the warriors life, especially if gained during a Zulu victory such as Isandlwana.

Beaten the Zulus may have been at Rorke's Drift, but the British defenders had no doubt about the calibre of their opponents. From their earlier derogatory thinking about the Zulus at the start of the war they came away acknowledging that they were now fighting men of equal, if different, battlefield skills.
21st February 2003Peter Ewart
I don't think Bourne can in any way be considered to have "missed out" on a VC, although there might have been times when he and his comrades might have wondered from time to time what the others did to get one!

Several of the R/D VCs appear to have been awarded after months of blatant lobbying by the regt or corps of the individual involved and there seems little doubt that the relevant authorities got themselves into a tangle from which they couldn't easily extricate themselves - "now we've given one to him, how are we going to deny one to him?" etc etc." And suddently there were eleven!!! Not only their units but often the press continued to campaign for certain awards after R/Drift, and if one looks at the VCs awarded for actions later in the campaign, a good number of them were the result of lobbying, sometimes by the officer himself!

I suspect this was the case in other colonial campaigns before WW1. Those VC experts who contribute to this forum will probably know. In Bourne's case, I believe he mentioned years later that he simply couldn't have afforded to live as a commissioned officer at that stage of his career, after apparently being offered a commission. And bravely though the defenders fought, can we really disagree with Wolseley's "rats in the trap" opinion? I suspect the only recipients who actually performed an act which came under the then rules of the VC were those who briefly exposed themselves while helping the wounded down from the awkward height of the hospital exit while virtually in "no-man's-land." Apart, of course, from other acts which haven't come to notice or which took place in the confusion of the hospital fight.

One of the press campaigns supported an award of some sort for Smith - perhaps "campaign" is too strong a word but letters and editorials did appear in various papers in S Africa & England throughout the first half of the year, but he had no-one in authority lobbying for him, certainly not the Chaplain's Dept. I know for certain that he was well regarded by some who were very close to influential MPs but, as far as I can see, no pressure was brought to bear by them.

As far as I know, neither Lummis nor anyone else has unearthed anything to support the story about his choice between a VC or a post as a permanent Army Chaplain. When you think of it, the idea of bartering a VC with someone not even in the army doesn't hold water, does it?

In fact, Wolseley quickly rec'd very good testimonials re Smith from those who'd served during the 2nd invasion (not just at R/D) & whether Smith was "encouraged" to apply for a permanent post or not, Wolseley certainly strongly supported his application, writing in August from the valley of the White Mfolozi to Smith that he hoped he'd be successful. Brackenbury actually handled the correspondence dealing with the application, but time was running out because the War Office was slightly alarmed when it rec'd the request and was extremely keen to discover Smith's exact age - they didn't take on new Chaplains after the age of 35 and in October, when they replied, there were only a couple of months or so to go. They therefore offered to cut some of the red tape and get things signed up by surrogates in S Africa to beat the deadline - luckily, Smith was still hanging around in Zululand & it was all completed just in time.

There have been suggestions published that Smith's incumbency at Estcourt-with-Weston was due to expire on 1st Jan 1880 anyway but I don't think that is correct. His position there was renewed officially and routinely and every couple of years or so by the Bishop and I can see no reason why it wouldn't have been done so again as he was very well thought of and undoubtedly pro-Macrorie and anti-Colenso.

Whatever, he certainly ended up with a chestful of campaign medals and awards!

