Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Was Your Ancestor at Rorke's Drift 1879?

The Defence of Rorke's Drift by Alphonse de Neuville

The list below was compiled from the following sources:

1. Lieutenant Chard's list (at the Museum of the Royal Regiment of Wales, Brecon).
2. Colour Sergeant Bourne's list (also at the Museum of the Royal Regiment of Wales, Brecon).
3. Bourne's amended list.
4. Major Dunbar's list of January 1880.


1st Battalion, 24th Foot
Sergeant Wilson; Privates Beckett, Desmond, Horrigan, Jenkins, Nicholas, Parry, Payton, Roy, Turner, Waters.

'A' Company, 2nd Battalion, 24th Foot
Drummer Meehan; Privates Lyons, Manley, Scanlon, Sears.

'B' Company, 2nd Battalion, 24th Foot
Lt. Bromhead; Colour Sergeant Bourne; Sergeants Gallagher, Smith, Windridge; Lance Sergeant Thomas; Corporals Allen, French, Key, Lyons, Saxty; Lance Corporals Bessell, Halley; Drummers Hayes, Keefe; Privates Ashton, Barry, Bennett, Bly, Bromwich, Buckley, Burke, Bushe, Caine, Camp, Chester, Clayton, Cole, Collins, Connors, Timothy Connors, Davies, Davis, Daw, Deacon, Deane, Dick, Dicks, Driscoll, Dunbar, Edwards, Fagan, Gee, Hagan, Harris, Hitch, Hook, Jobbins, Evan Jones, John Jones (970), John Jones (1179), Robert Jones, William Jones, Judge, Kears, Kiley, Lewis, Lines, Lloyd, Lockhart, Lodge, Lynch, Marshall, Martin, Mason, Mireham, Moffatt, Augustus Morris, Frederick Morris, Morrison, Murphy, Neville, Norris, Osborne, Parry, Pitt, Robinson, Ruck, Savage, Shearman, Shergold, Smith, Stevens, Tasker, Frederick Taylor, Thomas Taylor, Thomas, Thompson, Michael Tobin, Patrick Tobin, Todd, Tongue, Wall, Whetton, Wilcox, John Williams, Joseph Williams, John Williams, Thomas Williams, Caleb Wood.

'D' Company, 2nd Battalion, 24th Foot
Drummer Galgey;
Privates Adams, Chick, Haydon.

'E' Company, 2nd Battalion, 24th Foot
Lance Sergeant Taylor;
Private (934) John Williams.

'G' Company, 2nd Battalion, 24th Foot
Sergeant Maxfield;
Privates Conolly, Partridge.

'H' Company, 2nd Battalion, 24th Foot
Private Evans
General Staff
Colour Sergeant Mabin.

'N' Battery, 5th Brigade, Royal Artillery
Bombadier Lewis; Gunners Evans, Cantwell, Howard.

Royal Engineers
Lieutenant Chard; Driver Robson.

2nd Battalion, 3rd Foot
Sergeant F.A. Millne.

90th Perthshire Volunteers
Corporal Graham.

Commissariat and Transport Dept.
Acting Commissariat Walter Dunne;
Assistant Acting Commissariat
James Langley Dalton;
Acting Store Keeper, Louis Byrne.

Army Service Corps
Second Corporal F. Attwood.

Medical Staff Corps
Surgeon James Reynolds,
Mr William Pearse.

Hospital Corps
Corporat Rowland Miller;
Privates Luddington, McMahon.

Natal Mounted Police
Troopers Green, Lugg and Hunter.

1st Battalion, 3rd Natal Native Contingent
Lieutenant Adendorff; Corporals Anderson, Doughty, Mayer, Scammell, Schiess, Wilson; Private Umkungu.

Rev. George Smith
Daniells (Ferryman)
Unnamed servant to the Revd. Smith.


Killed in action:
1861 Private William Horrigan
1st Battalion, 24th Foot
841 Private James Jenkins
1st Battalion, 24th Foor
625 Private Edward Nicholas
1st Battalion, 24th Foot
623 Sgt. Robert Mayfield
'G' Company, 2nd Battalion, 24th Foot
987 Private Robert Adams
'D' Company, 2nd Battalion, 24th Foot
1335 Private James Chick
'D' Company, 2nd Battalion, 24th Foot
969 Private John Fagan
'B' Company, 2nd Battalion, 24th Foot
1769 Private Garret Hayden
'D' Company, 2nd Battalion, 24th Foot
1051 Private John Scanlon
'A' company, 2nd Battalion, 24th Foot
1398 Private Joseph Williams
'B' Company, 2nd Battalion, 24th Foot
801 Private Thomas Cole
'B' Company, 2nd Battalion, 24th Foot
Louis Alexander Byrne, Assistant Storekeeper
Trooper Sydney Hunter,
Natal Mounted Police
Corporal Michael Anderson, 2nd Battalion,
3rd Natal Native Contingent
Private Umkungu, 1st Battalion 3rd Natal Native Contingent.

