A new book to hit the shelves next month contains a fascinating tribute to a war hero from Lavendon.
Thomas Luddington took part in the Defence of Rorke’s Drift during the Zulu War of 1879.
The drama between the British Army and the Zulus would later make it to the big screen, in the epic 1960s war film Zulu, starring Michael Caine.
A small garrison of British soldiers successfully defended an isolated store and hospital against a large army of the warriors.
The story and the film of course are well documented, but Thomas Levi Luddington’s story perhaps not so.
There is no known photograph of the man either, but plenty of data survives.
He was the fourth of 10 children born to James and Ann, in December 1855, before the family moved to Islington in London.
Thomas left his job as a locksmith and enlisted with the British cavalry at Westminster in 1874.
While posted at Devonport in 1878, he received orders for active service in South Africa, and during the conflict he served under Surgeon Reynolds at the defence of Rorke’s Drift.
Thomas tended to the wounded and dying under fire and even took part in some of the close combat fighting at the barricades.
For his service he received the South Africa Medal with 1879 clasp.
After leaving service, Thomas became a publican at Stoke Damerel.
He passed away in 1934, aged 78.
Copies of the book, Defenders of Rorke’s Drift, by James Bancroft, will be available at all good bookshops.
A pre-publication copy (signed by the author on request) can be purchased at £4.99 (plus £1 postage) by cheque from James Bancroft, 280 Liverpool Road, Eccles M30 0RZ. Alternatively go online at www.bancroftpublishing.com.
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DEFENDERS OF RORKE’S DRIFT: Set for an April release