Google+ Badge

Wednesday, February 18, 2015 Col. Anthony William Durnford RIP Buried 12 October 1879 A Brave Man

Beveret Col.Anthony William Durnford died on the battle field on 22nd January 1879 at Isandhlwana, South Africa

Riding towards death.  Not one person in the painting will be alive 4 hours after this scene.

This painting is simply stunning!  As are all of his.

 by Simon Smith

When I thanked  Simon, he replied:  .

Hello Kris, great to hear from someone related to the great man! Thanks for the kind words too. I have in fact painted him already! See the link here:

*At the time I had just found some of the information in these stories, and was very upset, I was a bit anxious as I thought he may have also painted one in death, and I was afraid of what it might show.

To develop an understanding of Anthony, is to follow his life, but so many just focus on 4 hours of battle, which is a real shame.  In the words of a powerful President John F. Kennedy

           "The greater our knowledge increases the more our ignorance unfolds"

Within the Durnford Papers, is an account of the battle from Jabez Moliffe.

A few words from Jabez -  "The Colonel rode up and down our line continuously, encouraging us all; he was calm and cheerful, talking and laughing with us "Fire" My boys", "Well done, my boys" Some of us did not like him exposing himself to the enemy, and wanted him to keep behind us, but he laughed, "All right, nonsense".  Sometimes as he passed amongst us one of the men brought him his gun with the old cartridge sticking, and he dismounted and talking the gun between his knees because of only having one hand with strength in it, he pulled the cartridge out and gave back the gun.

We could have carried him off with us safely enough at this time, as we had horses and the Zulus none, only we knew him too well to try.

He was our master, now we say we will always remember him by his voice and the way he gave us all some of his own spirit as he went up and down our line that day and those amongst us who had not served under him before, as I have, say "Why did we not know him before?"

And these words records from one of the enemy - 

"Then there comes on the scene a one-armed man, who, having slowly fallen back before the
 ever-increasing foe, is now determined to die. ' Save yourself, as for me I shall remain.' He thus dismisses the Staff officer, and H'Lubi's black soldiers, who vainly urge the great Chief to retreat with them.

 ' Recognising his commanding courage, around him gather some 20 similar spirits, who, 
nobly disdaining death, resolve to cover the retreat of the guns, or die with them.

' ' That melancholy field of Isandwhlana is a Record of what Colonists did, in Silence and Death, but none the less a living Record now and for ever. In the place where Durnford fell there was a heap of slain ; the enemy lay thick about him, but your sons were as close, 
and the brave hearts of the best of your fighting men  ceased to beat, in the effort to
shelter their elected heroic leader. He himself was fully worthy of their devotion, and 
history will narrate how the ring of dead White men that encircled him, formed a 
halo round his, and their, renown"                                                                        Online archives from Zulu

They are some powerful words from an enemy and Napoleons' take on praise
'Praise from enemies is suspicious; it cannot flatter an honorable man unless it is given after the cessation of hostilities".

Four months after Durnford was killed on May 21, 1879, his body was discovered by a loyal servant, Jabez*. He wrapped it in part of a wagon sail cover, placed it in a donga and covered it with stones. A yoke stay and shovel marked the grave.
Upon reading this from newspaper reports, my thoughts turned to their families, who must have been horrified, when reading the reports.  Each of these men, who fought bravely for their country left where they had fallen, totally without respect or dignity.

Fort Napier
On October 5 1879  his body was exhumed and reburied in the military cemetery at Fort Napier, Pietermaritzburg with full military honours along with that of Lieutenant Scott

Major Edric Pascoe of the Natal Carbineers laid a wreath on behalf of the Regiment on Colonel Anthony Durnford’s grave at Fort Napier,                                                       Pietermaritzburg.  The occasion was the 135 Anniversary.

From the archives of
From his letters to his mother, between whom and himself there subsisted the closest affection, we learn more of Colonel Durnford's character and occupations than in any other way ; and these letters are full of his love of work, and his eager desire to do something useful.
His last note, written from Rorke's Drift on January 21st, 1879, after Lord Chelmsford's departure for Isandhlwana, concludes with these words,—" I am down,' because I am left behind, but we shall see."
Little did he then think that the next day would see the " lion," as he was called by the Zulus, overpowered only by the overwhelming numbers of his opponents, lying on the field which he had disputed so bravely, surrounded by a heap of slain.  
South Africa Medal (1877)
K.I.A. Isandhlwana 22 Jan 1879 
Lieutenant Colonel
British Army
In 1880 it was decided that this 1853 medal should be awarded to all personnel—Colonial volunteers and native levies as well as British regular forces—who had served in any of the campaigns in South Africa between September 1877 and December 1879, namely the Gaika–Galeka War, the Northern Border War, the 1st and 2nd Sekukuni Wars, the Moirosi's Mountain campaign in Basutoland, and the Anglo-Zulu War.
A medal bar or clasp was to be attached to the suspender of the medal bearing the date or dates of the year or years in which the recipient had actually served in any of those campaigns. Any members of the military who had been mobilized in Natal but who had not crossed the Tugela River into Zululand, were to receive the medal without a bar. This included Naval shore parties.
Army Order No 103 of August 1880, which instituted the new South Africa Medal, made no mention of any change in design of the 1853 medal. However, the date '1853' was replaced in the medal's reverse exergue by a military trophy consisting of a Zulu ox-hide shield and four crossed assegais.
Participants in the Anglo-Zulu War received this medal without a bar if they remained on the Natal side of the Tugela River, or with the bar '1879' if they actually saw service in Zululand. Particularly sought after are medals awarded to members of the 24th Regiment of Foot involved in action at Rorke's Drift or Isandlhwana in January 1879.

