Parade planned for Chiswick's Rorke’s Drift Hero

Fred Hitch VC to be commemorated on the 125th anniversary of the battle


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Starting at 10.30 am, Sunday 25th January the parade will begin at the Corney Road entrance to Chiswick Cemetery and will run as follows;
• moving to the tomb of Fred Hitch VC for wreath laying and remembrance;
• continuing (via St Nicholas Church, Burlington Rd and Hogarth Roundabout) to 62 Cranbrook Road to unveil a blue plaque.
• ending at The Chiswick Memorial Club, Bourne Place, where Mrs Barker, (granddaughter of Fred Hitch VC) will host a reception for her invited guests.

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On the occasion of the 125th Anniversary of the battle of Rorke's Drift, made infamous by Michael Caine in the film ‘Zulu’, a blue plaque is to be unveiled marking the house where Fred Hitch VC died.

To celebrate this auspicious event, a parade in the Private’s honour will be held on Sunday 25th January setting off from his grave in Chiswick Cemetery, via the plaque unveiling and ending at Chiswick Memorial Club.

The parade will require the A4 to be closed for a short period around 11.20am.

Hitch was born 29th. November 1856 and was 20 years old when he enlisted. He was severely wounded at Rorke's Drift by a roughly made Zulu bullet that shattered his shoulder bone and permanently disabled him. He kept communications at the hospital open, despite wounds, allowing patients to be withdrawn. After his wounds were dressed, he worked through the night by dispensing ammunition to his comrades at the defences. He was just 22 years old.

On his return to the UK he was a patient at Netley Hospital and it was here that he received the Victoria Cross, presented to him by Queen Victoria on 12 August 1879.

He was discharged from the army with a pension that same month and was employed as a Commissionaire at the Imperial Institute, but later became a London Cab Driver.

On 6th January 1913 he died of pneumonia at 62 Cranbrook Road and is buried in Chiswick Cemetery. His funeral was attended by a large number of London 'Cabbies' and still today there is the Fred Hitch gallantry award for Cab drivers.

In addition to honouring this exceptionally courageous man, this occasion will also been seen as one to celebrate all the brave men who died in the Zulu war.

Amongst those taking part in the parade will be 1879 Society, Family of Fred Hitch VC, Society of Hackney carriage drivers, English Heritage officials and Chiswick Sea Cadets. Members of the public are also invited to take part in this historic occasion.

Fred Hitch has often been commemorated on this date, however the unveiling ceremony is truly a once in a life time event celebrating an heroic private soldier, one of very few who have had blue plaques erected in their honour.

March (approx. 200 people) will go across Hogarth Roundabout (traffic to be stopped briefly to allow this) around 11.20am.

The Chiswick Branch of The Royal British Legion are the event organiser, and they would appreciate any donations for the Poppy Fund.

January 19, 2004