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DateOriginal Topic
4th January 2005Col. A.W. Durnford, R.E. statue
By Coll
The more I read about the battle at Isandlwana and see documentaries covering specific events and decisions made by participants present, the more I am convinced that Col. Durnford made the best decisions he could, at that time, to not only discover the zulu threat, but ultimately try to deplete the zulu force enough to, although hopelessly, drive them away from the camp, but also to lessen the zulu opposition that was behind Chelmsford's force deeper into zululand.
Recently, in a documentary I saw on television, and I think it is being covered more in books, it is becoming more of the opinion the Durnford was a scapegoat for the defeat, but in fact, apart from some mistakes that were obvious, mostly in hindsight, he had done his best considering the circumstances.
However, I am aware that this is only my opinion, and it may be viewed very differently by others, but I feel that if he is widely thought to have made a heroic effort, no matter the outcome, to do his duty along with the british troops, colonials and native contingents, that a representation of himself and above mentioned forces should be considered, as in a statue of him and a figure representing each one of the forces involved.
The cost of such a memorial would be expensive, but with the interest in the Anglo-Zulu war becoming more and more popular, it shouldn't be overlooked.
4th January 2005Paul Cubbin
I agree that Durnford was Chelmsford's main scapegoat and was certainly very brave. Unfortunately, I also feel that he made a terrible error in dividing the Isandlwana defence. Of course, one of the most disputed points about the battle is who was the camp commander during Chelmsford's absence. It appears that the worst possible decision was made - no one was. Durnford appears to have carried out his actions independent of Pulleine (and vice-versa). Skirmishing with the enemy would have been fine for a mainly mounted force, like Durnford's, but the camp as a whole would have been safer, I feel, had he pulled back and concentrated his fire with the rest of the troops. I've always viewed Durnford as a man who made a great company, maybe even battalion, commander, but a terrible general (which of course he wasn't).
4th January 2005Keith Smith
The matter of Durnford's actions on 22nd January have been explored very fully on this site previously so I shall not attempt to repeat what has already been said. Suffice it to say that although he was a man of very great personal courage, he was flawed to the extent that he was both impetuous and indecisive, traits which may be noted both in the AZ War and the incident at Bushman's River Pass in 1873.

His defenders were passionate at the time, and included his brother Edward Durnford, close friend (and lover?) Frances Colenso and Edward Luard. Their efforts came to naught as a result of the close relationships between Lord Chelmsford and those people of influence in London.

As to a statue, perhaps a nice idea, but I think it is rather too late for that now.

5th January 2005Coll
Thankyou both for your replies. I'm very pleased to read other people's views on this matter. I think we all agree he was a unique character, clever, brave and well respected by his native troops, but flawed nevertheless. The idea for a statue dedicated to Durnford and those forces involved I feel is more due to the determined stand they made against impossible odds, than a memorial to one specific individual.
Maybe, sometime in the future, a single memorial of the type I have mentioned, which unites all those involved that terrible day, just as they were united in death, will be erected.
5th January 2005Michael Boyle

I share your esteem for Durnford and although I have read the previous discussions in this forum debating his decisions (some of which were unfortunately lost in the recent server crash) I remain unconvinced on the fault of his actions (and I haven't even read Colenso's work yet!) Although if he had our hind-sight he may have acted differently. In a previous post you asked for ideas on new books or documentaries on the AZW, here-in may lie a gem.


Durnford did at times seem impetuous but don't the words "impetuous" and "indecisive" describe polar character traits? To be both wouldn't one have to suffer from manic depression or bi-polar disorder? Like I said I know little of Durnford the man other than casual asides in wider histories but if there is any literature more turned toward his character I would like to check it out. After all his actions at Bushman's Pass and Isandlwana seem anything but indecisive.(A little indecisiveness at Isandlwana may have mooted the subsequent debates!)

As for a statue, if 'Zulu Dawn' had done better box office we'd probably have one here in the States. Of course it would have borne a striking resemblance to Burt Lancaster. (Now that I think on it they did seem to share a certain physical similarity.)


5th January 2005Peter Ewart

For Durnford's life & career (apart from his brother's contemporary memoir) I'd suggest RWF Drooglever's "The Road to Isandlwana" (not to be confused with Phiilp Gon's book of the same title about the 24th in SA) published by Greenhill (Presidio in the US) in 1992, apparently developing the author's own Univ of SA thesis of 1982. The sub-title is "Col Anthony Durnford in Natal & Zululand" and is the nearest I know of to a modern biography of Durnford.

Would also thoroughly recommend Bourquin's "Col A.W. Durnford" in the Journal of the S African Military History Society (Vol 5, No 6, June 1985). I think this latter is one of the SAMHSJ articles which are available online.

Happy reading!

5th January 2005Coll
Thankyou for your thoughts on this subject Michael.
With regards to any literature about Durnford may I suggest the following titles :-

My Chief and I.
by (Frances Colenso)

The Road to Isandhlwana.
by R.W.F. Droogleever.

As for the availability of these books, I'm not sure, as they were printed several years ago.
Unless, because of the popularity of the AZW
they might be re-issued.
Although the addresses evade me at present, I obtained these titles from the following places :-

Ken Trotman Ltd

Steven J. Hopkins

Both companies are in the U.K. and specialise in obsolete or second-hand books.

I hope this is of some help.
5th January 2005Mark Hobson
The subject of Durnford is still a very contentious one, here and in Kwazulu-Natal. After Bushmans Pass he was a hated figure amoung the settler community despite the fact that his hands were tied behind his back with orders not to fire the first shot -they nicknamed him "Don't fire Durnford". They never really forgave him and I'm sure there are still strong feelings on the matter over there. The suggestion of a statue in S. Africa might be one controversy too many.

Personally I have enormous respect for the man. Having visited the area at Bushmans Pass one cannot but marvel at his courage and energy in getting his men there and back relatively unscathed. Myself and a couple of friends made the trek to the spot a few years ago and although it was physically arduous to get there it gave me a greater feeling for the mans mentality going into Isandlwana.
6th January 2005Michael Boyle
Peter and Coll thanks for the references, they're now at the top of my list. Based on the brief biographical sketches I've read and the intriguing tid-bit from Mark, coupled with Durnford's alleged romance with Miss Colenso and a wife back home who seems to have "done him wrong" his life appears to have all the earmarks of an ancient Chinese curse (May you live in interesting times or may you have an interesting life, not sure which now).His life may contain all the ingredients for an interesting film.


6th January 2005John Young
Also see:

