Robert Jones (VC)

Robert Jones
Born (1857-08-19)19 August 1857
Penrhos, Monmouthshire, Wales
Died 6 September 1898(1898-09-06) (aged 41)
Peterchurch, Herefordshire
Buried at Peterchurch churchyard, Herefordshire (52°2′29″N 2°57′22.5″W / 52.04139°N 2.956250°W / 52.04139; -2.956250)
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  British Army
Rank Private
Unit 2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment of Foot
Awards Victoria Cross

Robert Jones VC (19 August 1857 6 September 1898) was a Welsh recipient of the Victoria Cross for his actions at the Battle of Rorke's Drift in January 1879, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

He was born at Penrhos near Clytha between Raglan and Abergavenny in Monmouthshire, Wales.

Military achievements

He was 21 years old, and a private in the 2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment of Foot (later The South Wales Borderers), British Army during the Zulu War. For their roles inside the hospital at Rorke's Drift, he and Pte. 593 William Jones were each awarded the VC by Sir Garnet Wolseley in Utrecht, Transvaal.

Privates Robert and William Jones were posted in a room of the hospital facing the hill. They kept up a steady fire against enormous odds. While one worked to cut a hole through the partition into the next room, the other shot Zulu after Zulu through the loophooled walls, using his own and his comrade's rifle alternately as the barrels became too hot to hold from the incessant firing. By their united efforts six out of the seven patients were saved by being carried through the broken partition. The seventh, Sgt. Maxfield, was delirious and refused to be helped. When Robert Jones returned to take the Sergeant to safety by force he found him in his bed being stabbed by the Zulus.[1]

Robert Jones himself suffered four Assegai spear wounds, was struck by a bullet and had minor burns.

Later life

After discharge, Robert Jones settled in Herefordshire where he became a farm labourer and married Elizabeth Hopkins, having five children: Robert Jones jnr, Edith Emily East (née Jones), Alice Smith (née Jones) Lily Rose Griffiths (née Jones) and Ellen Kelly (née Jones) called Nellie by the family.

He died in Peterchurch, Herefordshire, from gunshot wounds in 1898 aged 41 years. He had borrowed his employer's shotgun to go crow shooting. A verdict of suicide whilst being insane was passed (stated on his death cert). The coroner heard how he was plagued with recurring nightmares following his desperate hand-to-hand combat with Zulus. His widow Elizabeth, who gave damning evidence at his inquest, later re-married William Tilbury and had two further children.

His Victoria Cross passed out of the family and was bought in 1996 for £80,000, defeating a bid from the regimental museum. It is on display in the Lord Ashcroft Gallery at the Imperial War Museum, London. Members of the family approached the regimental museum but had been told the museum were not in a position to bid. Without realising it, family members who wished to buy the Victoria cross and donate it to the regimental museum unwittingly ended up bidding against those who were to be the beneficiaries; however Lord Ashcroft outbid everyone.

In the 1964 film Zulu, he was portrayed by actor Denys Graham.


  1. The London Gazette: no. 24717. p. 3178. 2 May 1879. Retrieved 24 December 2009.
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