Private Alfred Henry Hook VC

Harry Hook was probably the most colourful character at Rorke's Drift. He was intelligent and articulate, and wrote a very readable account of the siege which was published in The Royal Magazine. He was born in Churcham Gloucestershire on 6th Aug 1850, and died there on 12th March 1905. He at first served in the Monmouth Militia but enlisted in the 2nd Battalion 24th in 1877. At Rorke's Drift he helped save most of the patients from the hospital which was being taken over by the Zulus. John Williams hacked a hole in the wall and he and Hook managed to pull the patients through to relative safety. The hospital roof was on fire by this time and Hook wrote that: "Blood and fire and sickness and suffering were everywhere around." He was wounded on the top of his head by an assegai and this caused him problems in later life. After the battle B Company remained in Rorke's Drift, and Hook was appointed batman to Major Wilsone Black who later commanded the 1st Battalion.

Hook received his Victoria Cross from Garnet Wolseley on 3rd Aug 1879 and was discharged in 1880. He lived at Sydenham Hill and worked at the British Museum. He also enlisted in the 1st VB Royal Fusiliers in which he served for 20 years, reaching the rank of sergeant. He retired in 1904 and returned to Gloucestershire. His first wife thought he had died in South Africa and took up with another man, but he remarried in 1897. His life in Churcham did not last long as he died of TB in March 1905 and was buried in St Andrews Churchyard.

Regimental details | Soldiers at Rorke's Drift

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by Stephen Luscombe