BLANK rounds were fired and the Last Post was played in the village churchyard where a soldier who fought in one of Britain’s most famous battles is buried.

Few would have known, however, because Lance Sergeant James Taylor’s grave was until now unnamed; born with a simple, initialled iron cross.

The father-of-one settled with his wife and daughter in Trefnant three decades after he fought as a young man in the 1879 Anglo-Zulu War. He did not have many men to share the experience with - only 140 British soldiers were involved, 17 of whom were killed by some of the attacking 4,000 Zulu warriors.

The Battle of Rorke’s Drift, as it came to be known, resulted in the award of 11 Victoria Crosses and was later immortalised by the film Zulu (1968) starring Michael Caine.

But when not at war, Mr Taylor, from West Yorkshire, was a clerk, as in Manchester at the age of 19 before he enlisted. He was drafted to the 2nd Battalion 24th Regiment, also known as the South Wales Borderers, which was assigned the inconceivable task of defending a hospital and supply depot, far outnumbered by the enemy in the Natal Province of South Africa.

Mr Taylor was among the men who survived against the odds, and went on to serve in Gibraltar, Burma and India. He left the army to start a family, moving to Aldershot, Mold and then Trefnant in 1915, when he became a clerk at a toymaking factory in the village.

Like many of the soldiers who fought at Rorke’s Drift, Mr Taylor’s family could not afford a headstone when he died at the age of 65 in 1919. He received full military funeral at Holy Trinity Church in Trefnant and the simple cross stood where he lay.

That was the case for 100 years, until Tim Needham, drum major for the Royal Marines Band in Plymouth, has had a long-standing interest in the battle and made it his personal mission to set up headstones for 10 soldiers whose graves were not named. Mr Taylor was his next honour, and with some publicity in the Free Press, Mr Needham gained the help of Denbigh stonemasonry Vale of Clwyd Memorials, which made a granite headstone free-of-charge.

The ceremony was held at Holy Trinity Church and was attended by Sylvia Hughes, Mr Taylor’s great-granddaughter; Mrs Hughes’ daughter, Lesley, and two grandsons; ceremony organiser Mr Needham; Meirick Lloyd Davies, chair of Denbighshire County Council; Clwyd army cadets; the Royal Welsh Fusiliers; and members of the church and wider public.

A church service was led by Reverend Colin Mansley, including a talk about Mr Taylor’s life, and full military honours were given. The headstone was then unveiled, inscribed with Mr Taylor’s name, regiment and service, beneath which poppy wreaths were laid.