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 The Story of James Langley Dalton

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Mr Greaves

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PostSubject: The Story of James Langley Dalton   Wed Nov 04, 2009 9:04 pm

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littlehand

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PostSubject: Re: The Story of James Langley Dalton   Mon Apr 05, 2010 9:13 pm

James Langley Dalton, 1833-1887:
This story is about the battle of Rorke’s Drift in which James Langley Dalton was a English hero. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery.

We have not as yet found the parents of James Langley Dalton or if his line connects with our own Dalton pedigree, but I have added it to this book because of its historical value.

Complied and edited from sources taken off the Internet and with material from the Dalton Genealogical Society, by Rodney G. Dalton, Ogden Utah USA.

Roake’s Drift was a small mission station with a hospital. It had been set up by the British as a supply base in the Zulu campaign of 1879.

Of note: There is a British film, “Zulu” which tells the story about this famous battle with the Zulu tribe in South Africa and the English force’s on January 22 1879.

Dennis Folbigge plays Commissary Dalton in the film.

James Langley Dalton is believed to have been born in 1833 in St. Andrews, Holborn, London according to the 1851 Census of the 85th Regiment. He enlisted in the British Army on Nov. 20th, 1849 in London and was assigned to the 85th regiment in Waterford, Ireland, where he served for 6 months. He was 17 or possibly even younger. Although 18 was the minimum age for joining up, regimental recruiting parties weren't too fussy about written evidence of age provided the recruit was tall enough, so they collected their 2s 6d fee for attesting him and the handsome red-haired Dalton got a bounty of 3. 10s. Regimental records show that he was a well disciplined soldier who qualified for good conduct pay, regularly drew his beer money and took his 30 days leave each December.

After six months the Regiment returned to England where he stayed until in 1853 he sailed on the Marion to Mauritius and so began his long career in the far-flung outposts of the British Empire. Two years later he had become a Sergeant Major and was on his way to the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa to serve in the 8th, Frontier War and his first confrontations with cattle stealing tribesmen.

He spent five years in England in the 1860s when he was transferred to the Commissariat staff Corps and attended the famous School of Musketry at Hythe, Kent. From 1868-71 Dalton did a tour in Canada at the end of which he, by then a 1st, Class SSGT in the Army Service Corps, claimed his discharge. He was awarded the Good Conduct Medal and the Long Service Medal for his 22 years in the army. His pension was 9s 6d a day.

On the 13th, of Dec. 1877 he volunteered for further service in the 9th, Frontier War. Prior to the action at Rorke’s Drift he was mentioned in dispatches for “efficient conduct” at Ibeka Depot.

The pull of South Africa was such that Dalton went to live there, probably in the frontier area where he had served, but his peaceful retirement in a glorious climate was shattered when he was roped in by the British Commander in Chief who was scouring the colony for men with some military know how. Dalton was I appointed Acting Assistant Commissary in December 1877 organizing and maintaining the re-supply of British ' columns and at the end of the 9th Kaffir war was the only civilian mentioned in dispatches.

About six months later in the run up to the Zulu wars he volunteered his services and moved to Natal - so it was eight years after his retirement that he took part in the action which was to bring him fame. The Victoria Cross was presented to him by General Clifford-in a parade at Fort Napier, Pietermaritzburg, in the words of the local newspaper, 'amid surroundings well calculated to make it impressive to participators and spectators alike.' He was promoted Assistant Commissary at the end of 1879 and put on half pay.

Not a lot is known about his last years or indeed about his private life. The 1851 census of the 85th Regiment gives his birthplace, as St Andrews, Holborn, but searches of the Roman Catholic parish registers have not revealed his baptism. Speculations include that his family was Irish and that perhaps he was taken to Ireland to be shown to his grandparents and was baptized over there. Joyce Parker suggests that his parents could have been a Charles Dalton (b 1809) who married Hannah Langley, people sometimes opting to call themselves by a preferred Christian name. Alternatively he could, for reasons unknown to us, have said he was born in London when in fact he was born in Ireland and came over here as a boy.

He was apparently a bachelor, so the E5 remittances in army account books in favour of a Mrs. Susan Dalton were probably to his mother.

In Feb. 1880 he was in England and 4 years later went back to Transvaal to prospect for gold in the rush of 1884-7. He owned 1,500 shares in the Little Bess Mine at Barberton, a town that seems to have been a carbon copy of those in Hollywood westerns. Just before Christmas 1886 he went to stay with an old army friend, John Williams, who kept the Grosvenor Hotel, Port Elizabeth. He seemed to be in fairly good health but after a day in bed he died suddenly in his room on the 8th January 1887. Dalton was buried in the Russell Road Roman Catholic cemetery, Port Elizabeth, where his grave can still be seen. He left no will but an inventory of his goods made out by his friend said that he had funds in the Standard Bank and 6 10s on his person. No mention is made of any property, or of his Victoria Cross medal.

Why was he awarded the Victoria Cross?