21st February 2003Clive Dickens
Bill ,
I am not arguing with what you say ,I agree it is the job of the senior N.C.O.'S to show the way.I would like to add that I too served for 28 years in the British Army reaching the rank of R.S.M, I also saw service in Korea, Malaya. tthe Suez crisis of 1956 and Cyprus emergency. and in that time I have seen senior NCO'S scared witless and a disgrace to their rank they where what you would discribe aas parade ground peacocks, but at the same time I have seen young national servicemen show extreme bravery so you see rank has nothing to do with it, In C/Sgt Bournes award I cannot say or anyone else for that matter we where not there
22nd February 2003richard
one thing ive noticed about the film is that colour sergeant bourne wears incorrect badges of rank! im fairly certain that in the victorian army a colour sergeant wore three stripes with crossed union flags above it. if frank bourne was filling the role of csm i think he would have worn four stripes as well. and a final point about the film, why are the nco's only wearing their stripes on the left?
22nd February 2003James Garland
Just what prticular act of bravery would Col. Sergeant Bourne have been awarded the VC for. Hook Hitch Jones etc. performed acts\which are specifically mentioned in accounts by survivors and by Chard. None mention any particular act by Bourne. I know it can be said that neither were there any mentioned by survivors about Chard or Bromhead but when a small unit performs an act of gallantry like Rorke's Drift as a whole the officers are often awarded the decoration. This is not so of NCOs unless there are no officers present. Compare with the award of the VC to Sgt Booth of the 80th foot at Intombe. He was the senior member of a group that fought its way free from the drift and as such was awarded the VC because he had not only fought his way back but showed leadership of the group. Had Frank Bourne been the senior man at Rorke's Drift he would have got the VC but he wasn't. His only chance of a VC would have been a particular act of bravery that was noticed, and there wasn't one. He was rewarded for his exceptional skill as an NCO in trying circumstances. All the participants were brave - both Zul;u and British but the VC requires something special , ie men who stand out as heroes even when in the company of other heroic soldiers. Colour Sergeant Bourne performed superbly but not enough to win the VC. To be fair to him he never complained about it.
22nd February 2003John Young

With regard to your query on the rank insignia. The rank of a colour-sergeant when in full dress was denoted a crown over two crossed Union Flags, which in turn were over three gold chevrons.

However, on the five button serge jacket, the badge of rank was a crown over three gold chevrons.

As the wearing of four chevrons the following ranks wore four chevrons: Sergeant-Major, worn below a crown; Quartermaster-Sergeant; Drum-Major worn below a drum trade badge, or a bugle in the case of light infantry. These rank ditinctions were worn on the cuff of the tunic.

Infantry of the line wore their rank insignia on the right arm/cuff only, however there were exceptions- light infantry, fusilier, highland & rifle regiments wore their badges of rank on both arms/cuffs.

As to the film 'Zulu' and the wearing of the rank insignia on the left arm, I think that can be put down to poor research.
23rd February 2003Clive Dickens
My argument on the question of Bournes D.C.M. is in my opinion he must have been responsible for some act of bravery if indeed he was awarded it just for organising and motivating his men then this would be quite wrong because he was as Bill put it doing his job but if a senior N.CO is responsible for some act of bravery then yes it would be very wrong for him tio be denied an honour merely because he is a senior N.CO. it would be very interestig if Martin Everett can throw some light upon just what C/Sgt Bourne did for him to be awarded the D.C.M which after all secound best to the V.C itself
23rd February 2003Diana Blackwell
While we're on the subject, could somebody please explain what exactly makes somebody a Colour-Sergeant, as opposed to any other kind of Sergeant? And what about the "major" part (Colour-Sergeant Major)? How many kinds of Sergeant are there, anyway?
23rd February 2003Diana Blackwell
While we're on the subject, could somebody please explain what exactly makes somebody a Colour-Sergeant, as opposed to any other kind of Sergeant? And what about the "major" part (Colour-Sergeant Major)? How many kinds of Sergeant are there, anyway?
23rd February 2003Arthur Bainbridge
Did the sargeants have a different mess to the colour sgts and different toilet facilities,
23rd February 2003Thomas Crapper
Arthur. I have it that the colour of the segeants mess was largely dependant on their diet. Seriously though!... a latrine is just a pit dug in the ground and filled in when it was six inches from the top level.
23rd February 2003Bill Cainan

The NCO rank structure in the British Army ? -now there's a subject. Fo those who've served in the British Army I would suspect there's a 50% possibility of understanding it, for those who haven't - it's probably about nil !

