Private John Williams (Fielding) VC

Private Williams had changed his name from Fielding. He was born in Abergavenny, Monmouthshire on 24th May 1857 and at first joined the Monmouth Militia, in Feb 1877. Later that year he joined the 2nd/24th. At Rorke's Drift he was one of six men detailed to guard the patients in the hospital. During the battle he, Joseph Williams and William Horrigan were in a room of the hospital and held off the Zulu attacks for over an hour until they ran out of ammunition. The Zulus burst in and dragged off and killed Joseph Williams and two patients. Meanwhile John Williams and two other patients frantically knocked a hole in the wall to where Hook was. Horrigan was also killed. They took two patients through the hole and with Hook the other side managed to rescue several more. Williams did not write an account of his experience so Hook's version has to be relied on. Williams and the two Privates Jones were the last to leave the burning hospital.

Williams received his Victoria Cross from General Anderson in Gibraltar in March 1880. He served on in the regiment while they were in India from 1880 to 1883. He was discharged after that but joined the 3rd Volunteer Battalion South Wales Borderers reaching the rank of sergeant. A photo of him in uniform c1900 shows him as a lance-corporal. He married Elizabeth Murphy and had 3 sons and 2 daughters. In World War 1 he joined the SWB in 1914 and worked in the depot. One of his sons joined the 1st Battalion SWB and was killed in 1914 in the Retreat from Mons. John Williams lived to the age of 75 and died at Cwmbran, Monmouthshire on 25th Nov 1932, the last surviving Rorke's Drift VC. He is buried in St Michael's Churchyard, Llantarnam.

Regimental details | Soldiers at Rorke's Drift


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by Stephen Luscombe