"John Price was born at Pontypool, Monmouthshire, and enlisted for the 25th Brigade at Newport on 24 September 1874, a groom by trade, aged 18 years. He joined at Brecon on 26 September 1874 and served with the 2nd Battalion 24th Foot until 26 November 1874, when he transferred to the 1st Battalion. He served in South Africa from 25 November 1874 until 2 October 1879. During the Griqua War of 1878, and afterwards the Zulu War, Price was attached to the Imperial Mounted Infantry, composed of infantrymen from a variety of regiments detached over quite a long period of time from their bodies, so long, in some cases, that their appearance earned them the nickname ‘the Bashibazooks’.
In December 1878 the I.M.I. received orders to march to Rorke’s Drift where they joined Colonel Glyn’s No. 3 Column in preparation for the invasion of Zululand. The column crossed the Buffalo River on the morning of 11 January 1879. During the crossing Private John Price, 1/24th, was almost drowned when his horse lost its footing on the stony river bottom and was swept away by the strong current. Captain P. W. Hayes, 1/3rd Natal Native Contingent, jumped into the river and succeeded at the risk of his own life in saving Price and getting him across safely. The act was witnessed by all and drew a highly flattering mention from Lord Chelmsford, which afterwards appeared in Column Orders:
‘The Lieut.-General Commanding has received with the greatest satisfaction a report from the Lieut.-Colonel Commanding Mounted Corps, No. 3 Column, giving an account of the gallant conduct of Captain Hayes, 3rd Regiment N.N. Contingent. On the 11th instant this officer, at the risk of his own life, saved that of Private Price of the Imperial Mounted Infantry, who, when crossing the Buffalo River was, with his horse swept away by the rapid current and would have been drowned had it not been for the gallantry, coolness, and determination of Captain Hayes. The Lieut.-General has much pleasure in thus publicly bringing to notice this courageous act which reflects the highest credit on the officer concerned. 15 Jan., 1879.’
Later that day the I.M.I. escorted Chelmsford northwards for a meeting with Colonel Wood, commanding No. 4 Column, and on 12 January the I.M.I. took part in the storming of Sihayo’s kraal. When the column moved up to Isandhlwana on January 20th the I.M.I. accompanied it and camped together with the mounted volunteer troops over the saddle in front of the mountain to the left of the track that led to Ulundi.
When Chelmsford marched out of camp on the morning of the 22nd with half his force, among them was the majority of the I.M.I. A small group, however, no more than a dozen, was left in camp. It is probable that Price was among those left behind, having lost his horse in the river crossing, and he did not meet the same fate as most of his comrades at Isandhlwana.
Price returned home in October 1879 and re-engaged at the Curragh on 14 September 1886, now with regimental number ‘1989’ in the re-titled South Wales Borderers. He was promoted to Corporal in August 1887, to Sergeant in April 1890, and to Colour-Sergeant in April 1891. He was discharged on 3 April 1894, at his own request, after 18 years service.