Did you know?
The heroes received their Victoria Crosses decades later as they were not awarded posthumously at the time.
Site of a fierce battle during the Anglo-Zulu War, Fugitives' Drift in KwaZulu-Natal is today a world famous Natural Heritage Site, overlooking both the Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift battlefields.
Lieutenant-Colonel Pulleine, in command of the encampment at Isandlwana, entrusted the Queen's colours to a pair of officers, Melvill and Coghill, when it became apparent their position was going to be overrun.
The pair broke through a narrow gap in the Zulu line to the south of Isandlwana where Coghill's horse received an assegai wound in the hindquarter. Despite this they continued through heavy bush, pursued by the Zulu, heading for the garrison post at Helpmekaar.
The Buffalo River, however, was in flood and Melvill was nearly washed away. Under fire they lost their horses but managed to make the far bank. Unable to make it up the last bit of the bank, they were killed on the Natal side of the river.
Melvill and Coghill were the first to earn the Victoria Cross for valour in the Anglo-Zulu War, the site of their deaths marked by a memorial. Fugitives' Drift has stayed in the public consciousness thanks to the efforts of the late David Rattray, a pioneer of heritage tourism in South Africa.
The lodge Rattray and his wife established here offers thought-provoking tours of the KwaZulu-Natal battlefields of Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift. There are also horse riding and game-viewing opportunities, along with bird watching and fishing in the Buffalo River.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Fugitive's Drift Lodge
Rorke's Drift, Kwa-Zulu Natal
Tel: +27 (0)34 642 1843 / 271 8051
How to get here
Fugitives' Drift is about an hour's drive from the town of Dundee and a four-hour drive from Durban. All the battlefields in the area are very well signposted and easy to find.
Best time to visit
All year round, but winter is better as it is cool and dry.
There is a lot of walking to be done, which requires some level of fitness.
Length of stay
Give yourself at least a day to explore Fugitives' Drift.
What to pack
Comfortable walking shoes or boots are a must. If travelling in summer don't forget a hat, sunscreen and bottled water.
Where to stay
There are a variety of lodges in the area. The Fugitives' Drift Lodge on site is perfect for war history buffs.