A MEMORIAL service is being held in Cwmbran on Saturday to commemorate war hero John Fielding – who received the Victoria Cross for his service in the defence of Rorke’s Drift in South Africa.

The service will be held at St Michael’s and All Angels Church in Llantarnam, where Pte Fielding is buried.

Pte Fielding, along with 11 other members of the 2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment of Foot, later the South Wales Borderers, was awarded a Victoria Cross for his part in the defending a remote South African station from 4,000 Zulu natives.

Most of the British force had crossed the Buffalo River on January 22 to face the Zulu army at Isandhlwana. They left ‘B’ Company, of which Pte Fielding – who had enlisted as John Williams –and other Gwent men were a part, behind to guard the station at Rorke’s Drift.

The result was a catastrophe for the British. The 1,700-strong force was attacked and only some 400 men survived.

There were only 104 men who were fit enough to fight.

Pte Fielding had held one of the rooms by firing out of holes made in the walls but his ammunition was running out. Zulus were at the door of the hospital trying to break it down. He began to desperately hack through the wall with an axe so they could escape. As he did this the Zulus broke through.

Pte Fielding dragged the wounded away. The defenders pulled back to a new defensive line from where they fought the Zulus back throughout the night.

Eleven Victoria Crosses were awarded to the defenders, one of which would be to John Fielding for the courage he showed in saving the wounded.

He died in 1932, aged 75.

The service was previously proceeded by a parade, however, last year’s parade was cancelled as Gwent Police could not help with stopping traffic.

The annual event was organised by the Cwmbran and District Ex-Service Association, led by secretary John Lynch.

And Peter Colsey, of CADESA – confirmed that there would be no parade again this year.

The service will be held at 11am on Saturday.