Rifle and Spear with the Zulu. The Life of Lt. Col. Alan Gardner. Soldier, Hunter and Politician. A Supplement April 2018 to October 2023
After Rifle and Spear with the Zulu was published in 2018, I thought my interest and enthusiasm in Alan and the Victorian Gardner family would have waned.
However, this has not been the case.
I knew more information would come to light once Rifle and Spear with the Zulu was published and it is a strange catch twenty-two situation for an author when wondering when to publish.
Don’t publish and the new information will remain hidden. Publish and the information will surface but doesn’t make it into the book. Hence the reason for this supplement.
New branches of the current Gardner family tree have emerged from around the world and offered up new original family documents.
I was also very privileged to have spoken to Patrick Bloomfield, Alan’s grandson shortly before he died who told me about staying with Nora during his teenage years and met up with Alan's great grandson Bob in South Africa a couple of weeks ago who allowed me access to some of the family albums. He is a lovely chap.
Additional Gardner family and Zulu war material has also come to light, some of interest purely to me but others which are useful for the Zulu War historian.
On five subsequent visits to the battlefield since 2018, I have been able to carry out further extensive research into Alan’s escape route from iSandlwana as well as his involvement in other significant battles and interaction with the other key players.
I have also found out a lot more about their hunting exploits including their first trip to New Zealand, details of the weapons they used and two more fascinating articles from Country Life Magazine as well as interviews and new photographs of his amazing wife Nora.
In 2020 I unearthed an estate agent’s dossier of the Clearwell estate when it was up for sale in 1907 that shows the various rooms packed with all their hunting trophies and nick knacks from their worldly travels.
I also wanted to publish the photograph of Nora’s new stone which I organised to have laid on their family grave which was not ready at the time of publication of the original book.
There is even my photograph of a foundation stone laid by him when he was an MP in a small chapel, bearing his name.
As all this new information and material, slowly piled up, I felt I had to record it and put it together in a single volume.
Presented as short studies and bullet point pieces of information I hope it may help a researcher in the future fill in some of the blanks in Alan Gardner’s life that are missing from Rifle and Spear.
Printed in a very limited run for members of the Gardner family and a small number of historians it is now sold out though this 572 page supplement will be available in the archives of the National Army Museum and Talana Museum SA.
I will have a copy with me at the Clash of Empires Exhibition next month should anyone wish to have a flick through and will also be giving a presentation during the symposium week about Alan and his involvement in the AZW.