John Y.
6th January 2005Coll
I agree about the making of a film concentrating more on Col. Durnford's personality and way of thinking leading up to his death at Isandlwana.
Zulu Dawn I enjoy watching immensely, but unlike Zulu, it tried to cover events leading up to the battle, which is not a bad thing, as many people were probably unaware of the reasons for the declaration of war against the zulus.
However, if a new film used the same idea as Zulu, that is to focus more on the actual battle and main participants, it could include more of the incidents known to have occurred during the fighting and the flight down the Fugitives' Trail.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about an action movie as such, I mean to show the terrifying reality of this specific conflict.
The portrayal of other people's involvement, for example, Capt. Younghusband's stand on the rise behind the camp, then the doomed charge down towards the nek. Lt Pope and Lt Godwin-Austen' s retreat to the camp and rallying of their men behind the 24th tents before being annihilated, the two officers the last to fall. Also, of course, durnford's stand with his mixed force.
Individual acts, such as Lt Vereker giving up his horse. Capt Shepstone rallying a force at the other side of the mountain.
Mostly, I think showing the true terror of the flight down the trail, being pursued relentlessly by the zulus, the exhausted men fleeing for their lives, trying to make stands, individually, or with others, including Lt Anstey's stand beside the Manzimyama.
Obviously, the mounted men who made their way further towards the Buffalo river, such as Smith-Dorrien and Major Smith, the heroic actions by others at this point, and the tragic demise of Melvill and Coghill.
I know it may seem a lot to fit in to a film, but if done, using most, if not all the facts covered about the battle, including the lack of clear communication between senior officers, a film accomplishing this would certainly, if anything,
get your heart racing as you witness the fear and the bravery of a few against so many.
Actually, just mentioning this, I feel I want to write the screenplay myself !.
6th January 2005Paul Cubbin
Coll - a 'Pulp Fiction' style approach may work, with each character being followed separately in turn through the same events and time scale to avoid confusion.
6th January 2005Coll
Good idea Paul. I think an approach like that could work very well, and I must admit the thought of attempting to write a draft for a film based on Isandlwana appeals to me.
Having previously obtained a book on screenwriting and also finding websites containing actual scripts, including Zulu Dawn, gives me a guide on how to set it out on script format, with regards to dialogue, expressions, and scene descriptions, especially of action sequences.
The art of putting pen to paper and beginning such a project would be difficult as Isandlwana is a complicated subject to cover, that is why I have great admiration for the authors, documentary makers and, of course, screenwriters who have successfully managed to put all the information into very readable and visually pleasing forms.
I'm sure that other enthusiasts may be working on screenplays covering this or other aspects of the zulu war, hopefully resulting in success.
If AZW fans amass enough information together on what they would like to see in a new film, specific action, characters, or even ideas to enhance an already spectacular historical event, there may be enough to inspire a very serious effort to fulfill their wishes.
As new films and screenplays have been discussed several times on this site, about Isandlwana and also Rorke's Drift, there is a good chance, I think, of something eventually being put into development in the future.
7th January 2005Michael Boyle

Yes that was the article that piqued my interest originally. Very concise yet informative and the things left unsaid but implied compelling enough to to lead one to follow through with further investigation.Although my habit of reading inflections based on punctuation had me sounding like a California Valley Girl in my mind!( I assume the article was uploaded directly from Microsoft Word or equivelant.)


7th January 2005John Young

I see what you meant! Question marks all over the place!

Alan or Peter, any chance the Durnford article linked to the Isandlwana section could be looked at?

John Y.
7th January 2005Coll
On looking at previous discussions about Isandlwana, with several comparisons being made to Little Bighorn, I decided to check sites about General Custer.
While glancing at these, I discovered an excellent photograph of his statue at Monroe, Michigan, which I find so impressive, that if a statue was considered for Col. Durnford, either in S. Africa or in the U.K., a representation of him, similar to this, would be absolutely fantastic.
8th January 2005Coll
At this point I was wondering what any of Col. Durnford's descendants would think about a memorial such as this ?.
8th January 2005Peter Ewart

Are they known & still around? His own, I mean, not those of his brothers. He had three children, two of whom died in infancy & the surviving daughter, Frances, remained in England. Was it his wife or this daughter who was believed to have married a German and gone to live abroad?

I'm only wondering as a result of genealogical curiosity, as I think there is far more chance of raising a statue in Maritzburg to Colenso or Cetshwayo than there is to Durnford.

9th January 2005Coll
This was a general question to find out anything about either Durnford's or his brothers' descendants, and their views on the subject of a memorial statue to him, if it was ever to be considered.
I guess it was a long shot as my knowledge of his whole family and their lives after the zulu war up to the present is pretty much non-existent.
I am unaware of any recent articles containing comments by descendants about Col. Durnford and their own thoughts on the man and his actions at Isandlwana.
It would have been great to get an opinion on my original topic by someone directly connected to him through family lines.

Thanks for your reply.
9th January 2005Julian Whybra
In the early 90s I researched Durnford's descendants and ancestors (with an emphasis on their military careers) and have just completed an article (complete with family tree) on this very subject which is due to appear in the AZWHS Journal this year (2005). Durnford's daughter married N McIvor Rapp, a descendant of one of Napoleon's generals, and retired to Bexhill-on-Sea, Sussex where they died without issue. The Durnfords continue to thrive however through direct descendants of Durnford's paternal uncle.
10th January 2005Coll

Thankyou very much for the information.

Can I just take the opportunity to also ask if any of Col. Durnford's personal effects have surfaced in recent years ?.

After looking at the auction sheet detailed in the book ' Road to Isandlwana ' by R.W.F. Droogleever, I wondered where all of his belongings ended up, especially any watches, etc., usually allocated to family members.

11th January 2005Michael Boyle
I am particularly interested in the final resting place of the 'stopped' watch that was found on his body(among the other things) that led to subsequent speculation on the time-line of the day and whether it was ever examined by a watchmaker to see if it had just run down or was stopped by shock. (I also find it curious that it was found at all given that most everything of value was taken as booty from the battlefield.) Though I suspect his personal items may be found at the Royal Engineers Museum. (There's a thought- given proper financing I imagine the RE at least would be more than happy to erect a statue to him.)


11th January 2005Juian whybra
The watch I believe went back to his family.
His trunk and a couple of other items were returned to the RE museum (eventually) where they still reside.
11th January 2005Coll

I was thinking about contacting the R.E. museum with regards to erecting a statue of Col. Durnford, but I am unsure what sort of approach to use, as this would definitely be an expensive project and with having other financial responsibilities to the museum, I think they would be apprehensive about assisting on the costs, although, as you say, if funds were raised to make this memorial a possibility, I am certain they would consider getting involved in organising it.

Truth be told Michael, I am so eager to see such a statue become fact, that I wish I would win the lottery, as I would be willing to pay for it myself.

As mentioned previously,with an anniversary of the battle at Isandlwana on the horizon, the more aware that people are about Durnford, the man, his actions in the battle and his heroic last stand, then add a suggestion of a memorial to him, putting all this together may inspire such a tribute.

Time will tell.

15th January 2005Coll
Could somebody give me a contact name and the address of the R.E. museum where some of Col. Durnford's belongings are kept, should I wish to write in the hope of obtaining their opinion with regards to a statue of Col. Durnford being erected in the U.K. or in South Africa.
16th January 2005Michael Boyle
and particularly the Friends of the REM at
Good Luck
16th January 2005John Young

I believe that there is no chance that a statue of Durnford could be erected at Isandlwana. After 120th anniversary events, I was led to believe that AMAFA would not allow any further memorials on the battlefield.

Have you mentioned your proposal to the family? If not try their home page which appears on

There are already obvious memorials in South Africa & Britain to Anthony Durnford.

John Y.
16th January 2005Coll
Michael and John

Thank you both for your replies.

I have written a 'very rough' draft of the letter I was thinking of sending to the R.E. Museum at Brompton Barracks, Chatham. (is this the right address ?) to try and obtain their views on this matter.

Please excuse the unprofessional nature of this letter, but I am unsure of what sort of approach to make, any suggestions ?

I am writing in the hope of obtaining your views on a suggestion put forward by myself on the Zulu War Discussion Forum.

I have been an avid enthusiast of this campaign for many years now and feel I would like to pursue an idea that I have thought about for quite a long time, connected to the Anglo-Zulu War 1879.

The subject I had in mind was a statue dedicated to Col. A.W. Durnford, R.E., who was killed in the battle at Isandlwana.

If the money was raised for such a memorial, to be erected in the U.K. or South Africa, what would be the museum's views on this matter, with regards to supporting and assisting in the process of organising the construction and on completion finding a suitable location to place it ?.

I hope you will consider the above and notify me with your views on the possibility of a statue of Col. Durnford becoming a reality.

