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Alpheus Garland.png

The son of a prominent Natal resident Thomas William Garland of Kent and his wife Henrietta, Garland was born at Verulam, Natal on 24 September 1854.

He enlisted as a trooper in the VMR in 1877 and served as previously stated in the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879. After the war, he continued with the Natal volunteers serving for some 18 years total and eventually rising to the rank of Quartermaster (30 October 1885). This photograph probably shows him while holding that rank. He does not seem to have done any active service during the Anglo-Boer War.

He was active in several other organizations including the Kearsney Rifle Association and the Zulu Border Rifle Association. He made his living in civilian life as a draper and auctioneer. On 7 May 1881, he married Miss Elizabeth Stanley of Chatham, Kent. The couple had at least three children - Alvin Stanley Garland, Ruth Henrietta Garland
and Leslie Caskell Garland who died at the age of two in 1899.

Garland became something of a celebrity in Stanger in his later years being referred to as "Old Alph" by the locals. In Carel Birkby's 1937 book Zulu Journey, the author describes having a billiard game with Old Alph as he recounts his memories of early Natal and his part in the Anglo-Zulu War. One interesting event took place at Eshowe. While on
vedette duty he slipped off to have a swim and was almost caught by the Zulus.


In the book, he also laments the fact that as a boy he did not buy a section of land in Durban for the then asking price of £1 per acre. By the time Alph was playing his billiard game, the same land was selling for £7 per square foot! In the book, the author describes Garland as roaming "around the hot town with a smile and a joke and a challenge to billiards for everyone." Birkby also stated a game of billiards with Garland was like "a cross between a literature lesson and a music-hall turn.". These descriptions are somewhat at odds with the formidably stoic-looking figure in the above photo.

In Zulu Journey, Old Alph makes no mention of serving during the Anglo-Boer War. Perhaps the subject never came up but it could also imply that by the turn of the century his soldiering days were behind him. No mention of him has been found in the medal rolls associated with the Anglo-Boer War.

He lived to the ripe old age of 85 years, dying on 16 October 1939 and was buried at the cemetery at Stanger.

A special thanks to Mr. Cameron Simpson for providing additional biographical details on A. H. Garland.

Cabinet Photograph
William Laws Caney - Photographer
Late of D'Urban & Kimberly,  South Africa
c. 1890

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