Three Friends

Captain Elphinstone VC

For fearless conduct, in having, on the night after the unsuccessful attack on the Redan, 
volunteered to command a party of volunteers, who proceeded to search for and bring back the

performing this task, of rescuing trophies from the Russians, scaling ladders left behind after the

repulse ; and while successfully conducted a persevering search, close to the enemy, for wounded

men, twenty of whom he rescued and brought back to the Trenches.

General Charles Gordon:
Prepared to put his life in danger in order to save others
• Met with a horrifying death in a far away land, trying to protect those around him.
Awarded the Companion of the Order of the Bath
Crimea Medal
Chevalier of the Legion of Honour (France)
Turkish Crimea Medal
Second China War Medal
Order of the Double Dragon
Fourth Class of the Order of the Osmanieh
Fourth Class of the Order of the Medjidie
• Another immortalised in a film
Colonel Anthony Durnford:
  • Prepared to put his life in danger in order to save others
  • Met with a horrifying death in a far away land, trying to protect those around him.
  • Immortalised in a film
Anthony William Durnford - Born in the green lands of Manorhamilton in Ireland in the shadow of a mountain.                                              
Severely injured on a lonely and unforgiving mountain range
Killed with so many,  on a lonely plain at Isandhlwana in the shadow of memorable mountain

Forever laid to rest in a far away land,  in a place called Pietermaritzburg watched over by another mountain in a land called South Africa
Better than honour and glory, and History's iron pen,
Was the thought of duty done and the love of his fellow-men.
~Richard Watson Gilder
To be able to present facts regarding Anthony William Durnford,  there has been a great
deal of research involved.  So many times one fact led to another search, in order to be
able to present a differing point of view, if necessary.
The one question I asked with every new discovery was "why".  
The results then usually lead to something else that often "connected the dots".
To everyone who has shown an interest in Col Anthony William Durnford, and who has
voiced an opinion, written a newspaper article, presented a paper, researched and
written a book, or a thesis, catalogued printed matter, archived a newspaper or carried on
an on-line conversation about him, and his family thank you. 
Those opinions made me more determined to find the truth.
But a special mention to  David Jackson, firstly for his initial find of the material in 1955,
and his persistence over the years in revisiting that find, and  then to consult with and 
involve Julian Whybra in revealing the details of that find, to the scientist dedicated with
bringing the words to life and then the papers they wrote announcing the find.
None of the facts would have been known except for the dedication and patience of 
David and Julian, I know that my extended Durnford family join with me in acknowledging
huge role you had to play.
"A great accomplishment shouldn't be the end of the road, just the starting
point for the next leap forward."                        Harvey Mackay Businessman
Julian and David have indeed given our family a fantastic starting point, as no other.
No longer do we need to cringe in embarrassment at the mention of his name,
but will be forever rewarded in the knowledge that instead of "not mentioning his name"
as our grandparents told us, we can instead proudly remember both the circumstances
and the bravery of one of our own, surrounded by those who held him in high esteem amongst
so many others, in a Battlefield a long way away, and to ensure that Anthony William Durnford
is remembered for all the "right" reasons.       Thank you.