I look forward to your reply.
16th January 2005Col
Additionally, if there was a positive response from the R.E. Museum and descendants of Durnford's family, is there an organisation connected to british military history that could apply for a lottery grant or something similar, to fund a memorial like this, especially with the anniversary of Isandlwana so near, giving an opportunity to make a significant gesture of this type.
17th January 2005Coll
As my letter was just an enquiry about the R.E. Museum's opinion regarding the statue of Col. Durnford, I decided the draft mentioned above would suit this purpose.

Hopefully, I will receive an encouraging reply from them.

Fingers crossed

21st January 2005Coll
Julian and John

Could either of you supply me with the names and addresses, if possible, of Durnford's descendants as I can't seem to get their home page on my computer as suggested.

This would allow me to contact them by letter to obtain their views about my proposal of a statue to Col. Durnford, to see if this subject is worth pursuing any further.

Additionally, although I've mentioned this above, is there any british military history organisation that could fund such a project, or apply for a lottery grant, etc.

I'm asking because I feel due to my limited knowledge of such matters, regarding memorials and funding, that this idea is not going to make any more progress, which I think would be a missed opportunity.

I know I'm being quite a bore, but I can't seem to let go of the image I have, that on a future anniversary of Isandlwana, the statue of Col.A.W. Durnford sitting on his horse Chieftain being unveiled in his home town, or at the R.E. Museum.

I would appreciate any assistance.



22nd January 2005Paul Cubbin
The Royal Engineers Museum postal address is Gillingham, but yes, is at Brompton Barracks, Chatham (there's a grubby but welcome pub 10 minutes walk away - I forget the name). Coll, for help with your project try visiting the 'Friends of the Royal Engineers Museum' at
22nd January 2005Coll

Thankyou for replying.

As you and Michael both recommended contacting FoREM, I have wrote a letter informing them of my idea and asked about the subject of fundraising.

Definitely worth a try.


22nd January 2005Peter Ewart

The proposal to erect a statue in the Republic to a British officer might have been marginally more readily received before 1922 - perhaps just a little less so after?

Kent or KZN, which you've also suggested, do seem more appropriate. However, he is more or less catered for in former Natal and former Zululand (If not by an equestrian effort) and his most lasting memorial in this country is surely the most fitting, in Rochester Cathedral (where, presumably, the RE have laid up some of their Colours?)

Obviously I don't know the RE Museum's views on proposed statues, but I'd be surprised if there weren't quite a few worthy RE heroes from the two world wars who might be considered a bit further up the queue.

22nd January 2005Coll

Thankyou for your opinion on this subject.

I must agree that I don't really think it will get much further than this point, apart from maybe receiving replies from the R.E. Museum and FoREM.

Although I must add that I am so involved in this project, I would have hated the thought of never having at least tried.

23rd January 2005Peter Ewart

Good luck, anyway. If you are detrmined to overcome every obstacle & setback, then it will finally happen one day - even if only in your back garden!

24th January 2005Coll


Any letters that I do receive, good or bad, I will mention on this topic along with any other information I manage to collect.

3rd July 2005Liz
It is really encouraging to see so much thought being given to Anthony Durnford.

I write on behalf of my family who descend from Edward CL Durnford's only surviving child, Julia Mabel (married to Arthur Lydekker) -who is our great-grandmother. I am happy to say that our particular side of the family is very much in existence!!

It is fascinating to us to see how Anthony seems to have captured peoples' imaginations - whether for or against him. Such an energy being transported over the years is a great tribute to any individual.

The idea of a statue is interesting. If there is interest from the RE, then of course the family would support this. However, there is a feeling that Anthony might have been embarrassed by such an approach - it is not really in our 'character'. The regimental colour is, of course, at Rochester and there is much information and artefacts from the 1879 Campaign at the Museum at Brecon. Perhaps something philanthropic could be more appropriate?. Alongside his miilitary obligations, Anthony was also clearly motivated by his work and relationship with the 'natives' whilst in South Africa. It would be rewarding (and possibly more relevant to modern-day life) to somehow be able to reflect this if any 'memorial' is being seriously considered.

With thanks - and regards.


3rd July 2005Coll

Thankyou for replying.

I'm sure this was the first topic I posted for discussion, when I joined the forum in January of this year. It was an idea that I had thought about for a long time before discovering this site, which allowed me to obtain feedback from my fellow enthusiasts.

To get a reply from yourself, with your opinion about such a memorial, really means a lot to me, as it was important to know what members of his family thought of my suggestion. Thankyou.

I never received a reply from the R.E. Museum, however, I did obtain a letter from FoREM, which confirmed that such a memorial would have to be paid for by public funding, for it to become a reality.

I am very keen, as you will have seen in my postings above, to have something in the way of a memorial, no matter how long it takes.

I very much like your idea about a memorial more to do with his work and relationship with the natives, as I know he was highly respected by them.

I'll keep trying.

5th July 2005Liz

You are certainly a champion for Anthony! Thank you. Please keep us informed on your ideas and progress.

13th July 2005Mike McCabe
Colonel Anthony Durnford is commemorated by name on the RE Memorial Panels at the North end of Rochester Cathedral, and on the 1877-78-79 Memorial silver centrepiece held in the Royal Engineers Headquarters Officers Mess at Brompton Barracks Chatham.
The most appropriate person to write to would be:
Colonel AP Cross
Regimental Colonel Royal Engineers
Brompton Barracks
However, it should be born in mind that the Durnford family - one of great distinction and influence in the contemporary RE of 1879 - did not (for whatever reason) feel it appropriate to memorialise Col Anthony Durnford further after his death. In many respects, Edward Durnford's efforts to redeem his brother's reputation probably just made matters worse. Also, thoughts quickly moved on to events in India, the Transvaal and Egypt, and the Zulu War was probably seen by Victorian military modernisers as an archaic 'last of its type', and something best forgotten.
The Corps of Royal Engineers will speak for itself, but I would be very surprised if it were to stand ready to sponsor a retrospective statue to Durnford. However, some lesser memorial in either Rochester Cathedral or the Garrison Church at Chstham might well attract a modicum of supporrt - though the latter only opens for services.
Als, and rather like the Chard family, there are no longer serving 'military' Durnfords, and the family has become rather diffuse with no obvious 'head of family'. It might therefore be a bit of a problem to settle upon who might be said to represent the family interest in the matter.
13th July 2005Coll
Mike McCabe

Yes. I agree the R.E. Museum may not wish to assist in the funding of a statue, but was hoping they maybe would support it in other ways, such as overseeing the construction or suggestion a possible location for it to be sited.

Although it has been mentioned above that he may be still a bit controversial and the family (at that time) did not really want such a memorial, a long time has passed and if such funding could be obtained by some means to make it a reality, I'm sure any descendants would be delighted.

However, funding is the main issue for such a large project, but sometimes it is better to strive for the ultimate aim, no matter how unlikely the chance, in the hope that something turns up to make it so.

Maybe I'm too optimistic in my outlook concerning certain issues, but I really do think attempting the seemingly impossible, does give a challenge, whether it fails or not.

15th July 2005Mike McCabe
I have messaged you seperately on this, suggesting that a more general Royal Engineer memorial (including commemoration of Durnford) - perhaps overlooking the Rorke's Drift crossing sites - might be more realisable, especially in the run up to the 130th in 2009. However, Amafa Heritage KZN still have an aspiration to raise a Zulu Memorial at RD, and policy on other memorials might be dominated by this.
15th July 2005Coll
Mike McCabe

Thankyou very much for the detailed message.

I have been giving this subject a lot of thought, taking into account ideas and advice from those who have replied to this topic, including yourself.

There is a fair chance that a memorial at Isandlwana or Rorke's Drift may be difficult to secure because of reasons mentioned above.

So, considering this, it may be better to try for a location in the U.K.

I am aware how ambitious it is to pursue the prospect of a statue of Col. Durnford on his horse Chieftain, but any memorial to him now would probably be the last chance to accomplish something so significant, as I don't think it would ever be seriously considered again, which, as mentioned, would be a missed opportunity.

