Saturday 11 February 2012

WO Form 497 - A Rorke's Drift survivor

Robert Tongue, a framework knitter by trade, attested with the 25th Infantry Brigade at Nottingham on the 1st March 1877.  He was 19 years old and indicated that he previously served with the Nottinghamshire militia; indeed it was Colour Sergeant William England of the Notts Militia who had enlisted him.

Overseas service in the Cape of Good Hope (1st Feb 1878 to 11th Feb 1880), Gibraltar (12th Feb 1880 to 10th Aug 1880) and India (from 11th Aug 1880) is indicated on this side of Robert's attestation paper.  It was whilst serving overseas in the Cape that 1315 Pte Robert Tongue of B Company, the 2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment of Foot, was one of the heroic defenders of Rorke's Drift.

Robert Tongue was transferred to the army reserve on the 21st June 1883 and discharged from the army on 28th February 1889.  He had married in 1884 and the couple had nine children, the first five of these children, all girls, dying in childhood.  The eldest of the couple's two boys, John George Tongue, would later die of wounds (29th March 1918) whilst serving with the 16th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers. By then, his father, had also died.  Robert Tongue died on the 29th January 1918 and was buried in a pauper's grave in the Shaw Street Cemetery in Ruddington.  Coincidentally, two other Rorke's Drift men, Caleb Wood and James Marshall, are also buried there.
All document images reproduced on this post are Crown Copyright, The National Archives. Pension records can be searched and downloaded from Findmypast which offers a FREE 14-day trial.

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