DESCENDANTS of Rorke's Drift veteran Private John Samuel Jobbins gathered at the weekend to commemorate the 135th anniversary of the battle.

The first service to commemorate the battle was held at St Cadoc's Church in Trevethin on Saturday.

The Veteran's Association Pontypool branch hopes the service will be the first of an annual tradition.

Mansel Young, 67, and his brother Terry Young, 64, placed flowers on the grave of their great grandfather Pte John Samuel Jobbins, of the 24th Regiment of Foot who fought in the battle.

Mansel Young said: "We were here 19 years ago to commemorate him. The Jobbins are our mother's side of the family. Mary Jobbins was my grandmother and Pte Jobbin's daughter and is also buried here.

Terry Young said: "It was a lovely ceremony. I had shivers when the Welsh anthem was sang. It's great we get to meet family members from the Jobbins side of the family for the first time."

The church service was attended by 80 people and was followed by a wreath laying ceremony at the grave site of Pte Jobbins where Ethan Hall, a pupil at Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw, sounded Last Post, Silence and Reveille.

Mike Black, 74, chairman of the Veteran's Association Pontypool Branch, said: "Four veterans helped to clear all the gravestones in time for the service. It took us about five months to get it all clear of weeds and brambles."

Mr Black and branch members, Stephen Vaughan, 58, Nigel Rees, 64, and Steve Joy, 62, helped clear the graveyard where around 20 veterans lie.

Steve Joy, of the veteran's association, who served with the Royal Regiment of Wales, said: "Hopefully this service will grow and grow. It's already started something further up in the valleys."

Newport-born Pte Jobbins, 20, enlisted in Pontypool in 1876. He received the South Africa Medal with clasp 1877-8-9 as well as two Good Conduct Badges.

He died aged 79 in 1934 at his home in Pontypool and was buried with full military honours.

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.

Reverend Brian Pippins, in the service, said: "We also remember all those who were involved at Rorke's Drift and the war in Zululand. We call to mind especially all those who died, their courage and their spirit sacrifice, also those who were maimed or injured, and those who survived and lived out their normal lives."

The veterans association members have secured a street name in memory of Pte Jobbins to be named Jobbins Way at the Penygarn Heights development on the former Trevethin School site.

Wednesday 22 January marked both the 50th anniversary of the release of the film Zulu and 135 years since the Battle of Rorke's Drift was fought. Read more about local links to this famous battle:

Zulu, Rorke's Drift and the five Gwent connections