Obviously, the financial aspects of this are a major part of the whole project and depending on the amount raised, the actual type of memorial that could be constructed, may then be decided.

The R.E. Museum hasn't replied to my letter, but I have to admit, that letter-writing is not one of my strong points, so I guess it would have left them unconvinced, as I find it very difficult to put into words in such a way that it does catch people's attention, especially with regards to an important issue such as this.

The idea of something being organised in time for an 'unveiling' on the 130th Anniversary really does sound quite appealing, so I'm hoping, with a bit of luck, it happens.

Thanks again

16th July 2005Keith Smith

With regard to the new memorial at RD. I was there in April last and was privileged to be given a sneak preview of it in a shed on the site. It was said to be due for inauguration this month, although I have heard nothing more about it, officially or unofficially. It is, I believe, a memorial to the Zulu who died there.

17th July 2005Mike McCabe
The intentions regarding a Zulu memorial at RD are outlined on the Amafa Heritage KZN website, and it is a twin project to the erection of a replacement memorial at King Cetewayo's point of embarkation into captivity and temporary exile at Port Durnford. In some ways this is an unfortunate development as the Swedish Lutheran Church, and (now) the Evangelical Lutheran Church, had both managed to discourage the further 'militarisation' of the immediate area of the RD site by any new memorials - before and after the unveiling of the stone markers at the the three attributed Zulu grave sites - each actually done buy the simultaneous removal of a Union Flag by a representative of the RRW - during the late May 1979 official centenary commemoratios at the site.(I know, I was there).
Were there to be agreement that the Royal Engineers should be permitted to erect a memorial near RD, the proposed site would probably be near the riverline overlooking the ferry sites, and so at least half a mile away from the site of the 'Defence'. It just so happens that all Royal Engineers killed in the Zulu War were killed at Isandlwana, and all had some direct association with the RD crossing sites before their deaths. Whether any of this will actually happen is another matter. But, there may be opportunities in the run up to the 130th anniversary.
17th July 2005Coll
Mike McCabe

I tried to e-mail you yesterday, but it was returned.

However, it was just to say that my problem in convincing any organisation or authority to progress further regarding a memorial, is my lack of communication skills (letterwriting, etc.) which may cause me to falter, by the fact that I would appear clumsy and uncertain in my attempt to convince them of the need of such a memorial.

This is where I had hoped the R.E. Museum could have assisted, letters being a bit more 'official' and the intentions clearer.

As mentioned above, organising something for the 130th Anniversary does give some time, but I really will have to consider any approaches carefully, so as not to spoil any chances of making the memorial a reality.

I have acquired some interesting information today which may help considerably with any approach to be made, but will have to obtain more details to be sure.

I do like the idea of an R.E. Memorial overlooking the ferry sites near to Rorke's Drift and if it was to happen to coincide with another in the U.K., that would be quite an accomplishment !


17th July 2005Mike McCabe
I had, foolishly, forgotten that there is also a memorial window to Anthony Durnford in St Vincent's (Memorial) Church at Isandlwana, funded by the Durnford family, with detailed arrangements being made by Edward Durnford and Frances Colenso.
It is actually the window dedicated to St Vincent (22 Jan being St V's day), but an improvised repair to this badly deteriorated window covers over the inscription at its base panel.
This (Anglican) church is a very active parish, doing very great good to ease suffering in the local area.
However, it is also very poor and the church needs various forms of repair and some improvement to meet the longer term needs of its growing community.
The building itself is still classified as a 'National Monument' under the old National Monuments Council system of classification. Amafa Heritage KZN have retained the responsibility for ensuring that the owners (the diocese) maintain the building, but the costs fall to the diocese - and thence the parish - and not Amafa.
Perhaps some scheme based upon helping this church community, and repairing these staned glass windows, might provide a fitting tribute of the type you seek. However, the windows are about mid way down the priority of repair - thoough the 'Durnford' window is in the worst condition of them all - the lead frame having nearly collapsed when I last saw it in February 2004
17th July 2005Mike McCabe
And,of course, there is also a large Durnford Memorial Window in Rochester Cathedral - as RWF Drooglever reminds us - with its inspiring quote from Maccabees (no relation!) in the Apocrypha.
17th July 2005Coll
A new memorial for a new century perhaps !

I'm not sure of the exact dates of the previous memorials, but I'd like to think of any new memorial to Col. Durnford as the 21st Century remembering the role that he (and the Royal Engineers) played in the Anglo-Zulu War 1879.

On a personal note, it would be a great honour for me also, to have been involved (even partly) in accomplishing such a project connected to him.

I suppose it could be called a 'quest' or a 'crusade' (I'm not sure which) but it is something I wish to do. (or at least try)

As I say, it might be the last chance of attempting to create a significant structure of this nature, as time is going by so fast and the AZW is getting further away.

On a previous topic I mentioned about the 200th Anniversary of Isandlwana, but I'll not be around to attempt anything then, that is why now is so important.

It still may fail, but hey, I will have tried !


18th July 2005Coll
Further to the above.

Although I would personally like to 'start the ball rolling', if anyone is keen to see a new memorial to Col. Durnford (not necessarily a statue) maybe you could also write to the above address or any other place that you think may be able to assist.

I'm not suggesting we can 'force' them to take action, but 1 letter is easily discarded, a few however, might catch someone's attention.

If noticed and reacted upon by an 'official' body of some kind, there is a chance that it could 'pick up pace' and get other organisations involved.

Just an idea.

19th July 2005Mike McCabe
I regret to say that there is unlikely to be any new Durnford memorial, given the existence already of those referred to above.
Any rigorous new appraisal of Durnford's military conduct at Isandlwana might not score many credits and, in comparison with many other figures of those times his general achievements are, frankly, rather modest.
19th July 2005Martin Everett
Dear Coll,
I suppose the question that should be asked. Did Col Durnford's effort and leadership significantly change the course of the battle on 22 January? If they did then there could be some merit in commemorating him in a more tangible way.

Not a day goes by that I am surprised that many people I meet see the two feature films as being the definitive record of the actions and characteristics of the key players on 22/23 January 1879. It would be wrong to base any justification for a memorial on these modern pieces of entertainment.
19th July 2005Coll
Mike and Martin

Thankyou for your replies.

19th July 2005Coll
Yes. I guess I'm back at the same point reached about halfway through this topic.

However, as a couple of ideas may fail, there is still a few more to possibly consider.

If there is no way of raising the necessary funding for a memorial (of any sort) there is still the possibility (sort of) that a piece of good fortune might allow me to fund this project myself sometime in the future.

There have been a few suggestions about the type of memorial, one of which I'm considering seriously and may try to pursue further.

Additionally, although I have seen the films, I have read (not all) but a fair amount of my AZW books, and like many other enthusiasts, had been inspired by the film Zulu, so I was more interested in the actions of the 24th Regiment (at that time).

But, after becoming aware of the battle at Isandlwana and Col. Durnford, my interest unexpectedly changed towards both of these and the Colonial Volunteer units, almost quite by accident you could say, as even I hadn't been aware of my main interest within the AZW campaign until that point, apart from following the 24th Regiment's participation.

I also acquired (1 recently) books about Col. Durnford's private and military life and truly admire some of the man's qualities, although he isn't flawless as has been pointed out several times.

So, it is based on the man's whole (real) life, not a movie, including his relationship ( as Liz suggested) with the natives and, of course his heroic stand at Isandlwana.

I see no reason why a modern memorial should not be considered, as a new generation (including descendants of his family) might want to acknowledge him in a more visual form.

Yes. There have been several previous memorials, but were we not discussing General Gordon's just recently, and how many there are dedicated to him ?

