The Day of the Dead Moon by David Rattray

Part 1: Preamble to the Battle of Isandlwana

A journey through the history of South Africa leading up to the invasion of Zululand by the British army in 1879

Part 2: The Battle of Isandlwana


The British invasion of Zululand in 1879 was marked by one of the greatest military disasters ever suffered by a modern British army at the hands of a native force. As there were very few British survivors of the battle and the Zulus left no written account of their actions at that time, the details of what happened at Isandlwana are largely unknown.

This account of the battle of Isandlwana comes from the oral tradition handed down by the Zulus who fought there and from the writings of soldiers, journalists and others who followed the British campaign in Zululand. All this has been combined with David Rattray’s personal observations to present a fascinating account of this dramatic event.

Click below to listen to a sample snippet describing the arrival of the main Zulu Impi at Isandlwana

Part 3: Chelmsford’s story and the events at Fugitives’ Drift

The Fugitives’ Drift

Frederick Augustus Thesiger, 2nd Baron Chelmsford, was the Lieutenant-General commanding the British forces in South Africa at the time of the battle of Isandlwana. Blamed by many as the man responsible for the disaster, this is the story of his movements during the course of the battle, and of those fleeing the carnage at Isandlwana who tried to reach the safety of the Natal bank of the Buffalo River along a broken and precipitous piece of ground, to a crossing which subsequently became known as the Fugitives’ Drift. It was here that Horace Lockwood Smith Dorian made his extraordinary escape, crossing the river by holding onto the tail of a stray horse, where Private Samuel Wassall won his Victoria Cross by saving Private Westwood, and where Lieutenants T Melvill and NJA Coghill lost their lives trying to save the Queen’s Colour of the 1.24th Regiment. Both were awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously, the very first ever to receive such honour.

Click below to listen to a sample snippet of the gripping tale of these events.

Part 4: Rorke’s Drift

Lord Chelmsford had marched into Zululand with the ill fated third column en route to Isandlwana, leaving behind him a disgruntled B company of the 2/24th to guard the Post at Rorke’s Drift under the command of Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead. Together with fellow officer Lieutenant John Chard RE and a handful of brave men, he was about to face the biggest challenge of his life as the epic story of the defence of Rorke’s Drift began to unfold.

There were more Victoria Crosses awarded for the defence of Rorke’s Drift than for any other single action in British military history. This is an account of the gripping events at Rorke’s Drift – a narrative based on historic documents first hand accounts and personal observation. It is a tale of immense human courage and sacrifice and the stuff of which legends are made.

Click below to hear a snippet describing the arrival of the Zulu Army at Rorke’s Drift

Part 5: Ulundi – The Final Chapter

Following the Zulu victory at Isandlwana and the remarkable defence of Rorke’s Drift the British army in South Africa was significantly reinforced to bring an end to the Anglo Zulu war of 1879. The Day of the Dead Moon Part 5 is a chronicle of the events leading up to the destruction of the Zulu capital at Ulundi and the subsequent impact of this campaign on the Zulu people, including the battles of Hlobane, Khambula and the death of the Prince Imperial.

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An engrossing tale – superbly told by David Rattray
“David Rattray does a wonderful job of telling this most amazing story. He really makes the characters and events come alive.”