Nevill Coghill (VC)
On the whole, the early and mid-Victorian age even locally was one of peace and growth. When they started, the South African Wars no doubt hit Brecon hard. After so many years of peace, it must have been initially exciting for the 24th Regiment South Wales Borderers who had been stationed in Brecon so long to be sent to Natal for some real soldiering.
Mr Garnons Williams was married to Catherine; the daughter of Fenton Hort who was a well-known theologian. Catherine’s cousin was Nevill Coghill (1852 – 1879) and at the time of the South African Wars he was a Lieutenant in the Regiment. Many letters have been preserved from Catherine to her naval son Alymer with references to Nevill and his fellow young officers at the Barracks, and to parties and dances held in local houses.
Most have us have seen the film Zulu (1964) and know that the British force totalling more than 1200 men was almost annihilated at Isandhlwana on 22nd of January 1879 (the day before the battle of Rorke’s Drift) and that Nevill Coghill and Teignmouth Melvill won posthumous VCs for their brave attempt to save the Colours. The South Wales Borderers Museum have many of Nevill’s belongings on display including one of his sketch books. He was a talented artist.