Google+ Badge

Friday, February 13, 2015 Col. Anthony Durnford - The Aftermath - Some survivors - Re-arranging th truth - or scared to death - Frances' condemnation

The next posts in the story, begin the   series.  A lot of new information has been sourced.

A Family Historian looks at the people, and their personalities, their behaviours, their lives, and looks to find links and the events relative to those people, rather than the tactics which may or may not, or should or should not have happened on a battlefield.

It would be very hard to find one person in today's world, who would have been brave enough to put their lives on the line when facing an enemy, especially with the odds so highly stacked against them.

Before embarking on this account, my knowledge was limited to the First and Second World Wars, more brave men, being ordered time and time again to "go over the top".   

Downunder, we recognise those Anzac heros with a red poppy, symbolising  the blood they spilt and to commemorate the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. Brave men who, like these young at Isandhlwana, thought it a bit of an adventure, for Queen and Country! 

ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, two countries of the Southern Hemisphere fighting as one. Throughout the family stories, poppies are shown against the stories of  any of those who served in  WWI.

But do these soldier have any symbol attached to them?

In 1880, Queen Victoria laid a wreath of immortelles on the Queen’s Colour, 1st For the Zulu people, their symbol is the lion and the ox. Strong symbols, and their flower is a streletizia, which we grow in Queensland.

"The act partook not only in celebrating the rescue of the Queen’s Colour during the January 22, 1879 defense of Rorke’s Drift, in Natal Province, South Africa, but also in boosting the morale of the British following a particularly harrowing loss against the Zulu warriors at Isandhlwana

For the Zulu people, their symbol is the lion and the ox. Strong symbols, and their flower is a streletizia, which we grow in Queensland.
Anthony's men called him "The Lion".  

 When our "Bird of Paradise" next flower, they will have a different meaning!

Some Survivor Stories - With varying perceptions - Or Instances of "bending" the truth.

From 5 minutes after realising the extent of the losses of the battle, it seems that Lord Chelmsford realised he needed someone to shift the blame for the disaster at Isandlhwana from his shoulders to someone who had died.

He wasn't the first to do so, and would not be the last, whether that loss be from ambiguous instructions or a lack of understanding the the battle conditions or any number of other factors, as so many found out less than 40 years later.

By now a great deal has been learnt about all the different people who form part of this story, and for the benefit of some who may have not followed our family lineage, and may be wondering about Anthony's brother.

His name was Lieutenant Colonel Edward Congreave Langley Durnford    


He entered the Royal Marines in 1851 and appointed to the Royal Marine Artillery in 1852.  During the Crimean War he served on HMS James Watt in the Baltic and was present at the siege of and surrender of the Forts of Bomarsund in the Åland Islands off the south-west coast of Finland

The Battle of Bomarsund was fought by an Anglo-French task force against Russian defenses at Bomarsund during the Crimean War

British bombardment
Bomarsund was a 19th-century fortress, the construction of which had started in 1832 by Russia in Sund, Åland Islands, in the Baltic Sea. Bomarsund had not been completed (only two towers of the planned twelve subsidiary towers had been completed). When the war broke out the fortress remained vulnerable especially against forces attacking over land. Designers of the fortress had also assumed that narrow sea passages near the fortress would not be passable for large naval ships; while this assumption had held true during the time of sailing ships, it was possible for steam powered ships to reach weakly defended sections of the fortress.

During the battle, Charles Davis Lucas tossed overboard a shell which had landed on board. The shell exploded before it reached water. For saving his ship Lucas was the first man to be awarded the Victoria Cross

He served briefly with the 2nd Company of the Royal Sappers and Miners. 

Crimean Medal
He was later appointed to the command of mortar-boats and served during the bombardment of Sweaborg on August 9, 1855.  For this service he was mentioned in dispatches and received the Crimean War medal. 

He served with the Baltic Expedition in 1855, and was in command of a mortar in the flotilla during the bombardment of Sveaborg.”

Russian Mortar at the Fort
Taken by the Russians from Sweden.  After taking over the fortress, the Russians started an extensive building program, mostly extra barracks, and extending the dockyard and reinforcement to the fortification lines. The long period of peace following the transfer of power was shattered by the Crimean War of 1853–56. The allies decided to engage Russia on two fronts and sent an Anglo-French fleet to the Baltic Sea. For two summers the fleet shelled the towns and fortifications along the Finnish coast. The bombardment of Suomenlinna (then known as Sveaborg or Viapori) lasted 47 hours and the fortress was badly damaged. 

They were unable to knock out the Russian guns; after the bombardment the Anglo-French fleet sent no troops ashore and instead set sail for Kronstadt.

He subsequently served on HMS Forth until 1856.  In 1862 he was promoted to Captain.  From Sept. 1867 to May 1870 he was Staff Captain, Royal Marine Artillery and appointed to Superintendent of Artificers.  

He was in charge of all public works in progress at Eastney Barracks and Fort Cumberland.  He was promoted to Brevet-Major in 1872 and promoted to (honorary) Lieutenant-Colonel on May 8, 1877 at his retirement.  

Fort Cumberland is a pentagonal artillery fortification erected to guard the entrance to Langstone Harbour, east of the naval port of Portsmouth on the south coast of England. It was sited to protect the Royal Navy Dockyard, by preventing enemy forces from landing in Langstone Harbour and attacking from the landward side. Fort Cumberland is widely recognised as the finest example of a bastion trace fort in England.

   His sword, scabbard and uniforms are on display at the Royal Maritime Museum along with this painting which he did in 1854.
This print is attributed to Col Durnford 1854 Bomerusnd


Survivors and very different perceptions 

The following website give a perspective of how letters can change, including that from Lieutenant Henry Curling, R.A.   -  He suffered trauma!  And the writer of this work shares my opinion as to the reliability and correctness of what is written.  As there were no survivors of Isandlhwana, how could people report on events?

Colonel Henry Thomas Curling (27 July 1847 – 1 January 1910) was a Royal Artillery officer of the British Army who served between 1868 to 1902. He fought in the Anglo-Zulu war and during the Battle of Isandlwana was one of only a few British officers to survive; in fact he was the only British front line survivor. Afterwards he wrote a dramatic report on the battle and several letters home that described it further

Accordingly any usage of soldiers’ letters as historical sources has to be corroborated, wherever

Soldiers sometimes retracted comments made in correspondence sent immediately after a battle.

Lieutenant Henry Curling, RA, psychologically shaken after escaping from Isandlwana,
later conceded: 

‘When I was ill, I wrote such a stupid letter: I think I must have been off my nut when I wrote it.’

When the South Wales Daily News received its first letter describing the battlefield at Isandlwana, it stated that ‘We shall be glad to publish any letters from soldiers at the seat of war, which may be received by their friends in South Wales and Monmouthshire

Corporal Thomas Davies (2/24th) he wrote letters  using gunpowder as ink.

As an example, follow the story of Horace Smith-Dorrien.  Horace had been at Isandlhwana.
He went on to become a General in World War I, and even with such a high rank he failed to follow orders.
Smith-Dorrien being told by French to ‘do as you are ordered and don’t ask questions’ when, having been told to give battle on the line of the Mons canal, he had asked: ‘Do you mean to take the offensive or stand on the defensive?’  
He held senior commands in the BEF during the First World War. He commanded the British II Corps at the Battle of Mons, the first major action fought by the BEF, and the Battle of Le Cateau, where he fought a vigorous and successful defensive action contrary to the wishes of the Commander-in-Chief Sir John French, with whom he had had a personality clash dating back some years
Horace Lockwood Smith-Dorrien was born in 1858 and was the 11th child of Col. Robert Smith-Dorrien of Haresfoot House, Berkhamsted.

After education at Harrow and then military training at Sandhurst, he spent his entire career with the Sherwood Foresters (95th Foot) and commanded the 19th Brigade during the Boer War.

At the start of the First World War, he was selected by Kitchener as successor to Lt. Gen. Sir James Grierson as commander of British Second (II) Corps.

His finest hour came during the first few weeks of war when the British forces were retreating from Mons (25-26 August).

Smith-Dorrien ignored Field Marshal French’s orders and made a stand at Le Cateau with the brief comment “Very, well, gentleman, we will fight”.

This rear-guard action checked the German advance and saved the British Army. After the second battle at Ypres he again clashed with French and retired.

