Friday, 28 October 2016

Hero of the Zulu War

A book came into the shop recently called Zulu War VCs. Greg, the manager, remembered that there was a local connection, and showed me the pages relating to a local hero.
Robert Jones was a farm worker before he enlisted in the 24th Regiment South Wales Borderers - and he was at Rorke's Drift when the Zulu War began in 1878.
His job was to defend the patients in the hospital - in a desperate battle in which Robert Jones was wounded by Zulu assegais three times after he and his companion Private William Jones had run out of ammunition. They managed to get six patients to safety through a window, and Robert Jones was returning for a seventh man, Sergeant Robert Maxfield, only to see him being stabbed in his bed. The building was by then on fire, and Robert Jones got out of the window just before the roof collapsed. He was awarded the VC for his actions.
When he left the army, he moved to Peterchurch in the Golden Valley with his wife Elizabeth. They had one son and four daughters. Robert worked as a groundsman for Major de la Hay at Crossways House, and the family lived in Rose Cottage. As well as gardening, he was apparently a talented amateur poet.
However, one of the wounds Robert had recieved at Rorke's Drift was to his head, and he continued to suffer from pains in his head. In 1898, he borrowed the major's gun and shot himself in the garden.
The inquest was held at the Boughton Arms in Peterchurch, where it was decided he had committed suicide while of unsound mind. He was given a military funeral, and a marble headstone was erected, which can still be seen.

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