Some of James Dalton’s actions taken from letters and interviews with some of the men involved in the battle:
“Whilst the hospital was being thus gallantly defended, Lieutenant Chard and Assistant Commissary Dalton, with two or three men, succeeded in converting the two large pyramids of sacks of mealies into an oblong and lofty redoubt, and, under heavy fire, blocking up the intervening space between the two with sacks from the top of each, leaving a hollow in the centre for the security of the wounded and giving another admirable and elevated line of fire all round. About this time the men were obliged to fall back from the outer middle, and then to the inner wall of the kraal forming our left defense.” “Dalton, as brave a soldier as ever lived, had joined us, and hearing the terrible news said, ‘Now we must make a defense!’ It was his suggestion, which decided us to form a breastwork of bags of grain, boxes of biscuit, and everything that would help to stop a bullet or keep out a man. An ox-wagon and even barrels of rum and lime juice were pressed into service.”

“Chard and Bromhead, in consultation with Acting Assistant Commissary Officer, James Langley Dalton hurriedly organized the construction of a barricade of 200lbs mealie bags and teak crates, plus two overturned wagons which were incorporated into the South wall”

“After Spalding left, Chard and Bromhead heard distant rifle fire, but they ignored it until survivors straggled in warning them about the impending attack. Acting Assistant Commissary Officer James Dalton convinced the two officers to construct a fort around the exposed compound. Quickly, everyone stacked mealie (maize/corn) bags, biscuit boxes, and water barrels into barricades”

“James L. Dalton superintended the work of defense and was amongst those receiving the first wave of attack, where he saved the life of a man by killing the Zulu assailant. Although wounded himself, he continued to give the same display of cool courage throughout the action”

James Dalton was born in London in 1833. He enlisted in 85th Foot in November 1849 aged 17. He transferred to the Commissariat Corps in 1862 as a Corporal, and was promoted to Sergeant in the following year. Four years later, he became a clerk and a Master Sergeant. He served with Sir Garnet Wolseley on the Red River Expedition (Canada) in 1870.

He retired from the army, with a Long Service & Good Conduct medal in 1871 after 22 years service. By 1877, he was in South Africa and volunteered for service as Acting Assistant Commissary with the British Force. It was largely due to his experience, which made the defense of Rorke's Drift a success. At first his contribution was not recognized; however reports of his actions finally reached the ears of senior officers and even Queen Victoria.


Copied from an article in the DGSJ, Vol. 7:
From the London Gazette, 17th Nov 1879;
“James Langley Dalton, acting assistant Commissary and Transport Corps. Date of Bravery; January 22 1879. For his conspicuous gallantry during the attack on Roake’s Drift Post by Zulus on the night of 22nd January 1879, when he actively superintended the work of defense and was amongst the foremost of those who received the first attack at the corner of the hospital, where the deadliness of his fire did great execution and the mad rush of the Zulus met with it’s first check and where by his cool courage, he saved the life of a man of the Army Hospital Corps, by shooting the Zulu who had seized the muzzle of the man’s rifle, was in the act of assaulting him. This Officer, to whose energy much of the defense of the place was due, was severely wounded during the contest, but still continued to give the same example of cool courage”.

He received his VC from General Hugh Clifford VC at a special parade at Fort Napier on 16 January 1880. He returned to army service being given a permanent commission. He sailed for England in February 1880. He soon returned to South Africa and took part shares in a gold mine. He died at a friend's house at Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape on 7 January 1887, age 53. (His VC is in the Royal Logistic Corps Museum, Blackdown, Camberley, Surrey).

Obiturary:
From the Toowoomba Chronicle and Darling Downs General Advertiser, Tuesday, April 26, 1887:

“We have had several instances of more or less sudden deaths in this town lately (says the Port Elizabeth Telegraph), but few are more sad than that of the Rev. James Dalton, V.C., formerly of the 85th Regiment. Mr. Dalton had taken his discharge from the army, but in the Zulu War of 1879 volunteered for service against the Zulu’s. The engagement at Rorke's Drift is a matter of history, and the gallant defense made by the comparative handful of men against a horde of bloodthirsty savages has been made the plot for thrilling dramas and the chief attraction at dioramas, exhibitions, and lectures. On that critical occasion Mr. Dalton made himself conspicuous by his bravery, and in acknowledgment he received the Victoria Cross - the highest and most coveted dignity in the army that is open to all ranks, and he was offered a lieutenant's commission, which he accepted, went to England, and soon after did service in Egypt with the rank of captain.”

James Langley Dalton died 7th. January 1887 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. He is buried in the Russell Road Roman Catholic Cemetery with a memorial, Plot E.

Of note: Some of the articles above are attributed and quoted from the Dalton Genealogical Society and are copyrighted and can not be reproduced for commercial profit in any form unless prior permission is given. The information in the above chapter is only meant to be about our Dalton history in England, to be enjoyed for this and future generations
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Chard1879

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PostSubject: Re: The Story of James Langley Dalton   Thu Jul 08, 2010 9:01 pm

Dalton was born in 1832 and while not much is known of his private life, the 85th Regiment gives his birthplace as St. Andrew, Holborn, England and his parents could be Charles Dalton (born 1809) and Hannah Langley. It is also speculated that he may have been born in Ireland. He was 17 (in 1849) when he left his job in a stationer's shop and enlisted in London to join the 85th at Waterford, Ireland.