However, a good jump off point is the current rank structure, which starting from the bottom, is as follows:

PRIVATE (or equivalent - Gunner, Trooper, Rifleman, Guardsman, Sapper, etc, etc)
LANCE CORPORAL (not a widely used rank in 1879, or equivalents - such as Lance Bombardier in the Royal Artillery)
CORPORAL (or equivalent - eg Bombardier)
LANCE SERGEANT (again another rank not too widely used and mainly confined to Infantry/guards)
STAFF SERGEANT (or equivalent - Colour Sergeant in the Infantry/Guards)

To complicate matters, men in these ranks could serve in APPOINTMENTS such as Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM), Company Sergeant Major (CSM), Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant (RQMS) etc. The appointments are normally drawn from specfic ranks - eg an RSM would be of the rank of WO1, a CSM and RQMS would be of the rank of WO2. Usage tends to make these terms almost interchangeable, a good example occurs above where Clive Dickens states he was promoted to RSM. However, it is important to realise that with a multitude of appointments not all WO1s are RSMs, and not all WO2s are CSMs or RQMS'.

Not complicated enough ? Well some units have squadrons as opposed to companies, so a Company Sergeant Major (CSM) would become a Squadron Sergeant Major (SSM) !

AND on active service some appointments would need to be filled by soldiers of a less appropriate rank.

To vividly illustrate the confusion, look at Norman Holmes' "The Noble 24th" and in particular the South African Medal Roll of the 1/24.

There are, as you would expect, the basic ranks noted:
Lance Corporal
Lance Sergeant
Colour Sergeant

However, there are also the following "ranks" which I would suggest are really a mixture of ranks, appointments and general usage terms:

Sergeant Cook
Sergeant Instructor of Musketry
Sergeant Master Tailor
Warrant Officer
Sergeant Major
Quartermaster Sergeant (Staff)
Lance Quartermaster Sergeant
Sergeant Major (Staff)
Armourer Sergeant (Staff)
Pay Sergeant
Schoolmaster !!!
Sergeant Tailor (Staff)
Drum Major (Staff)

Martin Everett - can you shed some light on the NCO RANK structure in 1879. Were there Warrant Officers (the reference to this rank in the Medal Roll shows 1881)? What rank was the Company Sergeant Major (most seemed have been Colour Sergeants) ? What rank was the Regimental Sergeant Major ?

Clive, from what you say above, you got to be an RSM a fair while before me, so have you anything to add to confuse Diana even more ? !!!

In 1976(ish) the Army changed from Roman to Arabic in decribing ranks such as a Warrant Officer - eg it went from WOII to WO2. Also the oblique was dropped from other abbreviations, a L/Cpl became a LCpl, a S/Sgt became a SSgt and a C/Sgt became a CSgt. It is customary in the British Army that when the stage is reached when everyone understands something perfectly, the Army will change it !

Diana - I bet you're sorry you asked ! I won't even try and mention as to how a "Corporal of Horse" fits in to all this !

Arthur - no, Colour Sergeants and Sergeants use the same Mess - today it's called the "Warrant Officers and Sergeants Mess" - (Colour Sergeants and Lance Sergeants are only grades of the Sergeant rank, as WO1s and WO2s are grades of the Warrant rank).
As to different toilet facilities - I wish !

Field Latrines ? Clive and I probably recall with fondness the old "thunder boxes" - did these exist in 1879 ? Martin - anything in the Reimental stores records ?

I think we've spun off the original question somewhat - but, hey, that's what happens on this site !

23rd February 2003John Young

I have a photograph of the sergeants & senior non-commissioned officers of the 21st (Royal Scots Fusiliers) Regt., taken circa 1879. There are 36 of them present in the photograph, their ranks include:
the regiment's Sergeant-Major; the Quartermaster-Sergeant; Drum-Major (and in their case the Pipe-Major.); the Sergeant-Instructor of Musketry; the Armourer-Sergeant; the Pay-Sergeant; the Sergeant-Cook; the Sergeant-Tailor; the Sergeant-Schoolmaster; the Pioneer-Sergeant; the Colour-Sergeants - there was a Colour-Sergeant to each of numbered/lettered companies - 1-8/A-H; then come the Sergeants and finally the Lance-Sergeants. Hopefully that tells you how many kinds of Sergeants there were in a British Line Battalion in 1879.

