This image shows the Colour Party of the 24th Regiment with the recovered Queen’s Colour and the Regimental Colour (the damage to the former is clearly visible). We think it was taken in the vicinity of Osbourne House on the Isle of White on 28th July 1880 when both Colours were presented to Queen Victoria. The Queen was fascinated with The Anglo-Zulu War, and she attached a wreath of dried flowers (known as a “Wreath of Immortelles”) to her Colour when both were presented to her. She later granted that a silver wreath, in memory of the Defence of Rorke’s Drift and Coghill and Melvill’s bravery, was to be permanently attached to the pike of the Queen’s Colour. The Colour is on display in the Havard Chapel in Brecon Cathedral.
Lieutenants Melvill and Coghill were among the first British soldiers to be posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, and both these medals now form part of the Museum’s permanent collection.
At the battle of iSandlwana on 22nd January 1879, a Zulu army of about 20,000 warriors inflicted a massive defeat on a much smaller British force, mainly comprised of men from the 24th Regiment’s 1st Battalion.
Toward the end of the battle, two British lieutenants, Nevill Coghill and Teignmouth Melvill, attempted to save the Queen’s Colour of the 1st Battalion. They rode to the Buffalo River, closely pursued by a group of Zulus. Coghill managed to cross, but Melvill lost his horse as he tried to do so because he had difficulty carrying the cased Colours. Coghill returned to help his comrade, who by this time was clinging to a rock in the middle of the river, but both were killed by Zulus. The Colours were lost, and were not recovered until 4th February 1879 when they were discovered by a British patrol about 500 yards downriver from where Coghill and Melvill attempted their crossing.