COLONEL ANTHONY WILLIAM DURNFORD (1830-1879) – who was described as ‘a soldier of soldiers’ in southern Africa.

Anthony’s father, Lieutenant Edward Durnford, headed a team of British Royal Engineers who mapped parts of Co. Leitrim during the Ordnance Survey of Ireland from 1828 to 1832.  While stationed in Manorhamilton, his wife Elizabeth gave birth to their first son, Anthony.  Edward Durnford later became a distinguished general in the British army.  Anthony joined the Royal Engineers like his father.  After serving in Ceylon, Malta and Gibraltar he was sent to the Cape Colony in southern Africa.  Soon after, he was posted to neighbouring Natal with the rank of major.  His involvement with African culture earned him the trust of the native tribes, but also the suspicions of some of his British colleagues.  In 1873 he was ordered to prevent the departure from Natal of the Hlubi (Bantu) tribe which had refused to register their firearms with the British authorities.  He was promoted lieutenant-colonel in recognition of his personal courage in the ensuing conflict.  During the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879 Colonel Durnford was summoned to reinforce a British camp at Isandlwana in Zululand.  Being the most senior officer there, he took command of the 1,700-strong garrison.  A short time later they were attacked by a Zulu army of over 20,000 warriors.  Durnford conducted a heroic defence of the camp, before he and the rest of the defenders perished. He is buried in the military cemetery in Pietermaritzburg, Natal.  A commemorative window to Durnford in Rochester Cathedral in Kent was donated by his fellow officers in the Royal Engineers.  In the 1979 film Zulu Dawn, which depicted the Battle of Isandlwana, Durnford was portrayed by Burt Lancaster.