Obviously other units suchas cavalry, artillery, engineers and the supporting corps had different rank designations to those of line regiments.

As to a Colour-Sergeant, the traditional role of that rank is to defend the Ensigns - the regiment's colour-bearers in time of battle, as they were somewhat incumbered by the regimental colours. If ever you see the annual Trooping of the Colour ceremony from Horseguards Parade, you will see the Colour-Sergeants take their posts to defend the Colour.

To my knowledge there was no rank of 'Colour-Sergeant-Major', you may have picked-up wrongly on Bill's comment where he equated the 19th century Colour-Sergeant to performing the same role as a Company Sergeant-Major in the modern-day British Army, which he subsequently abbrevated to C.S.M. - just a guess on my part.
23rd February 2003Diana Blackwell
Whew! Thanks, Bill and John, for answering in such detail.
24th February 2003John Young

We were obviously answering Diana's query at the same time, hence the cross-over some of the above.

In my opinion, its best not to use modern ranks when equating things in 1879, it just confuses matters.

For example above you refer to 'Lance-Bombardier', in 1879 there was no such rank as Lance-Bombardier. A Bombardier wore a single chevron, the Royal Artillery still had Corporals in 1879 with two chevrons.

The changes to rank designation came into being by virtue of General Orders of 29th March, 1881, it was this G.O. which introduced the Warrant Officer ranks. Prior to this the only Warranted rank in the British Army was that of Conductor of Supplies (Commissariat & Transport Dept./A.S.C.) and of Stores (Ordnance Store Department/A.S.C..).

In answer to your question posed above to Martin, the regiment's Sergeant-Major was then equivalent of the Regimental Sergeant-Major. In case of the 1st Battalion, 24th (2nd Warwickshire) Regiment is was Sergeant-Major 671 Frederick Gapp.

On 19th February you stated that James Langley Dalton was ' ex Sgt Major' - he never was, unless you apply the modern equivalent to his actual rank.

Above where you used the word '(Staff)' at the end of certain rank designations, this should not be equated with the modern usage of the expression Staff Sergeant. These men were regimental staff, rather than being assigned to numbered/lettered companies - if you want to put a modern twist to it they were part of the battalion's headquarters company.

Diana - I hope that's made it as clear as mud for you.

24th February 2003Clive Dickens
No I would not like to confuse the good lady further you have answered it very well I would not like to bring up the Cavalry rank structure it would only complicate matters worse .I am inclined to agree with John we (myself included) tend to compare todays present rank structure for the Victorian army I must say as John says it would be very different to what our present rank stucture is
24th February 2003Diana Blackwell
Okay, so the Colour-Sergeant's role is to defend the Ensign who carries the regimental flag into battle. Next question: why? Why devote the energies of two soldiers to the protection of a piece of cloth--in battle, no less? Is this purely a psychological morale thing, or does it serve some practical purpose?
24th February 2003Peter Ewart


I'm sure your latest question is a little tongue-in-cheek - are you trying to wind up the military buffs? See if it works!

The carrying of a "colour" (or flag, or banner) into battle has been practised by many nations, tribes, empires & armies for thousands of years - English, British, French, Roman, Dervishes, etc etc. The original, practical idea was to enable soldiers to identify their own unit in the confusion of battle and, if necessary, to rally round it. That's a very basic and vague description, of course, but having decided there was a sound reason to carry and display a banner, one might as well ensure it is safe. Hence some sort of escort.

In medieval times the banner would contain various heraldic emblems signifying the arms of the commander/leader/nobleman whose men were fighting - again, a very crude and basic explanation. By the time England - and then Britain - had a standing army, and the regimental system had taken hold, the idea of heraldic emblems had developed into regimental ones - the Regimental and Queen's Colour of each battalion. The need to identify one's unit by the Colour may eventually have diminished but the carrying of unfurled Colours into action continued into the 19th century, and of cased Colours into the last knockings of that century. (Plenty of experts on this forum to provide exact dates and occasions, many of which are still argued about).

