Rhondda-born Sir Stanley portrayed Chard in the 1964 film Zulu, which he also produced. In 1972, at the height of his fame, he bought the VC awarded to Chard for the British success in holding the tiny garrison against the overwhelming Zulu attack, cited by experts as one of history’s finest military defence operations.
It was sold by his family, who believed it was merely a copy, shortly after his death in 1976 but his family now want to know why they received just £5,000 for the medal.
It emerged yesterday that the VC is now owned by Tory donor and billionaire Lord Ashcroft and one of Chard’s relatives asked for a meeting with the peer.
Lord Ashcroft, who has the world’s largest collection of VCs, did not say when he purchased the Chard medal or how much he paid for it. There is no suggestion he has acted improperly and his spokesman said he bought it after it was revealed to be genuine.
Sir Stanley’s son, Glyn, said: “The Zulu film was a huge part of my father’s life, and it is all extremely intriguing – particularly the issue of when Lord Ashcroft bought the medal. My mother had to sell it to pay off my father’s debts, so obviously it would have helped if we had known that it was genuine.”
During the Battle of Rorke’s Drift, Chard and the 149 men under his command successfully defended a supply base in South Africa from a Zulu army of 4,000 warriors, repulsing wave after wave of attacks and engaging in fierce hand-to-hand fighting.
At the end of 12 hours of fighting, the Zulus had lost 350 men and the British 15, although most soldiers suffered some form of wound.
Eleven VCs were awarded for the battle – the largest number ever given for a single action by the British Army – including one to Gonville Bromhead, who was played in the film by Michael Caine.
Chard’s actions made him a household name and he was a regular guest of Queen Victoria.
He died in 1897 and the VC remained in his family until 1972 when Baker bought it, as part of a collection including Chard’s campaign medal, from Glendining’s auctioneers for £2,700.
Glyn Baker said his father took the VC home but was horrified to then notice in the Glendining’s auction catalogue that it was described as a “cast copy”, worth about £15, and “flung it into a drawer and forgot about it”.
When the actor died four years later, his wife sold the collection through to an unknown purchaser for £5,000.
Two decades later, in 1996, it was discovered the VC was an original.
That year, the medal passed to another unknown owner who asked for the metal to be tested as all VCs are struck from the same block of bronze. Tests confirmed its metallic bronze character was identical to genuine VCs and sent its values soaring.
Glyn Baker said he recently learned Lord Ashcroft is planning to put his entire collection of medals on display at the Imperial War Museum and is writing to the peer asking why it took so long to establish the medal’s authenticity.
“These issues need to be resolved,” said Mr Baker, a former actor who now works as a designer.
Peter Booth, 62, Chard’s great-great- nephew, told the Mail On Sunday he remembers seeing the VC pinned to the wall in his grandfather’s dining room as a child and said the family were “a little bit uptight” about the medal’s delayed valuation. “The whole thing fascinates me. I would very much like to meet Lord Ashcroft, to see the medal and discuss it all with him,” he said.
A spokesman for Lord Ashcroft told the Mail On Sunday: “I can confirm Lord Ashcroft purchased the Chard VC after it was declared authentic. He would not wish to get involved in this.”