1858 Born at Haresfoot in Berkhamstead and educated at Harrow
1876 Went to RMA Sandhurst
1878 Commissioned into 95th Foot and sent to South Africa
1879 Battle of Isandlwana. One of 50 survivors.
1882 Egypt. Appointed Assistant Commissioner of Police.
1882 Raised and commanded corps of Mounted Infantry

 He entered the Royal Military College, Sandhurst on 26th February 1876, on completion of his training he was gazetted to the 95th (Derbyshire) Regiment of Foot in January 1877.

In 1878 Lieutenant-General Frederic Augustus Thesiger, General Officer Commanding the British Forces in southern Africa, cabled the War Office, at Horseguards, London. Thesiger, who in October of 1878, following the death of his father would succeed the title of Lord Chelmsford, asked his superiors for reinforcements and additional Special Service officers for duty in southern Africa.

The War Office denied the request for reinforcements, but permitted that for the Special Service officers. Thesiger had previously served in the 95th as a lieutenant-colonel, during the Indian Mutiny, and he desired to have his old regiment represented. He contacted the regimental headquarters of the 95th and asked for three officers from the battalion.

The Regiment's Lieutenant-Colonel, t. Charles Frederick Parkinson denied the request. At the time Horace Smith-Dorrien was performing duties as the Regimental Adjutant. Smith-Dorrien was fully aware of the request and of Parkinson's answer. Using extreme guile, Smith-Dorrien sent a telegram to Commander-in-Chief’s Military Secretary at the War Office, in which he volunteered his services at the Cape of Good Hope in any capacity that His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge might see fit.

 Smith-Dorrien’s artifice bore fruit and within just three days he was en-route to South Africa on board the hired transport Edinburgh Castle. Travelling with him were two other Special Service officers; Lieutenants William Francis Dundonald Cochrane of the 32nd (Cornwall) Light Infantry and Henry Charles Harford of the 99th, the Duke of Edinburgh’s (Lanarkshire) Regiment of Foot.

On reaching Durban, Smith-Dorrien was detailed for transport duties. Of his two travelling companions, Harford was selected to serve in the recently formed Natal Native Contingent, his boyhood had been spent in Natal and he was conversant with the Zulu language. 

Cochrane was deputed to staff duties in the command of the then Lieutenant-Colonel Anthony William Durnford. Smith-Dorrien’s duties found him controlling convoys of supplies being moved up through Natal to the requisitioned Mission-Station at Rorke’s Drift on the Natal/Zulu frontier. These supplies were part of Lord Chelmsford's logistical preparation for what was then the inevitable invasion of Zululand.

At around midnight on 21st/22nd January, 1879, Smith-Dorrien was summoned to General’s Headquarters tent and given a dispatch to convey to recently promoted Brevet Colonel Durnford, Commander of Number Two Column - one of the reserve forces - part of which was currently at Rorke's Drift. During the day of the 21st, a two-pronged reconnaissance had located a large Zulu force some twelve miles east of Isandlwana, and it was Chelmsford’s intention to reinforce the reconnaissance. Through the pitch-black African night Smith-Dorrien rode alone back to Rorke’s Drift.

He arrived just before first light on Wednesday, 22nd January to find Durnford about to break camp and relocate his force of native irregular cavalry, with this force was Smith-Dorrien’s former travelling companion, Lieutenant Cochrane. The dispatch ordered Durnford that he and his Natal Native Horse were to reinforce the camp at Isandlwana during the General’s absence. Durnford rode on to the curious Sphinx-like mountain of Isandlwana.

Smith-Dorrien remained at the store depot to check on the progress of some riems - rawhide thongs that were being stretched on a contraption resembling a gallows. Having seen to this he then procured eleven rounds of revolver ammunition from the commander of ‘B’ Company, 2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment - Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead. 

Smith-Dorrien told Bromhead that “a big fight was expected.” Little could either man know that within hours both of them would be fighting for their lives. Having obtained the ammunition he set off back to Isandlwana.

On his arrival he witnessed a verbal exchange between Durnford and Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Burmester Pulleine of the 1st/24th, whom Chelmsford had left in command of the encampment. Durnford apparently requested infantry support for a reconnaissance he wished to undertake to establish the whereabouts of a force of Zulus who had been seen at about 8 a.m. close to the vicinity of the camp.

Pulleine apparently remonstrated, his orders were to defend the camp and he only had six companies of regular British infantry, a part squadron of Mounted Infantry, elements of local mounted volunteers and the Natal Mounted Police. A compromise was apparently reached whereby Pulleine agreed to commit his infantry should Durnford encounter any difficulties.

Whilst skirting the Nquthu plateau a troop of Durnford’s Natal Native Horse, under the command of Lieutenant Charles Raw, chanced upon the concealed Zulu impi of some twenty-five thousand warriors. In doing so the patrol had pre-emptied an attack planned by the Zulu commanders for the following day, the 23rd. The Zulu attacked and overwhelmed the British camp.

The causes for the defeat still intrigue historians to this day, but it is not the purpose of this article to discuss that in any great detail. One of the accepted causes of the disaster was the extended line between the troops in the line and their reserve ammunition in the camp.

It is here in the camp that we find the twenty-year old Smith-Dorrien. With no specific duties to perform he mustered a number of troops, officers’ servants and horse-holders, and set about opening ammunition boxes to hurry the re-supply to those on the firing line.

Whilst doing so he was approached by Quartermaster Edward Bloomfield of the 2nd/24th, who castigated him, saying, “For heaven’s sake, don’t take that man for it belongs to our Battalion!” Bloomfield in this now famous, and much quoted statement was obviously inferring that his battalion, the 2nd/24th, who were out with Lord Chelmsford, save for one company, might have need of their reserve ammunition at a moment’s notice should they become engaged in a fire-fight.

Smith-Dorrien’s reply is equally famous as it has given rise to the belief that Bloomfield was a narrow-minded authoritarian, “Hang it all, you don't want a requisition now, do you?” Quartermaster Bloomfield was to die shortly after this exchange in the act of issuing ammunition.

With the ox-drawn transport harnessed and making for the road back to Rorke's Drift, Smith-Dorrien felt that his duties were absolved and he mounted his horse and joined the flight back towards Natal, whilst those who had no means of escape chose to remain and fight. Smith-Dorrien rode through the Zulu right horn of which had swept around the reverse slope of Isandlwana and cut the line of retreat.

Yet no Zulu hindered his escape, he went completely ignored, later he would put his good fortune down to the fact that he was wearing a blue patrol jacket and therefor not clearly identifiable as a “red soldier”. In his flight he witnessed the limbered cannon of ‘N’ Battery, 5th Brigade, Royal Artillery come to grief in the Manzimyama ravine.

He encountered and exchanged a few brief words with Lieutenant Nevill Coghill, of the 1st/24th Coghill would eventually gain the posthumous award of a Victoria Cross for his actions that day. Smith-Dorrien pressed on across the broken ground and marsh, which led to Buffalo River. He reached a bluff above Sothondose’s Drift, the name of which would in time change to Fugitives’ Drift.
From his position he saw Lieutenant Teignmouth Melvill, of the 1st/24th carrying his precious charge - the Queen’s Colour of the Regiment. Melvill like his brother officer Coghill would also receive a posthumous V.C. that day.

Smith-Dorrien dismounted to assist a wounded mounted infantryman and began to apply a tourniquet to the soldier's wound. A sudden shout came from behind him, Brevet Major Stuart Smith, of ‘N’ Battery, 5th Brigade, shouted that the Zulus were upon them. Within seconds the three were surrounded by warriors baying for their blood, Smith and the mounted infantryman died in a flurry of assegais, who also stabbed Smith-Dorrien’s mount.

 Drawing his revolver Smith-Dorrien blazed at the encircling foe, and threw himself off of the bluff into the swollen waters of the Buffalo River. On gaining the dubious safety of the Natal bank he came upon an exhausted locally recruited transport officer, J.N. Hamer

Seeing his plight, Smith-Dorrien caught a stray horse and put Hamer upon it, thus saving him from certain death. Smith-Dorrien was by now under a constant fire from the Zulu bank. He scramble up the heights above the drift only to be confronted by a new threat, some twenty Zulus had crossed upstream and were now intent on killing him.

With cautious use of his revolver he managed to keep the warriors at bay, the fleet of foot Zulus had met their match with young lieutenant, whose athletic prowess had been the renown of his old school, Harrow.

After some three miles the Zulus abandoned their chase. By sunset the exhausted young officer reached the safety of the hastily thrown-up laager at Helpmekaar, he had covered a distance of almost twenty miles on foot.