Another book has been read, "My Chief and I". That book was probably
rather cleverly written, by Frances Colenso. Anthony Trollope in 1879
told her publisher and Edward that it was "libellous". in its current
form. The edition I read was edited and put together by a lady at a
University in South Africa, who once again insisted on including in her
part of the story incorrect facts about Anthony's life. Her reaction
was interesting. Frances wrote it based on her own experiences in South Africa at the time,
and according to Edward was compiled from input from a lot of people, including Anthony
and some of his men.
But the last paragraph certainly reflected Anthony's words, when he,
obviously aware of her hero worship, spoke words to her. Another of my
theories proven. But hero worshipping does not sell books, other 
insinuations do.
The task at hand is to ensure that records pertaining more specifically
to the "orders" are corrected. Those details have been published and in the public arena since 1882, so why do people simply ignore them?
Little did Edward know that 130 years later, the story could be told.
This time without the pressure. Because like Edward who, I might add,
was unrelentless in the pressure he also exerted over some people, who
chose to ignore him, that trait lies within the genes of certain other
Special Thanks:
Julian Whybra -   For his understanding at my initial shock of being completely overwhelmed with what had been discovered and later when in tears.
Harold Raugh        For his kind words about my researching "skills"
Peter Quantrill     For tending his grave, much appreciated.
 and Ron Lock
Brian Durnsford -   For helping me for a second opinion or when I "vented" or cried
Simon Smith -       For the detail and attention to the painting.
Barbara Rhodes -   For the lovely poem
I would never have thought that so much history could be attributed to one of our
Thank you.
Kris Herron
Without your interest this opportunity to
 "Right a Wrong" would not be possible.
You can follow his posts also on the Facebook site:
Col Anthony William Durnford    

 These photographs of the Tablets inside the St. Peter's Cathedral in Pietermaritzburg were taken at my request.  I thank them for doing so.


This report of the Funeral
The Derby Telegraph 10th November 1879     Military Honour to the Dead'   From the London Telegraph's Special Correspondent  in Pietermaritzburg.   October 13 1879
Maritzburg has, within the last three days, been made the scene of two events possessing a deep and melancholy interest.  I refer to the funerals of Colonel Durnford and Lieut Scott of the Natal Carbineers.
When burial took place on the field of Isandhlwana, special note was taken by their respective friends of the positions of the remains of the two officers who will ever be best remembered in connection with the unavailing defence of the camp, with the object of one day disinterring them and bringing them to the capital of the colony.
That object has now been fulfilled a week.  A visit was made from Rorke's Drift to the site of the camp.  The party consisted of some men of the Edendale Horse under an officer on behalf of the friends of Colonel Durnford and of two brothers of Lieutenant Scott.
On Sunday morning October 5, they succeeded without any difficulty in removing the remains and placing them in the coffins prepared for them, both bodies, strange to say being still distinctly recognisable.
The two parties returned to the city by different routes, but they reached it very much about the same time.  I ought to say that some unpleasant feeling has been caused by the refusal of General Clifford to allow the ambulance which was to convey Durnford's remains to be used also to carry those of poor Scott, notwithstanding the fact that his family were prepared to bear half the expense that might be incurred.
General Clifford's refusal cannot be altogether understood and must remain to be accounted for by the presence of the spirit of dire and dismal economy which rules in his office.  Lieut Scott's funeral took place on Friday the 9th and was a military funeral in every sense of the word.
At three o'clock a large number of officers, including General Clifford and his staff and citizens had assembled at Mr Scott's residence, not far from the camp, a gun carriage being in attendance for the conveyance of the coffin.
When the procession formed it was headed by the band of the 99th Regiment, then came the Natal Carbineers on foot, under Captain Shepstone, then the body, followed by members of the deceased's family as chief mourners.
 General Clifford and his staff, heading the officers of the garrison, followed, after which the procession was made up of detachments of the Maritzburg Rifles, the Natal Mounted Police and the 60th.  The occasion was a remarkable one if only owing to the fact that it was probably one of the first on which a volunteer officer has been followed to his grave by so a concourse of men and officers of the regular service.

