Here are a series of maps which seek to visualise the patterns of distribution in the collection of 500+ First World War memorials which are (or were) in Welsh chapels.
This map shows the locations of where these memorials were established (bear in mind that many have been relocated, and a depressing number have been lost).
Green – Roll of Honour only
Red – Memorial to dead
Black – Both Roll of Honour and Memorial to dead
Blue – Community memorials
Orange – Memorials that do not name the servicemen
The map contains information on memorials in over 500 chapels
Orange – Stained Glass Window
Green – Memorial includes photographs of servicemen
There are 15 entries with stained glass windows
and 13 entries with photographs
g.h.matthews January 22nd, 2020
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In the first months of the First World War, the South Wales Daily News printed a page of photographs every day showing the latest developments in the war, in particular focusing upon recruiting across south Wales.
A month after Britain’s declaration of war against Germany the newspaper published this picture, showing five Jewish recruits in the ‘Cardiff Pal’s Company’.
This is not unexpected given that the principal purpose of this daily feature was to emphasise how communities and organisations from every class and all areas of Wales were pulling together to support the war effort. Other photographs in the early weeks of the war show members of cricket or rugby clubs, or workmates who have volunteered together.
There are a large number of examples in the newspapers of Wales showing how groups who might previously have been marginalised or ignored were commended for showing their loyalty to the British cause (with much praise, for example, to the Irish community for volunteering). Swansea’s rabbi, M. Lubner, was one of the speakers at one of the town’s largest recruiting rallies in September 1914, and at the start of December a report in the Swansea newspaper, the Cambria Daily Leader, which gave figures for all the volunteers from the different places of worship noted that 25 had joined up from the local synagogue.
Fast-forwarding to the end of the war, organisations of all kinds sought to commemorate their contribution to Britain’s campaign – as numerous blog posts on this website demonstrate!
Two ‘rolls of honour’ commissioned by Welsh synagogues are known to have survived. The ‘Newport Hebrew Congregation’ names four who were killed in action at the top, and then gives the names of 51 men who served and returned. This photograph (courtesy of Shaun McGuire) was taken prior to the memorial being deposited for safe-keeping at Gwent Archives: more information can be found here.
The other extant ‘roll of honour’ is that of Merthyr Tydfil’s Hebrew Congregation, which is held at Cyfarthfa Castle Museum. This has the names of 38 men including two who were killed in action.
One of these, Harry Rosen, is also named in another memorial held at this museum – that of the Crawshay Brothers (Mountain Levels and Steelworks) company.
There are also memorials commemorating those members of synagogues who were killed. There are nine named on the memorial which was established by the Swansea synagogue (now closed).
The two synagogues in Cardiff each commissioned a memorial to all the Jewish men from the city who were killed in the war, with twelve names on them. There is a subtle difference in the ordering: the Cathedral Road memorial lists the men strictly alphabetically while the Windsor Place memorial puts the officers at the top.
One name on these matches a name given on the photograph in the South Wales Daily News of September 1914. Four years after that photograph was taken Israel (Issy) Shibko was serving with the 11th Battalion of the Welsh Regiment – otherwise known as the Cardiff Pals Commercial Battalion – on the Salonika Front in northern Greece. The unit was decimated in what is known as the Third Battle of Doiran, fighting against the Bulgarians: Issy was killed on 18 September. Nothing was gained in this battle despite heavy losses. Within two weeks the Bulgarians had agreed an Armistice.
g.h.matthews June 5th, 2019
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There are literally hundreds of war memorials in Wales’ capital. In fact there are over a hundred memorials to the First World War in the city. These range from the enormously impressive Welsh National Memorial in Cathays Park to modest brass tablets.
This blog will concentrate not on the numerous visible memorials that can be seen in the city centre and in various suburbs, but on ones that are within buildings, and which thus may not be generally known even by those who live locally.
