Magnus Church of England Academy’s archivist, Mr Roger Peacock, is asking for the public’s assistance in clearing up some mysteries surrounding a photograph contained in the Academy’s archive.
The image, with handwritten names and a date of 1883, has an assembled group of men, one being identified as former Magnus student, Major Gonville Bromhead.
Bromhead was a British Army Officer and recipient of the Victoria Cross for valour for his part in the defence of Rorke’s Drift in 1879. One of the Magnus C of E Academy’s four ‘houses’ now bears his name as a tribute.
Famous name in his own lifetime, Bromhead may also ring a bell with movie fans following Michael Caine’s portrayal of him in the 1964 film Zulu, which depicted the battle.
Now Mr. Peacock says that he is hoping to find out the occasion and location for the group photograph. He said, “Our mystery image has been donated to the archive at some point in the past, and we would dearly like to compare it to the original if that could ever be located. We want to identify the location and reason behind the gathering, decipher the handwritten names, and discover the connection the men have to each other.
“What we do know is that Bromhead was serving in Secunderabad, India, from 1883 and Burma from 1886, later dying in service, in Allahabad, in 1892. This photo gives a date of Summer 1883 amongst the handwritten information at the bottom. We do not know for sure that the written information is accurate, and we are hoping that a reader may have some further information.”
Mr. Peacock says he would like clarification on whether the battalion serving in India in 1883, was the same as that which fought at Rorke’s Drift, Africa, in the Zulu War of 1879. He said, “The names of those who fought at Rorke’s Drift do not appear to match the names on this image, apart from Bromhead’s name, but there were many deaths at Rorke’s Drift. The battalion could have been re-formed afterwards, but there seems to be an unaccountable period in Bromhead’s career after the 1879 victory. We are told that he was in service and promoted from Lieutenant to Major in 1883, so he still held a recognisable status. However, we haven’t been able to connect any of the other decipherable names on this image with Rorke’s Drift.”
Anyone with information which might help shed light on the image, its location and those pictured are asked to contact Mr Peacock at Magnus C of E Academy. Please email: RPeacock@magnusacademy.co.uk