you are currently viewing: Discussion Forum


The Rorke's Drift VC Discussion Forum
(View Discussion Rules)


PLEASE NOTE: This forum is now inactive and is provided for reference purposes only. The live forum is available at

(Back To Topic List)

DateOriginal Topic
4th October 2002Clery & Mansel Info
By Sally
Can anyone supply me with biographical (before and after Anglo ZuluWar) details on :
Major Cornelius Clery (32nd Regt) who was Chelmsford's Senior Staff Officer.

Inspector George Mansel (Natal Mounted Police) who was Dartnel's 2nd in Command.
4th October 2002John S Radburn
NAME Clery CorneliusFrancis
RANK Major
REGIMENT 32nd (Cornwall) Light Infantry

He served with the Field Force throughout the war first as Principal Staff Officer in Glyn’s Column, subsequently as Assistant Adjutant-General in the Flying Column. (He was mentioned in despatches.)
Source 'The South African Campaign of 1879' by McKinnon & Shadbolt

Delighted by the opportunity for glory, British officers were more than willing to accept the challenge of invading Zululand. For example, Major (later General Sir) Francis Clery, Adjutant to Colonel Glyn of the 24th Regiment, wrote in 1879 ‘that the Zulus had been ‘very cheeky’ for a long time, and unless they knuckle under now it is thought that it is time to have it out with them.’
(p 19)
At the Battle of Sihayo’s kraal on the 12th January 1879, Charlie Harford had been observed by Lord Chelmsford and Major Clery to take the war into his own hands and was later offered their congratulations.
(p 74)
Chelmsford was obviously not concerned about Pulleine. He marched away without leaving Pulleine any orders. Major Clery, one of the Staff Officers who left camp with Lord Chelmsford, hastily scribbled a note directing pulleine to defend the camp and another ordering Colonel Durnford to bring his forces from Natal to the camp and to ‘support’ Chelmsford.
(p 82)
Major Clery said of Gonville Bromhead that he was ‘a capital fellow at everything except soldiering’ and that he suffered from ‘unconquerable indolence.’
(p 101)
Lord Chelmsford did not acknowledge the fact that he had left no orders for Pulleine and was visibly relieved when Major Clery told him that Clery himself had left orders for Pulleine to defend the camp.
(p 111)
Major Clery wrote of Colonel John Russell that he ‘lacked flint’ ‘was always, below the occasion, in a crisis,’ and had been unnerved by Isandhlwana.
No one suffered more in those letters than Captain Alan Gardner, about whom Major Clery wrote with a venomous pen: ‘I must tell you about another of our heroes out here - a man named Gardner in the 14th Hussars. His case has caused a good deal of ire.’ Explaining that Gardner (who was on Special Service with Chelmsford’s Staff) rode out of camp with Chelmsford (and Clery), and that Chelmsford had sent Gardner back to camp with a message for Pulleine, Clery added that Gardner took command of some troops in the camp but left them while they were still fighting (as survivors were alleged to have said) to gallop out of camp toward safety in the Natal town of Dundee. Gardner apparently sang his own praises too loudly and unconvincingly when called before the court of inquiry. Clery added that those who saw Gardner’s less than heroic action ‘have made up a song about it which they used to sing in chorus at the mess at Helpmakaar, and this ditty wound up at every verse as follows: ‘I very much fear / that the Zulus are near / so, hang it I’m off to Dundee.’ This has now got into the newspapers, who had already found out about it, and were rather hard on him.’ Apparently, Gardner tried to cover his less than stalwart actions with claims of heroism that properly belonged to other men. When rumours began that Gardner would receive a medal or a promotion, his fellow officers were furious and suggested that what he really deserved was a court-martial, shooting, and ‘other unpleasant things.’
(p 112)
Source 'Like Lions They fought'

Cornelius Francis Clery (1838 - 1926) Major, Half-pay. Service in Griqualand West, 1877; Transvaal, 1878. Instructor of Tactics at the Royal Military College, 1871 and Professor, 1872 - 1875. DAQMG on Headquarters Staff at Dublin, 1875 - 1877 and at Aldershot, 1877 - 1878. On special service in 1879, when first joined No 3 Column as Principal Officer to Colonel Glyn, and then served with Wood in the same capacity. Present at Ulundi. Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel.
Source 'Lord Chelmsfords Zulu Campaign'

