IT became one of the most famous battles the Welsh have fought in - and the film depicting it grew to be an iconic favourite.

Today marks both the 50th anniversary of the release of Zulu and 135 years since the Battle of Rorke's Drift was fought.

Eleven Victoria Crosses were awarded after the action, the highest number in any engagement fought by the British Army.

The movie, directed by Sir Stanley Baker in 1964, centred on the heroic defence of Rorke's Drift by the 24th Regiment's B Company in the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879.

Many of the men of the 24th of Foot - later the South Wales Borderers - who held the position, were from Gwent.

John Fielding VC

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Private John Fielding, from Ty Coch in Cwmbran, served as Pte John Williams and received the Victoria Cross after defending the remote station at Rorke’s Drift against 4,000 Zulus. He and around 150 soldiers faced up to 4,000 Zulu Impis, fresh from their crushing victory over the British at Isandlwana as they descended on his tiny outpost.

Abergavenny-born Fielding joined the British Army at the age of 20 in 1877 under the assumed name of Williams and today, his relatives and veterans organisations in the Torfaen area mark the anniversary of the battle every year with a parade.

The annual parade and service takes place at St Michael and All Angels Church, Llantarnam, where he is buried.

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Robert Jones VC

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Robert Jones was born in Clytha near Abergavenny and was 21-years-old when he fought at Rorke's Drift. A private in the 2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment of Foot he was awarded the VC for his heroism inside the hospital at the outpost.

He and Pte William Jones saved six out of the seven patients in hospital , firing at oncoming Zulus through a hole they had cut in the wall.


John Samuel Jobbins

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A native of Pontypool and a ‘puddler’ (coal-washer) Private John Samuel Jobbins was another Gwent defender of Rorke’s Drift and received the Zulu War medal with three clasps. He died age 79 in 1934 at his home in Pontypool and was buried with full military honours.

A street in a new housing estate has been named after him, Jobbins Way, and a group of veterans discovered his grave last year in Trevethin cemetery after the graveyard had become overgrown by weeds and brambles. They are holding a service in his memory on the 25th January.


Abraham Evans

Abraham Evans was born at Twynyrffrwd, Abersychan in 1855 and enlisted in the Royal Artillery in Newport at the age of 19 and three years after that went to South Africa where he fought in battles prior to the Zulu wars.

When the British Army, which had marched from the Cape, arrived at Rorke's Drift on the Natal border in 1879 Evans was confined to the mission hospital suffering from dysentery.

After the near-annihilation of the British Force at Isandlwana and as Zulu reserves turned against the tiny outpost at nearby Rorke's Drift, Evans manned the defences and helped repel the Zulus.

Gunner Evans died in 1915.


William Partridge

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BLAINA man William Partridge enlisted in the 24th Regiment of Foot in 1877 aged 20, after having previously enrolled in the Monmouthshire Militia.

He was promoted to Lance Corporal in 1878 while serving in South Africa but reverted to Private later that year.

He fought to defend the Rorke’s Drift mission station alongside the small force from the 24th Regiment of Foot. They were also joined by soldiers from the Royal Engineers and the 2nd/3rd Natal Native Contingent.

Later that year he was awarded a Good Conduct Badge South Africa Medal 1877-79 for the part he played in the war. He died aged 71 in 1930.


And here's the famous rendition of Men of Harlech...