The procession went first of all to St Savour's Cathedral, where the first part of the funeral service was read by Bishop Macrorie, who met the body at the door.  The church, as may be believed, was crowded with spectators, and the scene altogether with the strange blending of civil and military costumes a most impressive one.
After the first of the service was over, the procession proceeded in the same order to the cemetery at about a quarter of a mile distance, the clergy in their robes taking their places, accompanied by the surpliced choir.  Again a touching scene ensued as the coffin was lowered int the grave amid the silence of the spectators, many of whom threw in wreaths of immortelles, which they had brought for the purpose.
Father Col Edward
It is not always that a popular feeling such as was evinced on this occasion is very deep.  In this case, however there can be no doubt that the feeling was most real and genuine.  Few persons were more popular in Maritzburg than Lieutenant Scott; his activity in entering into all amusements, whether on the cricket field or on the dramatic stage acquiring hm the friendship and appreciation of every one in the place, and when a life so popular is closed by so noble a death, it may be taken for granted that the possess of that life will not soon be forgotten.
Brother Col Edward
Poor Durnford's funeral took place yesterday afternoon, and  spite of the threatening appearance of the weather, was equally well, or even better attended. 
 This is the more noteworthy because it cannot be denied that, though resident for so long in the city of Pietermaritzburg, Colonel Durnford was by no means a popular man.
Uncle Arthur
 Possibly it arose from a natural hauteur and reserve towards those whose acquaintance he did not care to cultivate, exaggerated unconsciously by the knowledge of the fact that the colonists, almost to a man, held him to blame for the unfortunate occurrence at Bushman's Pass, in 1873, when three of the Natal Carbineers were shot down by Langalebalele and his followers.
 It was therefore, all the more pleasant to see so many citizens turning out to do the last honours to his remains.
The body since its removal from Rorke's Drift has lain in the new mess-house built on the slope of the camp hill where Sir Garnet Wolseley had his quarters when here, and the place of burial has the military cemetery, which lies about half a mile beyond the camp on the hide furthest from the town.
Uncle Montgagu
 Most appropriately therefore, the funeral procession had to traverse the whole of the camp in order to reach the grave.  At four o'clock the procession formed, all the corps, both Imperial and colonial, that are in the place being well represented, the band of the 99th again heading the line.
The arrangements, which had been placed under the charge of Colonel Law, of the Royal Artillery, were in every sense admirable, and it would be difficult to imagine a more characteristic instance of an officer's funeral as the procession, after getting clear of the camp, wound along the summit of a green ride towards the quiet little cemetery.
There are few quieter nooks about Pietermaritzburg than this military cemetery situated as it is in a sort of hollow between two grassy hills, and surrounded by slow-growing trees that have gradually spread their shade over the graves beneath them.
Cousin Edward
The service was performed by the military chaplain, the Rev. G. Richie.  It was at one time rumoured that Bishop Colenso would perform the service, but though he was there as a mourner, he took no part in the ceremony.
Cousin Montagu
 The firing party were composed of men of the 24th, two companies of which are here at present, and the 99th.  Just as the ceremony was drawing to a close, rain, which had for some time been threatening, began to fall, so that the crowd quickly dispersed, not without feeling of deep satisfaction at having taken part in an occasion so deeply interesting to all who have watched the progress of the Zulu war.
I have had an opportunity within the last few days of looking over a most interesting collection of copies of drawings of the Bushmen's caves in the Drakensberg mountains.  They are being taken to England by a Mr Hutchinson, a well known colonist and if published could not fail to attract very great interest.
 In many cases the drawing and colouring of animals, especially elands are admirably true to nature, while many drawing of a comic type are full of spirit and humour.  The fact still remains quite unexplained how a people so degraded as the Bushmen should be possessed of so strong an artistic instinct.
The most remarkable drawing is one which seems to represent a procession of black men in coats and trousers, followed by a white similarly dressed.  The characteristic thing about this particular drawing is that all the figures are represented with cloven hoofs instead of feet.
Lieut Scott on the right with his brothers
His brothers were in the party charged with the recovery on 21 May  1879
of the brave  soldiers killed on 22nd January 1879
The Tapestry of One Man.
So long ago - so many many years have passed
Misconceptions, and the accusations remained
Only the ignorant would make such a claim
Disproving has rewarded a well- deserved fame
A man of integrity and strength has been found
Recognition for the right reasons finally abound
The strength, caring, the will power, the courage
All woven into one man, my ancestor, my lineage
“Lieutenant Colonel Anthony William Durnford”
Written by Barbara  I. Rhodes aka Barbara I Dowdell.  
15th February 2015.
My gift to Kris Herron as a thank you for bringing
so much to light.


 "His keenness for military service was complemented by great  courage, energy and 
determination, qualities which made him universally respected as a soldier, he was in 
Sir Henry Bulwer's  words 

and another

Sir Henry Bulwer, Lieutenant-Governor of Natal, sketched a true picture of this man when he said:
'Colonel Durnford was a soldier of soldiers, with all his heart in
his profession; keen, active-minded, indefatigable, unsparing of himself, and utterly fearless, honourable, loyal, of great kindness and goodness of heart. I speak of him as I knew him, and as all who knew him will speak of him'.
"a soldier of soldiers..."  Those qualities were not unusual in British officers, but he possessed added attributes which made him a memorable character in Natal history..."

Sir Henry Ernest Gascoyne (Gascoigne) Bulwer, governor of Natal


There are of course others, he was impetuous, head strong, etc etc but when those words come out of the mouths of those who wish to lay blame, then are they credible?


"I can’t understand it, I left a thousand men here".     Lord Chelmsford returning to Isandlwana following the battle, 1879.

Not one word in respect to the courage shown by more than 1500 under his command but plenty of "I" statements.


During the Martini-Henry's service life the British army was involved in a large number of colonial wars, most notably the Anglo-Zulu War in 1879. The rifle was used in the Battle of Isandlwana, and by the company of the 2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment of Foot at the battle of Rorke's Drift, where 139 British soldiers successfully defended themselves against several thousand Zulus. The weapon was not completely phased out until 1904.

