From Diss Museum, Norfolk:
Diss Connection To Zulu Dawn Battle
In the summer of 1879, a baby boy was baptised in St. Mary’s Church, Diss, by the Revd. Charles Robertson Manning. Little Leonard Hall would grow up to serve in the Norfolk Imperial Yeomanry in the Boer War and the First World War. He never knew his father; but soldiering was in his blood, as his father had died in battle against the Zulus.
Arthur William Hall was born in Heigham in 1841. He enlisted in the Army and was serving as a Corporal at Colchester Infantry Barracks by the time of the 1861 Census. He married Ann Mortimer and they had three daughters and two sons, living wherever he was posted – Aldershot, Folkestone, Kilkenny, Battersea. Hall was a Hospital Sergeant with the 34th Regiment of Foot.
With the outbreak of the Zulu War, he was posted to South Africa, now as a Lieutenant of Orderlies in the blue uniform of the Army Hospital Corps.
At the Battle of Isandhlwana, the subject of the film Zulu Dawn, an army of 20,000 Zulus, armed with assegai spears and cow-hide shields, annihilated 1,300 British troops, armed with Martini-Henry rifles, field guns and rocket launchers. Hall had been attempting to take an ambulance wagon of wounded men to safety when the Zulus overran the camp. The 10 soldiers under his command died with him, one Corporal and nine Privates.
One account gives an impression of the fate of the wounded: “Surgeon Major Peter Shepherd’s hospital had been over-run, the patients skewered as they lay on the ground. Some of them were run over by the thundering hooves and wheels of one of the N5 Battery 7 pounder guns, the axle tree and limber covered with fugitives like ticks on a dog’s back, careering out of control through the tents.”
This was on 22 January 1879. Six months later Leonard was born in Tunstead and baptised at Diss, where his mother had moved to live next to Arthur Hall’s brother, a brewer’s clerk, in Shelfanger Road. The rector made a note in the register about where Lieutenant Hall had been killed. The family moved back to Norwich a few years later.