THE founders of a military history museum in Swansea, South Wales are seeking to find the descendants of a Private John Connolly of Castletownbere in a bit to erect a headstone on his grave.
Peter Hall and John Thomas who run the 1940s Swansea Bay Museum, a family-run museum dedicated to documenting the area’s military history, have recently discovered that a Private John Connolly from Beara, who fought in Rourke’s Drift in Africa in 1879, is buried in an unmarked pauper’s grave at Danygraig Cemetery in Port Tennant in Swansea.
In 1879 the British 24th Regiment, later to be called the South Wales Borderers, fought a brave defence against overwhelming Zulu numbers at Rourke’s drift in Natal, Africa.
Following the battle, 11 Victoria crosses, the highest award for gallantry in the British military were awarded.
Peter Hall discovered that Private Connolly was injured during the battle and carried to safety by a Private Henry Hook. Pte Hook was awarded a VC for his bravery. John Connolly died in 1906 and was buried in Swansea.
However, despite being buried with full military honours his family were unable to afford a headstone for his grave.
Peter is anxious to trace any remaining descendants of John Connolly in a bid to erect a headstone on his grave, and recognise his part in one of the major battles of the nineteenth century.
Peter Hall has to date been unable to uncover much information about Private Connolly.
‘All we know is that he was born in Castletown Berehaven, Co Cork in 1859 and was the son of a fisherman named John Connolly,’ said Peter. It is believed that Private Connolly was a member of C Company in the 2nd Battalion of the 24th Regiment of the South Wales Borders.
Anyone who has any further information on Private Connolly can contact The Southern Star at [email protected]