Lt John Chard's men held off 3,000 Zulu warriors during the 1879 Battle of Rorke's Drift in South Africa
Queen Victoria was presented with an account by Chard of the siege afterwards showing battle's details
However a draft version was kept by the family of the commanding officer for more than a century
Now it has now been put up for auction at Bonhams and could sell for up to £15,000 next month
"Arguably the most famous Royal Engineer, John Chard has long been a hero to both Sappers and civilians. The Chard family is selling a number of unique items relating to the Battle of Rorke’s Drift, and it is vital that the Corps procure these. This key piece of Sapper history must not fall into private hands.
Of particular interest is Chard’s own hand-written report on the Battle of Rorke's Drift. A draft of the report written for Queen Victoria, this document is a wonderfully annotated insight into this famous action. We are also interested in the acquisition of Chard's photograph album and his drawing set, as used whilst at Chatham. Many more items are also in the sale. Sadly the Corps does not currently own any material relating to Chard and his action at Rorke’s Drift, although we do borrow and display the Webley Revolver and sword that he used during the action as well as Zulu weaponry taken from the battlefield.
We aim to raise £50,000 to procure the key items, however the more we raise the more of the collection we can bid on and preserve for the Corps.
These highly significant items go to auction on Thursday 17 December in London. Support for our purchase of the collection has already been overwhelmingly positive. Donations can be made here:
This may be the only opportunity the Museum has to procure archival material directly related to and created by John Chard VC. We are grateful for any help we receive."
The past is not dead. In fact, it's not even past.