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Lieutenant J.P. Daly, 1/24 Regt.-KIA Isandlwana
[Mac & Shad] Isandula Collection)
The Battle of Isandlwana tactics
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 Pte John Williams, survivor of Isandlwana

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Tim Needham

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PostSubject: Pte John Williams, survivor of Isandlwana   Tue Feb 20, 2018 9:08 pm

I've come across a newspaper article which seems to relate to Isandlwana survivor 25B/139 Pte. John Williams:

The South Wales Echo April 2 1887

A PAUPER ISANDULA HERO AT CARDIFF[i]

At a meeting of the Brecon Board of Guardians, held yesterday, a communication was read from the Cardiff Union requesting the former authority to take over, without an order for removal, one John Williams (a lunatic), his wife, and two children, who are now chargeable to the Cardiff Union. The board left the matter in the hands of the clerk to make the necessary enquiries. Williams, it appears, was one of the few men who escaped from the ever to be remembered disaster which befel the handful of Britishers at Isandula, South Africa. He it was who fastened the girths of Melville's and Coghill's saddles shortly before those two heroes were killed by the Zulus near the stream, and he escaped from the scene on General Glyn's (then Colonel Glyn) horse. When in Brecon Williams was much liked, and the chairman of the guardians incidentally remarked he was grieved to hear of his sad condition


As Williams was known to be Glyn's groom (and to have escaped on one of the latter's spare horses), it seems that the article does indeed relate to the known survivor Pte John Williams; does anyone have any further information on what happened to him/where/when he died?

As ever, any help would be appreciated.

Regards,

Tim
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1879graves

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PostSubject: Re: Pte John Williams, survivor of Isandlwana   Tue Feb 20, 2018 9:45 pm

Hi Tim

You may know this already:-

 Statement by 139 Private John WILLIAMS (Colonel Glyn's Groom)
 On the 22nd January 1879 I was called up at 2 a.m., to get Colonel Glyn's horse ready, he started about 4 a.m., with the patrol under the General. I remained in Camp to look after the Colonel's other two horses; about 9 a.m., a mounted Orderly came in to report Zulus on the hills to the left of the Camp, he made his report to Lieutenant Coghill at the Column Office; that Officer went to Colonel Pulleine to inform him.
The 'Column Alarm' was then sounded. The five Companies 1/24 fell in, and the Company2/24th and the Artillery harnessed their horses. The Column was marched below the Native Contingent Camp where they waited for orders about half an hour; they were then sent back to their own Camp where they stood under arms about three quarters of an hour, After which Colonel Pulleine gave them permission to fallout without taking their accoutrements off.
During this time the Zulus were visible on the hill to the left front, sometimes in small numbers at others in large bodies. The 'Fall in' was sounded a second time about 11 a.m., and the Column was formed up in the same spot as before, below the space between the 2/24th and the Native Contingent Camps. The Kaffirs were now advancing on the Camp along the top of the hills to the left, Colonel Durnford's Column had come in by this time, and his party went out of Camp towards our left front some three quarters of a mile off and went round a small conical hill, No 5 Company, 1/24th was sent out to the left in skirmishing order to support some of the Native Contingent who were already there. As soon as Colonel Durnford's mounted party got out of sight we heard firing from their direction but could not tell whether it was them or the enemy, and five minutes afterwards the party on the left were engaged, and we could see masses of Zulus coming over the hills in that direction. Number I Company 1/24th was now sent out in support of Colonel Durnford and the guns of the Artillery commenced firing on the Zulus as they came down the hills to our left and left front with great effect; and the Zulus began to retreat behind the hill Colonel Durnford had gone round, his party having commenced to retire on its supports The enemy occupied some Kraals which were to the right of the hill but were driven out by the Artillery fire, when they extended in skirmishing order, to the right I should say from 2 to 300 yards deep. They then advanced round towards the right of the Camp, outflanking the mounted men who were extended on that side. Meanwhile there was very heavy firing on the left and left centre. I myself and Private Hough, the Colonel's Cook, went to the left beyond the General's tents where we were joined by three of the General's servants, and began to fire from the left of No. 5 Company, 1/24th Regiment. We fired 40 to 50 rounds each when the Native Contingent fell back on the Camp and one of their Officers pointed out to me that the enemy were entering the right of the Camp. We then went to the right, No.5 Company still holding their position, and fired away the remainder of our ammunition, the Kaffirs turned the left of No.5 Company, by coming over a high rock. The firing at this point still continued very heavy.
Meanwhile No. 1 Company and the remainder of the 1/24th together with the 2/24th Company were firing volleys into the Zulus who were only 100 to 150 yards distant from them; they kept this up till they got short of ammunition. The right of the Camp was open and undefended except by the few mounted troops left in Camp who had taken cover in a small ravine. The Zulus kept outside Camp some 2 to 300 yards and made round to the right of the Camp apparently intending to take us in rear, and another party had made round to the left completely surrounding the Camp except a small space to the left of the road to Rorke's Drift. The men in Camp, Bandsmen and men on Guard etc., were trying to take ammunition to the Companies but the greater part never got there, as I saw horses and mules with ammunition on their backs galloping about Camp a short time afterwards.
Lieutenant Coghill galloped up to Colonel Glyn's tents and gave orders for them to be struck and placed in the wagon which was done, when he came up again and ordered the grooms to take the horses to the rear part of the Camp.
I kept one of the horses tied to the wagon and went and got 40 rounds more ammunition of which I then used 29. I then saw Lieutenant Melvill leaving Camp with the Queen's Colour and Lieutenant Coghill close behind him; the latter told me to come on or I should get killed; just then the two guns of the R.A. retreated out of Camp past me and I could see the men on foot who had attempted to escape turned back and coming into Camp. When I got onto the hill overlooking the Rorke's Drift road the Zulus were entering the Camp from that direction and I saw Lieutenant Coghill's horse assegaid in the thigh. About 300 yards out of the Camp the ground became so bad that the guns of the R.A., were upset and I saw several of the drivers assegaid. I passed them here and saw no more of the guns.
On my way to the drift I passed Band Sergeant Gamble 1/24th Regiment on foot but could give him no assistance. When I got down to the drift I saw Lieutenants Melvill and Coghill coming down the rocks to it, and after I entered the river to cross saw no more of either of these Officers. I made my way up to Helpmakaar after crossing the river.
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Tim Needham

