The Last Sleep of the Brave

The second of the pair of paintings by Alphonse de Neuville completed in June 1882 and dealing with the subject of the saving of the Colour of the 24th Regiment, shows the two officers lying dead together. In both paintings the artist has made the mistake of depicting the Regimental Colour instead of the Queen's Colour. Another mistake is the presence of the British cavalry regiment, the 17th Lancers. They were sent out to Zululand after the disaster at Isandhlwana and arrived in May 1879. The date of Melvill and Coghill's deaths was 22nd Jan. The peaceful manner in which the two men lie together, looking groomed and tidy, is very posed and does not convey the sense of a desperate struggle for survival against warriors keen to 'wash their spears' in the blood of their enemy. There is no sign of wounds on either man. And if the Colour had been clutched in the dead mens' hands it would have been taken away by the Zulus. In fact it was washed away in the river and found days later.

Regimental details | Regimental Colours


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by Stephen Luscombe