On the evidence of other survivors Smith-Dorrien was recommended for the award of the Victoria Cross, but the award was denied. In his own words and with the hindsight of the horrors of the First World War he stated, “...for any trivial act of good Samaritanism I may have performed that day would not have earned an M.C.,[Military Cross] much less a V.C. ...”

Only five imperial officers would save the battle of Isandlwana. Fifty-five British and Colonial officers were killed. In total 1353 officers and other-ranks - black and white perished. The following day, the 23rd January, he returned to Rorke’s Drift to find that the post had held against the Zulu onslaught. To his alarm and disgust he also found that his riem gallows had been used to execute two Zulus.

Quartermaster Edward Bloomfield, born in 1836, first enlisted in the Scots Fusilier Guards at the age of 11, as a drummer boy. He then served in the 2nd battalion 24th Regiment and reached the rank of sergeant-instructor of musketry. He was commissioned on 24th Sep 1873 and appointed quartermaster of the battalion.

 He seems to have taken his job too seriously during the battle of Isandhlwana because Smith-Dorrien, a survivor of the battle, wrote about how he had to break open the ammunition boxes and was admonished by QM Bloomfield who shouted; 'For heaven's sake, don't take that, man, for it belongs to our battalion.' Smith-Dorrien replied, 'Hang it all, you don't want a requisition now, do you?' 

The regimental records are quite clear about how Bloomfield died that day. He was trying to untie the ammunition boxes on the mules when he was killed, although the record fails to say whether he was shot or stabbed. Unfortunately the mules, with the boxes still on them, were seen 'plunging and kicking over the field, maddened with fear.'

Did Bloomfild actually say anything of the sort?  At the time Bloomfield was 43, Smith Dorrien was however only 20.  Here is another family who when researching an ancestor will form an opinion as to what they did on that fateful day.


The actual number of defenders of Helpmekaar varied considerably and even the three imperial officers who gave figures disagreed. Lieutenant Smith-Dorrien recorded that he found a few men who had escaped, about 10 or 20, with others who had entrenched in a waggon laager. Even allowing for a few “others” this is still a low total.

Survivors still continued to arrive at Helpmekaar – Private E.Wilson of the 1/24th rode in with Sergeant P. Naughton of the Imperial Mounted Infantry at about 7.30 p.m. (14). Lieutenant Raw and troopers M. Barker and W. Tarboton of the Natal Carbineers came in at about 8 p.m (15) and were ordered to assist in the building of the barricades. 

Acting Control Officer J.Hamer, who had been found exhausted in the Buffalo river by Lieutenant H. Smith-Dorrien, who had then found him a horse and helped him on his way, also came in about this time.

 Lieutenant Smith-Dorrien had been forced to continue his journey on foot after crossing the Buffalo river. 

This meant that he had run and walked about 20 miles and by the time he arrived he was close to collapse: -
I got into Helpmekaar at sundown, having done twenty miles on foot from the river, for I almost went to Sandspruit. At Helpmekaar I found Huntley of the 10th, who had been left there with a small garrison, and also Essex, Cochrane, Curling and Gardner, from the field of Isandhlwana, all busy placing the post on a state of defence (16)

In his own words -About Isandhlwana

"I will return to the advancing Zulus' line at about 1 p.m. It was a marvellous sight, line upon line of men in slightly extended order, one behind the other, firing as they came along, for a few of them had firearms, bearing all before them. The rocket battery, apparently then only a mile to our front, was firing, and suddenly it ceased, and presently we saw the remnants of Durnford's force, mostly mounted Basutos, galloping back to the right of our position.

What had actually happened I don't think we ever shall know accurately. The ground was intersected with " dongas," and in them Russell with his rocket battery was caught, and none escaped to tell the tale. I heard later that Durnford, who was a gallant leader, actually reached the camp and fell there fighting.

And now the Zulu Army, having swept away Durnford's force, flushed with victory, moved steadily on to where the five companies of the 24th were lying down covering the camp. They were giving vent to no loud war-cries, but to a low musical murmuring noise, which gave the impression of a gigantic swarm of bees getting nearer and nearer.

Here was a more serious matter for these brave warriors, for the regiment opposed to them were no boy recruits, but warworn, matured men, mostly with beards, and fresh from a long campaign in the old colony where they had carried everything before them. Possessed of splendid discipline and sure of success, they lay on their position making every round tell, so much so that when the Zulu Army was some 400 yards off, it wavered.

After the War the Zulus, who were delightfully naive and truthful people, told us that the fire was too hot for them and they were on the verge of retreat, when suddenly the fire slackened and on they came again.

The reader will ask why the fire slackened, and the answer is, alas! because, with thousands of rounds in the wagons 400 yards in rear, there was none in the firing line ; all those had been used up.

I will mention a story which speaks for the coolness and discipline of the regiment. I, having no particular duty to perform in camp, when I saw the whole Zulu Army advancing, had collected camp stragglers, such as artillerymen in charge of spare horses, officers' servants, sick, etc., and had taken them to the ammunition-boxes, where we broke them open as fast as we could, and kept sending out the packets to the firing-line. (In those days the boxes were screwed down and it was a very difficult job to get them open, and it was owing to this battle that the construction of the ammunition-boxes was changed.)

To give an instance of the terror of these thunderstorms : one day I, to avoid one, was standing inside Burrup's Canteen Store. Hail was descending as big as pigeons' eggs, the thunder was deafening, and the lightning blinding. On the road in front of the store stood a wagon with sixteen oxen, The trek-tow or rope, to which their yokes were attached, was a steel hawser. Suddenly there was a blinding flash, and when it cleared, lo and behold ! sixteen oxen stretched and lying like dead, and six of them were dead"    

His letters home a couple of days before he looks on the Battle as an adventure as most young do.

January 11, 1879                    
Since the time I sent you my last letter I have removed about ten miles inland to the border of Zululand. We are about to march from this place at an early date in order to proceed through and occupy the country of the Zulus, in as much as King Cetshwayo did not submit to the terms demanded by the British government. It is now too late for him as we have crossed the Buffalo River by means of pontoons. Rorke’s Drift is the name by which the place where we crossed is known. Sooner the better we march through Cetshwayo’s country, as we have about one hundred miles to travel from this locality to theplace where the King resides, called the “Grand Kraals.”

After arriving there, the Queen’s flag will be hoisted and King Cetshwayo will be made into atoms or captured by us. . . . This war will be over in two months’ time and then we shall all be hurrying towards England. We are about to capture all the cattle belonging to the Zulus and also to burn their kraals; and if they dare to face us with the intention of fighting, well, woe be to them! They shall be killed as they come across us.

January 19, 1879
It is now Sunday afternoon—just after dinner—and I am sitting on a small box to write to you these few lines, hoping very much that they will meet you healthy and hearty, as I am at present; and thanks be to the Almighty God for keeping us as  we are. . . . I send you this letter in order that you may understand that we are shifting from Rorke’s Drift at six a.m. tomorrow morning, 20 January, for the “Grand Kraals” of King Cetshwayo and perhaps it will take us a week or nine days to reach that place. All the regiments . . . will meet each other at the “Grand Kraals” and occupy the country and appoint English magistrates to administer the law unless Cetshwayo will submit to the terms now laid before him. Not a single word has yet been received from him, but it is said that he is willing to conform to every demand except one and that is giving up his arms. The English government will therefore do with him as was done with [other defeated tribal chiefs]
Well, I now conclude; pardon me for being so short, as I have not much time to comment, and as we are about to pack everything ready after tea. Therefore, I have only to hope that everybody at home are in good health, as all the boys are here. 


Major F.B. Russell

In accordance with the orders received from Chelmsford, Durnford moved his force up from Rorke's Drift. He arrived in camp at about 10h00 bringing with him his staff, 3 rocket battery troughs commanded by Brevet Maj F.B. Russell, with 9 men, 5 troops of the Natal Native Horse with Capt W. Barton in charge (about 259 men) and lst/I.N.N.C. numbering some 240 men.

The bulk of the N.N.C. had fled from the field at an early stage, about 12h45 or 13h00, but by this time the Undi Corps were already across the track to Rorke's Drift so that they were forced to follow a more direct route to the Buffalo River which led under the slopes of Black's Koppie

Once again another portrait displayed in Queen Victoria's collection in London.
Photographic portrait: three-quarter length, standing; cane in right hand; Royal Artillery undress

Rocket battery  this was taken from the movie.  The rockets used were Hale rockets,which replaced the Congreave rocket.  In past family stories, the relationship between Sir Congreave and the rockets has been researched.  Anthony's brother Edward is named after the inventor.

