John Chard was born near Plymouth in December 1847. His elder brother became a Colonel in the Royal Fusiliers. His younger brother was a clergyman. There were four sisters. He was commissioned into the Royal Engineers in July 1868. He served in Bermuda and Malta. He joined No. 5 Company RE in South Africa in 5 January 1879.
He did not arrive at Rorke's Drift until 19 January and was the senior officer present on 22/23 January 1879, having been left in command by Major Spalding. He was given a brevet Majority after Rorke's Drift. He received the VC from Sir Garnet Wolseley at St Paul's, Zululand on 16 July 1879
Out of idle interest. Until about 1995, the great great great (i think that's enough) nephew of Pte Fred Hitch VC of Rorke's Drift fame served with the RE through CVHQ RE at Gib Bks. QS for his day job.
Think everyone is ignoring the fact that both officers involved were incompetent if you know your history. Eleven VC's were given out just to disguise the fact that the British army had just experienced one of its greatest defeats and to protect Lord whatisname who was a favourite of Queen Victoria's. The film takes a hell of a lot of liberties.
The geezer in charge of the Zulu's was told not to attack fixed positions like the drift but wanted to prove how good he was and screwed up. There was no salute from the Zulu's, they fukced off quick when they saw a relief column coming.
Having said that, the rank and file did a good job but so would I if some bassad was trying to spear my guts.
Dalton was not originally named among the VC recipients, eventually receiving his medal in January 1880. A number of accounts credit Dalton, rather than Chard or Bromhead, for initiating the defence at Rorke's Drift.