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 Was Charlie Harford a liar?

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6pdr

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PostSubject: Was Charlie Harford a liar?   Sun Sep 28, 2014 5:13 pm

While reading DEAD WAS EVERYTHING (Smith) last night I came across an essay about the recovery of the 1st Battalion colours that Melvill famously carried from the battlefield until he was killed on the banks of the Buffalo.  The gist of it was that there are various accounts of how Melvill & Coghill bodies' were recovered.  Most of us have read Harford's account which casts him as the central actor in the drama; especially during the return the next day when the stanchion or staff for the colours was found wedged between some rocks in the river.

Smith reviews other accounts however which include far more participants in the search on both successive days. In those Harford is hardly the central agent; he does not discover the flag staff at all.  

I don't really care about the details of the recovery but, if the other accounts are accurate, doesn't it throw an entirely different light on Harford's diary? He is one of my favorite characters in this drama and I scarcely think I'm alone in feeling that way about him. That has made me weigh his testimony more heavily than others.  Do we have to read his diary the way we read Maori's accounts--i.e. with heightened skepticism? (Browne is one of those that seems to contradict Harford's account btw.)

Think about it.  This was supposedly a DIARY he was keeping, not something intended for publication. So, was he lying even to himself...or was it not really ever a diary?  Or were the other accounts put up jobs?
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PostSubject: Re: Was Charlie Harford a liar?   Sun Sep 28, 2014 5:59 pm

Diary or Journal?.
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PostSubject: Re: Was Charlie Harford a liar?   Mon Sep 29, 2014 12:20 am

The answer is probably yes - to give the impression that he played a key role, whereas he was most likely just an onlooker to events. His account varies with the official account written by Wilsone Black who commanded the recce party.
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PostSubject: Re: Was Charlie Harford a liar?   Mon Sep 29, 2014 7:22 am

Kenny,

If you are in Brecon perhaps you have access to this. Smith says there is an entry in a digest kept by the 1/24th saying:

"Hillier found the Cover, Trow the Crest, and finally about 50 yards above Harber raised the Colour from the water, it having been jammed between the stones."

Hillier, Trow and Harber were NNC officers. Harford is mentioned as one of the other 16 officers along for the ride though.
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PostSubject: Re: Was Charlie Harford a liar?   Mon Sep 29, 2014 1:29 pm

Surly someone (else) can put up Blacks account!!
But to call a man a liar!. a brave man at that, and
remember his diary was personal never intended
for publication, and if he did embellish his own 
involvement..what of it..i hear and see enough bs
in my brief time on here..to lead off calling a truly
fascinating man a liar, and then not have the way
to facilitate the claim further!, but expecting others
to do the work.. thats bs.
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PostSubject: Re: Was Charlie Harford a liar?   Mon Sep 29, 2014 2:20 pm

David Rattray is turning in his grave right now. No
Interesting thing about the comment 6lb posted is that harber lifted up the pole and the crest dropped out and was lost. Where does Trow fit in?

Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: Was Charlie Harford a liar?   Mon Sep 29, 2014 4:05 pm

Springbok -- that was my first thought upon reading this...because it ruins such a pleasing narrative. My second thought was "and how is Mike Snook going to square this with his claims that Victorian officers (in British regiments anyway) always bore themselves as paragons of virtue and therefore we should never think in terms of things like "cover ups" or, God forbid, cowardice. (Not that our bug collector engaged in either of those two latter activities, just that he turns out to be not only fallible, but intentionally so!)

Xhosa - my experience is that when somebody records something they know not to be true in a diary, journal, day book etc...that they are indeed intending for it to be published...but I can't prove that here. We do know for a fact that (if we accept the accuracy of Black's report) Harford embellished his role in these events and did so even beyond what Maori dared squeeze in about himself.

The story is also interesting for how the accounts changed over time and the accuracy of Norris-Newman's journalism...for better or worse.

