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 The 'Cantwell' Roll

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Lee Stevenson

Posts : 51
Join date : 2013-10-29

PostSubject: The 'Cantwell' Roll   Sun Jun 14, 2015 11:57 am

From the Zululand Times Eshowe 27/12/1934

Zulu War Regimental Roll
Interesting Discovery

After being hidden for 54 years a remarkable document relating to the defence of Rorke's Drift, victorious action over the Zulus, has come to light in Natal. Its existence was previously unknown.
The document is the Roll on which the names of those who fought on the night of the 22nd and 23rd January, 1879, is inscribed being drawn up by Lieut. Chard, R.E. within a month of the victorious action over the Zulus which meant at that time so much to Natal.
Among the names are four members of the old N.M.P.
The actual cause of the discovery is interesting. A controversy was in progress in the Natal Press as to whether a former member of the 24th Regiment (South Wales Borderers), Mr F Boisson, was present at the battle of the Drift. A former resident of Zululand of many years standing (Mr F Amon), contended that Boisson was present in that heroic defence as he had personal conversation with him which has since been confirmed by ex Bugler O'Gorman who marched with Lord Chelmsford's column to Isandhlwana, when he saw the shambles the day after and reached Rorke's Drift the same night where he met and spoke to Fred Boisson.
The Press controversy resulted in the owner of Lieut. Chard's roll (Mrs Cantwell, of Durban, widow of Bombardier Cantwell, R.A., who also fought at the Drift), forwarding the roll to the Secretary of the Old Comrades Association, who has since forwarded it to the Commanding Officer at the Depot, Brecon where it lies among other regimental documents and is regarded as an invaluable relic.
Until recently there were three ex members of the second 24th residing in Natal, viz; Sergt. Bassage, a former Supt of Roads, Zululand, Pte Boisson and Bugler O'Gorman. There are now only eight survivors of Rorke's Drift known to the regiment, including one in Canada. Col. J.R.M. Chard, V.C., R.E. died in Taunton in 1897 and Major G.S. Bromhead, V.C. died at Lucknow 1891.

[2217 Private Frederick Boisson 2/24th - died in Durban, Natal in 1932]
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Posts : 898
Join date : 2011-10-21
Location : Algoa Bay

PostSubject: The Zulu War Regimental Roll   Sun Jun 14, 2015 6:41 pm

Hi Lee,

Thanks for posting.
I would be most interested to know who the 4th NMP was thought to have been at RD.
His regiment only knows about three of it's members participating.
I suspect a copy of this Cantwell roll is also the one published by the Natal Mercury in the form of a booklet.


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Julian Whybra

Posts : 2102
Join date : 2011-09-12

PostSubject: Re: The 'Cantwell' Roll   Mon Jun 15, 2015 12:04 pm

This mention of Boisson has always been a little difficult to take on board.
No contemporary doc or account mentions Boisson at RD.
It was only after over 50 years that a third party says he had a conversation with Boisson about it.
O'Gorman mentions speaking with him on arrival at RD but Boisson could have been one of the advance party sent on to RD before the main relief force arrived thus giving O'Gorman the impression that Boisson was a defender.
With a total lack of any contemporary evidence it is currently impossible to give this claim credence.
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Frank Allewell

Frank Allewell

Posts : 7086
Join date : 2009-09-21
Age : 71
Location : Cape Town South Africa

PostSubject: Re: The 'Cantwell' Roll   Tue Jun 16, 2015 8:27 am

Hi Barry
On my version of the 'Cantwell Roll' there are only 3 NMP, I don't know where the 4 comes from.
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The 'Cantwell' Roll
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