Major Russell's men were only able to fire one rocket, confirmed also by the Zulu statement.  The mules drawing the wagon fell over were killed and the men were no match for the Zulu.

Their rocket party also went to meet them, but had no time to fire more than one rocket when they were cut up

Perhaps one would not actually observe the scene in a detached manner, as a "marvelous scene"

They turned and ran off - 20 year old, scared witless, were his letters a glossing over of the facts? At least Curling acknowledged his shortcomings.

Perhaps this is more the case:

‘Steady, Dai, steady.’ Private Williams’s throat was dry. His hands were shaking and his fingers were slippery with sweat. He was twenty two years old.

The buzzing noise drifting from the hillside grew louder every minute. It came from the human throat, tens of thousands of human throats; Zhi….Zhi….Zhi…Then it stopped as the warriors lined up in battle formation and beat their ox hide shields with their assegais. The noise was like the death rattle.

The buzzing sound was coming from the hill, several miles away.  The whole hillside was alive with men swarming, over the hills.    It is a low gutteral sound which begins low and raises pitch!

To put yourself in the moment:

 The second link is to some footage of the movie Zulu, the attack on Rorke's Drift with a lot of movie licence:

Sit back, turn up the sounds, and imagine being in their shoes.

 For my part, I consider that every native that had fled from Helpmakaar deserved to be shot, and certainly every white man that had left our outposts at Rorke's Drift and Helpmakaar should have been tried by court-martial for cowardice.

As far as I could ascertain, those who thus took refuge in flight had spread the most extraordinary tales about their miraculous escapes. But inasmuch as many of them passed Helpmakaar early on the day of the 22nd, and as the conflict at the Isandwhlana camp, fifteen miles away, had only terminated about 4 or 5 p.m., it seems to me that they could have seen very little of the fatal fight, and could have known nothing positive about the disastrous result.

Private William Johnson, 1st Battalion, 24th Foot, one of the few survivors of the massacre at Isandhlwana, later Sergeant-Major and Drill Instructor to 7th T.F. Battalion Liverpool Regiment.

"The statements, held in the Regimental Museum, of the six private soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 24th Regiment, who escaped from the battlefield of Isandhlwana, 22nd January, 1879, were published for the first time in Medal Rolls of the 24th Regiment of Foot, South Wales Borderers by Norman Holme (J. B. Hayward & Son 1971) and subsequently in The Silver Wreath by Norman Holme (Samson Books 1979), to whom acknowledgement is hereby given for that reproduced here. The following is the statement of 299 Private William Johnson, 1/24th Regiment:

‘[i]I was one of the Rocket Battery under command of the late Captain Russell, R.A., which was attached to Colonel Durnford’s Column. We got to Isandhlwana Camp about 11 a.m. on the 22nd January 1879. We halted there about 10 minutes when Colonel Durnford came down from the Camp of the 1/24th Regiment and gave orders that, as the Zulus were retiring fast, the mounted men should advance up a hill about two and a half miles from Camp, and that the Rocket Battery supported by the Infantry of the Native Contingent should follow in rear of the Mounted Basutos. 

About two miles out we met a ‘vidette’ of the Natal Carbineers who reported that the Mounted Basutos were heavily engaged on the opposite side of a hill on our left, at the same time offering to show us a short cut to the place where the engagement was going on. The Captain galloped up the hill and before he returned to us shouted ‘Action front’.

While we were getting into action the Zulus kept coming out of a kloof on our left, which the big guns had been shelling from the Camp. We had time to fire our rocket when they came over the hill in masses, and commenced to fire on us.

As soon as they opened fire the mules carrying the rockets broke away. The Native Contingent, who were in the rear of us, after firing a few shots ran away. I observed that a great number of them were unable to extract the empty cartridge cases after firing, and offered to do so for some of them but they would not give me their rifles. Before this the horses had broken away and I tried to help Captain Russel from the field, but he was shot before we had gone many paces.

I made my escape to a donga held by some of the Police, Mounted Infantry and Carbineers. On my way to this place I met Colonel Durnford and he asked me where my battery was; I told him that the battery was cut up and the Captain shot, when he said you had better go back and fetch him. I then pointed out to him that the enemy had already nearly surrounded us.
 At this time he was mounted as well as his orderly who had a spare horse, and he retired with a few Basutos towards the left of the Camp. Just below the Camp I met Privates Trainer and Grant with Bombardier Gough, they gave me a horse. We then went up to the Camp and found the Police extended in front of it and they were shortly afterwards driven in.

The Camp was now almost completely surrounded and I made for the Buffalo following some of the Police and other mounted men, and crossed it below Rorke’s Drift. I afterwards met Major Spalding on the road to Helpmakaar, and turned back and joined the Companies 1/24th under Major Upcher. We met a lot of natives on the left of the road to the Drift but could not make out what they were for certain"[/i]

This report is from one of 4/5 who managed to escape, and before he does he tries to help with the jammed carbines?  Who was AWD's orderley?  He points out that the mules ran off, but they were killed from a fall,  and he fails to mention, as others do, that fighting was carried on around Major Russell, was he there, or did he join with those who left ?      He mentions he couln't get a horse, but they were tethered.  The battle ended approximately 2.30pm.

From the Zulu:

There were cannon fired at this place where the opening was; they were left in the camp. I first saw the cannon when the soldiers left the camp and came to attack us in front. There was one drawn by mules (the rocket) and two by horses. 

They commenced firing as we came over the small hill looking down upon the camp, and before we had entered the camp at all. They came to assist the Carbineers in the donga, and fired in the same direction from near the donga into the body of the Zulu army.

Four shots were fired at the Ngobamakosi ; they then turned and fired at the Umbonambi also. I don't know how many shots they fired at them; they fired very quickly, not at one, but at all three regiments; they must have fired from ten to twenty shots; they commenced firing when we were a long distance away " we had not got near the camp, it was as far as the Willow bridge from this Court-house, and we had to ran all that distance to the camp.

There was something wrong with the rocket battery. Two of the mules got on the top of a boulder, and were thrown over and killed; two mules then were left, but the man could not fire it*

When we really saw rockets fired was at Elambula. The cannon did not do much damage* It only killed four men in our regiment, the shot went over us* None were killed by the Zulus between the top of the hill and the donga; our firing was bad. When they were in the donga with the police we had to retire, because we found our losses were so heavy*

From author Holme " Grant wrote that the initial volley killed five of the battery's nine men, including Russell. Leaderless, the other four were able to their way back to eventual safety More than one of them mentions "Durnford's Basutos" as being influential in their survival.

From SA Military 
He rode up with his men, and found no one there but a little drummer boy who sat on top of the wagon and said he was in charge

Simeon's heart went out to the boy who was sticking to his post of duty. He told him the battle was lost, the camp was in the hands of the enemy, the fighting all over, and, indeed, his was the only body of men holding together. He begged the boy to leave the wagon, and he would take him in front of the saddle, and as long as he had life he would defend him


An officer in advance from Chelmsford's force gave this eyewitness account of the final stage of the battle at about 3:00pm.
"In a few seconds we distinctly saw the guns fired again, one after the other, sharp. This was done several times - a pause, and then a flash – flash! The sun was shining on the camp at the time, and then the camp looked dark, just as if a shadow was passing over it. The guns did not fire after that, and in a few minutes all the tents had disappeared."
Nearly the same moment is described in a Zulu warrior's account.
"The sun turned black in the middle of the battle; we could still see it over us, or should have thought we had been fighting till evening. Then we got into the camp, and there was a great deal of smoke and firing. Afterwards the sun came out bright again."

The time of the solar eclipse on that day is calculated as 2:29pm.

A Zulu account describes a group of the 24th forming a square on the neck of Isandlwana.

Colonial cavalry, the NMP and the carbineers, who could easily have fled as they had horses, died around Durnford in his last stand, while nearby their horses were found dead on their picket rope.


The Rocket Battery under Durnford's command, which was not mounted and dropped behind the rest of the force, was isolated and overrun very early in the engagement. The two battalions of native troops were in Durnford's line; while all the officers and NCOs carried rifles, only one in 10 in the ranks was armed with a muzzle-loading musket with limited ammunition[54][55] and many of them started to leave the battlefield at this point.

