THE Zulu War medal awarded to Dublin Corporal James Bushe comes up at Dix Noonan Webb in London on July 20. Cpl Bushe was one of 16 Irishmen known to have taken part in the defence of Rorke’s Drift — the former trading post of Irish merchant James Rorke — when a 150-strong garrison held off an advance by 4,000 Zulus in 1879. He suffered a nose wound from a bullet that killed one of his comrades, but later served in the Mediterranean, India and Burma.
A tailor by trade, he enlisted in 1870 at the age of 18. He was discharged from the army in 1891 and his later history is unknown. His medal is estimated at £40,000-£50,000.
This is the second campaign medal awarded to an Irish soldier who took part in one of the most epic defences in military history to come up at auction in a short space of time. Last December, the Zulu War medal awarded to Corkman Michael Minihan made £84,000 at Dix Noonan Webb over a top estimate of £30,000. It went to a private British collector.
Born in Castlehaven, Michael Minihan enlisted at Bandon in 1864. After service in South Africa he was sent to India and contracted cholera there in 1884. Minihan returned to Ireland and died in 1891 and is buried in Castletownshend. The 1964 film Zulu with Michael Caine and Stanley Baker was based on the battle.
A poignant reminder from the other side of another war front comes up at Sotheby’s sale of English Literature, History, Children’s books and Illustrations in London next Tuesday (July 11). Among a number of lots of Irish interest including a half page of the original Procalamation is a quest for information on a British office missing in action in Dublin. Under the heading ‘Brave Young Officer who is Missing’ is a piece seeking information on Second Lieutenant D.K. Cooper, Northants Regiment,posted as missing since September 9.
According his parents, he was in Ireland with theSouth Staffs during the Rebellion and only went to the front on August 28.