A GUNFIRE salute rang out across Welshpool at the weekend as a headstone was revealed for a former serviceman and Rorke's Drift survivor.

A service was held on Saturday, August 6, as a headstone was placed on the grave of Sergeant Evan Jones, who served in the British Military for 43 years from 1877 to 1920.

Guns were fired and the Last Post was played at the commemorative event.

The fundraiser was launched in 2021 by Vincent Morris, who served with the RWF within B.Coy Rorke's Drift Company, successfully reaching its goal to construct and erect a headstone earlier in 2022.

County Times: Some of the notable service attendees; Craig Williams MP, Russell George MS, Cllr Alison Davies, Phil Morris and Gareth WatkinsSome of the notable service attendees; Craig Williams MP, Russell George MS, Cllr Alison Davies, Phil Morris and Gareth Watkins

The service to unveil the headstone was held at St Mary’s Churchyard in Welshpool at 11am, and was attended by former servicemen, donors to the fundraiser, historical re-enactors, distant relatives of Sergeant Evans and public figures such as Craig Williams MP and Russel George MS.

Mr Morris, who spoke at the service, said: “I first heard about Sergeant Jones while serving within B.Coy Rorke's Drift Company, where his name was listed as being among former servicemen who had no official, permanent headstone.

“Years later, when I visited the site in Welshpool, it made me angry and disappointed to see someone who gave so much for their country buried with nothing to mark it as such, so I resolved to do something about it.

“I never envisioned it becoming a big event like this, it’s very emotional to see it all come together.”


In June 2021, Gareth Watkins, having discovered Sergeant Jones was his great, great Uncle, stumbled across the fundraising campaign and contacted Mr Morris.

Both former servicemen, who had never met, connected to raise money for the headstone.

Mr Watkins said: “To see all these people attending this ceremony is awesome. It feels historic and fitting.

“For Sergeant Evans to have spent so many years underground in a grave only marked by a humble wooden cross, it didn’t feel right.

“I’m glad there is finally a proper headstone in place, the kind of deserved.”

County Times: The new headstone on the grave of Sergeant Evan Jones.The new headstone on the grave of Sergeant Evan Jones.

Originally from Ebbw Vale, Evan Jones enlisted in Brecon in 1877 and fought in the Anglo-Zulu war.

Two years later, in 1879, he participated in the infamous Battle of Rorke’s Drift, in which 150 British and colonial troops defended a mission station from more than 3,000 Zulu warriors.

Sergeant Jones is credited with alerting the station to the approaching Zulu army, having been on sentry duty at the time, and with raising the British flag at the station following the battle.

Eleven Victoria Crosses were awarded to the defenders of Rourke’s Drift, the most ever received by a single regiment.

County Times: Former servicemen at the ceremonyFormer servicemen at the ceremony

The battle was famously dramatised in the 1964 war film Zulu, starring Michael Caine and Stanley Baker.

Craig Williams MP said: “I found the service quite moving, especially as we heard about Sergeant Evans’ life and years of service.

“It’s a great way to remember, even all these years after his passing, to commemorate the resting place of a historically important figure in our local area.”