Fitting farewell planned for Warwick hero whose relatives could still be in the town

Joseph Bromwich's gravestone
Joseph Bromwich's gravestone

A military history enthusiast has arranged a rededication service for a Warwick soldier who had lain in an unmarked grave for almost 100 years.

And Paul King is also trying to trace any relatives of Pte Joseph Bromwich, who was born in the St Mary’s area of Warwick.

Pte Bromwich was among the soldiers who fought with the 24th (2nd Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot in the defence of Rorke’s Drift during the Anglo-Zulu War in South Africa during 1879.

After the battle, made more famous by the 1964 film Zulu starring Sir Michael Caine, eleven Victoria Crosses - the highest honour for a British Soldier - were awarded to the men who took part, seven of which were for members of the 2nd Warwickshire.

Mr King, of Bilston near Wolverhampton, said: “Pte Bromwich later married a girl named Betsy Fellows Davis from Bilston.

“Until recently he had lain for nearly 100 years in an unmarked grave in Bilston Cemetery. Following the sale of his South Africa Gallantry medal at Fielding’s Auctioneers in Stourbridge in February this year, I got to hear of his unmarked grave and being a bit of a sentimental old fool I decided to do something about it.

“With help from the vendors and purchasers of the medal and Fielding’s, enough funds were raised and a headstone was commissioned from Hopcraft Memorials of Wolverhampton.

“The headstone was finally erected some few weeks ago. Unfortunately, this did not happen in time to get the headstone in place for the 100th anniversary of Joseph’s death on February 25, but it was eventually installed in May. Anyway, ‘better late than never as they say’ and I’m sure Joseph didn’t mind as he’d already waited 100 years for the headstone.”

Mr King is arranging a short rededication service to be held at Bilston Cemetery on Sunday August 14 from 11.45am.

Normally such a service would be fairly simple and consist of a short dedication by a chaplain followed by a wreath laying ceremony.

Mr King said: “We are also in contact with various regimental organisations and associations including formal representation from the Royal Welsh Regiment, which is now the successor to the 24th, the Regimental Museum Brecon and more, so there should be a good turn-out. I’ve also been led to believe there might be interest from the local press and even Midlands TV.

“We’re also trying to arrange a local venue for a get together afterwards.”

Mr King said Pte Bromwich was born in 1856, and his siblings who reached maturity were William, Charles, Emma, Maria, Henry, David, Tom and Sarah Ann.

Charles, who also served with the 24th/2nd Warwickshire in South Africa but was not at Rorke’s Drift, was buried at Warwick Cemetery.

Mr King said: “Joseph’s family was from Warwick and I would like to trace any of 
his remaining descendents. One would think that somewhere around the town there might be some surviving relatives?”

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