But by the 19th century, by far the most important role of the Colour - apart from loyalty to the Crown - was that it embodied the very soul of the reg't, upon which the "esprit de corps" of the whole army was based & nurtured. Damage to or loss of the Colour, therefore, signified dishonour to the regiment's traditions (than which almost nothing was more important) and of those who had served in its ranks in the past. Hence, whether the Colour was unfurled or cased, it must be protected, even long after the days of ensigns and other protecting escorts. The artillery equivalent would be the loss of a gun - Isandlwana again.

There are innumerable instances in British regimental history of young men offering - or at least losing - their lives, in going out of their way to save the Colour, whether Regimental or Queens'/King's. You are familiar with Melvill's effort in 1879 but there are many others; as someone who lives in East Kent I think immediately of Lt Latham at Albuhera in 1811, an act of bravery afterwards commemorated as the regimental day of The Buffs (3rd Foot, EK Regt) on 16 May annually.

I would presume (but don't know) that your own American reg'ts may have similar traditions, albeit a little less ancient. It is, as you say (again, tongue-in-cheek I'm sure!) just a piece of cloth - but if you ever enter an English (oops, sorry, British!) cathedral, wander towards the gate of the regimental chapel and look upwards, you'll see many a piece of worn out cloth hanging on high, which will, I'm sure, bring a tear to you eye, especially, in my humble opinion, at Canterbury or Brecon.

As I am only a "damned civvy" & have only ever worn the uniform of the Wolf Cubs, I hope I haven't trodden on the toes of any of the old sweats who make this wonderful forum what it is, as they can respond from personal experience.

Now, Diana, what would Hooky have thought about it all?

25th February 2003Clive Dickens
To be an ensign( Todays2ndLt) was normally a very short carreer he would be a prime target in battle just by the fact he was holding high (or should have been) the Regimental colour not a safe job at all.
25th February 2003robert
Just curious - On your roll of RD defenders, you list another Color Sergeant - MAYBIN, G.W. of the General's Staff.

What roll, if any, did this Color Sergeant play in the defense?
26th February 2003L.J.Knight.
i have been led to believe that, Mabin, was actually a part time clerk with the comm/dept,
although an ex sargeant, is this why he was
excluded from the 'various rolls'.
26th February 2003w. mccone
i am open to correction but was c.s.m. bourne the only defender depicted as wearing medals dur ing battle. was he the only one perhaps that had medals
26th February 2003Martin Everett
The actor Nigel Green as CSgt Bourne was incorrectly dressed in film Zulu. In 1879, CSgt Bourne had no medals. As far as I can tell not one of the 24th Regiment defenders had medals - the next to qualify was Pte William Jones VC who was awarded his Army Long Service & Good Conduct Medal later in that year. He would had then 2 medals and one decoration. I am not sure about members of other regiments present on 22/23 January whether they had any medals.
27th February 2003Paul Ross-New
what a fantastic group. I've just returned to look if there was any response to my simple question and wham 36 responses. Thankyou and what a great wealth of information. I guess I'm only human but I still would have felt "left out " if I was csgt Bourne.
27th February 2003Martin Everett
Dear Paul,
My remarks above was not a flippant one. So many people see 'Zulu', and think that Nigel Green, should have been awarded a VC. It is a movie. The authorities thought long and hard out the awards given. Remember the VC did not have the same standing as it has today - the important element was that recipients receive a 10 pa. pension at a time when a soldier's pay was 36 pa. CSgt Frank Bourne along with his DCM also received a pension of 10 pa. I don't think he felt left out - he felt it to have been a privilage to have been at RD.

Some of the AZW battlefield guides - say it was poignant that Frank Bourne died on VE Day - 8 May 1945 - being the last survivor (see above). He actually died on 9 May 1944.
27th February 2003Lee Stevenson
I'm hoping you meant to say 9th May 1945 !!

As to other defenders wearing medals...well John Lyons was entitled to the New Zeeland campaign medal, and there are later photos of him wearing this medal.