The rifle suffered from cartridge-extraction problems during the Zulu War, mostly due to the thin, weak, pliable foil brass cartridges used: they expanded too much into the rifle's chamber on detonation, to the point that they stuck or tore open inside the rifle's chamber. It would eventually become difficult to move the breech block and reload the rifle, substantially diminishing its effectiveness, or rendering it useless if the block could not be opened. After investigating the matter, the British Army Ordnance Department determined the fragile construction of the rolled brass cartridge, and fouling due to the black-powder propellant, were the main causes of this problem.


The family blog is ongoing and still a work in progress, including this series,
 and will end with our Australian relatives, who were involved in World War 1.
Unlike all the other stories Anthony's is a series of 20 or so posts 
the references for them are listed, they provide a chronological narrative of his life.
In the words of a French acquaintance, "History is meant to be shared", 
So are these narratives, but if being shared, for personal or educational use,
under current laws, reference needs to be made back to the blog site, 
and factual details must not changed in any way. 

 In no way can these details be reproduced for financial gain

.and the normal copyright rules apply

Any information of the story send an email 




While the information researched and sourced in this website has been formulated with all due care, the relatives of Montagu Durnford do not warrant or represent that the information

 is free from errors, omissions or that it is exhaustive.

The information is made available on the understanding that the relatives of Montagu Durnford and agents shall have no liability to the users for any loss, damage, cost or expense incurred by reason of any person using or relying on the information, whether caused by reason of any error, omission or misrepresentation in the information or otherwise.

Whilst the information is considered to be in line with research available at the date of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of it. The information may change without notice , as new information is available. Accordingly we are not in any way liable for the accuracy of any information printed and stored by the user.

We recognise that third parties contribute to some of the information, and therefore we take no responsibility for the accuracy, currency, reliability and correctness of any information included in the information provided by third parties, nor for the accuracy, currency, reliability and correctness of links and references to information sources.   


The Battle of Congella - South African Military History Society ...

But Col Anthony Durnford was not the first nor was he the last of our Durnford family to serve in Africa.

His Uncle Captain George Durnford arrived in South Africa as part of the 24th Foot.  They were based in Pieterzmaritzburg, and constructed a lot of infastructure in the town.  George was appointed the first magistrate in      Fort Durnford is named after him.

At the time of Langalibalele's birth, European settlements in Southern Africa were confined to Cape Colony and to Portuguese fortress of Louren├žo Marques.In 1824 Fynn established a small British settlement at Port Natal (later to become Durban) but the British Government declined to take possession of the port.

From 1834 onwards, the Voortrekkers (Dutch-speaking farmers) started to migrate from the Cape Colony in large numbers and in 1837 crossed the Drakensberg into KwaZulu-Natal where, after the murder of one of their leaders, Piet Retief, in the massacre at Weenen they defeated Shaka's successor Dingane at the Battle of Blood River, put Mpanda on the Zulu throne and established the republic of Natalia.

The 27th sailed from Cork to South Africa, arriving in Algoa Bay in August 1835. The light company and the grenadiers were redeployed to Cape Town leaving the rest of the regiment to relieve troops in the frontier areas. The 27th returned to the frontier in 1838.

She had arrived from Port Elizabeth and had brought a hundred soldiers, the grenadier company of the 27th Regiment under the command of Captain Durnford.

Before she had rounded the Bluff and had come in sight of Port Natal, the soldiers had been ordered to hide themselves in the hold while those remaining on deck had to appear in ordinary clothes, thus to delude the Boer authorities that the Conch was only an innocent trading vessel. The plot succeeded.

Shortly after the anchor was dropped a boat was seen to leave the shore

Captain in command of 27th Foot went to assist British garrison besieged by Dutch trekkboers Port Natal 1842.  They were boarded Conch in Algoa Bay under Capt William Bell and it took 2 weeks to reach Natal.

In May 1843, Colonel John Hare, Lieutenant-Governor of the Easter Districts, commanded one division of the 27th Regiment and two of the 91st on the Eastern Frontier.

In 1842 detachments of the 91st, 27th and Cape Mounted Rifles Regiments, together some artillery, were posted to Colesberg under the command of Colonel Hare. All but two companies under the command of Captain Campbell and a troop of Cape Mounted Riflemen were later withdrawn. In April 1845 this force, reinforced by the 7th Dragoon Guards and another detachment of Cape Riflemen, moved temporarily to Philippolis in the Orange Free State to intervene between belligerents. After this encounter, the troops were withdrawn, being replaced in Colesberg by the light company of the 45th Regiment.

The result of this conflict was the end of the Boer Republic of Natalia and the final annexation by Britain of Natal to the Cape Colony followed in 1844.

At the time a detachment of the regiment was also in Natal under the command of Brevet-Major Smith. They marched from Durban to Pietermaritzburg where they were involved in the construction of Fort Napier.