This young, handsome red-haired soldier was well-disciplined and in 1853 sailed to Mauritius. Two years later he had become a Sergeant and was on his way to Cape of Good Hope for his first confrontation with cattle thieves. During the 1860's he spent five years in England, was transferred to the Commissariat Staff Corps and attended the famous school of Musketry at Hythe.

From 1868-1871 Dalton did a tour in Canada and claimed his discharge as a 1st Class SSGT. He was awarded the Good Conduct Medal, Long Service Medal for his 22 years in the army, and a full pension.

At age 40 he returned to South Africa for a peaceful life but was "roped in" by the British Commander in Chief who was scouring the colony for men with some military know how. In December 1877, Dalton was appointed Acting Assistant Commissary and about six months later he volunteered his services in the Zulu War. A small garrison of 139 men held at bay 4,000 Zulus of whom 400 were killed. The defence had been organized by Dalton. He also saved the life of an officer by shooting a Zulu who was about to kill the officer.

Dalton was so badly wounded that he was on sick leave for six months. The Victoria Cross was presented to him by General Clifford in a parade at Fort Napier, Pietermaritzburg.

James Langley Dalton
As far as is known, he remained a bachelor and in the 1880's was in the gold rush in the Transvaal. He owned 1500 shares of the Little Bess Mine at Barberton, a typical pioneer town. In 1886, while visiting with an old army friend in Port Elizabeth, he died suddenly in his room on January 8 1887 and was buried in the Russell Road Roman Catholic Cemetery. He left no will but had a total of 96 pounds in the Standard Bank and no mention of other property nor of the Victoria Cross.

In September 1986 Dalton's Victoria Cross was advertised at auction in London. It had been in the private collection of the late Mr. David Spink, presumably owner of the auction house, Spink and Son. It was bought by the Royal Corps of Transport Museum for 62,000 pounds (some $100,000) part of which was raised by subscription.

Daltons action in the war inspired at least two artists. Lady Butler's "The Defence of Rorke's Drift" is owned by HM the Queen. A painting by Alphonse de Neuville showing Dalton severely wounded in the right shoulder hangs in the South Wales Borderer's Musem at Brecon.

Source: daltongensoc
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PostSubject: Re: The Story of James Langley Dalton   Wed Mar 28, 2012 11:15 pm

"JAMES LANGLEY DALTON WAS BORN IN LONDON IN 1833. HE ENLISTED INTO THE 85TH FOOT AT 17 YEARS OF AGE IN NOVEMBER 1849. HE WAS TRANSFERRED TO COMMISSARIAT CORPS IN 1862 AS CORPORAL AND PROMOTED TO SERGEANT IN 1863. IN 1867 HE BECAME A CLERK AND A MASTER-SERGEANT, LATER SERVING IN CANADA ON THE RED RIVER EXPEDITION WITH SIR GARNET WOLSELEY IN 1870.

IN 1871, AFTER 22 YEARS SERVICE, HE RETIRED FROM THE ARMY WITH A PENSION AND A LONG SERVICE GOOD CONDUCT MEDAL, BUT COULD’NT SETTLE INTO CIVILIAN LIFE AND BY 1877 HE HAD VOLUNTEERED FOR SERVICE AS ACTING ASSISTANT COMMISSARY WITH THE BRITISH FORCE.

ON JANUARY 22ND HE WAS AT THE RORKE’S DRIFT MISSION WHEN IT WAS ATTACKED BY SEVERAL THOUSAND ZULU WARRIORS AFTER THEIR MASSACRE OF LORD CHELMSFORD’S COLUMN AT ISANDLWANA. DALTON SUPERINTENDED THE WORK OF DEFENCE OF THE MISSION AND RECIEVED THE FIRST WAVE OF ATTACK. ALTHOUGH WOUNDED, DALTON CONTINUED TO DISPLAY COOL COURAGE THROUGHOUT THE ACTION. IT WAS HIS COURAGE AND EXPERIENCE WHICH MADE THE DEFENCE OF RORKE’S DRIFT A SUCCESS. THIS FACT WAS NOT AT FIRST RECOGNISED, BUT EVENTUALLY REPORTS OF HIS ACTIONS REACHED HIS SENIOR OFFICERS AS WELL AS  QUEEN VICTORIA, AND JAMES LANGLEY DALTON WAS RECOMMENDED FOR THE VICTORIA CROSS.

HE WAS DECORATED BY GENERAL HUGH CLIFFORD VC AT A SPECIAL PARADE AT FORT NAPIER ON 16TH JANUARY 1880. HE RETURNED TO ARMY SERVICE BEING GIVEN A PERMANENT COMMISSION.

ON JANAURY 7TH 1887, HE TOOK TO HIS BED AND DIED DURING THE NIGHT IN PORT ELIZABETH, SOUTH AFRICA, WHERE HE IS BURIED."
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