George William Mabin was not just a part time clerk but was a Colour Sergeant in the Corps of Military Staff Clerks serving in South Africa on the "General Staff", He left his own account of the defence of Rorke's Drift in 1914.

and perhaps the reason Bourne didn't receive a VC was that Bromhead, (his immediate senior officer) didn't include him on his original letter detailing the conduct of those men of the 24th who subsequently went on to receive the VC.....
28th February 2003John Young
May be those guides were being misled by the information in Norman Holmes' 'The Silver Wreath...' which does say the 8th May, 1945, but is obviously corrected in 'The Noble 24th' to 9th May, 1945.
1st March 2003Andrew
Colour Sergeant Borne was shown as a great big man in the film Zulu but in fact he was a very short man.
1st March 2003Peter Ewart
This is a bit of a trivial digression & I suspect only Alan or Peter can answer it. Having noticed with interest that Paul's topic on Colour Sgt Bourne had yesterday reached 40 contributions (including the odd double-posting in error) I see today that, despite another posting, it has gone down to 39! How does that happen?

5th March 2003John Urquhart
My first visit to the site and what a find! (Thanks to David Fox)

Can't help but throw in another herring (red or otherwise) about the rank structure. I served in the Gurkhas in the 60's and the Colour Sergeants, (full appointment title of course being Company Quarter Master Sergeant or CQMS) had a very specific admin and logistic role, as indeed they did in British infantry regiments.
At that time, just as in the 1870's in the British Army, there were few rifle company soldiers with the necessary literary and numeracy skills to do the job. It was therefore by no means unusual for a bright and literate young Corporal to be promoted to the appointment, skipping the rank of Sergeant altogether.
He was therefore in the fast lane of a specialist career path, but woe betide the man who in doing this job failed to pay due respect to the longer serving, if now technically junior, platoon sergeants!

Bourne was young and literate: I wonder if a similar path was available in the 24th at that time? Perhaps Martin can help?
5th March 2003Martin Everett
Frank Bourne's career mirrors that of Henry Gallagher, also at Rorke's Drift. Gallagher had only 3 years service when he was promoted Sergeant. Certainly, an Army Certificate of Education 2nd Class was essential requirement for the rank. Sgt Edw Wilson 1-24th, also at RD, had reached the rank of sergeant in 4 years.

As the 1st Battalion when to South Africa in 1875, the energies of the regimental recruiting team would have ensured that 1st battalion was kept up to strength by regular drafts from the UK. Strength Returns in the archives confirm this. The 2nd Battalion would have been understrength when warned for duty in South Africa. Therefore the average age was much lower as a consequence as young recruits were quickly drafted in before they left UK. Cpl Allen VC - was Assistant Schoolmaster at Brecon in 1877-78 with a 2nd Class Certificate - he had a bit of up and down career which was not unusual in those days.
8th March 2003richard
the mounties still use the victorian rank badges. a staff sgt has four chevrons and a sgt major has four chevrons below a crown, both these ranks are worn on the cuff.interestingly the mounties have a rank of staf sergeant major between staff sergreant and sergeant major.they also have a corps sgt major as their equivalent of rsm.
9th April 2003richard
ive just recently finished a book about rorkes drift. and a couple of people have hit the nail on the head about why frank bourne was a c/sgt at such a young age, basically its because he could read and write. and when my dad joined the royal warwickshire regiment in 1940 there were blokes in his platoon who were virtually illiterate.
22nd April 2003mugu
please i am hear so keep of !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
8th July 2003L.Milne
It is all guesswork. Why dont you write to the BBC and find out as they had a filmed interview with C/S Bourne which unfortunatly some idiot scrubbed as it was of "no historical interest". However a written record of the interview still apparantly exists.
Good luck.
5th June 2005joe
hi there everyone ive just read through the whole web page great reading. i have just finished a book by James.W.Bancroft and i feel compelled to visit some of the graves of these heroes i live in London so the three that would be easiest for me, would be Lieutenant-clonel bourne private hitch & James henry Reynolds i wondered if any of you had visited any of these graves,and could tell me if they are still maintained or like so many old sites have fallen into ruin. thanks again for the fascinating read.