Gonville Bromhead VC

b. 29/08/1845 Versailles, France . d. 09/02/1891 Allahabad, India.

Gonville Bromhead (1845-1891) was born on 29th August 1845 in Versailles, France, Bromhead was the youngest son of Major Sir Edmund de Gonville Bromhead, 3rd Baronet of Thurlby Hall, Lincolnshire, a veteran of the Battle of Waterloo, by his wife Judith, daughter of James Wood of Woodville, Co. Sligo. He was educated at Newark. He had a profound deafness which restricted his promotion opportunities.

Gonville Bromhead VC

Gonville Bromhead purchased his commission as an Ensign (2nd Lieutenant) in the 24th Regiment of Foot (later South Wales Borderers) on 20th April 1867. However, he would not attain the rank of Lieutenant until 28th October 1871, a rank which John Chard had held since 15th July 1868, making Bromhead the junior officer at Rorke’s Drift by three years and three months.

By January 1879, Bromhead was the senior officer in charge of the Rorke’s Drift Mission, when news came through of the Zulu victory at the Battle of Isandhlwana, and that the Zulus were heading straight for the small station. In his citation published on 2nd May 1879, he was recognised alongside Lieutenant John Rouse Merriott Chard for his role in setting an example to his men in the defence of Rorke’s Drift. It was noted that the defence of the station would not have been conducted if not for the intelligence and tenacity of both men. To quote the citation – “that the success must in a great measure be attributable to the two young officers who exercised the chief command on the occasion in question.” Chard became one of the eleven VC’s that were awarded that day/night, being part of the most awarded for a single action.

Bromhead was promoted to Captain, and given a substantive promotion to Major on 4 April 1883. He was presented with his Victoria Cross by General Sir Garnet Wolseley at Utrecht, Transvaal, South Africa on 22nd August 1879. He was also presented with a Sword of Honour by the city of Lincoln. He later served in India and the Burma Campaigns. He also attended two successful courses at the School of Musketry in Hythe, Kent.

On 9th February 1892, Bromhead died of typhoid fever at Camp Dabhaura, Allahabad, India, whilst serving there. He was buried in the New Cantonment Cemetery in Allahabad. There is a plaque and his name on the colour pole of the 24th Regiment of Foot in Brecon Cathedral. Bromhead’s medals are held by the South Wales Borderers Museum, Brecon, Wales.





James Mace – VC Medal Reverse image