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PostSubject: Re: Was Charlie Harford a liar?   Mon Sep 29, 2014 4:36 pm

Also, I don't mean to ignore requests for more information but I am quoting the relevant sentence in the entry of the 1/24th digest which, according to Smith, is a summary based on Black's report. Smith does not quote directly from Black's report. Is a copy of that extant? I don't know.

In this article Smith first quotes Wolseley on desirability of officers dying on the battlefield with their men rather than saving colours. He then quotes Glynn's report, Harford's journal (Child), Noggs, Times of Natal, Natal Mercury and finally Hamilton-Browne.

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PostSubject: Re: Was Charlie Harford a liar?   Mon Sep 29, 2014 8:36 pm

[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Source:THE ZULU WAR. Bay of Plenty Times, Volume VIII, Issue 720, 24 April 1879, Page 3
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PostSubject: Re: Was Charlie Harford a liar?   Mon Sep 29, 2014 9:03 pm

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Source: AMHS
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PostSubject: Re: Was Charlie Harford a liar?   Mon Sep 29, 2014 9:46 pm

Wow, those are both very interesting. The first because it's a third newspaper account that differs with the two prior.  And the second posting because it is different in telling details.  

Some accounts say the Colour was found the same day as the bodies and the others on a subsequent one. The Natal Witness says days later and repeats Harford's assertion that he spotted the pole even if he didn't retrieve it himself. (Harber did.) So, in effect, the NW represents Harford's version (which Browne also seems to echo.)

Noggs makes it clear that Black's "yarning" was his source. Smith believes both the newspaper accounts he quotes (Times of Natal and Natal Mercury) were also derivative of Norris-Newman. In those the bodies and Colour are discovered within moments on the same day. In other words there is only one expedition mentioned.

Smith points out that Harford frames the finding of the bodies during the first expedition as virtually a two man affair: him and Black. Black features Commandant Cooper, not Harford, in his telling.

In the end it seems that Black's version of the search(es) is the one that entered the official record (via Glyn?) albeit on the day (Feb. 4) after the bodies were discovered.  

That said, far more of us read Charlie Harford's account.

Thanks 24th!  Salute
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PostSubject: Re: Was Charlie Harford a liar?   Mon Sep 29, 2014 10:29 pm

A wonder image.
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PostSubject: Re: Was Charlie Harford a liar?   Mon Sep 29, 2014 10:54 pm

Quote :
Lay off Harford, a fine man!.

I think you're missing the point. You've posted Harford's version printed many decades after the event. That doesn't impact the argument one way or the other. There is no question but that has become the commonly printed version of the event. We all know as much. The question here is what really happened and can it be proved one way or the other.

And btw, a man can lie and be brave. They are not mutually exclusive. Smith seems to think at a minimum Harford embellished his role in the undertakings.
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PostSubject: Re: Was Charlie Harford a liar?   Mon Sep 29, 2014 11:19 pm

Version?!!!. its Regimental history! missing the point!
you have not made one that makes any sense..waffle
away to your hearts content, i have said it before, i
have you exact! no substance, very little knowledge,
please do the necessary legwork and take in what i
post.. i don't wish to offend you, but i expect you will 
take offence anyway. Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Was Charlie Harford a liar?   Tue Sep 30, 2014 12:19 am

Footnote 1 Verbatim: "This account is largely based on one contributed to the Natal Mercury by Lt., then Colonel, Harford in 1923."
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PostSubject: Re: Was Charlie Harford a liar?   Tue Sep 30, 2014 1:28 am

What about the direct quote from Black, give it up.
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PostSubject: Re: Was Charlie Harford a liar?   Tue Sep 30, 2014 2:55 am

xhosa2000 wrote:
What about the direct quote from Black, give it up.

You're really not getting it, are you?  You're arguing with a piece written by Keith Smith called THE QUEEN'S COLOUR on pages 114-119 of his recently reprinted work, DEAD WAS EVERYTHING.  You're not arguing with me.  Harford is my favorite character in the whole drama.