Looking in depth at the names on these memorials, you will find that some individuals are named on numerous ones. One rather exceptional example is the rugby player John Lewis Williams, a captain with the 16th Btn (Cardiff City) of the Welsh Regiment, who was badly wounded on the first day of the Battle of Mametz Wood, and died of his wounds on 12 July 1916. He is commemorated on the memorials in Whitchurch, St Mary’s Church, Whitchurch, Cardiff Coal Exchange, Cowbridge Grammar School, Penarth, Cardiff Masons, the WRU and Newport Athletic (Rugby) Club. (For further information, see Ceri Stennett and Gwyn Prescott’s book In Proud and Honoured Memory).
Cardiff is home to four of the most visually striking works memorials in Wales. The enormous memorial to the employees of Cardiff Corporation who served in the war is probably the one that takes the top prize.
Designed by Fred J Dobbs and printed by the Western Mail, it contains a wealth of visual imagery, as well as the names of around 600 employees who served (including at least eleven women). There are images of the flags of the Allies, the pyramids, of destruction in Belgium and of the Lusitania.
This memorial is in the grand surroundings of City Hall.
Another one which comes close in its visual impact is the memorial to the men of the Cardiff Railway company, located in the Pierhead Building in Cardiff Bay. This enormous memorial has the company crest and logo, and emblems symbolising the nations of the United Kingdom. There are almost 700 names inscribed upon it.
The Taff Vale Railway also commissioned a memorial to their employees who served. This is another ornate design and a detailed copy of it can be seen in the busy Queen Street station. (Further information here)
The fourth large-scale works memorial to be featured here is that to the Post Office workers of Cardiff. This lists over 600 names, of whom over 40 died : it can be seen in the customer service centre in the Royal Mail’s Penarth Road depot. (Further information here)
A number of smaller workplaces around Cardiff commissioned their own memorials. Given that so many companies that were in business then have now disappeared it is difficult to know how many have been lost. One that has survived is that of the Cardiff Gas Light And Coke Company Grangetown Works
University and School memorials
As the war progressed many places of education had ‘rolls of honour’ listing former students who were serving in the forces. If anyone knows whether any of the local schools still have their ‘roll of honour’ (as opposed to a memorial to those who died) please let me know.
The University (then under the unwieldy name of the ‘University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire’) established a memorial to the 111 former undergraduates who were killed in the war.
Most of the places of worship commissioned war memorials to those of their congregations who had died. Sometime these are brass plaques, of a simple design but with an emotional punch when you count the names on them. The memorial commissioned by the church of St James’ on Newport Road has 17 names on it. The church is now closed, so the plaque is on display in St John’s in the city centre.
Also in the north of the city, the church of St Isan in Llanishen lists 18 men on its memorial.
Nearer the centre of the city is the impressive church of St German’s. This has not only a memorial to those of this church who died in WW1 (40 names), but also that of the congregation of St Agnes’ (18 names).
The Anglican churches of Cardiff were far outnumbered by the Nonconformist chapels. Some of the memorials in these buildings are substantial, such as the one in Y Tabernacl in the Hayes, featured in a previous blog.
To begin with some more modest examples, there are five names on the memorial in Whitchurch Methodist church. Two of them (Charles Collier and David Williams) were killed in the Battle of Mametz Wood on 7 July 1916, serving with the ‘Cardiff Pals’.
There are also five names on the memorial in St Andrew’s United Reformed Church (then known as Roath Park Presbyterian). One, Joseph Stephens, was killed in the Battle of Doiran in northern Greece on 18 September 1918 alongside many other Cardiff men.
There are eleven names on the memorial in Heath Evangelical Church (then Heath Presbyterian).
The three examples above are all in buildings still active as places of worship. However a number of Cardiff’s chapels have closed down. In many such occasions the memorials inside have been moved; in others (and it is impossible to know how many) they have been lost.
One example where the memorial is still in situ although the building has changed its purpose is in the former Calvinistic Methodist chapel on Pembroke Terrace, now a restaurant known as Chapel 1877. There are nine names on the memorial.
The congregation of Ebenezer (Welsh Independent) used to meet in Charles Street, but now the building is used by the adjacent Catholic church. The stone war memorial, with six names upon it, has been relocated outside.
