you are currently viewing: Pot Pourri: Ballad of Rorke's Drift


Ballad of Rorke's Drift

Flying hoofbeats, then the message stark and chill
All are slain at Isandhlwana!
They are coming in their thousands for the kill,
Save your lives, get to horse, ride away!
In the hospital were sick and wounded men,
Ammunition in the store;
Should we fly and fight again,
Should we stay and see the land we love no more?


Stand and fight 24th, stand and fight,
Let your courage and spirit be high!
Fight for your country, your loved ones, your Queen,
Fight now to win or you die!

Walls of wagons and of mealie bags we made,
Crates of meat, and crates of biscuit,
Nothing else had we to build our barricades,
To defend the hospital and store.
Chard and Bromhead placed each soldier at his post;
We numbered but a hundred men,
24th, you're not alone -
Tonight the dead of Isandhlwana ride again!


In the evening light we saw them like a wave,
Running fast in awful silence,
At four hundred yards the order Bromhead gave:
"24th, take your aim, open fire!"
Then the mighty sickle wavered in its stroke
As our hail of bullets fell
Wavered once, then onwards came
With a counterfire that turned our night to hell.


How we fought those dreadful hours of endless night
Beating back the zulu warriors,
Knowing death alone could bring to us respite,
From their onslaught desperately sustained.
Flaming torches with gold spears they hurled,
Storming barricades and walls:
24th, do not fall,
Isandhlwana for your vengeance loudly calls!


Burning assegais that set the roof aflame,
A funeral pyre for Isandhlwana
By the light our men could see them as they came
And that light the tide of battle turned
For we shot them and we held them through the night,
Till with the dawn they raced away.
Help had come, the fort was saved,
And the glorious 24th had won the day!


Words obtained from the Librarian, Royal Military School of Music, Kneller Hall.