"The extracts which next are the words of Captain (local rank) Harford, staff officer to Colonel Durnford of the 1st Regiment NNC, who places himself at the center of the action he describes, while at the same time contradicting Colonel Glyn's own account of events." (p.115) Glyn says he sent Black. Neither Glyn nor Black makes mention of Harford.

"It is most unlikely that Harford's description of the first expedition, seemingly consisting of only himself and Black, and which could be thought ambigous, is correct. " (p.118)

"There is yet one more account to be considered, although it's inclusion here is solely for the purpose of exposing the was Victorian gentlemen were quite beyond shame when it came to insinuating themselves into a good story." (p.117)  This is referring to Maori who does just that.  Browne claims he was going along to find the bodies but was called away by Glyn at the last minute.

And why is Smith drawing our attention to Maori being Maori?

Because of unsubstantiated quotes of the type favored by Browne that exist in Harford's account:  "Harford, it is nothing but your right to carry this Colour to its destination."  Really? If that doesn't sound like a line Browne might have concocted, I don't know what would be.  

In any case what you didn't manage to quite cut off is that BLACK was the one who presented the Colour after all, NOT Harford for which a suitable excuse is found.  Again, conveniently inconclusive, but shades of Maori at his best...  

To cap it off the 1/24th Battalion ledger states: "The party returned to Rorke's Drift and gave over the Colour to Col. Glyn which was next day escorted by the above party [of 19 officers, not two] to Helpmakaar and restored to the two Companies now representing the 1/24 Regiment.[136]"

Again, no mention of Harford as a pivotal figure...in fact no mention is made of him at all. To me it seems quite possible the quotes attributed by Harford to Black are literary license, (which is to say made up from whole cloth.)  In any case there is no independent corroboration for them.

Smith then ends with a terrific quote from the journalist William Russell on how the 3rd Buffs and 99th Regiment treated their Colours.

It's a very interesting perspective. You need to study mo


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PostSubject: Re: Was Charlie Harford a liar?   Tue Sep 30, 2014 3:04 am

You have lost, if you ever had the plot. Very Happy goodnite. More from me when I have slept a. While.
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PostSubject: Re: Was Charlie Harford a liar?   Tue Sep 30, 2014 10:27 am

Calm yourself Mr 6pdr.. you cite Mr Smith like he has some god like status..
he is an author ( and a bloody good one two! ) but assertions and then opinion
do not make facts. if you remember the part of your initial post inferred that
Charles Harford was a liar..you seem to have dropped that, so have settled 
instead that he had exaggerated his role in finding the Queens Colour..my own
first response was to say well ' what of it ' do we all not exaggerate at times? 
here is the Smith piece from the 1st edition in its entirety. i dont know if i will
be getting the second till i know if anything useful is added, i have people who
can be relied apon to let me know on that score.
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PostSubject: Re: Was Charlie Harford a liar?   Tue Sep 30, 2014 10:46 am

Of course you are aware that the regimental Record's of
the 24th Regiment were destroyed at Isandhlwana! and
that a reconstituted version was compiled! in them there
is no individual naming of The Colonials, they were air-
brushed so to speak..Mr Atkinson corrected that omission
when the Regimental history was revisited at the invitation
of the Regiment!. Now i say again, which is basically all that
i am saying Charles Harford was not a  'LIAR' so retract that
please.. i have one more snippet to scan and present then i
will consider my say...said!. Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Was Charlie Harford a liar?   Tue Sep 30, 2014 11:12 am

Xhosa your replies to 6pdr posts, sound somewhat antagonising, when he is simply putting forward what I would call reasonable discussion. By all means debate you case, but try and do it in a Gentlemanly manner. If the topic is upsetting to you, perhaps it would be best not to contribute on this occasion.
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PostSubject: Re: Was Charlie Harford a liar?   Tue Sep 30, 2014 11:33 am

I understand what you say, this topic is in no way upsetting
to me, i have debated my case, vigorously, without aggression.
you are out of order and to quick to jump in.. your comment
and try and do it in a gentlemanly manner, i find extremely 
offensive! in what sense am i expected to behave like a gentleman?
and please tell me what that even is? the person in question left
me a pm. baiting me! i replied to him in a manner suited in my
opinion. if you are saying that he is for example..a minor and in
which case allowances would certainly apply! but i have no idea so
treated him as an adult, capable of looking after him self.

