Mid Wales

Rorke's Drift: Epic trip inspired by battle

These men are the B Company 2/24th Regiment- the men who defended Rorke's Drift. Image copyright The Regimental Museum of The Royal Welsh
Image caption Welsh soldiers were among those who defended Rorke's Drift.

Three South African motorcyclists have arrived in Powys after an epic ride of more than 6,000 miles, inspired by the Battle of Rorke's Drift.

Peter Rattray, Michael O'Byrne and Blaze O'Byrne travelled from the site of the 1879 conflict, made famous by the endeavours of Welsh soldiers.

They brought two artefacts from the battle with them for The Royal Welsh Regimental Museum at Brecon.

Mr Rattray's family has a close relationship with the Royal Welsh.

They run the Fugitives' Drift hotel, near the battlefield, and have hosted dozens of members of the Brecon-based regiment, whose ancestors fought in Rorke's Drift.

They also conduct battlefield tours, recounting tales of the Welsh soldiers' heroics during the Anglo-Zulu war.

Mr Rattray and his two friends have crossed Africa, the Middle East and Europe on their way to the museum on Saturday morning.

They have brought with them a traditional Zulu assegai spear and a British boot plate, which was found on the battlefield, for the museum.

Image caption The site of the battle has become a major tourist attraction

Mr Rattray said finally seeing Brecon would be a special moment, especially as his father made numerous trips to talk about the battle.

"To finally have an opportunity to see the significant sites in Wales and visit the home of the Royal Welsh is something I have looked forward to for most of my life," he said.

"To me, this is such an incredible opportunity to view these places my father told me so much about.

"Most importantly for me though, I want to visit the garden of The Regimental Museum of The Royal Welsh in Brecon. After my father passed away in 2007, a memorial to him was placed in this garden. This, for me, is the main reason I want to visit Brecon."

Victoria Cross

The Battle of Rorke's Drift took place on 22 and 23 January 1879.

Following their defeat at the Battle of Isandlwana the previous day, 150 British and colonial troops were cornered in a small makeshift garrison by thousands of Zulu warriors.

Despite injuries to virtually every man, and almost running out of ammunition, this tiny force held out for more than 10 hours until the Zulu onslaught finally subsided.

Eleven Victoria Crosses were awarded to the defenders - more than in any single engagement in British military history.

The events were famously depicted in the 1964 film Zulu, starring Stanley Baker and Michael Caine.

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