Yes, I know, different men, different careers, different lives, but still apparently no specific limit to the amount of memorials that can be constructed for one man, obviously not all by the same person or organisation, but several, all wanting to create something in his memory.

Would I be any different by adding my own contribution to the memorials for Col. Durnford that have been constructed previously, with or without help from official organisations ?

19th July 2005Coll
Further to the above.

On reading Smith-Dorrien's account of his escape from Isandlwana on reaching the Buffalo river, there is a section that pretty much covers how I feel -

" .....with the strong hope that everybody clings to that some accident would turn up..... "

His hope became a reality.

A memorial won't save a life, however, it will help us remember one !

19th July 2005Mike McCabe
Should you be absolutely determined in your quest, then funding the repair to the Durnford window at St Vincent's Isandlwana might be a very 'concrete' and deliverable discrete project. However, restoration of the windows is only part of the church's need. Supposing that satisfacory corporate governance could be put in place to handle and administer any subscription funds then results might be achievable fairly quickly, and almost certainly before the 130th in 2009. Asked to contribute, the likelihood is that more funds would be raised than the mere cost of one window repair. That would be all to the good, as other aims could be met. Based upon talking to the Reverence Ntshali in early 2004, they would in any case be aiming to repair all of the church's windows at the same time as part of a planned programme of repair and restoration.
Stark reality currently forces the parish council to use its income to continue the church's ministry in this very needy part of KZN. It is not unkind to say that they recognise their lack of the necessary skills to manage the whole church restoration project, there being a very broad-based programme of work to pull off, and are cautious over how best to proceed with any fundraising ventures.
Were I to be directly and actively interested in memorialisong Durnford further then I, and I suspect others, would prefer to see money flowing towards the St Vincent's church community and its needs. The Rorke's Drift church is equally deserving of support, though the immediately local community is probably not as needy in comparison and the church has slightly better established sources of support generally.
19th July 2005Coll
Mike McCabe

Thankyou for showing so much interest in this subject. Your views and assistance are very much appreciated.

Your suggestion above along with one of your previous postings, regarding a scheme to help with the church restoration and the local community are very appealing.

However, I wouldn't know the first thing about organising such a project, who to involve, fundraising, etc., as I'm extremely limited in what I can, or am able to do.

I've a feeling you are right, to accomplish something like that, which could maybe continue on a long-term basis, would indeed, be a fitting tribute to Col. Durnford.

Your idea definitely has a purpose and judging by Liz's first posting on this topic, I'm sure it would please Anthony greatly.

I do wish something like this could happen, but I'm afraid I would be very much out of my depth with regards trying to make any progress connected to this particular subject, as it really would need a person or organisation with the required knowledge to be able to oversee such a large project.

Thanks again

20th July 2005Mike McCabe
There is no easy way forward on this. At least not yet anyhow.
However, an expression of interest by leading 'Durnfords' should be useful in itself. Up to a point, the BHC in Pretoria might be willing to facilitate (or at loeast advise) and - if keen to pursue matters - whoever represents the Durnford family interest might usefully start there.
20th July 2005Martin Everett
Dear Coll,
I think you were discouraged by the lukewarm response from military sources about your idea. Often forgotten is the fact that regimental/corps funds are mainly sourced from the 'day's pay scheme' contributed by serving soldiers. These funds are there to assist serving soldiers (remember 1 RRW are currently in Basra) and their families and of course former soldiers of the regiment who fall on difficult times. It therefore not really appropriate to use these benevolent funds for the erection of memorials. And of course in the long history of a regiment - it has served in many counties and in many confilcts and it is just not possible to give true recognition to all those who have fallen in battle or died of disease as we might wish. Having said that there will shortly be erected a memorial to members of the British army who have died in service since WW2 in Staffordshire at the National Arboretum.
20th July 2005Alan Critchley
On the subject of the restoration of St. Vincent's Church, I noticed recently that there is the beginning of work on the exterior stonework. I'm not sure who is doing it, but I'm afraid it's taking a very crude form. They should look at the way the Rorke's Drift buildings have been done for their standards. Just my opinion.

20th July 2005Michael Boyle

Perhaps a fitting memorial would be not only the restoration of St. Vincent's but the establishment of "The A.W. Durnford School for Indigent Children" (or something like that) along the lines of the Gordon school and administered by the diocese, who presumabley have an infrastructure in place that could affect the subscription for it. God knows that there are many South African children, AIDs orphans not the least, who could truely benefit from such an enterprise.Based on the post from Liz and what we know of him I think the Colonel may have preferred this approach above yet another martial statue. (Which is not to say that space for one couldn't be set aside for a better day!)


20th July 2005Coll

Thankyou for your replies.

One thing is for sure, the ideas are certainly there !

If there is a serious attempt at constructing a memorial for Col. Durnford, or the excellent suggestion by Mike to restore the church and help the local community - the information, ideas, advice, etc., contained within this topic, most definitely would act as a stepping-stone, in regards to how it could be put in motion.

I really appreciate all of the feedback on this subject, the fact that it has been discussed at length, with very informative and detailed replies, must truly be a good start.

The fact that something like this, which seemed impossible, could indeed happen !

We live in the hope that it is so.

Thanks again

21st July 2005Mike McCabe
A higher proportion of the construction of St Vincent's is from locally recovered field stones and, it would appear that a very improvised approach was adopted in building the footings for the walls. Also, at some stage, the east end of the building (behing the altar) has either been hit by lightning, or has begun to bulge or settle - there being several extensive cracks propagating in the mortar, all showing patch repairs.
At Rorke's Drift the church effectively rests on a flaggy bed of sandstone, has a higher proportion of dressed stone, and the design of the overall structure transfers the weight of the roof more evenly on the walls. So, Rorke's Drift benefits from being a comparatively sounder and better building from the outset.
Though I advocate the idea of helping St Vincent's, I'm well aware of the practical complexities of doing so. Also, most of the possible 'military' stakeholders already have very specific interests to foster over a longer term future - and limited funds which must be very carefully managed against tough priorities (as Martin explains above).
Nevertheless, were there to be strong support - moral, actual and financial, for some effort to assist St Vincent's then a number of facilitators might be willing to step forward to help things along.
I would, however, emphasise the sensitivity required in matters to do with the church. St Vincent's is very much a living ministry, and it's highest priorities are to do with the immediate spiritual and physical sucour of a rapidly enlarging community, with many social disadvantages and much sickness and poverty to contend with.
The church is seldom visited, partly because it usually only opens for church activities, and, the casualm visitor is often unaware of its actual significance. And, very few activities by the battlefield visitor provide inputs to the local economy, and hardly any provide contributions to the support of the church. The larger St Augustine's (north of Rorke's Drift) is also in need.
So, whilst there is local recognition of the historical significance of the church to the British Army, and the white setler community, there is no longer any particularl or constant link between the church and those two groups. The local 'white' community was influenced to leave in the 1970s as Kwa Zulu imposed the logical consequences of the Group Areas Act (and other legislation). The nearby Isandlwana Lodge, and some of its clients, do help the church in a variety of ways, providing occasional ad hoc financial assistance from time to time. However, they could not reasonably be expected to take on the management of a fairly extensive project.
Viewed and discussed in early 2004, the work envisaged included (not in priority order):
-Repair and restoration of the CGI roof, and some roof timbers. Including paiting the roof.
-Replacement of more than half of the wooden flooring.
-Re-wiring, installation of power generation.
-Repairs to all windows, including restoration of the various stained glass memorial windows.
- Repair and extend bench seating.
-Painting of internal walls.
- Repairs to masonry.
The work can be sequenced and phased, and completed to match the rate at which funds are collected. Throughout, there is the dilemma of whether to repair the church,or use funds for pressing welfare relief.
The parish council's, very understandable,priority is to conduct the essential work necessary to keep the functioning church going.
As an aside, it will not be long before the Durnford window simply collapses, and some of the individual stained glass pieces are already lost or very badly splintered. There are, however, enough historical photographs to assist restorers - missing or broken bits just increase the costs.
21st July 2005Coll

The condition of the church, especially the Durnford window, is of great concern and does give a sense of urgency to a project such as this.

