Deliberate mistake: The Zulus sniping on the defenders from the mountain are armed with Martini Henry Rifles implying they were taken from the dead at Isandlwhana. This couldn't have happened as the Zulus attacking Rorke's Drift did not fight at Isandlwhana, they were only the reserves. The looting of the camp was done by those who fought there. The Zulu snipers used old muskets.
Factual error: After the battle, the remaining Zulus left the field without making a sound, unlike the movie.
Continuity mistake: Stanley Baker falls into the river. His legs and right arm go underwater. A moment later he is taking off a perfectly dry tunic.
Factual error: Stanley Baker (in the scene where he reloads his revolver) is shown using a Webley Mark VI - not issued until 1915.
Factual error: In the actual battle the wagons were not tipped over, the space beneath was filled with mealie bags and ammunition boxes. This made the bayonet equipped rifles more effective against the much shorter assagais, since the assagai-armed Zulus could not engage without climbing onto the wagons.
Continuity mistake: When the preacher (Jack Hawkins) and his daughter are leaving Rourke's drift in a cart it cuts to two soldiers talking, then cuts back to the departing cart - if you look carefully you can see a car drive along the distant hillside.
Factual error: Henry Hook in fact retired from the Army as a Sergeant-Instructor, hardly the barrack-room lawyer as which he is portrayed.
Factual error: Conversely Corporal Allen, portrayed as the model soldier, was demoted from sergeant (his previous rank) for drunkenness before the battle.
Continuity mistake: During one of the first Zulu attacks, a local is walking behind Chard carrying a box of ammo with a bayonetless rifle slung over his shoulder. The man is hit by a bullet and goes down. Chard quickly checks the man and then realises he's being charged by three Zulus. He shoots the first with his pistol, runs out of ammo so makes a grab for the dead mans rifle which now suddenly has a bayonet attached to it.
Factual error: Another commissary (senior to Dalton) and an army chaplain (who distinguished himself by handing out ammunition during the battle) were also present in the garrison.
Continuity mistake: During the battle in the hospital, when Hook bayonets a Zulu up against the wall, the bayonet clearly goes under the armpit, not through as the mark left on the wall afterwards would suggest.
Factual error: When private Hitch is wounded, he is shot in the leg. He was actually shot in the shoulder. The bullet shattered his shoulder blade and he was invalided out of the Army as a result.
Continuity mistake: When Bromhead is standing on the burning roof firing his pistol at the Zulus running about below, you can see there's no gun smoke or muzzle flash from the barrel. It looks as if he's just pointing it around.
Factual error: At the begining of the film, Chard and Bromhead do not know one another and during the preparations for the defence it is indicated that Chard and Commissary Dalton do not know each other. Chard had actually been stationed at Rorke's Drift for several days before the battle and knew both Bromhead and Dalton.
Factual error: Several of the Martini-Henrys shown in the movie are later models that could not possibly have been present at Rorke's Drift. These include the Mark III, Mark IV, and several variants of the Francotte Cadet and Boer ZAR Contract Westley-Richards (neither manufactured until 1895) along with Bromhead's hunting rifle. One of the Zulus is even carrying a Martini-Enfield .303 Carbine, not manufactured until 1899.
Continuity mistake: Colour Sergeant Bourne goes one on one with a large Zulu warrior and kills him. Later, this same Zulu warrior is alive & well.
Factual error: In history, the battle at Rourke's Drift was NOT ordered by Cetewayo. Cetewayo gave specific commands to his men not to attack any entrenched British positions; the Rourke's Drift assault was in fact spearheaded by one of his headstrong siblings eager to prove his warrior worth to his brother.
Continuity mistake: During the latter Zulu attacks, a number of charging Zulus fall to the ground clutching their chests as if shot before a single shot has been fired.
Factual error: In the hospital, Corporal Friedrich Schiess tells William and Robert Jones that he's a member of the Natal Mounted Police. In actuality, Cpl. Schiess was a member of the Natal Native Contingent, a distinctly different branch of the colonial forces. The Natal Mounted Police did, however, have three men present at the Battle of Rorke's Drift: Troopers Lugg, Green, and Hunter, and Trooper Henry Lugg later published two detailed accounts of the battle.