One Rocket Battery (three 9-pounders) Major F B Russell RA, one bombardier and 8 men from 1/24th

Isandlwana 22nd January 1879 - Saving The Guns by Jason Askew

In 1844, Hale patented a new form of rotary rocket that improved on the earlier Congreve rocket design. Hale removed the guidestick from the design, instead vectoring part of the thrust through canted exhaust holes to provide rotation of the rocket, which improved its stability in flight.

These rockets could weigh up to 60 pounds and were noted for their noise and glare on ignition.
Hale rockets were first used by the United States Army in the Mexican–American War of 1846-1848. Although the British Army experimented with Hale rockets during the Crimean War they did not officially adopt them until 1867.

And another

Grenfell, Francis. Handwritten letter and typescript to "My dear Sir" dated "Pieter Maritzburg Feb. 3 - / 79."
   A highly interesting letter about the Zulu War. Brevet-Major Grenfell, later Field Marshall Baron Grenfell, writes to an unnamed friend about a Zulu attack on a camp near Isandhlwana, a day or so before the main Zulu assault on Rorke's Drift. It is a very vivid account of a massacre of English and loyal native troops. "...The loss of the Camp was due to the Officer Commanding...Col. Durnford who...disregarded the orders left by the General...Durnford is dead, but he shot himself when all was lost. This will probably never be known publicly but this is the case. Officers and men behaved splendidly dying back to back and at the last rallying round the Colours..." This letter, written ten days after the event by a man on the spot, is a very different account from the one found under Durnford in the D.N.B. A fine and moving letter.

Warwickshire Records Office  

By the time Hector Grant arrived at Rorke's Drift he had lost most of his equipment and his morale was, understandably, at a very low ebb. In vain he tried to warn the Rorke's Drift garrison of the terrible danger they were in. They ignored his warning and, perhaps realising the effect a demoralised soldier can have on his fellow troops, sent Private Grant to Helpmekaar where there was a detachment of British troops under Major Spalding.

But Major Spalding had already been appraised of the danger to Rorke's Drift and was leading two companies there. About three miles from his destination Major Spalding met some of the fugitives heading towards Helpmekaar, among them Private Grant. These men the Major ordered to join him and return to Rorke's Drift.

A mile further on, Spalding's troop noticed an ominous column of black smoke rising into the blue African sky. A moment later two more fugitives appeared with a report that the post at Rorke's Drift had fallen to the Zulus. The logic of the situation seemed irrefutable: Major Spalding took his two companies, Private Hector Grant included, back to Helpmekaar, certain that the little garrison at Rorke's Drift had all perished. The truth was dramatically different, however, and Spalding's retreat from Rorke's Drift may, perhaps, have denied Caithness a Victoria Cross.

     Private H. Grant claimed that both he and Private W. Johnson had also ridden into Rorke’s Drift  to give warning to the garrison before falling back to Helpmekaar.


This time the newspapers receive a letter from one of the soldiers at the battle of Kambula, a couple of months after Rorke's Drift and ISandhlwana Battles.   At the same Battle was a young 16 year old named Royston. as was Private Snook.

Wood then dealt his coup de grâce, unleashing Buller and his mounted force to pursue the fleeing Zulus. Captain Henry Cecil Dudgeon D'Arcy of the Frontier Light Horse, his mind still fresh with the horrors of Hlobane, exhorted, No quarter boys, and remember yesterday!

The Natal Native Horse, which had been outside the fortifications harassing the Zulu flanks, rejoined the fold, eager to avenge the losses suffered at Isandlwana and Hlobane. Some Zulus turned and offered resistance, while others, exhausted, merely accepted their fate. Other Zulus killed themselves rather than suffer the indignity of falling into the hands of the British.

Commandant Friedrich Schermbrucker of the Kaffrarian Rifles recounted: I took the extreme right, Colonel Buller led the center and Colonel Russell with the mounted infantry took the left. For seven miles I chased two columns of the enemy. They fairly ran like bucks, but I was after them like the whirlwind and shooting incessantly into the thick column, which could not have been less than 5,000 strong.

They were exhausted, and shooting them down would have taken too much time; so we took the assegais from the dead men, and rushed among the living ones, stabbing them right and left with fearful revenge for the misfortunes of the 28th inst. No quarter was given.

It was later calculated that Schermbrucker's men had killed at least 300 Zulus. Buller's party had accounted for 500 warriors, while Russell's mounted infantry and the Natal Native Horse had killed at least 200 Zulus.

It was not this slaughter that incensed the anti-war lobby in Britain, but a letter written by Private John Snook of the 1/13 on April 3 to a friend, which was subsequently published in The North Devon Herald on May 29, 1879. Snook wrote, On March 30th, about eight miles from camp, we found about 500 wounded, most of them mortally, and begging us for mercy's sake not to kill them; but they got no chance after what they had done to our comrades at Isandlwana.

That comment outraged the Aborigines' Protection Society at its Exeter Hall headquarters, and the organization formally expressed their disgust to the War Office. When Wood was compelled to issue a statement refuting Snook's allegation, he said that all of his infantrymen had been employed on March 30 in the burial of Zulu bodies, of which there were no less than 785 in the immediate vicinity of the camp.

Figures on the number of Zulus who died in the assault and the subsequent savage pursuit vary, from a conservative estimate of at least 1,500 to a vastly exaggerated 6,000. Mournfully, Mnyamana reported to Cetshwayo that at least 3,000 men were missing from the ranks, including two of Mnyamana's own sons. The king argued that his plans had not been followed, and he even threatened to execute the commander of the in Gobamakhosi for his incompetence.

The Zulus were, however, praised by a British war correspondent who had witnessed the Zulu attack. But still on they came with the ferocity of tigers, never halting, never wavering, never flinching or hesitating for a moment, he wrote.

Say what people may about its being animal ferocity rather than manly bravery, no soldiers in the world could have been more daring than were the Zulus that day.

Zulu courage notwithstanding, the British and Colonial forces had prevailed with few casualties. Only 16 men had been killed outright, and 16 more would die of their wounds, including young 2nd Lt. Arthur Bright, who bled to death in the hectic confines of the small hospital–the surgeons had dressed one wound, but in their haste had neglected to see that his other leg had also been injured.

Fifty-three others had sustained wounds of varying degrees. As for poor blinded Robert Hackett, he was promoted to the rank of colonel and made an aide-de-camp to Queen Victoria, in order to make his remaining years more financially comfortable.

Never again would Cetshwayo's army take to the field with such gusto, for the Battle of Khambula had turned the tide of the war in favor of the British. After March 29, Zulu courage would arise more from desperation than confidence. Chelmsford at last had his major victory, and Wood was the hero of the hour.

This article was written by John Young and originally published in the March 1998 issue of Military History.

Those statements were later also qualified in regard the times that some soldiers began to arrive at  Pietermaritzburg.


Comments on a book -

The authors' Zulu perspective is nicely done and very well researched, which is to be expected considering their broadening of the scope of the story. What is more impressive, however, is that the British sources were so exhaustively researched and in some cases reexamined. This is most important in the discussion of the cover-up which followed the disaster at Isandlwana. Of particular interest is the examination of Chelmsford's order, later deliberately altered by Lt-Colonel John Crealock, to shift blame for the defeat away from Chelmsford to Colonel Anthony Durnford, who, having died in the battle, could not defend himself. 

This altering of evidence is so like the alteration of Sir Redvers Buller's so-called "surrender message" of the Boer War—analyzed by Thomas Pakenham and others—that one gets the impression it was common practice to mould facts to create agreeable conclusions.

Ron Lock and Peter Quantrill do an excellent job of retelling a story that never gets tiresome, and do so with fresh insight and broadened scope. Zulu Victory is a welcome addition to the field, and is highly recommended for historians or anyone interested in the ways in which the lessons of history can be ignored in order to avoid embarrassment

James B. Thomas

HCCS-Northwest College
Houston, Texas


From the above information, the dissemination of the events of one day, has had a dramatic influence for decades as demonstrated by just a couple of accounts of "eye witnesss".

This report though tells the story of Simeon Kambuela from Durnford's Horse and a young "boy" whose family should be very proud of his efforts, at not leaving his post.  There are some sad reports which might relate to this young man.