Died of wounds
135 Private William Beckett,
1st Battalion, 24th Foot.
1328 L/Sgt. Thomas Williams,
2nd Battalion, 24th Foot.

Wounded in Action:
568 Private Desmond.
447 Private Waters,
1240 Corporal Allen,
1112 Corporal Lyons,
1362 Private Hitch,
1812 Private Tasker,
James Langley Dalton,
Corporal Scannel,
Corporal Schiess,
1373 Private Hook,
Drummer Keefe.


Victoria Cross
Eleven defenders won the Victoria Cross -- the highest number ever awarded for a single action.
Lieutenants Chard, Bromhead; Corporal Allen; Privates Hitch, Hook; R. Jones, W. Jones, J. Williams, Surgeons Reynolds, James Langley Dalton, Corporal Schiess.

Distinguished Conduct Medal
Colour Sergeant F. Bourne; Privates W. Ray; Gunner J. Cantwell; Second Corporal F. Attwood; Private M. McMahon (awarded 15th January 1880 but cancelled as he was later found guilty of theft and being absent without leave on 19th January 1880).

The defenders of Rorke's Drift: 
B Company 2/24th Warwickshire Regiment

Graham Mason, AZW Researcher, who compiled this list from the sources given above.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Spot the mistakes in this shot from the film ZULU

A tense moment during the battle of Rorke's Drift
as portrayed in the film Zulu

The actors seen in the photo, L to R, are Nigel GREENE (with mutton-chop whiskers), Glynne EDWARDS (slumped figure centre) and David KERNAN (lying back against the bags).

Nigel GREENE (who appeared with Michael CAINE - also starring in this film - in 'The Ipcress File') is portraying Frank BOURNE. The actor is clearly much older than BOURNE would have been at the time. Frank Bourne was 5 feet 4 inches tall - played by Nigel Greene who was 6 feet 2 inches. Nigel Greene is showing wearing 3 white chevrons (on the left arm i.e. the 'wrong' arm) which indicates the rank of a Lance Sgt, something Bourne never was. Bourne, despite his age (23) was a C/Sgt and would have worn, on his right arm, three gold chevrons with crossed colours surmounted by a crown (in Full Dress Uniform) and in undress uniform no crossed flags but three gold stripes surmounted by a crown.

The medals worn by Nigel Greene, as seen in this photograph, are the King George V Coronation medal of 1912 and the Ashanti War Medal of 1896-7 - obviously, neither of these medals had been struck in 1879.

Glynne EDWARDS (who appeared as the barman at the Winchester Club in the TV series "Minder") is portraying Cpl ALLEN. The actor in 'Zulu' was about twice the height of Cpl ALLEN, a small feisty Geordie from Newcastle, not a Londoner as played by EDWARDS.

David KERNAN (a singer in the BBC show The Black and White Minstrels) is portraying Fred HITCH. No wound is visible, yet HITCH was shot in the right shoulder - 39 pieces of his scapula were later removed.

The tunics as seen here are in pristine order without a blemish after 9 months in the field.

The pith helmets are white - in service conditions these would have been stained with tea or mud to present a less easy target in the surrounding terrain.

The Shako plates -i.e. the badge on the front of the pith helmets - have not been removed from the helmets (as they would have been to prevent their glinting in the sun and presenting a target for the enemy).

The white webbing at the front of the uniforms is shown as straight rather than crossed in the front, as it should have been.

The unit badge (24th Regt) is not shown on the shoulder tabs.

The rifles are right - though for the film they were probably fibreglass copies of those used in 1879. The film itself (made in 1964) contains some glaring errors, a few are listed below:

Cpl Allen is shown as wearing chevrons on the wrong arm, and worse, wearing a post-1881 Silver sphinx on his collar; this should have been of brass.

In the film, BOURNE is asked by a hospital patient wearing a leather neck brace: "What's that shooting C/Sgt?" Reply: "A rifle, Hughes." Strange, since there was no person called HUGHES at Rorke's Drift.

Natives friendly to the British are not shown in the film wearing the Red Puggaree on their foreheads as would have been the case on January 22 1879. This is noticeable in the scene where they are pushing ponts on the river.

Pte HOOK is shown as a hospital patient: incorrect, he was the company cook and HITCH was the tea-maker.

