TIDWORTH-based soldiers commemorated the 140th anniversary of one of the most famous battles in their regiment’s history.

The 1st Battalion, The Royal Welsh, marked the Battle of Rorke’s Drift on Tuesday at its barracks.

The soldiers honoured the occasion which saw their antecedent regiment the 24th of Foot awarded the largest number of Victoria Crosses to a single unit in any one action.

The bloody battle against Zulu Warriors on January 22, 1879, was commemorated by a series of events commencing with a Rorke’s Drift themed physical training session and ending with the screening of the British film Zulu which immortalised the bravery on both sides.

A small service of remembrance was conducted at the Garrison Church, in which the padre blessed the battalion’s colours that had been marched through the barracks accompanied by Fusilier Llywelyn; the regimental goat mascot, the Goat Major; Pioneers, the Drum Major and the Corps of Drums.

Speaking on the day, Captain Sam Large, a member of Tuesday’s Colour Party, said: “As a regiment we can trace our beginnings back to 1689, over 300 years of history. And it is important for us as a Welsh Regiment particularly with that shared Welsh identity to remember the sacrifice of those who came before us and learn from their experiences.

“That shared history really underpins what it is to be a Royal Welshmen, so it is important that all of our soldiers really understand that heritage and believe in it. And that really makes up our fighting spirit.

“The men at Rorke’s Drift made a massive sacrifice, 150 soldiers fought off 4,000 Zulus, if our soldiers can live that sort of grit and determination, it is only going to make them better soldiers in the future.”

The day started much earlier for the 36 members of B ‘Rorke’s Drift’ Company, who are spending ten days touring the South African battlefields that led to the place of their namesake. They honoured the occasion at a wreath-laying ceremony at Isandlwana with King Goodwill Zwelithini and 80 Zulus.

The regiment celebrates Rorke’s Drift Day wherever they are deployed but this year’s visit renewed their friendship with the Zulu people, who recall the Anglo-Zulu War ‘as a disagreement between our friends’.