In 1888 he returned to academic life as the Commandant of the Staff College. His lack of success in the field as commander of the 2nd Division in the Second Anglo-Boer War bore out Chelmsford’s strictures. See Clarke, ‘Zululand at War’, p280
Source 'Lord Chelmsford's Zulu Campaign' (p 262)

In the Second Boer War Clery, a 61 year-old veteran of the Zulu War, had a reputation as a fighting General was somewhat belied by his blue-dyed whiskers and varicose veins.
Source ‘The Anglo Boer Wars’ by Michael Barthorp (p 93)

Date of Birth - 13th February 1838
First Appointment - Ensign - 32nd Foot - 5th March 1858
Lieutenant - 32nd Foot - 3rd June 1859
Adjutant - 32nd Foot - 5th November 1861 to 15th January 1866
Captain - 32nd Foot - 16th January 1866
Major (Half-Pay) - 20th March 1878
Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel - 29th November 1879
Colonel - Army - 21st May 1884
Instructor, Royal Military College - 27th January 1871 to 3rd September 1872
Professor of Tactics etc., Royal Military College - 4th September 1872 to 23rd May 1875
D. A. A. & Q. M. G., Headquarters, Ireland - 24th May 1875 to 4th April 1877
D. A. A. & Q. M. G., Aldershot - 5th April 1877 to 30th May 1878
Special Service, Cape of Good Hope - 31st May 1878 to 19th September 1879
Brigade Major, Expeditionary Force, Egypt - 5th September 1882 to October 1882
A. A. & Q. M. G., Egypt - 24th October 1882
Passed Staff College - 1870
South African War - 1879 - Zulu Campaign - Battle of Isandhlwana and Battle of Ulundi. Despatches, London Gazette 15th March and 21st August 1879. Medal with Clasp.
Egyptian Expedition - 1884 - Soudan - Assistant Adjutant-General. Battles of Teb and Tamai. Despatches, London Gazette 27th March and 6th May 1884. Promoted Colonel. C. B. (Date of Nomination - 21st May 1884)
Source ‘1884 Army List’ (p 9, 44a, 70, 163, 1179 & 1241)

THE name of Lieut,-General Sir Cornelius Francis Clery is best known as the author of a standard work on Tactics, a work which has long been accepted as a text-book by our own military authorities, and is so well thought of that it has been translated into at least four foreign languages. Like so many of our other more prominent sons of Mars, Sir Francis Clery is an Irishman, his family having for generations been settled in the picturesque county of Cork. It was there that the subject of our sketch was born on February 13th, 1838, Early in life he developed strong military instincts, and so it was resolved that he should become a soldier. Thus, on March 5th, 1858, he was gazetted to an Ensigncy in a regiment whose distinguished services during the Indian Mutiny had earned for it a world-wide reputation - the 32nd Light Infantry - obtaining his Lieutenancy June 5th, 1859, Young Clery was Adjutant of his regiment from November 5th, 1861, to January 15th, 1866, when promotion to a Company disqualified him for retaining a position which he had held with the utmost credit. Good soldier though he had shown himself to be, he seemed almost to despair of getting a look in on service; but he went to the Staff College in 1869, and passing out at the end of 1870 made such a record that he was at once appointed an Instructor of Tactics at the Royal Military College, taking up his duties oh January 27th, 1871, and exchanging them on September 4th, 1872, for those of Professor, which important chair he filled until May 23rd, 1875. He then proceeded to Ireland as Deputy Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster-General on the Headquarters Staff at Dublin, and on April 5th, 1877, was transferred to Aldershot in the same capacity. On May 31st, 1878, he proceeded on Special Service to South Africa, and in the following year, with twenty-one years' service, received his baptism of fire in the Zulu War. He was present at the engagement at Isandhlwana and battle of Ulundi.. his reward being a splendid mention in Despatches, the Brevet of Lieut.-Colonel and the medal with clasp.
On the organizing of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force in 1882 Lieut.-Colonel Clery was provided for as Brigade Major at Alexandria, and on the close of operations was raised to the status of Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster-General of the Army of Occupation. But his position during the war against Arabi gave him few opportunities. Hence the medal and Khedive's star constituted his only recognition.
When the late Sir Gerald Graham set out for the Soudan Expedition of 1884 Colonel Clery accompanied him as Assistant Adjutant-General, and was present in the hardly-contested engagements of El-Teb and Tamai. At the close he found himself honourably mentioned, promoted to the Brevet rank of Colonel and created a C.B., besides getting two clasps to his war medal. In the following year he served with the Nile Expedition, and on March 4th, 1886, was created Chief of the Staff of the Army of Occupation with the rank of Brigadier-General. He finally left Cairo at the end of 1887, and on August 15th, 1888, was gazetted Commandant of the Staff College, retaining that post for five years, December 20th, 1894, saw him promoted a Major-General; on January 25th, 1895, he joined at Aldershot as Major-General commanding an Infantry Brigade; on March 13th he was transferred to the Headquarters Staff of the Army as Deputy Adjutant-General of the Forces; and on October 9th, 1899, he sailed for South Africa as Lieut.-General Commanding the 2nd Division of the Field Force, with the rank of Lieut.-General, which command he has held ever since. It is no secret that Sir Redvers Buller entertains the highest opinion of Sir Francis Clery's fighting qualities; and it is in a large measure due to his good advice that the field force in Natal has been able quietly but surely to force the Boers back from positions which at one moment it seemed almost hopeless for us ever to think of occupying, so unsurmountable did the geographical difficulties appear.
Source ‘Celebrities of the Army’