I'm aware that there is no way to assist with repairs until something is organised, but the immediate task, I think, is to secure the building to try and prevent any further deterioration before any full-time restoration is put into action.

The idea of the Durnford window collapsing doesn't bear thinking about, a piece of history being lost almost in front of our eyes !

I'm at a loss how to make any progress quick enough to make a difference regarding this matter, but also I don't think there is anything I can do, even with the best intentions, to convince anyone else to make it happen.

I wish there was a way to move forward, before it is too late.

21st July 2005Peter Ewart
Mike (et al)

Many thanks for such a detailed description of the existing delapidations in the physical structure of St Vincent's. I am very strongly of the belief that the urgent repairs required on this building would be a genuinely worthwhile aim of any philanthropic scheme intended to benefit the Zulu community. And yet, I have to agree with your point that the community itself - the local people who suffer from poverty and hardship, not to mention the scourge of AIDS - must be the prime beneficiaries of any sorely needed assistance.

It is, indeed, a dilemma, as both the village itself and the church building are living reminders that the Isandlwana community is in fact a perpetual memorial to the battle which took place there. The village originated around the mission established by Johnson in Dec 1879 and when the church was finally finished, well into the 1880s, the community grew. Without the Battle of Isandlwana there would be no village there today. (I know there was at least one small umuzi already on the battlefield itself but this wasn't in the same spot as the first mission, nor the church).

Although Bishop McCrorie made the actual decision to build a church there (it wasn't erected on the spot he originally suggested, which had been much nearer the site of the former British camp) it was Hlubi kaMota Molife who had the original idea of a memorial church as a symbol of reconciliation for both sides. He had fought on the British side there and narrowly escaped death - and, of course, the whole site fell within his jurisdiction after the Wolseley settlement.

I am convinced the Isandlwana community should be the focus of any benefits which might accrue from schemes which attract the support of those with an interest in the welfare of KZN and who have an interest in the AZW. For example, I applaud the suggestion by the Durnford family member, Liz, that a memorial in Durnford's name might be used to benefit the community - and perhaps (why not?) also focus on the repair to the window commemorating a man who took a genuine interest in the injustices heaped on the local African population.

Does anyone know whether the trust fund publicised in the national press in the UK five years ago by David Rattray, for this very cause (the church, the school and the community) is still extant?

Is it likely to be the case (I fear I know the answer) that any scheme will have to run the gauntlet of local politics and legal difficulties?

There have been rumours of a plan to raise funds to support repairs to St Augustine's. Does anyone have any details, please? I'm aware of one or two of the possible movers behind this, but wouldn't mind more details. (I am in regular touch with the descendants of several missionaries & staff who served at both St Vincent's & St Augustine's between 1879 and the 1930s & have been able to help them with details on life on these missions during the time their families were involved - as they have, in turn, been able to help me).

Also, what is the state of the church burial ground today, please? Are their still identifiable memorials, such as that of Bp Douglas mcKenzie, who died there in Jan 1890 and was buried there?

Finally, Gillian Rattray wrote a quarter of a century ago: "Treasures abound in this neglected little church ... [including]surprisingly, the original of Lieutenant Chard's list of the men who fought at Rorke's Drift..." I take it this was not literally accurate? Has anyone checked?


P.S. I may not see any replies to this for a day or so, as there are very pressing matters in St John's Wood, NW8, to be attended to this weekend - and I have two tickets! (Sorry, I'm afraid not - the other one is for my 12-year old son's birthday treat!)

21st July 2005Peter Ewart
By "state of the church burial ground" I meant at St Vincent, not St Augustine's.

23rd July 2005Coll

May I take this opportunity to ask what the Durnford family think of Mike's suggestion, as in a project involving the restoration of St. Vincent's church, including the Durnford window, as well as the possibility of helping the local community ?

As mentioned above, the financial and political/legal difficulties could delay any progress for a considerable amount of time, should any person or organisation wish to pursue this type of memorial further.

However, I'm sure many people will agree, that if such a project was undertaken, it would indeed be a fitting tribute to Anthony.

Any views you have regarding this particular project would be very much appreciated.


26th July 2005Coll
Further to the above.


I posted the above question on the forum as I wasn't sure if you wished me to contact you directly with any new information or ideas.

27th July 2005Coll

Do you know if David Rattray was personally involved with the 'trust fund' or 'scheme' mentioned above, or was actually trying to bring it to the public's attention ?

I'm wondering if it may be possible to contact him directly, to enquire about it, but also, maybe see how much progress was made in attempting to get it set up.

I apologise if I have misunderstood any part of your posting above, but this aspect of it caught my attention. Mainly, because, I thought that somehow the 'scheme' could be re-activated and helped to progress further.

Wishful thinking I know !


27th July 2005Coll
Mike McCabe

The highly detailed listing of the work necessary for St. Vincent's church, definitely does give a clearer view of how much needs to be done.

Although I don't know the area, I think if it was possible to obtain the same kind of details with regards the school's needs as well as the community's, it might be enough to draw up a sort of 'Action Plan' concerning this 'Isandlwana Project', to basically let us know where we stand, should there be a serious attempt to move forward, assisted with a bit more knowledge of exactly what is required.

Any information from anyone about the above could give a 'realistic' picture of what is involved.

27th July 2005Mike McCabe
There are various local 'movers and shakers' already involved in managing aspects of support to the RD (Shiyane) High School, and the Isandlwana High School.
Unfortunately, the Church at Isandlwana has not yet received the same attention and support on any continuous basis. That is why raising the profile of its needs might generally be helpful.
However, 'realism', indicates that he situation might change at any stage, and, the Parish Council are themselves actively engaged in trying to sort out their own problems. A conduit into the situation for fundraising and the overall management of the project are the missing ingredients so far - and cannot easily be put in place from several thousand miles away. Also, many people are aware of the situation, and there is sympathy and good will towards attempts to solve it.
But, there is no 'template' solution to install, and any possible 'ingredients' to an overall solution need identifying. That sounds a bit vague and mysterious, I know, but is currently the situation. Ideally, one would like to see the restoration and improvement of St V's becoming a major initiative in the run up to the 130th anniversary comemorations in 2009.

28th July 2005Martin Everett
Dear Coll,
Firstly I do not wish to dampen your enthusiasm and quest to provide added recognition for Col Durford. Both Mike and I know Africa reasonably well.

Durnford's grave is in good condition in Fort Napier - I last visited it in November 2004 and will be there in January 2006.

The restoration of St Vincent is a worthwhile project as it was built from funds provided by the families of soldiers of the 24th. However, Africa is not a place that you can simply throw money at a project. There are a lot of poliitics involved - so a considerable amount of diplmacy is required. Be assured your interests will be taken in account and communicated to the local trust. But unless you have been to KZN it is I know difficult to understand the situation. Somehow we must achieve the desired result by ensuring the community do it for themselves as DR has done by getting them to build their own schools and other community facilities.

Please remember out of the hundreds of men who died on 22 January 1879, only four soldiers have a known grave - Durnford, Anstey, Melvill and Coghill (and perhaps Shepstone and Younghushand). The others have only have a cairn of white stones. Perhaps we should remember Pte William Griffiths VC - after all he is one of few soldiers to be awarded Britain's highest award for gallantry. I leave you with that thought.
28th July 2005Peter Ewart

The scheme David Rattray publicised in 2000 was highlighted in the Daily Telegraph on 6 Nov 2000 as a preview to an auction at Sotheby's, the auction having been apparently an idea of the headmaster at Isandlwana.