In the sequence showing BROMHEAD about to shoot an animal this was a cheetah, but when we see the "dead" animal it becomes a leopard.

CHARD's helmet badge is of the Royal Monmouthshire Volunteer Engineers and silver - this should be a Royal Engineers badge and in gilt, as worn by officers.

It was Sgt MILNE (3rd East Kent Regiment, the "Buffs") that tied the ponts up midstream, not Cpl ALLEN and he did not kick Fred HITCH into the trickle of a stream which should have been the Buffalo River in full spate.

In the opening sequence of the film, CHARD is shown wearing a post-1881 full dress tunic, his collar should be decorated with a crown and not a flaming grenade, indicating he is a lieutenant. In 1879 his rank would have been shown on his collar but he is wearing it on his epaulette, his white cross belt is of Royal Artillery pattern. A Royal Engineer would wear a black cross belt with gold edging and gold centre zigzagging. Most likely, though, he would have been wearing a blue patrol jacket.

In 'Zulu', actor Ivor EMMANUEL says to Stanley BAKER: "every Welsh regiment has a choir." In 1879 the 24th Foot were the 2nd Warwickshire Regiment, an English Regiment. It is a commonly-found error to refer to the regiment as the South Wales Borderers, which in 1879, they were not.

Graham Mason, AZW Researcher

Monday, October 20, 2014

Passengers to Natal per Dreadnought 1849: a Byrne Settler ship

Natal Witness 2 November 1849

The Dreadnought, 377 tons, under Captain Bidder, took a somewhat circuitous route to Port Natal, as the captain lost his bearings on more than one occasion. This isn't as impossible as one might imagine. Later steamers ploughed a straight furrow across the seas. Navigation in the days of sail could be very hit and miss and if weather was bad "dead reckoning" had to be relied on, plotting compass bearings, prevailing current and the vessel's speed. So the position of the ship after storms or cloudy skies could bear little relation to that plotted on the chart. Gales could spring up and blow the ship off course, and being becalmed was another hazard. Sometimes, much tacking had to be done back and forth without gaining many sea miles. Dreadnought was an old ship, and not in the best condition. She left London on 17 August 1849 and arrived at Natal on 2 November, having run out of drinking water supplies.

One of her passengers was destined to be closely involved in the development of the port: John MILNE, a widower travelling with his daughter, Jessie. Milne, a Scottish engineer, had worked for John Rennie (who built Plymouth breakwater) and on harbours such as Leith. This experience would stand him in good stead when fighting the Battle of the Bar at Natal.

The VINNICOMBE family also arrived on this ship, bringing with them an assortment of musical instruments: George Vinnicombe was to build the first pipe-organ in the colony. His brother, Valentine, coming out to join the family later, was among those shipwrecked on the Minerva.


Nov 2nd - Dreadnought, bark, 338 tons, Capt. G Bidder, from London, with 114 passengers. Left the Downs 17th August. 
Nov 4th - The Rosebud crossed the bar.

Oct 30th - Lalla Rookh, brig, Henderson, with cattle to Mauritius.

Outer Anchorage 
Henry Tanner, bark, for Mauritius. GC Cato, Agent.
Dreadnought, ditto.

Gem, for Cape Town. H Jargal, Agent.
John Gibson, for Mauritius, to sail in a few days. GC Cato, Agent.
Rosebud, for Cape Town.

Archimedes, from Port Elizabeth.
Douglas, from Cape Town.
Aliwal, from London.


Dr Taylor and family 
Mr Inchstone and family 
Mr and Mrs Dawson 

Intermediate and Steerage: 
Thomas Hudson 
G Vinnicombe and family 
Robert Humphry and family 
DJ Price and family 
R Smith 
Edward Goodwin and family 
T Hind 
E Tomlinson and family 
G Tomlinson and wife 
R Whitehorn and wife 
J Robson 
H Vertue 
P Vertue 
WH Roberts 
J Puttarill and family 
J Jacob and wife 
F Jacob and family 
F Corbit and family 
R Harwen 
EC Whitworth 
W Whiting and family 
G Waddelove 
WH Fenton 
Alfred Hubbard 
William Smith and wife 
John May and wife 
John Dykes 
T Hannah 
F Stott 
RL Brooke 
Jabez South 
W Hill 
C Wakelin 
J Harrison 
D Paterson 
J Paterson 
F Ashford and wife 
John Rogers 
J Blackwood and wife 
J Crowder and family 
Isabella Masterman 
John Bull 
E Campbell and wife 
WA Emerson and wife 
WF Baths 
E McFarlan 
SV Phillips and wife 
C Florey and family 
R McLachlan 
T McLachlan 
John Eagle and family 
Isaac Adams and family 
FW Good 
J Milne and family 
Walter McFarlan 
J McLauchlan 

In all 65 males, 27 females, 22 children. Total 114 Persons.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Tracing a Military Man 2

Finlay Gibson is at various dates during his career at the explosives factory described as ‘searcher’, ‘cartridge foreman’ and ‘gatekeeper’. A remarkable photograph shows the very gate where Finlay would have been positioned as gatekeeper. 

