Three hundred people gathered in a terraced street to commemorate a Victorian war hero.

The crowds were in Cranmer Road, Worthing, for the unveiling of a blue plaque in memory of Private William Cooper, who fought with the 24th Foot at the Battle of Rorke’s Drift during the Zulu War.

The memorial was mounted on the front of Pte Cooper’s former home, now owned by Isabel Forester.

Isabel and Worthing’s Deputy Mayor, Councillor Noel Atkins, pulled away a Union Flag to reveal the plaque, which was blessed by the Rev David Farrant, padre of Worthing Combined Ex-Services Association (CESA).

Brighton Welsh Male Voice Choir, accompanied by Lancing Brass band, sang Men of Harlech as scores of families from the neighbourhood looked on.

The crowd included twin brothers Ryan and Sean McKeon, 11, of Cranmer Road, who donned matching pith helmets and marched around carrying toy rifles.

Bugler Andrew Farquharson, of the Royal Welsh Regiment, successors of the 24th Foot, played Last Post and Reveille either side of two minutes’ silence in memory of both the British and Zulu victims of the fighting.

The ceremony was attended by Prince Velekhaya Shange, a member of the Zulu royal family, standard bearers from CESA, re-enactors in the 19th century scarlet uniforms of the 24th Foot, and the Royal Sussex Regiment Living History Group.

Zulu War expert Ian Knight told how thousands of Zulus repeatedly attacked Rorke’s Drift after the fearless warriors wiped out more than 1,300 troops, including 600 from the 24th Foot, at Isandhlwana just hours earlier.

Pte Cooper escaped the slaughter after he was sent from the doomed column, shortly before it was annihilated, to fetch supplies from the mission station.

He subsequently fought alongside Victoria Cross winners John William Fielding and William Jones, whose great grandsons, Colin Fielding and Tony Jones, travelled from Essex to witness the unveiling of the 15in-diameter plaque, which read: “Private William Cooper, 24th Regiment of Foot, who fought the gallant Zulus at Rorke’s Drift, 1879, lived and died here.”

It was paid for by Argus and Worthing Sentinel reporter Paul Holden, CESA, the Royal Welsh Regiment, the Worthing Society conservation group, and Worthing borough councillor Tom Wye.

Cranmer Road was closed to traffic for the two-hour ceremony, which included a parade from St Dunstans Road and finished with the National Anthem.

Worthing Lions collected cash for Christmas food parcels which they are sending to troops from the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, many from Sussex, serving in Afghanistan.

Among those who contributed was Hove actor Tom Gerard, who appeared in the 1963 film Zulu, playing a British soldier, with Michael Caine and Stanley Baker.

Holden distributed among residents, dignitaries and traffic marshals 24 hand-painted metal figures – 12 Zulu and 12 British – donated by W Britain Ltd.

West Sussex County Council provided £100 towards the cost of light refreshments.

Iris Warren, musical director of the male voice choir, said: “The chaps had a splendid time.

It went off really well, with a fantastic atmosphere.”