He died on 25th June 1926 and was buried in Battersea New Cemetery, Morden, Surrey.
Source ‘Keynsham Light Horse’ (web site)

I trust this is of use to you
John S Radburn
4th October 2002John S Radburn
Please ignore the &#(NUMBERS), not my doing.
Regards John S Radburn
4th October 2002John S Radburn
Ihave the following for 'Mansel'
NAME Mansel George M
RANK Inspector
REGIMENT Natal Mounted Police

His surname is spelt ‘Munsell’.
Source 'In Zululand throughout the War of 1879' by NOrris Newman (p 336)

The party arrived at the foot of Bushman’s River Pass on July 1st 1874and set up a tented camp. A wall of turf was built around the tents to keep out the cold wind. To keep themselves warm at night Mansel heated stones in the fires and took them to bed.
A patrol of Natal Mounted Police under George Mansel passed through the lands of the Phutile. It was a depressing sight: ‘on every gentle slope and every rounded knoll were to be seen the charred and blackened remains of ruined Kraals. . .’ Pine’s orders had been faithfully discharged.
Inspector George Mansel of the Natal Mounted Police was certain that Crealock was responsible for having the blame for the disaster put on Durnford.
Source No 'Isandhlwana' by R W F Droogleever (p 80-1 & 240)

His surname is spelt ‘Mansell’
Source 'They Fell Like Stones' by John Young

George Mansell had been appointed First Inspector of the Natal Mounted Police in October 1878. Major Dartnell, their Commandant, was on Chelmsford’s Staff.
Source 'Lord Chelmsford' Zulu Campaign' (p 244)

On 10th March 1874 he was gazetted as a Sub-Inspector and on 1st November 1878 he was promoted to the rank of Inspector.
On 3rd April 1883 Inspector George Mansel resigned to take up an appointment as Commandant of the Zululand Police. He retired as Colonel towards the end of 1906.
In 1898 the Zululand Native Police was taken over by the Natal Police with all the officers. Mr. George Mansel, who had formed the Zululand Native Police, became second-in-command of the Natal Police. Ten police posts were opened in Zululand.
On the March 1906 the district was in a disturbed state after the Bambata Rebellion. At Keate’s Drift three European women were in danger, viz., Mrs Marshall, Mrs Hunter, Mrs Borham, and also a white child. Colonel Mansel with a mounted force of Natal Police went to their assistance on 4th April and took them back to Greytown.
In 1910 ‘The Association of Past and Present Members of the N. M. P. and the N. P.’ was formed and amongst it’s members was Lieutenant-Colonel G Mansel.
Source ‘Natal Past and Present’ by Arthur A Wood (1961)

Sally, I trust you have enough information on these two gentlemen to last the weekend, if not two weekends.
Regards John
5th October 2002sally
Very many thanks - all useful infor despite the 'numbers'
5th October 2002Peter Critchley
Hi John,

Did you copy and paste the info in? If so, that would explain it, as there are sometimes characters floating around which the database interprets differently.

