John Rouse Merriott Chard

Royal Engineers

22nd January 1879
John Rouse Merriott Chard
Lieutenant John Rouse Merriott Chard  Royal Engineers

(Zulu War 1879)

   This officer was in command of the Rorke's Drift Post on January 22, 1879, when, with about a hundred men, mostly of the 24th Regiment, the position was attacked by 4,000 Zulus. Throughout the entire defence, which lasted from 4 p.m. till daybreak next morning, Colonel Chard directed the operations with the most heroic bravery. The Lieut.-General in command of the troops reported that " had it not been for the fine example and excellent behaviour of these two officers  under the most trying circumstances, the Defence of Rorke's Drift Post would not have been conducted with that intelligence and tenacity which so essentially characterized it " ; also " that its success must, in a great degree, be attributable to the two young officers who exercised the chief command on the occasion in question."
   The Defence of Rorke's Drift will go down to posterity as one of the finest examples of British heroism, and the names of Chard and Bromhead will hold a prominent position in the annals of the British Army. The late Queen Victoria caused their names to be inscribed on the colour pole of the 24th Regiment, together with those of Lieutenants Melvin and Coghill, who fell so heroically on the banks of the Buffalo River on the same day, while endeavouring to save the colours of the regiment from the enemy after the Massacre of Isandlwana.
    Colonel Chard, son of Mr. W. W. Chard, of Pathe, Somerset, and Mount Tamar, Devon, was born in 1847. Educated at Plymouth. New Grammar School, Cheltenham, and Woolwich, he entered the Royal Engineers in 1868. He was stationed at Bermuda for some time, ultimately going to South Africa on the outbreak of the Zulu War. After the Defence of the Drift, for which, in addition to the Victoria Cross, he was promoted Captain and Brevet-Major, he became ill of fever, and went to Ladysmith to recruit his health, but recovered sufficiently to take part in the battle of Ulundi. Towards the end of 1879 he was ordered home, and on his arrival at Plymouth was met by a telegram from the late Queen and received by her at Balmoral. He retired from the service in August, 1897, and died at Hatch Beauchamp Rectory, near Taunton, Somerset, on November 1, 1897.



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