The loading gates at the Nobel Factory in Ardeer circa 1900. 
The employees are all wearing Tam O’Shanters except of course for the foreman with his bowler hat. North Ayrshire Council photo collection/

Fascinating as I found his years at Nobel’s, the mystery was what he had been up to before that. How had Finlay had ended up in an obscure spot in Ayrshire, because his death certificate revealed he had been born in England. Several vital details were provided by this record. These in turn led to finding that long before his Stevenston phase he had been in the British Army. 

Born in the parish of St George’s East, in the district known as Borough, London, in 1841 to William Gibson and Ann Morgan Jenkins, Finlay was a parasol maker by trade. He had at least two siblings, Margaret and William jnr. 

How long Finlay practised his civilian occupation is not known, but the proceeds from parasol making were probably limited. For hundreds of young men in Victorian England, the army provided a reasonable alternative to poor living conditions in civvy street. William Gibson snr. was a soldier, and in due course both his sons would march in his footsteps, though neither very willingly - particularly the younger - judging from their army documents.

William jnr, joined, as Private No. 1265, the 2nd battalion of the 4th Regiment of Foot (the Buffs).  He would turn out to be, so to speak, a loose cannon. More about William and his colourful career in due course.

Finlay Gibson's Army Discharge papers
 give his civilian occupation  as
parasol maker

To be continued
Finlay went into the Army Service Corps, 15th Hussars, as Private No. 448, and served in colonial wars in India and Afghanistan. On 22 June 1880, he was discharged at the age of 39. His army records describe him as 5’6” tall, hair grey and eyes brown. 

From service records it was possible to build up a fairly comprehensive picture of Finlay’s career. There were clues as to his later life when his army days were over. 

These together with Census records offered a wealth of information as well as a welcome explanation of Finlay’s popping up so unexpectedly in a small Ayrshire town by 1881, as he entered his forties. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Souvenir Saturday: Pietermaritzburg postcart 1880s

Postcart outside Pietermaritzburg Town Hall, ca 1880s.
An interesting variety of headgear in this picture.
[KZN Museum NAM0010_014F.tif]

For an excellent article on postcarts and postal services in Natal see

Friday, October 17, 2014

Poppies at the Tower of London: a World War I tribute

The Tower of London's Moat is Bleeding ...

Marking 100 years since the Brits’ involvement in the First World War, Cummins was commissioned to create a moving, yet beautiful installation in tribute.

Passenger list Natal: Conquering Hero 1850 a Byrne Settler ship

Natal Witness 5 July 1850

The Conquering Hero, 320 tons, Captain Cockburn, sailed from Glasgow and carried mostly Scottish settlers, arriving at Natal after a 90 day voyage, on 28 June 1850. Her passengers, like those of the Henrietta, were eye-witnesses of the Minerva disaster which could have done nothing for their confidence, especially as the Conquering Hero temporarily lost her moorings during a north-easterly. This bad start was compounded by the failure of Moreland, Byrne's Emigration Agent, to show them personally their allotments at Richmond, as planned.

William CAMPBELL was a passenger by this ship, also the JOYNER family, the SPEIRS family, John and William PEDDIE, William MCKENZIE, later the first schoolmaster at Richmond.

Per ship Conquering Hero, from Glasgow the 25th March; arrived at Port Natal 28th June, after a favourable passage:

William Joyner 
Mundo M Joyner 
Natal Witness 5 July 1850

Amelia Joyner 
James Joyner 
Ann Joyner 
Jessie Joyner 
John Craig 
William Craig 
John Simpson 
John Dallas 
Robert Spiers (or Speirs) 
Jane Spiers 
Agnes Spiers 
Charles Spiers 
Robert Spiers 
Alexander Spiers 
James Mason 
William Robertson 
Mrs Robertson 
James Lindsay 
Catherine Lindsay 
Roderick McLeod 
Henry Newlands 
William Newlands 
Hugh Livingstone 
Mary Ann Campbell 
William Arbuckle 
Margaret Arbuckle 
Janet Arbuckle 
William Arbuckle 
Helen O Arbuckle 
Mary Stewart 
Charles Fraser 
Henry Johnstone 
James Christie 
Neil McWilliam 
Ann McGown Sharp 
John Kilgour 
Grenville Pierce 
JR Gildart 
H Fulton 
James Cormie 
Jean Cormie 
Robert Cormie 
Peter Cormie 
John McPherson 
Robert McPherson 
PH McPherson 
Alexander McPherson 
John F McPherson 
C and William Peddie 
Thomas McWilliam 
Mary McWilliam 
Christian McWilliam 
Hugh Woods 
Archibald Russell 
Robert Aitken 
M Bates or Aitkew 
Andrew Aitkew 
John Aitkew 
James Aitkew 
George Aitkew 
Samuel Strapp 
A Russell or Strapp 
Wm Strapp 
Ann Strapp 
Mary Ann Strapp 
William Campbell 
Jessie Campbell 
Marshall Campbell 
Gavin Pettigrew 
John Killock 
Roderick Campbell 
Alexander McNab 
William Anderson 
William Dow 
Margaret Dow 
Jane Blair, or Dow 
Helen Dow 
Andrew Stevens 
Thomas McWilliams 
J Simpson 
James Mcland 
Margaret McDonald 
Margaret Young 
James Mitchell 
Mary Miller 
Walter Archibald 
Agnes H Archibald 
John Coats 
Thomas McDonald 
Sarah McDonald 
R McDonald 
W McKenzie 
Jane McKenzie 
Elizabeth McKenzie 
Robert McKenzie 
Kid Millory 
P McLachlan 
H Caldwell 
Isabella Caldwell 
Marion Caldwell 
Mary Caldwell 
Jessie Caldwell 
Henry Caldwell 
John Luke Thompson 
Alexander Pattison 
A McArthur 
A and J McLean 
James Willan 
Thomas Beveridge 
RM Gibson 
Agnes Campbell


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Passengers to Natal per Flora 1846

December 9 1846 - Arrival of Flora from Table Bay, bound for Port Natal
Major and Mrs Cooper and Servant
Lieut Burrel
Mr and Miss Burrows
2 Van Zyl
12 Men 45th Regiment
1 Steerage Passenger

November 1846 - Arrival of Apprentice bound for Port Natal

[This early - for Natal - passenger lists demonstrates how military arrivals are limited to the number of ordinary soldiers i.e. rank and file, though officers may sometimes be named. You can lose a lot of ancestors that way. Also that steerage passengers - whatever their race, colour or creed - were usually not named; neither were 'servants'. This particular  passenger list is taken from one of the original handwritten registers, not from a local newspaper shipping column. Neither source is ever 100% reliable.]

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Passengers to Natal per African 1889

Natal Witness Arrivals
13 Oct 1889 Crown of Arragon, from China, via Mauritius. Cargo, tea (in quarantine).
W. Dunn and Co., agents.

14 Oct, African, U.S.S., of Southampton 1373 tons, Smyth, from Cape ports, with mails and passengers ex Mexican from England (Sept 10). Cargo general.

From England:

Payne F.R.G.S.
Miss Grice
Miss Carpenter
Mrs Master and Miss Kehrmann
Miss Carpenter's maid
Misses Lello
Mr and Mrs Pascoe

From Cape Town:

JH Clinton

From Mossel Bay:

Mr Sheard
Miss Van Krekerk
Miss Rienecke

From Algoa Bay:


From East London:

one native
H.J. Watts, agent

14 Oct Norseman, from Soderhamn (17 June)

W. Dunn and Co., agents.

14 Oct Henrick from Hamburg (23 June)

14 Oct Pasteur, of Arendal, 420 tons, Lyderass from Sundsvall (3 July)

Parker, Wood and Co., agents.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Passenger lists Natal: Grantully Castle 1889

Grantully Castle arrival and departure
Natal Witness 16 October 1889
Shipping Intelligence
Oct 11, Grantully Castle, C.S.S. of London 1434 tons, Young, from England (13 Sept) and Cape ports. Cargo, general.
Passengers for Natal:
From London:

Messrs: Thomas
W and A Ross
Capt Morrish
Mr and Mrs Mason
Mr Kerwin
Miss Obree
Major Warton
Mr and Mrs Badock and child
Mr and Mrs Slaughter and three children
Mrs and Misses (2) Davey
L and J Davey

From Cape Town:

Mr, Mrs and Miss De Waal

From Algoa Bay:

Mrs Rutherford, child and nurse
Mr and Mrs Edwards and child
two Indians
one native

From East London:

Mr Hunter
Mrs Schuller
Messrs Witney

W.F. Allan, agent.