Gentleman! no mate, i have never claimed that.. i did not know it
was a requirement!
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PostSubject: Re: Was Charlie Harford a liar?   Tue Sep 30, 2014 11:50 am

Xhosa. Control your passions. A professional must keep cool and thoughtful in times of stress. It’s not all about you two; there are other members on here that would like to participate, but don’t because they don’t want to get embroiled in a childish arguments. Use the PM Facility or the ring section to debate your case, vigorously.
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PostSubject: Re: Was Charlie Harford a liar?   Tue Sep 30, 2014 12:10 pm

Yes admin, but again you mistake me for some other! i am 
not a professional. i dont know what you mean when you 
say that! please dont ask me to control my passions.. again
i dont know why you would choose such a phrase.. i am icy
cool at all times..i always type as i'm thinking, but always 
check before i hit the send button..i am truly appalled at the
notion that i have been preventing others from posting or
presenting their opinions.. i encourage at all times vigorous
debate, yes, i am a plain speaking man. but dont believe i
am deliberately aggressive or offensive!. i want this to be the
best forum of its type in the world, and fear that if it becomes 
to bland and colourless it will go the way others have gone before!

With over 1700 members i have often thought..' where are they '
i am not a person who would go out of the way to be condescending
to any poster who asked even the most basic question! you as admin
have to be fair, even handed and above all impartial. i have no beef
with you on that score..
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PostSubject: Re: Was Charlie Harford a liar?   Tue Sep 30, 2014 12:23 pm

Xhosa wrote:
i dont know what you mean when you
say that! please dont ask me to control my passions.. again
i dont know why you would choose such a phrase

How disappointing. I thought you, would have got that.

Zulu Dawn
CREALOCK "Mr. Harford... control your passions. A professional soldier must keep cool and thoughtful in times of stress."
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PostSubject: Re: Was Charlie Harford a liar?   Tue Sep 30, 2014 1:49 pm

One man's lie is another man's exaggeration ? The OED definition of a liar is simply;

"A person who tells lies:".

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PostSubject: Re: Was Charlie Harford a liar?   Tue Sep 30, 2014 2:28 pm

Thank you for injecting that note of sanity Mr. Wilson, but I don't think we should descend any further into a rabbit hole of semantics.

I doubt Smith's goal was to "besmirch the reputation of such a fine upstanding citizen" or any such Victorian hornswoggle; nor is it mine.  Harford will continue to stand out for his eccentricities in any case.

The question I was asking is whether we have to review Harford's considerable contributions to the history of this period with a more critical eye.  Is it possible he gilded the Lilly a bit when recounting his adventures at Sirhayo's holdout, or chasing after Matshana? And if all of the "daring do" didn't really happen does that change the historical record substantively? I don't know, but I feel as if, in the past, I have had too positive a bias towards him.

I am suggesting that I ought to read his journal in exactly the same way that I read Marori Browne's books -- dispassionately.  Isn't that merely the standard that truly professional historians must hold themselves to in any case?


