Nevill Coghill (VC)

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Nevill Josiah Aylmer Coghill
Born (1852-01-25)25 January 1852
Drumcondra, County Dublin
Died 22 January 1879(1879-01-22) (aged 26)
Buffalo River, South Africa
Buried at Natal, South Africa
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  British Army
Rank Lieutenant
Unit 1st Battalion, 24th Regiment of Foot

Anglo-Zulu War

Awards Victoria Cross

Nevill Josiah Aylmer Coghill VC (25 January 1852 – 22 January 1879) was an Irish recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Family and education[edit]

Born in Drumcondra, Dublin, Coghill was the eldest son of Sir John Joscelyn Coghill (1826–1905), 4th Baronet, JP, DL, of Drumcondra, Co. Dublin (see Coghill baronets), and his wife, the Hon. Katherine Frances Plunket, daughter of John Plunket, 3rd Baron Plunket. He was a nephew of David Plunket, 1st Baron Rathmore and William Plunket, 4th Baron Plunket. The painter Sir Egerton Coghill, 5th Baronet was his younger brother. Coghill was educated at Haileybury College from 1865-69[1] and is now commemorated by a leadership programme named in his honour. Coghill was portrayed by Christopher Cazenove in the film Zulu Dawn.[2][3]

Award of Victoria Cross[edit]

Memorial to Coghill and Melvill

Coghill was twenty-five years old and a lieutenant in the 1st Battalion, 24th Regiment of Foot (later the South Wales Borderers), British Army, during the Zulu War, when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.

On 22 January 1879, after the disaster of the Battle of Isandhlwana, South Africa, Lieutenant Coghill joined another officer (Teignmouth Melvill)[4] who was trying to save the Queen's Colour of the Regiment. They were pursued by Zulu warriors, and while crossing the swollen River Buffalo, Lieutenant Coghill went to the rescue of his brother officer, who had lost his horse and was in great danger. The two men were eventually overtaken by the enemy and, following a short but gallant struggle, both were killed.[5][6]

Coghill and Melvill were amongst the first soldiers to receive the VC posthumously in 1907. Initially the London Gazette mentioned that had they survived they would have been awarded the VC.[7]

Coghill's Victoria Cross is displayed at the South Wales Borderers Museum in Brecon, Powys, Wales.


  1. ^ Haileybury Website - Details of military medals
  2. ^ IMDB
  3. ^ Anthony Hayward (8 April 2010). "Christopher Cazenove obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 July 2015. He was....the Zulu War hero Lieutenant Coghill in Zulu Dawn (1979) 
  4. ^
  5. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27986. p. 325. 15 January 1907.
  6. ^
  7. ^ The London Gazette: no. 24717. p. 3178. 2 May 1879.

External links[edit]