September 26th, 2016

Zulu battle soldier has a headstone after 100 years thanks to a Redditch man

Zulu battle soldier has a headstone after 100 years thanks to a Redditch man Zulu battle soldier has a headstone after 100 years thanks to a Redditch man
Updated: 12:53 pm, Aug 12, 2016

AN Anglo-Zulu War enthusiast from Redditch has achieved recognition for a soldier who fought at the bitter battle of Rorke’s Drift – 100 years after his death.

Private Joseph Bromwich was among 100 British troops who defended Rorke’s Drift on January 22 and 23 in 1879 against repeated attacks from up to 6,000 Zulu warriors.

It saw the award of 11 Victoria Crosses, including to seven soldiers in Pte Bromwich’s regiment – the 24th (2nd Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot.

The then 22-year-old Pte Bromwich, who was born in Warwick, was not among those awarded the VC, but he was later awarded the SAG medal (South African General Service).

When that medal was sold by Fielding’s Auctioneers in Stourbridge in February for £49,000 it caught the attention of Paul King, from Redditch, who decided to look into Joseph’s military service and life in civvy street.

He discovered Joseph was buried in an unmarked grave in Bilston Cemetery near Wolverhampton, and being in his own words “a sentimental old fool”, decided to do something about it.

“With help from the vendors and purchasers of the medal, and Fielding’s, enough funds were raised and a headstone was commissioned,” said Paul.

“It was finally erected in May. Unfortunately it was too short a time to get it in place for the 100th anniversary of Joseph’s death on February 25 – but better late than never and I’m sure Joseph didn’t mind.”

Joseph was invalided out of the Army in 1882 having contracted chronic hepatitis. He returned to Brook Street in Warwick to live with his widowed mother – with an army pension of 7p a day for 12 months.

It was back in Warwick he met his future wife Betsy, and they later moved to Aston in Birmingham where he became a shoe repairer until his death aged 59 in 1916 – two years after Betsy passed away.

The couple are not thought to have had any children of their own, and Joseph was buried in a simple family plot in Bilston.

His grave was without a headstone for over 100 years – but no longer.

A re-dedication service is to be held at Bilston Cemetery this Sunday (August 14), starting at 11.30am.

It is hoped representatives from Pte Bromwich’s former regiment the Royal Welsh Regiment – the successors to the 24th (2nd Warwickshire) – will attend.

Paul is also keen to trace any of Joseph’s remaining descendants. Joseph was born in 1856, and his siblings who reached maturity were William (b1835), Charles (b1840), Emma (b1843), Maria (b1846), Henry (b1852), David (b1854), Tom (b1858), and Sarah Ann (b1861).

If you can help Paul email or call the newsdesk on 01527 588697.