Durnford: From Chatham to Isandlwana

Anthony William Durnford and the mysteries following his death

Kristine Herron

Col Anthony Durnford's life from a family and military perspective, including previously unknown transcriptions of evidence collected in 1886.
Publication date:
August 2019
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Series :
From Musket to Maxim, 1815-1914
Illustration :
28 photos, 12 maps, 8 ills
Format Available     Quantity Price
ISBN : 9781912866441

Dimensions : 234 X 156 mm


It has been 140 years since the Battle of Isandhlwana, on 22nd January 1879, during an eclipse of the sun, when up to 20,000 Zulu Warriors, attacked Regiments of Queen Victoria's Army, killing them all. A career soldier with the Royal Engineers, Colonel Anthony William Durnford was blamed for the disaster by General Chelmsford.

Little has been written of the events peculiar to him, in a family perspective.

Anthony Durnford had two families, his ancestral one, and his military one. Both had one thing in common, to prove that he did "follow orders". His brother investigated, and in 1882, published his findings. The Royal Engineers also investigated and amassed a huge file of evidence, never before seen by the public.

The Royal Engineers Evidence file, comprising over 300 pages of fact, has lain hidden from public view, in the drawers of the Royal Engineers Library since 1932. It rebukes much "confirmation bias" of currently held perceptions.

This file has been fully transcribed, placed in logical context, and additional research included from the Royal Archives, the National Army Museum and archives in South Africa.

It takes family to understand their ancestor's characteristics, strengths, weaknesses, qualities, traits and behaviours. His brother was to reveal all in 1886, but didn't. This is an extension of Colonel Edward Durnford's story.

It could perhaps be described as a Military Mystery, created as a result of Genealogical research and Military History colliding. A story which would not be told, had it been for a series of "mistakes".