Military History JournalVol 7 No 6 - December 1988TROOP SERGEANT MAJOR SIMEON KAMBULA, DCMNatal Native Horseby Dr F K Mitchell, JCD

Lt Col Durnford was an old friend at Edendale. He was pleased to have the contingent under his command; pleased too, to have with them the son of his former interpreter Elijah. He promptly issued them with Martini-Henry carbines, but, to their regret, their request that they be given the same rations as the white volunteers was turned down by the military authorities.

 Two white officers were appointed to lead them. They drilled them and soon had them ready for war. 'Apart from having become loyal and reasonably good soldiers, who proved themselves throughout the campaign and remained intact and on service when other native units disintegrated and melted away, they remained devout Christians, who rose every morning before the first bugle-call to hold their service and sing hymns .... And at night, however late they were on duty, or however tired, they met again for their evening worship.'

Their baptism of fire was not long in coming. Durnford and the mounted men of his Column had come forward from Helpmekaar to a camp near Rorke's Drift. On the fateful morning of 22 January, 1879, he advanced to Isandlwana on instructions from General Chelmsford, who had himself moved forward with half his force on a wild goose chase. 

Durnford reached Isandlwana about 10h00. As senior officer on the spot, he had to take command of a totally unprepared camp, already closely threatened by the main weight of the Zulu army. The disaster which followed is now part of history.

The Edendale Contingent had been given a key position. Despite heavy casualties they held it courageously against repeated attacks. But soon the units around them broke before the Zulu horde, and it was clear that the battle was lost. The battlefield was running red with blood, the two officers gone, presumably dead. Sgt Simeon Kambula found himself in command of the survivors. He resolved to save them if he could.

The Rev Owen Watkins wrote as follows:

'He addressed them and told them their lives depended on obedience and keeping together, and that any man who strayed from the ranks was doomed. If it was God's will and they would obey, he would bring them through into Natal. They pledged their word to abide together with him that day for life or death. But he must, if possible, get ammunition. He saw an ammunition wagon, and noticed the Zulus were too busy in the tents to bother about this wagon. 

He rode up with his men, and found no one there but a little drummer boy who sat on top of the wagon and said he was in charge. Simeon asked him to give him and his men a packet of cartridges each, just to help them defend themselves.

 But the little boy informed them that this ammunition belonged to the 24th Regiment, and as long as he was in charge no one else should have any of it. He felt the boy was obeying orders, and respected him.

Then he saw there was a loose lot of cartridges lying in the grass around the wagon. Men who had come for cartridges were in such haste to fill their belts that they dropped many on the ground. So Simeon and his men each picked up a few and put them into their belts.

Simeon's heart went out to the boy who was sticking to his post of duty. He told him the battle was lost, the camp was in the hands of the enemy, the fighting all over, and, indeed, his was the only body of men holding together. He begged the boy to leave the wagon, and he would take him in front of the saddle, and as long as he had life he would defend him. 

The boy was surprised and hurt that anyone could think he would desert his post. His officer had placed him there, and no one should move him out while he had life. With a very sad heart Simeon had to leave him there. Brave young soul! I salute thee, for it is souls like thine, which have won the Empire!

Simeon knew the country, and avoiding as best he could Zulus in force, made, by paths known to himself, to what afterwards became known as "The Fugitive's Drift". It is a ford over the Blood River [sic. should read 'Buffalo River']. 

Before they reached the Drift, they heard the yells of men, the neighing of horses, and the bellowing of cattle. When they arrived upon the banks above the Drift they found it choked with men and beasts. On every rock stood two or three Zulus, stabbing every man they could reach, while on the Natal bank of the river a large body of Zulus waited to dispatch every man who escaped from the river.

Simeon dismounted his men. They were all good shots. Short and sharp he gave his orders. A volley was sent into the centre of the Zulu line on the opposite bank of the river. They closed in, and with wild yells, hurled a cloud of assegais, which, however, did but little harm, as the distance was too great. Three times the Edendale men fired their deadly volleys across the river, and then the Zulus broke and fled. Instantly Simeon rode down to the Drift.'

Researching Family History, can be compared to solving a rather large jigsaw puzzle. Names pop out and are checked to see if they form part of the bigger picture involving ancestors.

John Langley Dalton's name did just that.  

Anthony's grand mother was Elizabeth Langley, daughter of John Langley, another well known family with very strong military links.  From his biography James Dalton was born in London 1833, only there doesn't appear to be a birth certificate.  There is a marriage of Dalton and Langley in 1830 but without this child.

Very often a good indication of a relative is with the middle name, and it was more than likely he was somehow linked into the Langleys or he was born overseas, or his mother had remarried and both family names were connected.    Everyone has a birth certificate, but sometimes the details just don't match with their preferred names

With that in mind and given he had been in Ireland, another possibility was family in Ireland.

Some searches reveal some possibilities:  John Langley born 1790 Galway in 87th Foot
He marries Mary Browne in St Pauls Cathedral in Kandy Ceylon in 1830.  Then a Mary Brown marries Frederick Dalton in Bengal in 1833 Frederick was the son of Joseph and Sarah Dalton and born 1800.    But unfortunately there are too many Langley's to make any direct connections.

James Langley Dalton VC (1833 – 7 January 1887) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Born in London in 1833, Dalton enlisted in 85th Regiment of Foot in November 1849 at the age of 17. In 1862 he transferred to the Commissariat Corps at the rank of Corporal, and was promoted to Sergeant in 1863, and clerk and Staff Sergeant in 1867. He served with Sir Garnet Wolseley on the Red River Expedition in Canada in 1870, retiring from the army the next year. By 1877 he was living in South Africa and volunteered for service as Acting Assistant Commissary with the British Force.

Dalton was approximately 46 years old, and an acting assistant commissary in the Commissariat and Transport Department (later Royal Army Service Corps), British Army during the Anglo-Zulu War when he was awarded the VC for action on 22 January 1879, at Rorke's Drift, Natal, South Africa.
His citation in the London Gazette of 17 November 1879 reads:

For his conspicuous gallantry during the attack on Rorke's Drift post by the Zulus on the night of the 22nd January 1879, when he actively superintended the work of the defence, and was amongst the foremost of those who received the first attack at the corner of the hospital, where the deadliness of his fire did great execution, and the mad rush of the Zulus met with its first check, and where, by his cool courage, he saved the life of a man of the Army Hospital Corps, by shooting the Zulu who having seized the muzzle of the man's rifle, was in the act of assegaing (thrusting an assegai into) him. This officer, to whose energy much of the defence of the place was due, was severely wounded during the contest, but still continued to give the same example of cool courage.
Dalton was not originally named among the VC recipients, eventually receiving his VC from General Hugh Clifford, VC at a special parade at Fort Napier on 16 January 1880. Most historians credit Dalton, rather than the relatively inexperienced Chard or Bromhead, for initiating the defence at Rorke's Drift.

Another brave man.

This site contains lots of letters home from those who really thought they would be leaving shortly, some even having their belongings already sent to the ship in prepardness for another posting.


Finding Crealok's Orders  Frances' condemnation of Chelmsford, Crealock and Shepstone.

Lord Chelmsford  arrived at the killing field, later in the afternoon, and ordered his men to sleep there overnight.  So there they were, surrounded by death, and night passed to day.  The battle of Rorke's Drift joined with Isandlhwana in creating British history.
What did Chelmsford do, apparently he rushed back to Pietermaritzburg to get his story straight with Frere.   All this has been reported from people who were there, and who had access to the "Blue books" and is  found in the last chapter.

He left so quickly that he it is written that he didn't even appoint a senior officer to take over.

By the 26th he has organised an enquiry.  All the commanders had to find clean paper and write their reports.  Most reports said the same thing.

The enquiry concludes, before the despatches even arrive in England, sealed not telegraphed.

His Assistant Col Crealock wrote his statement, from memory, because he had lost his notebook which contained the crucial 2.00am orders.

It seems that Chelmsford stalled at every occasion in allowing a burial party back, but 4 months later General Marshall set off before Chelmsford was aware.

During that 4 months visits were made to the site, on one visit the missing pocket book belonging to Crealock is found, brought back and given to him in Durban.

19 months later, Chelmsford fronts the House of Lords, and makes some admissions.  The following day the newspapers question Crealock about his now acknowledging that his pocket book was in his possession, and the orders contained were mentioned and in the hands of the authorities.

In 1882, Crealock shows the pocket book with his orders and maps to Edward Durnford, who copies down the contents of the order.  Edward announces the fact that from the order it was quite clear that Durnford had indeed followed orders.