 Friction between the Voortrekkers and the Pondo, a tribe whose territory lay between Natalia and the Cape Colony led to the British occupying Port Natal, the subsequent Battle of Congella followed by the siege and relief of the port. After the port had been relieved, the Voortrekkers withdrew from KwaZulu-Natal into the interior and the British established the Colony of Natal.

Lieutenant Gibb began construction work at Fort Napier on 1 September 1843, the day after
the troops arrived. Barracks were traced out in the shape of a square to provide 
accommodation for 200 troops from the 45th Regiment, the men of the Royal Artillery, 
the cavalrymen of the Cape Mounted Rifles and their supporting storemen, cooks, 
farriers and stable hands. 

Stone emplacements at opposite ends of the square were constructed first, but work was 

delayed by heavy rains. The troops had to live in tents for months on end while the 
officers occupied houses nearby in Loop and Longmarket Streets.

Loop Street 1879

Longmarket Street

By July 1845 the brick barracks had been completed.The outer walls were loopholed 

and windowless , while the inner walls that faced the square had windows. On the
eastern and western corners were redoubts, mounting three guns on revolving platforms
which completely commanded the town. The headquarters of the 45th Regiment moved from 
Cape Town to Pietermaritzburg during 1845 and the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant
Colonel Boys, was appointed commandant of Natal and a member of the Executive Council, andinstructed to act as head of the Government in the absence of Lieutenant Governor 
Martin West.

The garrison at Fort Napier played a critical role in
changing Pietermaritzburg from a Voortrekker dorp to a firmlyAnglophile Victorian colonial capital. Many of the cultural and social amenities were started by the officers while 
the other ranks laboured to build a new city. 

The Government School, used in 1856 for the first meeting of the Legislative Council, was

built by two soldiers of the garrison, McKeaney and Murphy. The men of the 45th Regiment, 
the Royal Engineers, the Royal Artillery and the Cape Mounted Rifles improved and built 
Pietermaritzburg's water furrows, roads, offices and private houses.

The Durban detachment of the 45th Regiment built the 45th Cutting which remained the 

western entrance to the port city for well over a century. The 45th Regiment left 
Pietermaritzburg in 1859, but many of the men who completed their period of military 
service during the Regiment's fifteen-year stay elected to remain in the City as colonists.

One such veteran, Thomas Greene, who had arrived in 1843, described the 45th Regiment 

as the 'real pioneers' of the Colony. Although poorly clothed and fed they were 'ready and willing' to do 'every work that came their way'.

Hence, the 27th Regiment laid the foundations of the British colony in Natal. Indeed, they provided its first Magistrate, Capt Durnford, and many years afterwards supplied the Governor, Col MacLean. In 1843 two companies of the 45th and one of the 27th Regiment of Foot pitched camp on Maritzburg Hill, naming the hill Fort Napier after Sir George Napier, the Governor of the Cape. At the beginning of 1845 the detachment from the 27th rejoined the remainder of the regiment at Fort Peddie on the Eastern frontier of the Cape. A soldier of the 45th has supplied some interesting reminiscences of this time and mentions that the Grenadier Company of the 27th was 'the finest in the army, the tallest man being 'Long Hines' who stood 6 feet 8 inches, whilst the shortest was 6 foot.'

The Mtonjaneni Zulu Historical Museum is situated on the misty heights of the Mtonjaneni Hills, next to the Mtonjaneni Lodge, about twenty kilometres north of Melmoth. The museum houses an expansive collection consisting of over 2,500 artifacts and momentous from the Anglo-Zulu War, as well as an impressive collection of items from Zulu culture and Africana, making it the largest private Zulu museum in the world.

On the 9th of October, 1856, the regiment lost Brevet-Lieutenant-Colonel G. A. Durnford, who died at Simla when on leave, and who was deeply regretted by all ranks, having been thirty-one years and nine months in the corps. 


Port Durnford was named after Midshipman Edward Phillip Durnford our 2nd great grand uncle.
He died in 1824, onboard the ship Levin, and Captain Owen named some sites after him.

Whether Captain Owen named the Port or the officials did, that I am unable to answer.


There were two other members of the Durnford extended family who served in the Zulu Wars.