At that time £30,000 out of a target of £100,000 had been raised, with the intention of creating a trust fund. The Prince of Wales, two Zulu princes and a KZN education minister apparently attended. (The PoW with Princes Wm & Harry had stayed at FDL in about 1999).

The funds were being raised with the aim of restoring the schools at Isandlwana, rather than St Vincent's. At that time the children "shivered in windowless and unheated huts" and the conditons were contrasted with the facilities provided at Shiyane (RD) where desks, books and even computers were available. (I believe many of these facilties had been provided as a result of fundraising by the RRW Museum or Reg't or allied organisations, but Martin can clarify that if necessary, I'm sure).

At the Isandlwana elementary school, there was apparently no heating, lighting - or even books. At the secondary school, only four years old, vandalism & theft had left their mark, and "sheep graze in the classrooms" where door handles had been stolen. Many children had to walk 10 miles each way to school. An electric perimeter fence with a 24-hour guard was one of the first items due to be purchased for the school. The address of the fund ("The Isandlwana Appeal") was c/o 30 Cambridge Rd, London SW11 4RR but whether this is still the case I don't know.

You'll see from the above (and from Mike's and Martin's posts) that the scale of the need is huge and that difficulties will arise at every stage, which I deliberately did no more than hint at in my post of the 21st. Martin's mention of local politics and the need for diplomacy is a very understated reminder of the reality. I expect other contributors here can fill in on the position since 2000, as well as on other schemes and help for the area..


With regard to St Vincent's, do you, perhaps, know the position with regard to the condition of the churchyard, as per my post of the 21st?

28th July 2005Coll
Martin and Peter

Yes. I did mention in my posting to Liz about the financial/political/legal difficulties of such a project, but I knew there was no way I could do anything to pursue it further, as I also said 'if' someone or an organisation considered making progress.

I thought it was such a good idea, that it certainly, at least, was worth discussing at length.


I'm aware of the individuals who were identified and said in my other topic that descriptions of the recovery of Durnford's body did make you acknowledge all of those killed at Isandlwana.

This topic did state my main interest as well as others concerning Col. Durnford, I'm sorry you see that as me being 'selective' of the individual(s) who fell on the battlefield, but I do feel quite offended that you give the impression that I am 'uncaring' about the others.

My interests were always clearly stated from the outset, and after a couple of postings from yourself, one in particular criticising me personally with regards the effort I was making to find out details, but also giving the impression I was unwilling to pay any costs.

Yet again you make me consider seriously about adding any future topics or replies !

I know I don't contribute much of interest, so maybe my poor efforts will not be missed.

Yes. You did dampen my enthusiasm greatly, not because of the information you give about the topics being discussed, but your apparently personal comments.

My postings to this and the other Durnford topic are finished !

I leave you with that thought !

29th July 2005Mike McCabe
This is based upon a good look around in February 2004, and may not be up to date.
Firstly, and except for the Bishop Mackenzie house (now run by Amafa as the Vistor's/Interpretation Centre), the church and diocese are still the 'owners' of their surrounding lawns and access.
As you know, there are basically three structures other than the Church.
Firstly, the bell frame was still in reasonable condition, less its roof, though 'refurbishment' would help.
Then, the separate small memorial chapel (used for a time as an ossuary for any human remains washed up on the battlefield) was in reasonable structural condition but its internal floor and walls, and parts of the roof needed refurbishing.
The graveyard itself was in reasonable condition (weeded, gras cut) but the vrious grave markers were generally fairly decrepit, with some exceptions, and a 'tidying up and landscaping' effort would help to preserve the general condition of the place over time. The old concrete 'camp markers' are still grouped by the outside of the Western wall near the Visitors Centre. The Lavatories/Washrooms were working and kept very clean, but would benefit from painting.
A 'running' problem is power supply to the church - which needs to be lit for early morning and evening services during parts of the year. Currently this is provided on a 'grace and favur' basis by running a cable from the generator fed supply at the Amafa Visitors Centre. This does not provide a continuous supply. The centre is not always open at the right time, the cable is sometimes disconnected, and the supply to the Visitors Centre cannot always be reiled upon.
29th July 2005Mike McCabe
I cannot help thinking that you have folded your tent and gone away rather quickly.
Anything to do with memorials in KZN - especially if to 'dead white men' very much depends on the art of the possible being identified and influenced.
It has tended to be a game of chess in which tackling is allowed, and much of what transpires is pulled together behind closed doors by remarkably few people who just happen to have the policy and decision making authority in KZN. Then produced like a rabbit out of a hat. On ongoing example springs to mind.
It must also be realistically accepted that even quite major stakeholders in the Zulu War battlefield heritage do not have constant and certain influence on what does or might happen,and must 'play it long' in circumstances of careful tact and subtle diplomacy.
It's just not as simple as some like minded enthusiasts forming a view, and then expecting a particular result to materialise in due course.
I believe that most people would think that Durnford had been adequately memorialised and in some fairly prominent places. Recalculating, I can think of five (already mentioned) significant places where there is a memorial - including Durnford's grave.
To refurnish an existing memorial (the St Vincent Window, at St Vincent's Church) would be a respectable act in the overall scheme of things, and very much more so if part of a broad fronted initiative to refurbish and improve the church.
However, the various ducks need lining up, and, without going into details gere, there may be other short to medium term higher priorities which the heritage staheholders might wish to address first. There is also the 'appropriateness' issue, in which the Reverend Ntshali's own views and wishes, as the incumbent at St Vincent's, would - I believe - need to be considered as paramount.

29th July 2005Coll

There are a couple of reasons why I am better observing this topic rather than participating.

1. I don't think my enthusiasm is helping in any way, as ideas or suggestions that I put forward, are obviously unresearched and lack of knowledge regarding the area around Isandlwana and politics involved in cases such as this, are way over my head, resulting in me possibly hindering any 'positive' progress in the pursuit of projects I have very strong views about.

2. I appreciate every single opinion, advice, information and even criticism of subjects I introduce for discussion, or questions and ideas that I may have.

However, when I feel criticisms go beyond the issues being discussed (as in personal comments about my intentions or character)
I do consider such matters seriously, when my only aim is to pursue aspects of the AZW.

3. There are three things about the AZW that I am 'passionate' about -

a. The defence of Col. Durnford, especially his role at Isandlwana.

b. After hearing that the upkeep of the cemetery where he is buried is a constant battle, I wanted to ensure (with the best intentions) his grave is always maintained, especially after the restoration in 2002.

c. The idea of a memorial was in my mind for a long time before I joined the forum, which obviously is being discussed on this topic.

The information supplied by everybody about these issues, has been incredibly helpful in my understanding of his role in the battle, but mostly the details about the grave and the battlefield that I haven't yet visited.

The information also supplied about the idea of a project to restore the church is fantastic and I am fascinated by the discussion above.

Please understand. I haven't folded my tent and went away. If anything, I'm still here, but less visible, although just as determined.


30th July 2005Mike McCabe
I believe that you could make a very positive and concrete direct contribution by helping to identify who is considered to be the effective 'head' of the much dispersed Durnford family, or its leading wel--disposed branches.
I don't think that anybody would be expecting them to accept any liabilities, but I can foresee circumstances arising where their advice/approval or a representative presence might be requested.
Small though that input might appear at first site, it would achieve a significant bit of progress. In the case of the Chard family, for example, there is a lead branch with which the Royal Engineers maintain contact on RE Corps matters relating to him.
30th July 2005Coll

Yes. I was hoping that Liz may still be monitoring this topic, to maybe give an opinion on the latest idea concerning the project at St. Vincent's church, being the only contact with a descendant of the Durnford family that I have had.

