QUARTERMASTER, 24TH REGIMENT (2ND WARWICKSHIRE).
Quartermaster Edward Bloomfield, who was killed at Isandlwana of 22 January 1879, was born on the 7th of November 1835, and was consequently in his forty-fourth year at the time of his death. When a lad of eleven years of age he enlisted in the Scots Fusilier Guards. He was transferred to the 2nd Battalion of the 24th Regiment on its formation, and accompanied it to Mauritius, to Burma, and to India. After twenty-two years’ honourable service, he was promoted, in 1868, from the rank of Colour-Sergeant to that of Sergeant-Major, an appointment which met with wide-spread satisfaction, and on the occasion of which his comrades took the opportunity of presenting to him some small token of their regard. “We have been in the company with you several years, and have never had cause to wish you aught but well,” wrote the men of the K Company, with other kindly words which appear to have come straight from their hearts as they went straight to his. He returned from India to England in 1873, when he obtained the good conduct medal, and in September of the same year was promoted from the rank of Sergeant Major to that of Quartermaster. On his promotion being announced in the “London Gazette,” the following paragraph appeared in the Battalion Orders of the regiment, bearing date September 26 1873: - “During the number of years Quartermaster Bloomfield has been in the Battalion, he has ever performed his duty with the greatest zeal and ability, and to the entire satisfaction of his commanding officers; and it is highly meritorious service which has secured for him such a distinguished mark of the Queen’s favour. He again embarked from England with the regiment in February 1878, for the Cape, and, after arriving there, served through the whole of the operations in connection with the suppression of the Gcaleka outbreak, performing the arduous duties which fell to his lot with the zeal and ability for which he was distinguished.
In November 1878, Quartermaster Bloomfield proceeded with the regiment to Natal to join the force being prepared to act against the Zulus in the event of their refusing to comply with the terms of Sir Bartle Frere’s ultimatum. He took part with the regiment in the subsequent advance of Colonel Glyn’s column, in January 1879, into the enemy’s country, and was present at the storming of Sihayo’s stronghold in the Batshe Valley. He the accompanied the regiment to Isandlwana, and in the disastrous encounter with the enemy at that position on 22 January shared the fate of the officers and men of the regiment who fell. He was killed while discharging his duty with the cool steadfastness which characterised him, being in the act of serving out to the men, in the thick of the engagement, the cartridges which enabled them to make their last desperate stand against the savage foe.
On the announcement of Quartermaster Bloomfield’s death being made, many letters from unexpected sources, testifying to his worth, and bearing record of his acts of simple, unostentatious kindness in the past were written, the burden of each and all being that those who had known him had never – to use words already quoted – had cause to wish him aught but well. “He was a stanch soldier, a warm-hearted friend, and a good husband and father, “ wrote Captain St. Aubyn, late of the 2-24th, - a brief summary of his character which is supplemented by words written in a letter to "The Times” by Major-General Ross, during whose command the Quartermaster obtained his rank: “A more upright, conscientious man I am sure never existed.”
If one soldierly attribute may be said to have distinguished Bloomfield more than another, it is that he was intensely thorough: that which he laid his hand to, he did cheerfully and with all his might.
Quartermaster Bloomfield is commemorated on his widow and daughter’s headstone at Lorne Road Cemetery, Brentford, Essex.
Source: Anglo Zulu War Historical Society