Event Detail


The Battle of Rorke's Drift

David Rattray
Thursday, 13 May 2004
Hong Kong Fooll Club
An Evening with DAVID RATTRAY
The AngloZulu War 1879 The Battle of Rorke's Drift
The Legendary battle of the Victorian Era
Thursday, 13 May 2004

The Hong Kong Fooll Club, Causeway Bay
6.30pm Drinks Reception
7.30 pm 10.30 pm Illustrated Lecture and Banquet Dinner
In March 2002, David Rattray gave an extraordinary lecture to the Royal Geographical Society Hong Kong on the Battle of Isandlwana, in which his remarkable oratory transported the capacity audience to the times and the battlefields themselves of the AngloZulu War. It is a great privilege that we now welcome Mr. Rattray to Hong Kong again, this time to speak on the Battle of Rorke's Drift, the most famous battle of the Victorian era. On 22 January 1879, the British army suffered a defeat by the Zulus in the Battle of Isandlwana, where Lord Chelmsford's great central column was smashed by the warriors of King Cetshwayo, one of the biggest secks suffered by Britain in her colonial history. But just hours later, in one of the greatest British triumphs, at the epic Battle of Rorke's Drift, just 139 British soldiers defeated an attack by 4,000 Zulu warriors. On the evening of 22 January, a great wing of the enormous Zulu army crossed the Buffalo River into the British Colony of Natal, and attacked the small British garrison that had been left to guard a staging depot at Rorke's Drift. In the ensuing battle, which lasted 11 hours, the small garrison successfully defended their unfortified depot, winning 11 Victoria Crosses, more than any other battle in history. In this battle, 139 British soldiers, of whom 35 were already wounded or ill, had done the impossible held out all night against thousands of fresh Zulu warriors. Rorke's Drift, the subject of the classic film Zulu staring Michael Caine, is set in one of the most evocative landscapes on earth, providing a backdrop of dramatic topography for the clash between two great empires. David Rattray's argues that, in the epic fights between brave men on both sides of the AngloZulu Wars, lies the origin of the affection and respect that has developed between the two nations which lasts to this day. Mr. Rattray illustrates his lecture by drawing on huge resources of Zulu oral tradition, an immense library and a lifetime of wandering around this battlefield, part of which he owns. David Rattray is acknowledged as a world expert on South African history and the Anglo Zulu War. Mr. Rattray holds the Ness Award of the Royal Geographical Society. He lives on his familyowned farm at Rorke's Drift and has studied the history of the area for more than three decades. In 1989, he built the Fugitive's Drift Lodge and ever since has hosted a distinguished stream of visitors around the battlefields of Rorke's Drift and Isandlwana. Mr. Rattray is known for his unique ability to transport audiences to the times and the battlefields themselves, and has lectured no fewer than 17 times at the Royal Geographical Society in London, to capacity audiences. In 2001, he was honoured with giving the inaugural Van Der Post Memorial Lecture at St. James's Palace in London, hosted by HRH The Prince of Wales. There is a charge for this event of HK$400 for Members and HK$450 for Guests, which includes a cocktail reception followed by a fourcourse banquet dinner with wine and soft drinks. There is prebooked individual seating, or you may arrange a group at a table, or a book a table of 10, 11 or 12 people. Tickets must be reserved by cheque or electronic transfer in advance Please write (v) next to the names of people who require a vegetarian meal and state who you would like to sit next to (if required) No tickets will be issued. You will receive confirmation of your booking. If you have any questions please phone 2583 9700 or write to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Please make your cheque payable to Royal Geographical Society HK and send to RGSHK, GPO Box 6681, Hong Kong.

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