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Students honour war hero in special service

July 9th, 2018
Alana and Harrison with William Allen’s Victoria Cross medal.

Students at Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools’ Combined Cadet Force have been involved in a poignant service to honour a War hero.

Cadets from Monmouth School for Boys and Monmouth School for Girls took part in the service to mark the rededication of the grave of Cpl William Allen VC at Monmouth Cemetery.

The Monmouth students had previously refurbished the grave of Cpl Allen VC, who was awarded the Victoria Cross – Britain’s highest award for bravery – for fighting to keep the communication lines open during the battle of Rorke’s Drift in South Africa in 1879.

Just over 150 British and colonial troops successfully defended the garrison against an intense assault from around 4,000 Zulu warriors.

Cpl William Allen’s actions allowed patients to be evacuated from the field hospital during the battle.

A lone bugler played Last Post at the service on Wednesday 4th July which included representatives from The Royal Welsh Regiment and local dignitaries.

Reverend Clifford Swartz, Chaplain of Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools, led the service with Reverend Cannon, Dr Stephen James, who represented the Bishop of Monmouth.

Monmouth School for Boys’ Chapel Choir sang the National Anthem beautifully and the Royal Welsh’s new regimental mascot, Shenkin, gave one of his first public appearances

Cpl Allen received the Victoria Cross from Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle in December 1879 for his actions, after which he was promoted.

He served as an instructor with the 4th Volunteer Battalion in Monmouth and died in service.

Monmouth School for Boys’ Chapel Choir.

Mr Ian Lawrence, a teacher and Housemaster at Monmouth School for Boys, is Commander of the Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools’ Combined Cadet Force.

He said: “The Cadets came up to tidy his grave and we spoke about the history of William Allen and about Rorke’s Drift.

“It’s a great human interest story because when William joined the regiment he couldn’t read or write.

“He wasn’t a particularly decent soldier in terms of conduct and his misconduct record was as long as my arm.

“Through reading and writing, however, William Allen educated himself, turned his life around and became a brilliant solider.”

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