1. Book:Beyond The Five PointsPgs 65-66

Awards & Titles:

Victoria Cross

Early Life :

Immortalised by his actions in the Anglo-Zulu War and later commemorated by the film "Zulu" played by Sir Michael Caine. But the true Gonville Bromhead story, aside that which he is most famous for, is somewhat enigmatic, particularly as a Freemason.

Gonville Bromhead was born 1845 into a notable military family at Versailles, France and brought up in Thurlby, Lincolnshire. His grand-father, Lt. Gen. Sir Gonville Bromhead Bt. (b. - d.1822), served as Adjutant to the 54th Regiment of Foot, under the Duke of Wellington at Waterloo. His father was Sir Edmund Gonville Bromhead Bt., commonly known as Gonville, and his mother Judith Christine (nee Wood). He had nine siblings - six sisters and three brothers.

He was educated at Newark.

Service Life:


Unit / Ship / Est.: South Wales Borderers 

Action : Natural Causes 

Natural causes is attributed those deaths due to causes that were not directly associated with the war. Included in this are wartime deaths resulting from, for example, theSpanish Influenza pandemic and its associated pneumonia problems and other attributions such as age and exhaustion. It also groups those who through Post Traumatic Stress committed suicide as a result of their experiences.

Gonville (Junior) entered the 24th Regiment of Foot as an ensign in 1867 and was promoted to lieutenant in 1871. Bromhead's battalion was deployed to southern Africa in 1878 and subsequently served in the Ninth Cape Frontier War and the Anglo-Zulu War. He spent most of the remainder of his career in south Asia, where he was promoted to major in 1883 and saw service in the Third Anglo-Burmese War. He died in 1891 in Allahabad, India, at the age of 45.

Bromhead purchasing an ensign's commission in the 24th Foot, later the South Wales Borderers, on 20 April 1867.

Promoted Lieutenant on 28 October 1871 Bromhead was a good regimental boxer and cricketer for the regimental team, and was popular with his men.

On 1 February 1878, Bromhead's battalion was dispatched to the British Cape Colony in response to a request for reinforcements to assist in the Ninth Cape Frontier War. Arriving at East London on 9th March, Bromhead's B Company took part in several offensive operations at the conclusion of the war. During an assault on a Xhosa position in May, the company's commanding officer, Captain A.G. Godwin-Austen, was wounded by a shot accidentally fired by one of his own men. He was consequently sent back to England to recover, and command of the company temporarily passed to Bromhead. In August the battalion was sent to Pietermaritzburg, Natal, to prepare for the invasion of Zululand.

Detail :

Present at the Defence of Rorke's Drift, Natal, South Africa.

Citations & Commemorations :

  London Gazette 2nd May, 1879. "THE Queen has been graciously pleased to signify Her intention to confer the decoration of the Victoria Cross on the undermentioned Officers and Soldiers of Her Majesty's Army, whose claims have been submitted for Her Majesty's approval, for their gallant conduct in the defence of Rorke's Drift, on the occasion of the attack by the Zulus, as recorded against their names, viz.:—

For their gallant conduct at the defence of Rorke's Drift, on the occasion of the attack by the Zulus on the 22nd and 23rd January, 1879.

Royal Engineers Lieutenant (now Captain and Brevet Major) J. R. M. Chard

2nd Battalion 24th Regiment Lieutenant (now Captain and Brevet Major) G. Bromhead

The Lieutenant-General commanding the troops reports 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 characterised it.

The Lieutenant-General adds, 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."

His Victoria Cross is displayed at The Regimental Museum of the Royal Welsh in Brecon, Wales.

Masonic :

TypeLodge Name and No.Province/District :
Mother : Zetland No. 515 E.C.Malta


In his publication Beyond the Five Points 2001, Philip May was not able to establish which lodge Gonville became a member of. Further research, published in the Spring Edition of the Surrey Mason magazine suggest that he was at some time a member (and Master) of Zetland Lodge No. 515. However, a trawl through the contribution record shows no entry for Bromhead from the earliest time of garrison of the 24th at Malta, to beyond the time of his famous action. It is further suggested that Bromhead was a member of Knights Templar and other orders, but no evidence can be found.

His fellow defender at Rorke's Drift Lt. John R.M. Chard R.E. was an initiate of St George's Lodge No 112 in Exeter.

Edmund Cotton Gonville Bromhead is named in the records of Concord Lodge, Birmingham, having been initiated in 1908. He saw service throughout, and survived, the Great War. He is named after but not connected with Gonville Bromhead, V.C.

Source :

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Last Updated: 2021-04-11 09:21:48