Another instance where the memorial has been relocated is to be found in the Trinity Centre, Roath (now an outreach centre of the Methodist church). When the Methodist church nearby in the Broadway closed down in 1950, both the brass memorial (14 names) and the magnificent stained glass windows were moved here.
The final war memorial featured in this section is another surprising work of art. Salem (Calvinistic Methodist), Canton, commissioned the famous Cardiff-born sculptor William Goscombe John to create the memorial to the five men of the chapel who died in the war. The result may be a surprise to those who see it today: a statue of a female figure who might represent Britannia or perhaps the Roman goddess Minerva. Either way, it is not what one expects to see in a Welsh chapel!
Many other clubs or organisations commissioned their own memorials after WW1. It is difficult to estimate how many of these there were, and how many have been lost. For one interesting example, of the Oddfellows’ memorial, now presumed lost, see the Roath Local History Society website
To finish off the list of twenty Cardiff memorials, here is one from the Masonic Hall on Guildford Crescent. This commemorates the men of six different local lodges who died in the war, and names 32 individuals. A Welsh-language resource in which the late Rev Dafydd Henri Edwards describes this memorial is available via the BBC website
There are dozens more WW1 memorials in Cardiff. The database of war memorials compiled by the Imperial War Museum lists 102 memorials to the First World War in the city, yet this list is not definitive, and there will be other memorials hidden away across the city which are not yet known to researchers.
Further resources – from the IWM Memorials database:
Cardiff Corporation: https://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/6647
Cardiff Railway company: https://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/6670
Taff Vale Railway: https://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/6669
Cardiff Post Office workers – https://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/60558
Cardiff Gas Light And Coke Company Grangetown Works: https://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/6673
Cardiff High School: https://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/6657
Cardiff University: https://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/6651
St German’s : https://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/51037
St Andrew’s United Reformed Church: https://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/17676
Heath Evangelical: https://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/37148
Pembroke Terrace: https://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/65213
Cardiff Masonic memorial: https://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/6675
g.h.matthews May 7th, 2019
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Many different kinds of organisations commissioned their own memorials during or after the First World War. Many of the blog posts on this website focus on chapel memorials, but there are also examples shown of church, workplace and school memorials.
Looking across the board, it is clear that most of these institutions do not exist today as they did in 1914-18. Chapels and churches have shut their doors; workplaces have closed and schools have moved to new premises and rebranded. Sometimes the memorials created by these institutions have been preserved – e.g. chapel or church memorials being relocated to other places of worship – but often they have been lost. For example, the survival rate of colliery memorials seems particularly poor, and although there were 400 coal-mines operative in south Wales at the time of WW1, the location is known of fewer than a dozen of their memorials.
The same rate of attrition can be seen amongst the clubs of Wales. Some clubs have survived in more-or-less the same form, such as Newport’s rugby club: the gates of the club stand today as an impressive WW1 memorial. Others have disappeared over the decades.
One kind of club which was remarkably prevalent in the industrial areas of Wales was the political club. (A special reason for the spread of such clubs in Wales was the ‘Sunday Closing Act’ of 1881, which closed Welsh pubs on the Sabbath but which allowed members’ clubs to serve alcohol). How ‘political’ they were is an interesting question because, perhaps surprisingly, many of these were Conservative clubs – although sometimes the issue was fudged by them being called ‘Constitutional Clubs’. One could question whether most of the members of these were actually Tory voters, and there is a suggestion that in later decades these Conservative clubs were more visible and livelier the stronger the Labour domination of the area. There is a sense that they appealed to men who were aspired to rise up the social ranks, or to be seen to be a cut above the rest.
The club on Walter Road, Swansea, was known as the ‘Salisbury Club’, named after the Conservative Prime Minister who was in power for most of the period 1885-1902. It clearly had a substantial membership of men eligible to volunteer, for a report in a local newspaper in February 1916 names almost 170 members who are serving in the forces (including two, L. Robberechts and Henri Lefeuvre, who were serving in the French Army).