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PostSubject: Re: Was Charlie Harford a liar?   Tue Sep 30, 2014 2:34 pm

I think Keith is barking up the wrong tree. And I say that with the greatest respect for the man. In all the accounts there are discepancies. I don't recall Rev Smith being included in any of the parties? And the mention of Trow finding the Crest is patently incorrect, the crest fell out as the standard was raised out of the water by Harber.
The initial account from Harford rings true and is only discounted by KS because it sounds unlikely that they would be riding around in a 'dangerous setting'. That's really wrong, they were riding in an area regularly patrolled, Harford himself had just come of a patrol, and in Natal not Zulu land. There had been no signs of enemy activity over the Buffalo so I would disagree that the area was dangerous. In addition men were riding back and forth to Helpmakaar, there are a number of references to visitors to RD and the track to Helpmakaar is on the road between RD and Elands Kraal, not to far from the grave site of M and C. I would believe its highly possible that the two of them rode of on the 3rd to explore.
The fact that Harford is not high lighted as being present on the following day is not that surprising, he was a junior officer and Black has singled out the senior officers for mention. The two separate summaries, by Black and Glyn really have no significant differences. Glyn says that when he herd where the M and C had come to grief he sent out Black to have a look. Harford says Black approached Glyn, possibly telling him where the bodies could be found, and Glyn agreed to the patrol. Theres no difference in the two tales. Glyn doesn't mention Harford and Black has no reason to.
Its always possible that embelishments are made to stories but not when they can be repudiated by other living sources surely? Harford finding the cover is just such a situation, he was with Harbor at the time and recal a conversation with him. If that didn't take place Im pretty confident that Harbor or one of the other party would have contradicted.
Norris Newmans account says quite blatantly wrongly that the colors were found by Black. Definitly a hearsay report, in similar fashion the other news paper reports. And of course the old ruffian himself, Browne, who can say that he hadn't discussed things with Harford, possibly this was the catalyst for Harford to talk to Black and instigate the search.

No sorry Keith I would beg to differ, Harford has been much maligned and I don't believe that for one second.

Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: Was Charlie Harford a liar?   Tue Sep 30, 2014 2:40 pm

As an aside, my key board is acting up and what seems to be really bad spelling is a result of that.

That's my bloody excuse and Im sticking to it.

Suspect
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PostSubject: Re: Was Charlie Harford a liar?   Tue Sep 30, 2014 3:08 pm

Springbok,

I take your points but I think there are (at a minimum) two distinctly different versions of events -- one that originates with Black and another Harford.  I can speculate there was a feeling of competition between them but that is merely speculation and trivial in any case.

That said, the place where the two fell is sufficiently close to Sihayo's former hold out that it might still be considered a dangerous area in the wake of a disaster like Isandlwana.  I do agree that Black and Glyn present substantially the same summary. It effaces Harford's role and maybe that was the root of his retelling. You say Norris Newman is a "hearsay account" but he claims he got it direct from Black. Harford OTOH claims Black was the one to request official permission but he really took Black along.  And as you rightly point out, a discussion with Maori may even have been the catalyst for Harford instigating the search (through Black.)

And that's what's got me suspicious. The entire account smells to high heaven of Maori IMO. We all like Harford so much because he's typically somewhat understated. In no other case do I remember reading him as a braggart.  In this case he's atypically egotistical however.  

Perhaps it's all in my imagination...but I do not believe so. I see the hand of Maori in this account!
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PostSubject: Re: Was Charlie Harford a liar?   Tue Sep 30, 2014 4:43 pm

Hi 6pd
Yep Newmans account is definitely second hand, and very inaccurate, and do the other accounts efface Harford, or merely reflect the times in that junior officers are there to do guard duties and menial tasks. I would think that's really the scenario in that the senior officers claimed as their right all the glory.
Typically Victorian military attitude?
I stick up for Harford because of his record, its pretty damned good and he doesn't make a lot of it himself, in fact a lot of his exploits would be unheard of if it wasn't for his contemporaries.
Right now the ghost of David Rattray is preparing to haunt an expat pom in Aussie. Very Happy So be careful Im pretty sure he knows how to get to the older colonies Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Was Charlie Harford a liar?   Tue Sep 30, 2014 5:37 pm

Next time I am able I will post the account in Records of 1/24th written by Black as he uses the word 'glen' - being a Glaswegian - when referring to the river and fugitives' drift - which Keith Smith consulted for his book. Black mentions all the names involved, nevertheless according to Black Harford does seemed to have played a minor role in this episode.

