At the commencement of the Zulu War of 1879, Col Pearson’s No 1 Column fought an action against the Zulus at Inyezane on 22 January 1879 and then moved to the site of the Norwegian Mission where a fortified position which became known as Fort Eshowe (kwaMondi) was constructed round the existing buildings.
After sending back the mounted men and the Natal Native Contingent to Fort Pearson at the Tugela mouth the garrison, which consisted of the 3rd Foot (Buffs), 99th Foot, Naval Brigade, a few N.N.C., and a number of non-combatants, remained in the fort until relieved by Lord Chelmsford on 2 April 1879.The conditions in the fort were unhealthy and a number of men died of disease.
They were buried in this cemetery. After the Zulu War the British withdrew from Zululand and the cemetery was abandoned. However, disturbances caused Eshowe to be re-occupied and a fortified position known as Fort Curtis was established. This was on the knoll to the north east of the present rugby fields. The men who died during this occupation were buried in the original cemetery which accounts for the number of graves dating from the 1880s and 1890s. When the present Town Cemetery was established the military cemetery fell into disuse.
Just after the turn of the century when the Norwegian Mission (rebuilt at a new site), was active, the missionaries cared for the graves, and between the two World Wars ex-servicemen’s organisations took an active interest, supplying a number of name plates. During the 1950s and early 1960s the Natal Provincial Administration cared for the site but during the last 15 years it had become increasingly difficult to obtain labour for maintenance and the condition of the fort and the nearby cemetery began to deteriorate until the recent 'rescue operation’ was launched.
The following list of graves is compiled from
(a) Personal observation of Mrs R.M. Wilkins, Department of History, Edgewood College of Education, on 1.2.1977.
(b) Diary of Rev.C. Oftebro (only Feb - March 1879 burials).
(c) Record Book of Graves. Loyal Women’s Guild (Mr G. Chadwick’s Collection).
(d) Military graves in Natal (Mr G. Chadwick’s Collection).
(e) Hilton College Records.
(f) Norris-Newman, C.L. 'In Zululand with the British, 1879’.
· R. 1G1 Lt A.S.F. Davison 99th Regt, d. 27.3.1879
· R. 1G6 Pte J.J. Stockdale, Wellington’s Regt, d. 2.6.1895
· R. 2G1 Midshipman L.C. Coker, HMS Active, d. 16.3.1879
· R. 2G3 Pte Monk, Buffs, d. 4.4. 1879
· R. 2G6 Pte W. Broughton, 3859, lst Leicestershire Regt. d. 19.11.1898
· R. 3G1 Lt B.R.G. Evelyn, Buffs d. 30.3. 1879
· R. 3G2 Midshipman H. Radford, H.M.S. Active, d. 18.2.1879
· R. 4G2 Pte J. Stack, Buffs, d. 9.3. 1879
· R. 4G4 Conductor S.H. Philpots, 6th Dragoons, d. 31.8.1890
· R. 4G8 Pte MacDonald, 6th Dragoons
· R. 5G4 Irving Pascoe, 0. 24.5.1886
· R. 4G7 Cpl Murray, Royal Scots 1890
· R. 5G5 Bandsman B. Lewis, 99th Regt d. 28.3.1879
· R. 5G7 Pte R. Martin, d. 28.9.1884
· R. 5G8 Pte Campbell, Royal Scots
· R. 6G2 L/Cpl T. Taylor, Buffs, d. 21.2.1879
· R. 6G4 Pte Horwell, Royal Scots, d. 15.8. 1890
· R. 6G5 Pte Shields, 99th Regt, d 16.3.1879
· R. 6G8 Cpl G. Constable, ASC, d. 29.5.1889
· R. 7G1 Capt H.J.M. Williams, Buffs, d. 12.3.1879
· R. 7G2 Pte A. Tarrant, Buffs, d. 27.3.1879
· R. 7C8 Sgt C. Laird, Royal Scots, d. 28.8.1889
· R. 8G1 Caroline West. d. 24.8.1894
· R. 862 Pte E. Oakley, Buffs, d. 15.2.1879
· R. 9G2 Drummer A. Mortimer, Buffs, d. 6.3.1879
· R. 9G4 Pte F. York, 64th Regt, d. 20.3.1898
· R. 9G5 Pte J. McKeown, Royal Scots, d. 15.8.1890
· R. 9G7 Pte J. Short, 1st Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers d. 11.4.1886
· R. 9G8 James Alexander Aitchison, d. 2 1.12.1889
· R.10G2 Pte W. McLeod, Buffs, d. 13.2.1879
· R 10G4 Pte A. Steel, 2nd Yorks & Lancs, d. 8.2. 1894
· R 10G8 L/Cpl H. Burton, Royal Scots, d. 11.1.1890
· R 11G2 Pte A. Kingstone, Buffs, d. 1.2.1879
· R 11GS Pte F. Lowndes, 11th Hussars, d. 30.6.1891
· R 11G7 Pte Paul, 99th Regt, d. March 1879
· R 11G8 Tpr Cunningham, 6th Dragoons, d. 11.1.1890
Names of those whose graves cannot be identified
1. Midshipman J. Mannie, HMS Active, d. 8.2.1879
2. John Moore, HMS Active, d. 11.2.1879
3. Pte W. Knee, 99th Regt, d. 21.2.1879
4. Pte W. Barber, ASC, d. 8.3.1879
5. Pte William Stagg, RMLIAB, HMS Active, d. 12.3.1879
6. Pte W. Kent, 99th Regt, d. 16.3.1879
7. Pte T. Venn, 99th Regt, d. 17.3.1879
8. Pte W. Tubb, 99th Regt, d. 19.3.1879
9. Pte. C. Coombes, 99th Regt, d. 21.3.1879
10. Pte P. Roden, 99th Regt, d. 26.3.1879
11. AB Alfred Smith, HMS Active, d. 2.4.1879
12. Pte Austin, 2nd 5. Lancs, d. 20.1.1885
13. Pte Connelly, Royal Scots, d. 31.8.1889
14. A.M. Staff Surgeon W.G. Lecky, d. 6.4.1890
Military Graves in Fort Eshowe
· Pte W. Dunne, Buffs, d. 22.1.1879
· Sgt Hydenburg, NNC, d. 22.1.1879
Source: Military History Journal - Vol 5 No 1