A Service of Reconciliation was held at St Augustine's Mission, near Rorke's Drift, South Africa, on Saturday, to mark the 125th anniversary of the battles of Isandhlwana and Rorke's Drift. 1,500 British soldiers died at Isandhlwana on January 22 1879. The next day 145 South Wales Borderers held off a massive army of Zulu warriors at the Swedish Lutheran mission station of Rorke's Drift. Over 300 Zulus and 17 British soldiers died in that battle, which was immortalised in the 1963 film Zulu, starring Michael Caine. The Rorke's Drift defenders' bravery was rewarded with seven Victoria Crosses for the regiment, the largest number ever awarded for one battle. Saturday's Ecumenical service was attended by the Premier of the Kwazulu-Natal region, Dr Lionel Mtshali, Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the British High Commissioner in South Africa, Ann Grant, and Welsh First Minister Rhodri Morgan. Earlier that day there had been an re-enactment of the battle of Isandhlwana.The dignitaries also took part in a wreath-laying service at Rorke's Drift and visited a school twinned with Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Llanharri. The curator of the Royal Regiment of Wales (RRW) museum Major Martin Everett, said: "At the chapel service Welsh hymns were sung and the dead of both sides remembered. "Despite all the death, destruction and heartache 125 years ago, it is heartening to note that some good has come out of it." He said the RRW, which now incorporates the South Wales Borderers who fought at Rorke's Drift now raises money for local people and has carried out work in the area. Soldiers have also worked at the local school. He said the mission station was now "remarkably peaceful." .
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