Friday, May 11, 2012

Zulu War Ancestors on NAAIRS

Search the National Archives of South Africa at for references to the volunteer's unit within suitable date parameters for the Zulu War. Search under his name as well, of course, or try a combination of surname and unit. References which come up include applications for the campaign medal - sometimes on behalf of dead comrades or members of the same unit. There are enquiries from anxious relatives as to the whereabouts of missing volunteers, claims from widows for compensation or requests for the return of a deceased son's personal effects.

Sometimes index references are surprisingly detailed e.g. in 1880 'George Macleroy requests that the remains of his son, who was killed at Isandhlwana, may be left undisturbed where they were buried by a party of the Natal Carbineers'. Another reference chosen at random concerns the recommendation of Corporal Vinnicombe of the Frontier Light Horse for the Distinguished Conduct Medal. William Dommet Vinnicombe received the D.C.M. for his gallantry at Hlobane when he gave his horse to two other men, in a situation when, according to his citation, 'to be dismounted appeared to be death'. (WO 146/1/18 TNA).

Men of the Natal volunteers who survived the campaign resumed their routine occupations but most retained an interest in and membership of local units. Trooper Henry Lugg of Rorke's Drift fame became one of the founders of the Umzimkulu Mounted Rifles, which was later absorbed into the Alexandra Mounted Rifles and still later reformed as the Border Mounted Rifles with Lugg as Captain and Adjutant. Some volunteers - and their sons and grandsons, went on to serve in other conflicts, including the Anglo-Boer War and the 1906 Rebellion in Natal.

Henry Lugg, Defender of Rorke's Drift

If a member of one of the volunteer units died in South Africa some time after the Anglo-Zulu War, there could be a relevant deceased estate reference on NAAIRS. Such references used in conjunction with local newspapers for funeral notices, obituaries etc can provide interesting additional information.

There are other databases on the SA National Archives site: under MAN, search for photographs and manuscripts held by various SA institutions, while the GEN database may offer information on a military ancestor's burial place (in South Africa).

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