Still Crealock nor Chelmsford make any statements to remove the blame.

To  understand the hate Frances created by her obsession, some excepts from the book "The Ruin of Zululand".

Some entries from the book    The Ruin of Zululand: an account of British in Zululand since the invasion of 1879.     There are two volumes of the book, which was based on her father's chapter headings, and which she worked after his death.  Edward did not write the book with her, rather he and her brother at times checked her works.  

The ruin of Zululand an account of British doings in Zululand since the invasion of 1879

Frances's condemnation of Shepstone, Chelmsford and Crealock is very damming, with some interesting twists!

Perhaps her obsessiveness about her "cause" was over the top, but again with interesting information, while she is unaware of certain other discoveries about the case, her thinking and the content of her questions, often mirrored mine.

She could be described, in the old saying - "Don't get mad, get even"  And she was angry!

Angry because she was living on borrowed time, still young, angry that her hopes and dreams would never be fulfilled, angry that she would never play out the "role" in life that she had envisaged for herself.  And she lashed out, everywhere.

For her, there would be no children to lavish love on, no home back in England, no opportunity to develop her artistic skills, nor to further her writing ability.

In 1887 who would have understood her state of mind?  

She grieved, for the loss of her dreams that she would never be able to fulfil.  As anyone coming to terms with imminent death might react, encompassing five stages of grief.

Harmful impulsiveness, emotional instability, lacks meaningful life purpose & goals, unstable chaotic social life.

Borderline Personality Disorder, the inability to regulate their intense emotions when coupled with poor impulse control can lead to dire consequences. An emotion can become so intense that it becomes very difficult to avoid acting upon the immediate impulse or the urge to do something. 

Powerful negative emotions such as anger, coupled with a lack of impulse control, will often have disastrous results These behaviours may represent ineffective attempts to cope with intense and difficult emotions. These behaviours are dysfunctional because while the behaviour may enable the person feel relieved and better in the moment, it ultimately has harmful long-term consequences.   

She wrote:

"But, however this may be, it is now known that Colonel Durnford could not have been to blame in any sense, rather that he did his duty nobly to the death, and deserved all the honour his country could have shed upon his grave — honour which has been withheld from him to screen his General. 

Lord Chelmsford's military secretary, Colonel Crealock, has since acknowledged that no order to take command of the camp was ever sent to Colonel Durnford, and it would seem that the latter was sent for to join the General with his (native) cavalry (in accordance with previous instructions, 2252, p. 63) for the battle expected beyond Isandhlwana, and that he was merely passing through the camp there on his way, when the fatal Zulu assault began. 

The actual orders sent to Colonel Durnford were lost with him ; and the one put forward by Lord Chelmsford at the time is now disproved by the very man who wrote it. When the battle-field was searched in May 1879, Colonel Durnford's remains were found undisturbed. 

The coat he had worn upon the day of his death was still upon him, and
the Zulus had taken nothing from the pockets, as was plain from the fact that a pocket-knife 
(a treasure to any Zulu) was found upon him as well as other trifles. 

It is therefore certain that his papers — the order received that morning, after 
he mounted his horse, and probably that of the previous day —
were still upon him on May 21st, when his body was at last discovered by members 
of the reconnoitring force under General Marshall. 

But these papers mysteriously vanished upon that day, after being seen by at least
one person present, and it remains to be proved who took 
possession of them, and by whose orders the sacrilegious deed was 
At the time they were stolen it had not been confessed that the " order," 
recorded as the one sent to Colonel Durnford, and on the strength of 
which his conduct had been officially condemned, was a fabrication,
written after the event, to suit the " theory of blame " which had been 
invented to save the reputation of the faulty living at the expense of
the blameless and silent dead. 
This is a matter which, although not immediately pertinent to our main 
inquiry as to the rights of the Zulu question, throws much light upon the ideas
of honour held by some of the principal actors in it.

Colonel Durnford lies in a grave honoured, indeed, by all private friends
and by all others who realise and deplore the deep injustice that has
been done him, but neglected and unhonoured by the nation at large. 
And why is this? Because it suited his General's convenience to throw the blame of his
own errors upon his dead subordinate, who could not speak
for himself, and who,being a Royal Engineer, was almost solitary in the

Therefore Lord Chelmsford had a clear field. His military secretary 
writes an " order " after the event, which order is constructed to suit
the case as he desired to make it appear ; the battle-field is left
untouched, even jealously guarded from examination, so that the actual
order sent was not discovered inconveniently; one confidential officer 
appears to have searched for it, and another to have found and secreted 

And, to crown all, the authorities have refused to investigate the case.  
So Lord Chelmsford remains, pitied and even honoured, the supposed victim
of unhappy circumstances and a disobedient subordinate, while that
falsely accused officer has died the death which he would have met 
twentytimes over rather than commit the fault falsely imputed to him, and so
incur the blame which England, in whose service he lived and died, 
still allows to rest upon his name. 

Discussing her father's attempt to bring the bodies back in April

The decision of the High Commissioner and the General is deeply deplored 
by many on a special ground ; for the discovery of Colonel Durnford's 
papers (still upon him at that time) by the Bishop of Natal, would have 
revealed the fact of the false- witness borne against the Colonel, and 
would have proved that no order to " take command " was ever sent to him,and that the 
one put forward by Colonel Crealock, and upon the strength 
of which Lord Chelmsford laid his accusation, and obtained Colonel 
Durnford's condemnation, was a fabrication after the event.
Lord Chelmsford's friends maintain that he himself was unaware of these 
facts,that he believed he had sent the order to " take command," and 
acted in good faith in asserting it in the House of Lords. So be it.

His Lordship is said to have had a severe fall from his horse, upon his
head,a day or two before the disaster, and it may be that some consequent confusion of 
his faculties had more to do with the final mistakes of
that unhappy day than has ever been made plain. Perhaps, therefore,
he did not know at the time what orders he had given, or had intended to give. 

Let it be allowed also, that when he made his speeches in the House of 
Lords nineteen months later, he was still under this misapprehension 
(although there are circumstances which make this more difficult to 
believe than the former supposition). 

Granting all this, there remains the fact that Colonel Crealock's 
confession concerning the " order " was made on May 18th, 1882, and
published about three months later, and that, still Lord Chelmsford is
silent, though, however much misled lie may have been, he has now known
for two years that he has publicly laid unjust blame and dishonour upon adead officer
whoso name, owing to false witness, has never yet received the official recognition 
and national honour which it so well deserves. 
It may not be amiss to mention here an instance of the feeling precisely
contrary to the Colonial sentiment as illustrated in this story of one of
the Mr. Shepstones — shown on a previous occasion by the noblest British soldier 
who fell on that fatal day at Isandhlwana. 
* Colonel Durnford, R.E., related a case of similar distrust in 1874. 
Having procured the release of the Putini tribe, taken prisoners without
grounds in Natal during 1873, he induced the Government to offer small 
loans of money to the destitute people until they could raise their crops
but he had to use his personal influence with them before they would
take the loan. " 

They would not take Government money because they feared they would be
put in jail some day, if they took it," wrote Colonel Durnford. 

" I think this is a very striking fact, as showing the utter want of 
confidence of the natives in the justice of Government. They feared a 
trap, laid by Government, and baited with money. If they took the money, and could
not repay it when called for, Government would put them in
prison, or place them to work as bondsmen." — 

"A Soldier's Life and Work in South Africa" edited by Lieut.-Col. E.
Durnford, p.97

Amongst the many puzzles and unanswered questions about the Isandlwana battle is the relationship between Pulleine and his experienced adjutant, Melvill. The latter was, despite his rank as a lieutenant, not afraid to speak his mind to a colonel, as witness his remarks to Durnford saying that Colonel Pulleine would be quite wrong to let him (Durnford) have a 24th company as they were needed to guard the camp.

Quite correct. So where was the experienced Melvill's advice when Pulleine was making such elementary mistakes in the deployment of his troops?

Experienced Melvill may have been; but the general standard of thinking amongst Chelmsford's officers left a lot to be desired.

A number of surviving officers later confessed, without apparent shame, that they had "forgotten" to load their pistols or carbines - and this with Zulus all around!

Could it have been that Melvill wasn't as good a soldier as reports make out, just jealously protective of his battalion's integrity?

It is interesting to note that the experienced NMP were used so extensively as vedettes and scouts rather than the IMI. In their black uniforms and white helmets they presented a very smart appearance, and every man was well armed and a good shot.

