Pontypool veterans uncover grave of Rorke's Drift hero
L-R Mike Black, Steve Joy, Nigel Rees and Steve Vaughan at the grave of Rorke's Drift hero John Samuel Jobbins (1015200)
IT'S BEEN hidden under brambles and weeds for a couple of years but now thanks to four Pontypool veterans, the grave of a Rorke's Drift defender has been uncovered.
Chairman of the Pontypool branch of the Veteran Association, Michael Black, 74, came up with the idea to clear the graveyard at St Cadoc's Church to gain access to the grave of PVT John Samuel Jobbins who defended Rorke's Drift in the Anglo-Zulu wars in 1879.
The events of the battle were immortalised in the 1964 film Zulu, which shows 150 British soldiers defending the mission station against 4,000 Zulus.
Mr Black and branch members, Stephen Vaughan, 57, Nigel Rees, 64, and Steve Joy, 62, set about clearing the Trevethin cemetery six weeks ago, attending two days a week.
Mr Vaughan said: “It was like a jungle, and it’s been much harder than we thought it would be, constantly fighting brambles.
“But the good news is that we cleared over 300 yards and the service area and cleared all around the graves in that section.”
The aim of the group is to create an annual service dedicated to PVT Jobbins.
Mr Vaughan said: “Cwmbran holds an annual event for John Williams VC but we feel that Pontypool should hold their own to remember our war hero.
“We hope to hold the first ceremony this coming January and keep it going yearly.”
Newport born PVT Jobbins, 20, enlisted in Pontypool in 1876, was posted to 2nd Battlalion 24th Regiment of Foot.
He gave his trade as 'puddler' (washing coal) and his home address as Malthouse Square, Pontypool.
He received the South Africa Medal with clasp 1877-8-9 as well as two Good Conduct Badges.
He died age 79-years-old in 1934 at his home in Pontypool and was buried with full military honours.
After uncovering the grave Mr Black and Mr Vaughan visited E I Peakes Funeral Directors in Pontnewynydd for advice.
Mr Vaughan explained that the staff not only listened to their plight but have agreed to restore the grave to its original state and put a new memorial vase upon it free of charge.
Mr Vaughan said: “We were blown away. It has taken a great deal of pressure off us to meet our target date for the memorial service. We cannot thank them enough."
But clearing the cemetery, which the group believes had been growing for over two years, has been no mean feat, and Mr Vaughan said that the group are all aches and pains but are dedicated to the cause.
There is still a space, approximately the size of two football pitches, that needs clearing, and the group are appealing for experienced volunteers to help them continue the clearance as well maintaining the site they have uncovered.
Mr Vaughan said: “We hope to pass the baton onto a younger experienced group but it’s a hard and dangerous job.
“Members of the public can help by clearing the bags of waste from the site as rubbish has built up on the site over the years.”
He explained that people with gardening tools, such as strimmers, could help to cut the areas that the group have cleared.
He said: “We have achieved our goal of finding the grave and since have uncovered approximately seven other service men’s graves.
“Now we need the public’s help keeping on top of the site and to continue clearing it.”
The veterans meet at the church on a Tuesday and Thursday between 10.30am and 2pm.