“The 9’s in action at Gingindlovu 1879”

“It had been raining the night before, there were small pools of water lingering in the morning sun, some cloud lay in the sky and the Zulu attack had began. The soldiers had been told to wait until the Zulus were “uncomfortably close” before opening fire, some coming as close as 20 metres before the wall of bayonets and gun fire. Albert Thomas Glover, the Bugler at 15 years old was standing fast, relaying orders to the men.
Two rounds has been fired by all of the men which lay scattered on the ground, their pouches still holding plenty of bullets, and small pieces of brown paper and string lay close by after being discarded to access the bullets. There are ammunition boxes nearby, just in case… The third round now passes from those kneeling to the standing front row who are firing on the Zulus, the soldiers behind them ready.
Lt. G. Johnson, who joined the firing line at the rear with a rifle, has just been shot in the chest from one of the Zulus armed with rifles hiding in the long grass recognised by the white puffs of smoke in the near distance. A soldier calls out for assistance while trying to help Lt. Johnson, catching the attention of one of the front line soldiers who takes a glance back while he is almost reloaded to see what’s going on.

This painting is an account of that morning on the 2nd of April 1879, where the 99th foot were defending the west side of the Laager, and in particular to the Bugler Albert Thomas Glover who the entire painting has been formed around.”

I was approached by a gentleman to produce a painting with the focus on his Great Grandfather Albert Thomas Glover, the Bugler at 15 years old.

We spent time deliberating over the image that he wanted, at first it was going to be a more close up of Albert maybe behind a firing line relaying orders to the men, to then other ideas and viewpoints, but each of them more or less showed a cross section to be able to include him (important to note that the photo’s that we had were not “that great”, head on, details almost burnt out,and I think none of him at 15 years old). I needed to find a face for Albert, the focus on his eyes that were particular to his features, and of course get him in the Bugle playing position.

As time went by while sorting out the composition, the men basically wheeled right the way around so we were at the back of them, looking directly at Albert which developed into a full historic battle scene which neither I or the client were expecting! I had to create the firing lines 4 deep, work out the spacing, clothe them all and give them webbing, helmets, rifles, water canisters, bullet pouches, etc.etc.etc.etc., and Lt. G. Johnson being shot in the chest from an armed Zulu in the grass, where the Zulus attacked from, how the weather the night before affected the ground as the sun came up the following morning and other important facts about the situation. Historic!

It must be said that my client (keeping his name quiet for his own privacy on my site) was fantastic to work with, researching non stop and always there to answer questions etc. which I would have of course. This was an important piece of art, but mainly for the customer as it was his family member, which I wanted to respect and honour naturally.

The final stage was the framing, and I put forward the name my great friend and excellent frame maker (primarily an artist as is his wife and brilliant at it, both of who I am proud to call my friends along with their family) to the client who was happy with the pricing etc..

Chris Newell can be contacted at:


Here is the finished painting with this beautiful handmade traditionally made frame, details first.


I am honoured to have been able to make this a reality.