you are currently viewing: Pte. Robert Jones: Account of the Battle


Account of 716 Private Robert Jones
Kindly supplied by Victorian Voices

Account of 716 Private Robert Jones VC On the 22nd January, 1879, the Zulus attacked us, we being only a small band of English soldiers and they in very strong and overwhelming numbers. On commencing fighting, I was one of the soldiers who were in the Hospital to protect it. I and another soldier of the name of William Jones were on duty at the back of the hospital, trying to defeat and drive back the rebels, and doing our endeavours to convey the wounded and sick soldiers out through a hole in the wall, so that they might reach in safety the small band of men in the square. On retiring from one room into another, after taking a wounded man by the name of Mayer belonging to the volunteers, to join William Jones, I found a crowd in front of the Hospital and coming into the doorway, I said to my companion "they are on top of us", and sprang to one side of the doorway. There we crossed our bayonets, and as fast as they came up to the doorway we bayoneted them, until the doorway was nearly filled with dead and wounded Zulus.

In the meantime, I had three assegai wounds, two in the right side and one in the left of my body. We did not know of anyone being in the Hospital, only the Zulus, and then after a long time of fighting at the door we made them retire, and then we made our escape out of the building. Just as I got outside, the roof fell in - a complete mass of flames and fire. I had to cross a space of about twenty or thirty yards from the ruins of the Hospital to the leagured company where they were keeping the enemy at bay. While I was crossing the front of the square, the bullets were whishing past me from every direction. When I got in, the enemy came on closer and closer, until they were close to the outer side of our laager, which was made up of boxes of biscuits on sacks of Indian corn. The fighting lasted about thirteen hours, or better.

As to my feelings at that time, they were that I was certain that if we did not kill them they would kill us, and after a few minutes fighting I did not mind it more than at the present time; my thought was only to fight as an English soldier ought to for his most gracious Sovereign, Queen Victoria, and for the benefit of old England.

Published in The Strand Magazine (January to June 1891)