Entering Zululand at Bemba's Kop

Commanded by Colonel Evelyn Wood VC
11th Battery, 7th Brigade RGA (less one section) Four 7-pounders and 2 Rocket troughs
1st Battalion 13th Prince Albert's Light Infantry
90th Light Infantry
Frontier Light Horse (4 Troops) Lieut-Col Redvers Buller
Baker's Horse (2 Troops) Capt W G Parminter
Boer Burghers (1 Troop) Piet Uys
2 Battalions, Wood's Irregulars (friendly Zulus)                    

H Durnford 1st Battalion 13th Prince Albert's Light Infantry South Africa 1877-1879  

The 1st Battalion saw active service in South Africa, fighting in the Ninth Xhosa War of 1878 and Anglo-Zulu War of 1879
H Durnford
Campaign or Service: South Africa
Service Date: 1877-1879
Service Location: South Africa
Regiment or Unit Name: 1st Battalion 13th Prince Albert's Light Infantry
Regimental Number: 36/1461


James Durnford 99th Duke of Edinburgh's Regiment South Africa 1877-1879  

No.1 Column

Entering Zululand at the Lower Drift
Commanded by Colonel C K Pearson                                        

Naval Brigade (including Royal Marines) Two 7-pounders, two rocket tubes and a Gatling gun.
One section, 11th Battery, 7th Brigade Royal Garrison Artillery. (Two 7-pounders and one rocket trough)
2nd Field Company, Royal Engineers
2nd Battalion, 3rd (East Kent) Regiment (The Buffs)
99th (Duke of Edinburgh's) Regiment
One Troop Imperial Mounted Infantry (24th)
One Troop Natal Hussars. Captain Philip Norton
One Troop Durban Mounted Rifles. Captain William Shepstone
One Troop Alexandra Mounted Rifles. Captain W T Arbuthnot
One Troop Stanger and Victoria Mounted Rifles. Captain Charles Saner
(each Troop 40-50 strong) 

1879  The First Zulu Wars  and The Final Years

After serving in Ireland the 99th returned to South Africa in 1879 to take part in the Zulu war. The Battalion landed at Durban in January, 900 strong.   Leaving two companies to garrison Durban and Stanger, the Regiment concentrated with the 1st Division on the Lower Tugela River at the Southern end of Zululand.   Lord Chelmsford then invaded with three columns, his objective being the Royal Kraal at Ulundi.   

Severe fighting followed, with the British better armed but outnumbered by 40,000 warriors of splendid physique, courage and discipline.   The centre column under Lord Chelmsford was severely defeated on 22nd January at Isandhlwana and a detachment hard pressed in the defence of Rorke’s Drift.   The left column with Colonel Evelyn Wood had to go on the defensive after the disaster in the centre, in case of a Zulu invasion of Natal.

Colonel Pearson on the right advanced with his column on Ekowe, a mission station about thirty-five miles North of the Lower Tugela.   With him were Lieutenant Colonel Welman and two companies of the 99th, who acted as Advanced Guard as they crossed the Inyoni River on 19 January.   

Three days later the Buffs heavily defeated a Zulu force on the Inyezane River, the 99th Detachment protecting the transport, and the column reached Ekowe after beating off an early morning attack, and started building a fort and other defences.   

Colonel Pearson sent some of his force to Natal on the threat of Zulu invasion and his remaining 1,300 men now invested in Ekowe by a Zulu Army, who made no direct assault but prevented any access to the Garrison.   The 99th’s Detachment were 400 strong and engaged in outpost duty, raids on Zulu Kraals for food, and skirmishes

After the disaster of Isandhlwana reinforcements poured out from England, and Lord Chelmsford collected 6,000 men, including the remainder of the 99th.   In the middle of March communications with Ekowe was established by heliograph.  On 02 April a 10,000 Zulu assault was repulsed mainly due to the casualties caused by rifle and gatling fire.   In July, Lord Chelmsford defeated nearly 15,000 Zulus near Ulundi, the 99th engaged on Garrison and escort duties.

Isandlhwana  Poem This won a prize 1880

The morning sun shone peacefully and bright                                                     
Bathing Tugela' stream in silver light
no harsher sound awoke the woodland dell
Than scream of painted parrot or the yell
Of some fierce panther as it solved its prey:
The grassy plain with perfumed flowers gay
Waved in unbroken surface, save where white
The scattered tents gleamed in the morning light
And slowly curling wreaths of smoke betrayed
Where for their meal rude preparations made
Our hardy soldiery, who oft were seen
Mingling their scarlet with the waving green;
While lowing cattle, and the charger's neigh
Greeted harmoniously the opening day;
And ever and anon the bugle shrill
Awoke the echoes of the neighbouring hill.
But hark, a new, a fear inspiring sound
Comes surging o'er the undulating ground
The clash of arms and the appalling cry
Of savage battle-song now rising high
Now heard but fitfully. Where thinly stand
The trees, see yonder moves a dusky band
From glade and avenue in stern array
The savage foe prepares him for the fray;
As where a good bursting its utmost bound
Serenades havoc o'er the cultivated ground.
So from an anthill, an intruder near
Rush angry myriads darkly forth, and peer
Twixt every blade and leaflet near and far
Bent fiercely on an unrelenting war;
Woe to the rash aggressor; the fierce ring
Horns in the intruder and with busy sting
Inflicts a hundred deaths whilst rage and spite
Add newer horrors to the unequal fight
So now with vengeance fired on either flank
To death or victory, the foremost rank
Of that dark host advances, swift and bold;
A living crescent stretches o'er the weld
As where the moon assumes her newest form
And with dark horns forebodes the coming storm;
And not less brilliant than her silver rays,
Gleamed then bright spears and burnished assegais.
Like Islam's symbol on a field of green
In silver wrought, their glittering ranks were seen
Whene'er the sun his radiant orb displayed;
But dark and sombre when a cloud-born shade
O'erspread the' unblemished blue of Africa's sky
Fit emblem of their purpose, stern and high.
See now, the outposts breathless hastening back.
Retiring 'neath the warriors fierce attack,
Startle that fond and unsuspecting band,
"To arms; To arms' The foeman is at hand"
Lo armed warriors start from every brake,
And save ....answering volleys wake;
Our scanty troop hemmed in on every side
perhaps yet wondering, see the living tide
Of sable warriors, far as eye can reach.
Like ocean beating on a rock-bound beach.
Firm as the cliff's they stand.  Yet ocean's shock