All the best,

5th October 2002sally
Does anyone have any anecdotal info on their 'characters' rather than their military history - the latter has been answered well by John
5th October 2002John S Radburn
Hi Peter
Yes it was copy and paste. I also believe it to be not so much as copy and paste but from which type of format it was originally pasted from.
7th October 2002ron lock
I have always felt that it might well have been Clery himself who composed the derogatory ditty about Gardner: ‘I very much fear the Zulus are near, so hang it I’m off to Dundee.’ Clery was an arch gossip and, as you say, had a venomous pen. A cad indeed who could libel not only a fellow officer but a fellow staff officer with whom he worked every day. When it was rumoured – and it was only a rumour, that Gardner had been recommended for a VC, it would seem that jealousy motivated Clery’s pen.

So what of Gardner’s ‘off to Dundee’ ? Like others at Isandlwana, including Melvill and Coghill, acknowledged heroes, he fled the battlefield, right or wrongly, while there was still a chance to do so. Having survived the horror of the Fugitives Trail, the crossing of the Buffalo River, and having arrived safely on the Natal shore, he foot slogged it with Captain Edward Essex and others to Helpmekaar. There the survivors and the small garrison set about erecting defences while messengers were despatched with the awful news to Greytown and Pietermaritzburg – Gardner having already sent warning to Rorkes Drift as soon as he had crossed the Buffalo. There was also No. 4 Column, commanded by Colonel Evelyn Wood, to be warned. But whilst there were plenty of volunteers ready to ride towards the comparative safety of Pietermaritzburg, none were willing to go north through the lonely, rugged country, that might well already be in Zulu hands, to Utrecht, eighty-five miles away, where Wood had established a fort. When, well into the night, two companies of the 24th returned to Helpmekaar and still no volunteer had been found to ride to Utrecht, Gardner decided he would take the news himself. By that time he had been on the go for twenty-four hours and was just about exhausted. In Dundee he snatched a few hours sleep and then, continuing alone, he eventually arrived at Utrecht at 4 p.m. on the 23rd. John Scott, a senior NCO of the 90th Regiment who later became the first colonel of the Cape Town Highlanders, recorded Gardner’s arrival:
‘Gardner of the Hussars rode into Utrecht in a deplorable state, poor fellow, with an old shirt and something resembling britches. His horse was about done up. He desired to know who was in charge and when informed that Lieutenant Justice of the 13th Light Infantry was in command, he shouted, “Up with your drawbridge! The general’s camp has been taken and every man slaughtered.” We put him down as mad, he had nothing to show that he was a military man, but after being closely examined (we had to be particular) he proved himself to be a captain in the regiment of Hussars …’

Gardner’s dishevelled state was compatible with a man who had shed tunic and boots before plunging into the Buffalo. Now utterly done in, a Royal Artillery gunner took on Gardner’s message to Wood’s camp. When he recovered, Gardner set out a more detailed report for Wood and believing that Rorkes Drift had fallen on the night of the 22nd, wrote, ‘…The Zulus had however advanced on Rorkes Drift and it was reported by a conductor who fled from the them, that they had burnt the stores there and destroyed the company in charge.’ [B Coy 2/24th ] Nevertheless, though still believing that Rorkes Drift was in Zulu hands, Gardner made his way back to Helpmekaar finally arriving at Rorkes Drift itself on the 26th, a mere four days after his flight from Isandlwana. He had done well, he alone had warned No. 4 Column of its perilous situation giving Wood the time to retire to a fortified position.

Shortly thereafter, Colonel Redvers Buller chose Gardner as his chief staff officer, which in itself was tantamount to a recommendation for bravery. Gardner subsequently fought at Hlobane and Kambula, being severely wounded in the later battle, and becoming one of the few men to have been present at those two battles plus Isandlwana.

When submitting his report on Hlobane, Buller wrote:

‘As specially distinguishing themselves in the retreat, I wish to mention Commandant Raaff, Transvaal Rangers, and Captain Gardner, my staff officer, both of whom were also conspicuous in the assault in the morning …’ Buller’s commendation was equivalent to a recommendation for a bravery award. Raaff eventually received a CMG but Gardner got nothing. No doubt the malicious gossip of Clery and others like him deprived a brave man just acclaim for gallant deeds.