The problem is, I'm quite apprehensive about contacting Liz directly, in case it appears that I am somehow 'pressuring' the Durnford family to be involved in any decisions to be made regarding issues connected to Col. Durnford.

It is possible that Liz could supply details about the above, including who may represent the family interests in any projects or memorials.

I was asked by Liz to keep the family informed of any ideas or developments, but I do not wish to 'chase away' such an important contact by using the wrong approach.

I'm wondering if it is better to wait in the hope that Liz visits the forum again and maybe reply to any questions asked ?


PS. I know I seem uncertain about this point, but I think you can appreciate my concern.
30th July 2005Liz
Thank you for continuing to discuss this subject. I have taken the liberty of contacting Coll direct who I am sure will pass on any information he feels may be appropriate.

31st July 2005Coll

Thankyou very much for your detailed message.

I didn't expect to get such a quick reply from you as I wasn't sure if you had been aware of the ongoing discussion about this subject.

I'm very pleased that Mike's suggestion has interested you and will indeed pass on the parts of your message which may answer a couple of the questions mentioned above.

Thanks again

31st July 2005Coll

After reading the details supplied by Liz about the Durnford family, it does appear that, in answer to your above posting, Liz is actually the person who may be the contact you mention, for any matters concerning Anthony.

Liz agrees that the restoration of St. Vincent's church in memory of all the men who fell is a great idea and, as you can imagine, is keen to see the Durnford window restored.

Additionally, fully appreciates the task involved, being the problems faced setting up and the managing of such a project.

Liz will notify us of any information which may assist and has kindly given me permission to contact her directly.

Also, the possibility of helping the local community is very appealing, as both of these aspects are in the right direction to honour Anthony and all of the men, as well as contributing to the locality where they gave their lives.

Liz. I hope this shortened version of your message does cover your views accurately.

31st July 2005Mike McCabe
It's important, then, to know that the 'Durnford' window is actually that featuring St Vincent. The inscription now cannot be read, but my own earlier photographs (1984) show that it was dedicated “To the Glory of God and in memory of Col AW Durnford”. The Church's internal placard (on its notice board) has misnamed some of the windows, including the Durnford one - each is titled in the stained glass panels, and there are photograhs surviving of the undamaged windows.
It was erected (paid for) on behalf of the Durnford family by Lt Col Edward Durnford RE, there are five other 'Memorial' windows, dedicated as follows:

- St Maurice: “To the Glory of God and in memory of Maurice Hughes. Died Jan 12th 1889.

- St George: “In memoriam Douglas McKenzie DD II Bishop of Zululand Died Jan IX 1890”.

- St Cornelius: “Given by officers and men in camp at Rorke’s Drift in memory of all who died at Isandlwana”.

- St Longinus: In m(emory of) the Natal (….). Rest of Inscription now cannot be read.

- Judas Maccabeus: “In memory of Julius Jameson given by Lt. Charles Jameson 1st Batt. 3rd NNC of Kingwilliamstown.” (sic)

The condition of these windows varies, the Durnford one was collapsing in its frame and bulging inwards in early 2004. Inscriptions are in some cases obscured by whitewash, or the wooden battens that have been used in an improvised extent to stiffen the lower panels to stop them being crushed and splintered by the weight of the glass above. In the Durnford case, both remarks apply, but there are also broeken and missing parts, and it may be that the inscription has to be entirely reconstituted from photographs.

There are a few other inscrbed memorials still present, including the font and lectern.

As Martin has mentioned, the 24th and South Wales Borderers were much involved in the original setting up of this 'memorial' church, but by force of circumstance prevented from maintaining direct links with it over the years - the first major SWB 'return' to Isandlwana being the pre WW1 ceremony to deicate the 24th Foot memorial obelisk on the south saddle of Isandlwana crag. Incidentally, it is also in a deteriorating condition and may need repairs very soon lest its raised plinth starts to break up entirely.
I'm very happy to be contacted 'off-line' on this should that help further. But, I'm just about to move house which might occupy me - and provide relief and benefit to all by keeping me off this website for a while.
1st August 2005Coll

Thankyou for supplying more details about the Durnford window.

Yes. I'm hoping if the restoration of the church is undertaken, the Durnford window is restored/repaired before it sustains any further damage.

The importance of this part of the church in memory of Anthony I only fully realised when I read a small sentence in Liz's message, which did seem to confirm (to me) that it should be very much considered part of the restoration project.

Liz. I hope you don't mind me including the above mentioned sentence in this posting.

' .....I was very touched to hear about the stained glass window organised by my g-g-grandfather to his lost brother..... '

Peter describes it very well in one of his previous postings, that if any memorial in Durnford's name benefits the local community, focus on the repair of the window commemorating a man who took a genuine interest in the welfare of the African people, perhaps should be considered.

9th August 2005Coll
Further to the above.

On looking back over previous topics, I found one started in August 2002 about St. Vincent's Church and judging by a couple of the replies, there was a very strong feeling back then that repairs to the church should be encouraged, even the suggestion of a Trust Fund to be set up.

The most significant part of the topic was the mention that the church was indeed a memorial to all who fell, British, Colonial and Zulu !

If there was concerns expressed about the condition of St. Vincent's church in 2002, surely now is the time to organise some kind of project to save it ?

Sorry guys. I've been quiet for a while. Just thought I'd add this short posting.


PS. Am I being enthusiastic or just annoying ? (Please don't answer that !)

Close your eyes. Count to 10. And I'll be gone.
9th August 2005Michael Boyle
Mike McCabe mentions, in the 'driving' thread, that donations could be made through Pat Stubbs/Rob Gerrard at Isandlwana Lodge with confidence that the money would be forwarded to the church council. To do that from overseas would be terribly presumtious I suppose and it ignores the political difficulties alluded to above, but it is a thought towards more immediate action. (What about direct donations to the church council?) (Or perhaps a fund administered by the local hotel/lodges, it could provide them with good publicity in return at least.)
9th August 2005Coll

Thanks. Yes. I think donating funds while visiting St. Vincent's, or at Isandlwana Lodge would indeed be a great help.

However, as the AZW community is worldwide and many can't manage to visit personally, something would also have to be arranged to make it possible to send donations to an organisation that would be able to allocate it to the tasks being undertaken connected to the project, whether it be to restore the church, 'Durnford' window or helping the local community. (in an ideal world, it would be all of them)

Although this subject is being discussed at length, it is difficult to know what the AZW community itself thinks of such a project and if there is a great deal of support for it, but I'd rather not start another topic asking for views, until, hopefully, any progress has been made.

10th August 2005Mike McCabe
Though, of course, you must politely ask them, Pat and Rob are able to make sure that individual donations in cash are handed over to the parish council if you have not been able to do it yourself. Be aware that the church is normally only open for services and other activities (for example cleaning), and the Rev Ntshali and his parish council members are usually only there astride the morning Sunday services.

So, don't go giving money just to anybody! So that you know how poor this parish is, a Sunday 'collection' seldom approaches 50 Rand and very rarely exceeds 100 Rand (that is, less than £10)

I have specifically discussed with Pat Stubbs the issue of marshalling fundraising from abroad. To ensure corporate governance and assurance were properly addressed under South African charity laws would effectively require a 'receiving company' (not the actual term) to be registered and set up to do so. There are pitfalls in this, not least the likelihood of generously subscribed funds mounting far faster than their expenditure and disbursal can be properly planned.
Also, and for very respectable good reasons, Pat has concluded that Isandlwana Lodge cannot take on the additional responsibilities involved.
So, and until this situation materially improves in some way, there simply is not scope to fundraise as is being suggested above. I'm happy to explain further offline to anybody who wants to message me.
This might seem extraordinary to us, but local conditions are very complicated and the church must be extraordinarily careful how it operates. Any large accumulated fund might embarass it unduly.