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PostSubject: Re: Pte John Williams, survivor of Isandlwana   Tue Feb 20, 2018 9:56 pm

Thanks Graves,

It would be interesting to try and find out where he was buried but I imagine tracking down a John Williams in south Wales won't be easy!

Regards,

Tim
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1879graves

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PostSubject: Re: Pte John Williams, survivor of Isandlwana   Tue Feb 20, 2018 9:59 pm

Hi Tim

Having just a quick look at the Welsh Poor House Records for 1885 and there are over 600 entries for John Williams in that year. scratch
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Petty Officer Tom

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PostSubject: Re: Pte John Williams, survivor of Isandlwana   Tue Feb 20, 2018 10:44 pm

Tim/Graves,

The Noble 24th has the following:
Williams, John. 25B/139 Private
Enlisted at Monmouth, Monmouthshire 22/4/1874; age 18 years. Transferred to Army Reserve prior to 16/11/1880. South Africa Medal with clasp 1879.

Tom
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PostSubject: Re: Pte John Williams, survivor of Isandlwana   Tue Feb 20, 2018 11:16 pm

Many thanks P.O.T.

Appreciated

Salute
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SRB1965

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PostSubject: Re: Pte John Williams, survivor of Isandlwana   Wed Feb 21, 2018 7:22 am

Hi,

I thought I would have a go using the 'Ancestry' thing on tracking him down, last night, but gave up in quick time.

Its a pity we currently do not have his wife (or kids name) or anything else to cross reference with......I'm strictly an idiot amateur to the 'family' tree stuff but enjoy doing it....

Cheers

Sime
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Tim Needham

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PostSubject: Re: Pte John Williams, survivor of Isandlwana   Fri Feb 23, 2018 9:44 pm

As far as I can make out then, the article implies that John Williams and his family may have been transferred from the Cardiff Union Workhouse to a similar institution in the Brecon area; there may be some information available at the Powys archives or even the town museum. Will try and do a little more digging.

