The Gazette hall of fame: Melvill and Coghill

When 1,300 British troops were massacred at Isandlwana by over 20,000 Zulus on 22 January 1879, Lieutenants Teignmouth Melvill and Nevill Coghill of the 1st Battalion, 24th Regiment of Foot managed to escape on horseback.

Despite being severely wounded in the knee, Coghill carried with him the Regimental flag, hoping to save it from being captured by the Zulus. According to Colonel Richard Glyn, writing in Gazette number 24705, they were "pursued by a large number of the enemy."

The only road to safety for the men lay in crossing the fast-flowing Buffalo river, yet when they reached the rapid waters the men were thrown from their horses and washed downstream. Refusing to let go of the flag and "holding on to it resolutely", Coghill was fired upon by hundreds of Zulus but still managed to survive.

When he finally made it to safety by crawling onto the opposite river bank, the severely exhausted Coghill sat down to rest - but this was the last time he was seen alive. When his body was found two weeks later, it was surrounded by several dead Zulu warriors.

Glyn continued: "He gave his life in the truly noble task of endeavouring to save from the enemys hands the Queens colour of their regiment. Although his sad end is to be deplored, his death could not have been more noble, or more full of honour."

Neville Coghill was awarded the Victoria Cross, posthumously on 6th February 1907, 28 years after his death. You can read more about his heroic entry in The Gazette at