Brecon – Spiritual Home of 24th Regiment of FootBy
The 24th Regiment of Foot came into being in the mid 1700s when the British army adopted the protocol of giving regiments numbers rather than the names of their commanding officers. The 24th served with distinction in various theatres, most famously in the Anglo Zulu War of 1879 before the regiment became the South Wales Borderers in 1881.
Brecon is a small town in South Wales on the northern edge of the Brecon Beacons. The route to the town from the M4 which runs long the south Wales coast takes you through some beautiful scenery. The winding road makes its way through the green hills and valleys that this area is famous for.
The Barracks Museum of the 24th Regiment can be found on The Watton and the road is lined with 24 lime trees. The museum is a wonderful place to visit packed with a fascinating array of weapons, uniforms, medals and other memorabilia. The museum also owns a number of Victoria Crosses awarded to the men who fought under one of the regimental banners. If you venture further into the town of Brecon, you will also find a pub called “Rorke’s Drift” which takes its name from the most famous battle the 24th ever fought.
The Cathedral in Brecon is the focal point of this community. It is a wonderful place to visit with a little tea room located in it’s shadow and a shop were you can purchase books or other souvenirs. The interior of the cathedral is typical of many cathedrals up and down the United Kingdom but it is the Havard Chapel which is a shrine to the various Welsh Regiments that have been based in Brecon down the years. Hanging proudly high up on the walls are various regimental colours, the most famous ones being those of 1/24th Regiment that were lost at the Battle of Isandlwana despite the efforts of Lieutenants Melville and Coghill in 1879. Amazingly, they were recovered from the Buffalo River 13 days later. Queen Victoria added a wreath of immortels around the crown of the colours which can clearly be seen. There are numerous plaques and memorials to various regiments who fought in various battles.
Today, the regiment has been further amalgamated into the Royal Regiment of Wales but the 24th Regiment of Foot lives on in history. 16 men from this famous Regiment have been awarded the Victoria Cross when it was known as the 24th, the majority of which were earned on 22nd January 1879 in a remote part of South Africa at the Battle of Isandlwana and the Battle of Rorkes Drift.