Friday, October 31, 2014

Anglo-Zulu War: Bloomfield, Quarter Master of the 2/24th

QM Edward Bloomfield
In the film Zulu Dawn we see the actor Peter Vaughan being 'dispatched' as he was dishing out ammunition to the troops at Isandlwana in the guise of QM Edward Bloomfield of the 2/24th. A couple of years ago I was at a disused cemetery in Essex where the wife of Edward BLOOMFIELD and his daughter are buried: the cemetery in question is Lorne Road Cemetery, Brentford, in Essex. I was shown this grave by a descendant of a Rorke's Drift defender whose ancestor was Pte William Henry CAMP of 'B' Coy 2/24th. Upon looking at the headstone I saw that it indicated it was Louisa Maud Bloomfield, Edward's youngest daughter, which by that very definition hinted at other children; I decided to investigate.

A search of the census returns showed me that Edward had married twice and had one daughter with his first wife and two with his second. But I am a little ahead of myself at this point. Edward Bloomfield was born on 7 November 1835 in London. Records show that as a youngster before he was even a teenager he joined the then Scots Fusilier Guards, now known as the Scots Guards. He joined this regiment on 1 Feb 1847 aged 12 years and 3 months. Edward's parents did not get married until 1838 and Edward's father, also called Edward, was a Drum Major in the same regiment. It has been thought that QM Bloomfield, as he became, was of Scottish origin due to the fact he joined a Scottish regiment and had a brother called Alexander Kerr Bloomfield who later became a policeman - more about him later. Both Edward and his father were in fact Londoners, as was Edward's grandfather.

Edward served with the Scots Fusilier Guards until 31 March 1859 when he transferred to the 2/24th regiment of Foot. Was it because his father was a Drum Major he decided to change regiments? We will never know. Edward stayed with the 24th until his death. of course, on 22 January 1879. In 1860 the 24th were posted to Mauritius, in 1862 a daughter was born called Ellen and it's my belief that Edward married in Chatham prior to being sent out overseas.
By 1873, however, Edward was married a second time to a Matilda Relf and had two daughters by her. I have yet to ascertain the name of this first wife and if Edward was a divorcee or a widower. Census returns and other research have cemented these facts. Ellen Bloomfield is shown as living with her Uncle and Aunt in Essex; by this time she had two half-sisters but it appears she either did not get on with them or possibly there was no room for her with her step mother and half-sisters.

Ellen as stated was living with her Uncle who was a Sgt in the police at this time; he rose to the rank of Inspector and eventually died in 1902. Edward Bloomfield senior died in 1878; as he was born in the Windsor area this leads me to believe he decided a life in the army was better than that of a labourer, as was his father before him. Army life suited both Edward Bloomfield and his father: the elder rose to the rank of Drum Major while his son to the rank of Quarter Master in the 24th.

By all accounts Edward Bloomfield was a popular man with both officers and rankers within the 24th. Regular promotions followed from 1859 till Jan 1879 when he reached the rank of QM in 1873, the same year as his second marriage took place. Ellen, his first daughter from his earlier marriage, stayed with her Uncle till she eventually married in 1894. Tragedy had stalked the Bloomfield family, however. Back in 1878 Edward had lost his father; in 1879 QM Bloomfield met his end at faraway Isandlwana. In 1892 the now widow Matilda had died along with her youngest daughter aged 15.

Further research will be needed to locate the offspring of Ellen Bloomfield but the line of Adaline Bloomfield his second daughter has been taken as far as QM Bloomfield's great great grandchildren. This only goes to show that you can never close the book on any person and I'm glad to be able to put the record straight on a man not often written about.

by Graham Mason, AZW Researcher

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