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THE HISTORY OF BROMHEAD

The family of Gonville Bromhead lived at Thurlby Hall, Lincolnshire and he came from a long line of military men. All his three older brothers were in the army and their father fought with Wellington at Waterloo.

Gonville Bromhead came to the Magnus Grammer School in 1860, at the age of 15... Whilst there, he was a member of the First Cricket Eleven and was a left-handed medium pace bowler.

He entered the army in 1867 as an Ensign in the 24th Regiment of 2nd Foot, South Wales Borderers) and was promoted to be lieutenant after four years. In 1871 he was posted to South Africa, where he served in the South African war (1878) and the Zulu War (1879).

On 22nd January, 1879, Bromhead commanded B Company 2nd Battalion 24th Foot at the defence of Rorke’s Drift. The small British military outpost there, with its mission church and hospital was the only obstacle in the way of the Zulus, as it guarded a narrow pass into the neighbouring country. For saving Rorke’s Drift, with the assistance of only 138 officers and men, leaving 371 of the attackers dead, he was mentioned in despatches, promoted to captain and brevet major. In addition, he won the Victoria Cross, Eleven Victoria Crosses were awarded for individual acts of gallantry: the highest number ever conferred in a single action. Lord Beaconsfield said, concerning this achievement:

“The conduct of those 80 men who for twelve hours in a forlorn hope kept at bay 4,000 of the enemy and ultimately defeated and repulsed them, proves to us that the stamina of English soldiers is not diminished or weakened.”

Bromhead later served in Gibraltar and the East Indies. His last posting was to India, where he died of enteric typhoid fever and is buried in a military cemetery.
 
 
 
 
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