With conscious bound, splinters the solid rock;
The solid rock wages unequal fight,
nod now with myriad foes the fated white
Steel clashes steel.  The spear shaft shattered dies
And war's dread clamour shakes the echoing skies
A thousand rifles volley, and more rare
Deep booms the red artillery and where
The fight is thickest, and the bravest fall.
The shout of triumph mingles with the call
The vanquished call for mercy here unknown.
And the live turf with dead is thickly strewn
Equal the valour of each struggling band
These fight for life, those for their native land.
Let us be just.  What through our sympathy
Be strong for hapless friends condemned to die
Valiant and true.  Yet give the foe his mead;
Faithful and fearless he too dares to bleed
For rights invade and is deadly fray
Rocks nothing of the life he casts away.
What thought his savage warfare chills our heart.
Remember we that he but acts the part
Taught him by use and nature; in the strife
To spare no foe, to leave no spark of life.
Faith bids him, wanton in the thrust of gore
And mangle when resistance is no more
Yet e'en while reason stirs reflection's vein
Emotion wakes the memory of our slain
We think of mutilated friends and feel
Wrath cry aloud for the avenging steel.
Seems not enough, that each heroic life
Down stricken by the foe's remorseless knife.
Five times avenged itself before it passed
By countless odds born down to earth at last.
Turn, we away from yonder slaughter foul.
Lest lust of vengeance creeping o'er the soul
Spoilt it of all its holier thoughts, and leave
Nought but its baser sterner part to grieve.
Mourn we our heroes dead, our sullied fame.
Yet not forget the greater nobler name
of Christian, and our mission to increase
God's kingdom by the silent away of peace.
Be ours the hard, yet honoured part to ask
That they, to whom is given the dreadful task
OF righting wrong, of rescuing from the steel
Our distant countryman may learn to feel
That mercy triumphs over wrath and power
Seeks justice and not conquest in the hour.
The dread and solemn hour of victory
When at our feet the vanquished foe shall lie.
Honour the valiant dead; "tis had to tell
Who did the noblest deed when all did well.
Yet some will envy if the Muse should name
Melville and Coghill in the roll of fame.
Who rode their chargers thro' the midmost strife.
Deeming their colours dearer than their life.
Through the fierce foe their gallant steeds they urge,
Tugela rolls before them.  In the surge,
Fearless they plunge.  Behind, the maddened crowd;
Around the foaming current, strangely loud.
Spurs them to fiercer efforts. Spent with blows,
Anon they sank yet once again they rose,
Ah! gallant youths, your noble lives are sped;
But not in vain you dyed and nobly bled
To save the emblem of untarnished fame
And win yourselves an ever-honoured name.
Yet not less noble they who nameless died
And lie unburied on Tugela's side;
Nobly they fought, nor any turned to fly,
Fearless in war they saw their comrades die.
The day wore on and louder rose the din,
The scarlet line grows gradually thin,
As on the hearthstone fall'n a heated coal
No longer glows nor glimmers; yet the whole
Is not all dark, for brilliant speckle of red
Flash her and there and o'ver the embers spread,
Tracing a line of light and then expire
Till nought relieves the darkness, and the fire
Has sunk to rise no more, and gloom again
O'er the whole ember re-asserts its reign,
So seemed the battle.  There our scarlet line,
Mid circling gloom does scintillating shine
Still the dark team flows on. The right specks die,
A murky ocean stretches far and nigh.
Save where a dark dyed patch of gory red
Lies sole memorial of the gallant dead.
Now sinks the setting sun, and over all
Descending night extends a shrouding pall

R.R. Redmayne

No comments:

Post a Comment