Tim
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rusteze

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PostSubject: Re: Pte John Williams, survivor of Isandlwana   Fri Feb 23, 2018 10:35 pm

Tim

It may not mean that. It says the Cardiff Union requested the Brecon Guardians to "take over, without an order for removal". On the face of it that implies that Cardiff wanted Brecon to pay for the families keep at Cardiff rather than move them to Brecon. A further thought, if John Williams died a pauper in the workhouse you may find they used a particular cemetery for such burials.

Steve Reinstadtler
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Tim Needham

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PostSubject: Re: Pte John Williams, survivor of Isandlwana   Sat Feb 24, 2018 12:56 pm

Steve,

Thanks for that, it all certainly makes sense - will try to look into it.

Regards,

Tim
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SRB1965

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PostSubject: Re: Pte John Williams, survivor of Isandlwana   Sat Feb 24, 2018 1:20 pm

1879graves wrote:
Lieutenant Coghill galloped up to Colonel Glyn's tents and gave orders for them to be struck and placed in the wagon which was done,

I always find this fascinating, if you read Williams account of the events, the Zulus had started to enter the camp, from the right and left (i.e. it sounds though it had already started to go 'pear shaped') and he was ordered to pack up Glyns tent.

Obviously Williams may have been confused about the chain of events & time line but if he has it right, I find it an extraordinary order and amazing that he carried it out.
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aalunste

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PostSubject: Re: Pte John Williams, survivor of Isandlwana   Thu Mar 01, 2018 1:14 pm

I, or more particularly my wife, might be able to help find out about him. As background, my wife is an historian who focuses on family history. We have subscriptions to Ancestry, FamilySearch, FindMyPast and a number of specialist data sets across the UK as well as British Newspapers Online. My connection to Isandlwana is my English GGGrandfather, but my mother was from South Wales so I have a long connection which goes back into Glamorganshire and Breconshire. My wife has managed to build a family tree file that has close to 14,000 entries (not all direct family) so she has some experience in this area. If we are to find him, we will need a bit more than his name which, as someone has remarked, is a tad short of being unique in South Wales.

His enlistment note indicates he was probably born in 1855 (or early 1856) - assuming he didn't lie about his age. I just looked up John Williams's born in 1855 with a Monmouth connection on Ancestry and got 32,000 hits. Any other info?
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Tim Needham

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PostSubject: Re: Pte John Williams, survivor of Isandlwana   Thu Mar 01, 2018 9:32 pm

I have been trying to find some further mention of him in the online Newspaper Archives, but without luck so far!

Regards,

Tim
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ann



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PostSubject: Re: Pte John Williams, survivor of Isandlwana   Thu Mar 01, 2018 10:20 pm

Hi Tim,

Pte John Williams (was Fielding) was a VC winner at Rorkes Drift. There is a lot of information online.  My grandfather CSM John Henry Williams VC (WW1) was a great friend.  Hope this helps.

Ann
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aalunste

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PostSubject: Re: Pte John Williams, survivor of Isandlwana   Fri Mar 02, 2018 2:34 am

Ann

I think you will find that this is a different John Williams. From his statement, quoted above, you will see that he was in Helpmekaar. This is the problem. Too many of them.
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Kenny



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PostSubject: Re: Pte John Williams, survivor of Isandlwana   Fri Mar 02, 2018 8:19 am

The connection to 'Monmouth' may not help. The HQ of the Monmouthshire Militia in those days was based in Monmouth. Pre-AZW it was an infantry unit which later became Engineers - you could join the Militia (part-time) at age 17 years (regular army was 18 year unless you joined as a boy aged 14). So many 24th Regt soldiers have a Monmouth town connection when they were born elsewhere.
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SRB1965

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PostSubject: Re: Pte John Williams, survivor of Isandlwana   Fri Mar 02, 2018 8:25 am

Hi,

I have always wondered why Fielding enlisted under an alias......but if you want to hide your true identity, but in that area picking John Williams as a name, would have been a good move.....

Cheers

Simon
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