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Chard, John Rouse Merriott

CHARD, JOHN ROUSE MERRIOTT (1847-1897), British soldier, was born at Boxhill, near Plymouth, on the 21st of December 1847, and in 1868 entered the Royal Engineers. In 1878 Lieutenant Chard was ordered to South Africa to take part in the Zulu War, and was stationed at the small post of Rorke's Drift to protect the bridges across the Buffalo river, and some sick men and stores. Here, with Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead (1856-1891) and eighty men of the 2nd 24th Foot, he heard, on the 22nd of January 1879, of the disaster of Isandhlwana from some fugitives who had escaped the slaughter. Believing that the victorious Zulus would attempt to cross into Natal, they prepared, hastily, to hold the Drift until help should come. They barricaded and loopholed the old church and hospital, and improvised defences from wagons, mealie sacks and bags of Indian corn. Early in the afternoon they were attacked by more than 3000 Zulus, who, after hours of desperate hand-to-hand fighting, carried the outer defences, an inner low wall of biscuit boxes, and the hospital, room by room. The garrison then retired to the stone kraal, and repulsed attack after attack through the night. The next morning relieving forces appeared, and the enemy retired. The spirited defence of Rorke's Drift saved Natal from a Zulu invasion, and Chard's and Bromhead's gallantry was rewarded with the V.C. and immediate promotion to the rank of captain and brevet-major. On Chard's return to England he became a popular hero. From 1893-1896 he commanded the Royal Engineers at Singapore, and was made a colonel in 1897. He died the same year at Hatch-Beauchamp, near Taunton, on the 1st of November.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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