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Keeping a hero’s memory alive

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Keeping a hero’s memory alive
Article date: 08 Apr 2013

Pub manager Carol Cooper and her team at The John Fielding have raised funds for a local community event which is very closely connected to the Cwmbran pub.

A service and annual act of remembrance parade for Private 1395 John Williams (Fielding) VC marches from Abbey Field roundabout to St Michael’s Church and remembers a Cwmbran man who earned the Victoria Cross for his part in the 1879 defence of Rorke’s Drift – and after whom the pub is named.

Fundraising events and raffles at The John Fielding, over the past year, have raised £790 for the parade, jointly organised by The John Williams (Fielding) VC Memorial Trust and Cwmbran and District Ex-Service Association (CADESA).

Carol said: “I have been at the pub for the past two years now and was keen to support the memorial trust and parade for John Fielding.

“It is an important event in the town and obviously very closely connected to us, at the pub. Our fundraising efforts will be ongoing and will hopefully help the annual parade to continue.”

This year, on April 20, following a service at St Michael and All Angels Church, at Llantarnam, where he is buried, a dedication of a new grave memorial will also take place, attended by the Regimental Band and Corps of Drums of the Royal Welsh.

Abergavenny-born John Fielding joined the 24th Regiment of Foot at the age of 20 in 1877. Two years later, he was one of around 140 British troops who fought, hand to hand, against 4,000 Zulus defending Rorke’s Drift.

The VC citation describes how Private Williams defended two patients in a hospital ward for over an hour, before running out of ammunition. With the Zulus breaking down the door to get in, he knocked a hole through the wall into an adjacent ward, where he met up with Private Hook.

Between them, Privates Williams and Hook held at bay the Zulu advance for a further hour, while smashing holes through another three walls to evacuate eight patients to the protection of the garrison’s inner defensive ring.

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