As Harford was a particular favourite of DR - around which he based his stories - like the characters in movie 'Zulu' we remember with affection these stories when perhaps they were an embellishment of the true facts.
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PostSubject: Re: Was Charlie Harford a liar?   Tue Sep 30, 2014 6:29 pm

springbok9 wrote:

Right now the ghost of David Rattray is preparing to haunt an expat pom in Aussie. Very Happy So be careful Im pretty sure he knows how to get to the older colonies Very Happy

Duly noted!  Then I will pull my socks up and endeavor to a more respectful comportment.  Salute
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PostSubject: Re: Was Charlie Harford a liar?   Tue Sep 30, 2014 7:23 pm

Most soldiers bend the truth somewhat. Why should this man be any different? Perhaps that why it was never meant for publication. .
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PostSubject: Re: Was Charlie Harford a liar?   Tue Sep 30, 2014 10:16 pm

24th wrote:
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Source:THE ZULU WAR. Bay of Plenty Times, Volume VIII, Issue 720, 24 April 1879, Page 3

I notice in this article, Harford is mentioned, albeit the name being wrongly spelled. But the credit is given to Harbour, based on the date of the article possibly more the truth.
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6pdr

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PostSubject: Re: Was Charlie Harford a liar?   Wed Oct 01, 2014 12:28 am

Dave wrote:
I notice in this article, Harford is mentioned, albeit the name being wrongly spelled. But the credit is given to Harbour, based on the date of the article possibly more the truth.

Just confirming Harber/Harbour and Harford are different officers.  The 1/24th journal lists both among the participants of the second day search party.  It occurred to me that Harbour/Harber might be a misspelling of Harford when I first saw it, but no.

(And I suppose I should also add that in Harford's own account (posted on the first page of this thread by Xhosa) he says he pointed Captain Harber to the pole that Captain Harber pulled from the river. So Harbour is not a mispelling of Harford it is a mispelling of Harber.)
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PostSubject: Re: Was Charlie Harford a liar?   Wed Oct 01, 2014 8:30 am

Here's the same story with the correct spellings.

Scroll to recovering the colours.

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PostSubject: Re: Was Charlie Harford a liar?   Wed Oct 15, 2014 8:00 pm

As promised the Records of the 1/2th Regiment state:

On 4th February Lieut Colonel Black who in a previous reconnaissance had discovered the bodies of Lieuts Melvill & Coghill set out with the following officers of the NNC – Captains Harber, Gubbins, Greaves, Underhill, MacIntosh, Lieuts Trow, Hillier, Harford, Murray, Sheppard, Barry, Higginson, Godfrey, Goldsburg, Pohl, Sutherland, Long, Ryder and Raw, to try and find the lost Queens Colour of the 1/24th Regiment. The party raised a cairn over the bodies of Mevill & Coghill, and descended into the glen through which the Buffalo runs in deep curves about 400 yards lower downstream than where Melvill crossed first, Hillier found the Cover, Trow the Crest, and finally about 50 yards above Harber raised the Colour from the water, it having jammed between the stones. The party returned to Rorke’s Drift and gave over the Colour to Colonel Glyn which was next day escorted by the above party to the two Companies now representing the 1/24th Regiment.

On 14th April, the bodies of Lieutenants Coghill & Melvill which were covered by a cairn by the party under Colonel Black on the 4th February, were buried close to the spot where they fell, & on the rock above a Marble Cross, the gift of Sir Bartle Frere was set up.
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6pdr

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PostSubject: Re: Was Charlie Harford a liar?   Wed Oct 15, 2014 8:27 pm

Kenny wrote:
As promised the Records of the 1/2th Regiment state:

Thanks for closing the loop. Salute
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