As their original NMP contract restricted their service to work in Natal, every man who crossed the Buffalo River did so as a volunteer and, as a volunteer, had the right to comment about who should lead them.

The Natal Carbineers and other colonials had similar views, but then they were all volunteers from the start. Major Dartnell was their common favourite and, when he was replaced by an Imperial (regular) officer, they all effectively went on strike until Dartnell was restored by Chelmsford.


* Had Lord Chelmsford been acquainted with this peculiarity of the Zulus, he might not have thought it necessary to hurry away from Isandhlwana on the 23rd. There was no fear of the same force
attacking again for some days to come.

Warning of the Zulu army moving against Xos.

 1 and 3 Columns was received on the border, and communicated to Mr. Fannin, Border Agent, on January 20th.

The warning stated that the whole Zulu army, over 35,000 strong (except about 4000 who remained with the king), was marched in two columns, the strongest against Colonel Glyn’s column, the other against Colonel Pearson ; this was to take up its position on the 20th or 21st January at the royal kraal near Inyezane, and the first to approach Rorke’s Drift.

The writer complains of the little and inadequate use made of the information, which might have been communicated from Fort Pearson to Rorke’s Drift in time to have averted the fearful disaster of the 22nd January.

(P. P. [C. 2308] pp. 69, 70.)

No love lost          

Others took a more sinister view. C J Uys, an Afrikaner nationalist, blamed Shepstone for subjecting a pioneering Boer republic to imperialist oppression. The crusading daughters (Frances, Harriette and Agnes) of Bishop J W Colenso blamed him and his sons for extinguishing the Zulu monarchy and running an unjust system of African administration.

Shepstone’s handling of the Langalibalele affair, and particularly the chief’s trial in 1874, angered Colenso and caused a breakdown in a long friendship between him, his family and Shepstone.

In a letter to her brother Charles in 1874, Frances Colenso wrote, ‘as to Mr Shepstone, as soon as John found the line he was taking, he says in this case “it must be war to the knife between us”, and he has not been to his house since, though of course they salute in public’.

In 1876 the British colonial secretary, Lord Carnarvon, consulted with Shepstone as to how best to bring about a federation of the Southern African colonies. It was in working toward that goal that in April 1877 Shepstone annexed the SAR to Great Britain as the crown colony of the Transvaal.

The annexation and Shepstone’s subsequent role as administrator in the Transvaal (1877–79) have given rise to considerable controversy. Critics insist that Shepstone was a crafty, secretive “South African Talleyrand” whose “soaring ambition” led him to employ deceit and intimidation with the Transvaalers when he took over their land and that his high-handed, autocratic rule contributed much to the successful rebellion of the Boers (1880–81)

After the rebellion, relations between the Boers and the British were poisoned for generations. Also during this time, Shepstone fomented war against Cetshwayo’s Zulu and, together with the high commissioner of Cape Colony, Sir Bartle Frere, was largely responsible for the British ultimatum to the Zulu in December 1878 and the resulting war in 1879.

Shepstone retired from public life in 1880 but in 1883 served briefly as administrator in Zululand, where the Zulu called him “Somtseu” (the “father of whiteness”).

Included in the research is helpful information regarding The Colensos papers,from the Merritt thesis which has been referred to previously within these stories,  


BBC reported in one of their programmes.

"Word of the disaster reached Britain on 11 February 1879. The Victorian public was dumbstruck by the news that 'spear-wielding savages' had defeated the well equipped British Army. The hunt was on  for a scapegoat, and Chelmsford was the obvious candidate. But he had powerful supporters.

On 12 March 1879 Disraeli told Queen Victoria that his 'whole Cabinet had wanted to yield to the clamours of the Press, & Clubs, for the recall of Ld. Chelmsford'. He had, however, 'after great difficulty carried the day'. Disraeli was protecting Chelmsford not because he believed him to be blameless for Isandlwana, but because he was under intense pressure to do so from the Queen.

Meanwhile Lord Chelmsford was urgently burying all the evidence that could be used against him. He propagated the myth that a shortage of ammunition led to defeat at Isandlwana. He ensured that potential witnesses to his errors were unable to speak out. Even more significantly, he tried to push blame for the defeat onto Colonel Durnford, now dead, claiming that Durnford had disobeyed orders to defend the camp.

Many generals blunder in war, but few go to such lengths to avoid responsibility.
The truth is that no orders were ever given to Durnford to take command. Chelmsford's behaviour, in retrospect, is unforgivable. 

Most of what Chelmsford told the Queen was a pack of lies. Durnford, as we have seen, did not disobey orders. And Chelmsford ignored at least two warnings to the effect the camp 'was in danger'. In addition, the war was not one of self-defence but of conquest. Queen Victoria, however, would not see the truth."


Three months later, writing to the Bishop from Capetown,Mr. Froude said that he must hasten with all speed to England, to undeceive Lord Carnarvon, "who imagines that the colonies are ripe for confederation."

"As to Colonel Durnford," Mr. Froude remarked," I have rarely met a man who, at first sight,
made a more pleasing impression upon me. He was more than I expected, and his distinguished reputation had led me to form very high expectations indeed.

 He has done the State good service.

He alone did his duty, when others forgot theirs : ' among the faithless, faithful only found.' He has borne without complaint the most ungenerous calumnies. And, if it be possible for me to bring his case under the consideration of people at home, you may be sure that I will not neglect to do so."


A Clarification as to the reports in newspapers sent around the world.  

List of dead as reported in the newspapers.

Lieutenant Clark Durnford  of Natal Native Horse was also killed at the Battle.

This statement was printed far and wide, in almost every newspaper in the Southern Hemisphere.

Initially my thoughts were that he was another cousin, and I wondered why nobody had mentioned him, let alone there did not seem to be any reference at all to any BMD records.

Perhaps Clark was a middle name, and he was the great grandson of Clark Durnford.

But thanks to some very helpful people, it appears this is a mistake.

No Lieut Clark Durnford had enlisted, or been killed in the battle, and the explanation might be a simple full stop!



From the Queen's Gallery

Thursday, 6 November 2014

In 1862, the 20-year-old Prince of Wales, eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert (and the future King Edward VII),
 embarked on a tour of the Middle East, accompanied by the photographer Francis Bedford.

The resulting images, produced little more than 20 years after the arrival of photography, were the first-ever visual record of a royal tour.

A new exhibition Cairo to Constantinople: Early Photographs of the Middle East opening at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace on Friday (7 November)reveals the Prince's journey through Egypt, Palestine and the Holy Land, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Greece in over 100 spectacular photographs.

The building that originally stood on the site of the current Queen’s Gallery was designed by John Nash as one of Buckingham Palace’s three identical conservatories or pavilions in the form of Ionic temples. It was constructed on the south-west corner of the Palace, facing the garden, and was completed in 1831.

The conservatory was converted into a private chapel for Queen Victoria in 1843, but destroyed in an air raid in 1940. At the suggestion of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh, it was redeveloped as a gallery for the Royal Collection in 1962.


  1. Are you in need of a loan? Do you want to pay off your bills? Do you want to be financially stable? All you have to do is to contact us for more information on how to get started and get the loan you desire. This offer is open to all that will be able to repay back in due time. Note-that repayment time frame is negotiable and at interest rate of 3% just email us (

  2. Am so happy and thankful to God for what he has done in my life,i am Mrs.Juliet Daniel from U.S.A after four years of seeking for loan online the internet Scammers has succeeded in taking from me the sum of $13,000.00 without given me my loan, I lost every thing i have because of scam and ever since i was scared to make contact online concerning loan. One day, as i was browsing , i saw a comment by a woman Name Mrs Anna from Ukraine thanking the Dr Purva Pius Loan Company for lending a loan saying that if there is any one who also need loan are to contact the company and they will surly lend anybody loan so i took there email and i contacted them we had every agreement to pay back the loan and i submitted my bank account to them and they told i will receive my loan in 24 hours and to my greatest shock, exactly 24 hours, my bank send me an alert of confirmation that the Dr Purva Pius Loan Company has transfer my loan amount of $87,000.00 dollars to my account am so happy and i want to use this medium to advice every one who is in need of loan or You have been scam in the past worry no more contact the very right company who can lend out loan on( and please beware of internet scams most of this Email of lenders you see online are all scams so contact the Dr Purva Pius Loan Company because they are capable of given you your loan thanks. contact Email (