Personal info

  • Name: Henry Cecil Dudgeon D’ARCY
  • D.O.B: 11th Aug, 1850
  • D.O.A: 3rd Jul, 1879
  • D.O.D: 1st Jan, 1881
  • Award: Victoria Cross
  • Occupation at time of action: Captain, Cape Frontier Light Horse
  • Book: The Complete History - Volume 1
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Sources & Acknowledgements

Near Ulundi, Zululand, South Africa 3 July 1879

3 July 1879

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At the end of May 1879 Lord Chelmsford mounted a second invasion of Zululand. Cetshwayo was conscious that in a prolonged struggle the British must prevail and tried to reach a negotiated settlement. These attempts were rebuffed. Chelmsford was determined to destroy Cetshwayo’s royal kraal at Ulundi and by 3 July his force was only a few miles from its goal. Lieutenant Colonel Redvers Buller took out the Mounted Volunteer Corps to reconnoitre the site of the approaching battle, accompanied by Captain Lord W L de la P Beresford of the 9th Lancers, together with Captain H C D D’Arcy and Sergeant E O’Toole of the Cape Frontier Light Horse. This patrol was ambushed by a force of 3,000 Zulus. Sergeant Fitzmaurice, 24th Regiment, serving with the Mounted Infantry, was unhorsed and injured. With great difficulty Beresford and Sergeant E O’Toole managed to rescue the massive Fitzmaurice and reach the safety of the river. Fitzmaurice had at first declined to put Beresford’s own life at risk by mounting behind him. Beresford had hotly declared that unless the sergeant did as he was told, he would dismount and ‘punch his head’. Meanwhile D’Arcy tried desperately to rescue Trooper Raubenheim of the Frontier Light Horse but was unsuccessful. Raubenheim was captured by the Zulus and later disembowelled. For their gallant actions Beresford, O’Toole and D’Arcy were recommended for the VC. Lord William Beresford’s award was announced by the War Office on 23 August 1879. However, he intimated that he would not accept it unless the men who shared his danger were also recognized. The following day, 4 July 1879, the Zulu army was decisively defeated at the Battle of Ulundi. The royal kraal was burnt and Cetshwayo fled. He was not captured until 28 August. Lt Gen Sir Garnet Wolseley VC, who had replaced Chelmsford, dismantled the Zulu state and divided the kingdom into thirteen provinces, each under a chief acceptable to the British.


 For his gallant conduct on the 3rd July, 1879, during the reconnaissance made before Ulundi by the Mounted Corps, in endeavouring to rescue Trooper Raubenheim, from the Frontier Light Horse, who fell from his horse as the troops were retiring. Captain D’Arcy, though the Zulus were quite close upon them, waited for the man to mount behind him; the horse kicked them both off, and though much hurt by the fall and quite alone, Captain D’Arcy coolly endeavoured to lift the trooper, who was stunned, on to the horse, and it was only when he found that he had not strength to do so that he mounted and rode off. His escape was miraculous as the Zulus had actually closed upon him. 

The London Gazette of 10 October 1879, Numb. 24769, p. 5830

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