THE great-grandchild of a soldier who fought at Rorke’s Drift is backing a campaign for a headstone at his unmarked grave in Trefnant.

Lance Sgt James Taylor was part of the 2nd Battalion 24th Regiment who heroically fought against about 4,000 Zulu warriors in the Natal Province of South Africa to defend a nearby supply depot and hospital, as conflict heightened during the Zulu War in 1879.

But despite the battle’s historic status, which resulted in the awarding of 11 Victoria Crosses and being popularised in the 1964 classic film Zulu starring Michael Caine, L/Sgt Taylor’s grave at Holy Trinity Church in Trefnant, is marked only by a plain cross as his family could not afford a headstone.

Denbighshire Free Press:

Mr Taylor's grave is marked by simple iron cross. Picture: Geoff Abbott

But a Royal Marine from Cornwall who has helped to create headstones at 10 other soldiers’ unmarked graves across the UK is keen L/Sgt Taylor will soon have the representation he deserves.

“It is hoped that this sad situation could be resolved by galvanising some interest in providing the neglected grave with a new headstone,” Tim Needham said.

Sylvia Hughes, 70, “absolutely supports” the campaign for her great-grandfather to be honoured. It also has full backing from the Trefnant Community Council.

Denbighshire Free Press:

Michael Caine starred in the 1964 film Zulu.

L/Sgt Taylor, originally from Yorkshire, was 19 when he joined the war effort and continued to serve with the battalion in Gibraltar, India and Burma. After the end of his 20 years of military service in 1894 he lived in Aldershot, Mold and then Trefnant from 1915 with his wife and daughter. He took up a clerk role for a toymaker business in the village.

L/Sgt Taylor died in 1919 aged 65, receiving a full military funeral at Holy Trinity Church.

Denbighshire Free Press:

Tim Needham alongside a monument at the batle site of Rorke's Drift in South Africa.

Mr Needham, drum major for the Royal Marines Band, Plymouth, hopes a Denbighshire stonemason will be able to build a headstone for Mr Taylor at a reduced price.

“Because many of the soldiers who fought in the battle were from ordinary families they were not well off, so they couldn’t afford headstones,” he said. “A simple metal cross bearing his initials once marked the plot. This has long since disappeared, leaving nothing to indicate whose grave it is.”

Mrs Hughes, whose daughter Lesley, 41, lives in Trefnant with her sons Peter and Ryan, said: “Nobody knows unless we tell them, and then they are amazed by it. The soldiers who fought in the war don’t get enough praise after they survived and went on to live ordinary lives.

Denbighshire Free Press:

Holy Trinity Church, Trefnant

“We think it is amazing we have someone like this in the family and hoped to put a marker there, but it’s difficult to afford.

“Hopefully the headstone would help make the community aware that James lived in their village.”

Alan Kirkby, chairman of Trefnant Community Council, said Mr Needham’s campaign is a “worthwhile project” and will discuss ways to help fundraise for the headstone at an upcoming council meeting.

Mr Needham added: “It is hoped that this sad situation could be resolved by galvanising some interest in providing the neglected grave with a new headstone, if a stonemason in the area will be able to help make a headstone at a discounted price.”