A report after the end of the war noted that the number of club members who served was 243. This report noted the intention to record all their names on a roll of honour – nothing has survived of this, but the memorial tablet to the 28 members who died while serving in the war has survived. It was unveiled in December 1919, but since the Salisbury Club closed down a few years ago it is now preserved in the stores of Swansea Museum.
Contemporary reports from the early months of the war make it clear that these political clubs could be centres for recruiting, with the local political agents seeking to ensure that many of ‘their’ men joined up. Thus there is a report in the Rhondda Leader from September 1914 noting the Conservative agent’s boast that ‘over 600 men’ had joined from the district’s Conservative clubs, and that ‘Labour clubs, too, have supplied strong contingents’.
One of these Conservative clubs in the Rhondda was the magnificently-named ‘Tylorstown Workingmen’s Conservative Club’. After the end of the war this club commissioned an elaborate memorial to all those from the club who served. It names 17 who died and 98 who served and returned (of whom four are noted as having ‘served with distinction’).
The creator’s name can be found at the foot of the document: ‘W. T. Maddock & Co., Designers and Illuminators, Ferndale’. In contrast to a host of other Rolls of Honour around Wales which have an array of Welsh symbols (dragons, leeks and daffodils) on display, this one is resolutely British in its imagery. Britannia, with the Union flag on her shield, is prominent on the left hand side. At the top the flags of various Allies (USA, France, Belgium and Italy) are alongside the Union Flag and the Royal Navy’s ensign.
The photograph of the club which used to be in the middle of the top of the Roll of Honour has faded. The club itself, which was located just across the road from All Saints’ Church, Tylorstown does not exist any more: the memorial is kept in the church.
One Con Club that is still going strong is that in Caerphilly. Now known as the Conservative Club, the memorial refers to the ‘Constitutional Club’. Again, the wording and imagery on display here is resolutely British: THOSE WHO LIVED/ AND THOSE WHO DIED/ THEY WERE ONE IN NOBLE PRIDE/ BRITONS ARE THEY/ BRITONS EVERY ONE. There are the names of ten men who died and 143 who served and returned.
Similarly, the Merthyr Tydfil Conservative Club’s memorial declares it to be the ‘Constitutional Club’. There are nine names of those who were killed in the war, and 101 who served and returned. This memorial is another grand affair, with classical columns and angels framing the names.
It shares many of the features seen in the Roll of Honour for Merthyr’s Zoar chapel.
Further information about 15 of the men who are commemorated on Swansea’s Salisbury Club memorial can be found here. http://www.walesatwar.org/en/memorial/detail/1619 There is currently no transcript available for the Rolls of Honour in Caerphilly and Merthyr, but below is a transcript of the names on the Tylorstown Workingmen’s Conservative Club.
KILLED IN ACTION/
Pte Rees Burton, RFA
Pte D. M. Davies, 9th Welsh
Pte Owen Davies, RWF
Pte Morgan Davies, RWF
Sgt John C. Faulkner, 57th MGC
Pte Wm. Harris, 3rd Welsh
Pte John Kew, 12th YR
Pte Evan Lloyd, Dorsets
Pte Evan Morgan, 3rd Welsh
Pte Regd. Maslin, 11th Welsh
Pte William Moore, RWF
Sgt William Peploe, RWF
Cpl Thomas Penny, 9th Welsh
Cpl Samuel Pendry, 15th Welsh
Sgt Ebenzer Rees, 6th Welsh
Pte Wm. L. Williams, 23rd Welsh
Pte Danl. Williams, RWF
SERVED WITH DISTINCTION Pte Jehu Eastment R.E. Pte David Danl Jones ASC Pte. Richard Owen R.W. Pte James Tustin ASC
Sgt Taff Rogers DCM & Bar,MM Pte Benj Francis 10th Welsh Pte D.T.Jones MGE Sgt Alfred Parry GG Pte John Tudor KOYLI
Sgt Tom Biles DCM MM RE Pte.Stephen Fowler RAST Pte William Jones 16thWelsh Pte George Page RASC Pte Owen Thomas ME
Sgt David John Evans MM SLancs Pte John Fowler RFA Pte William Jones 15thWelsh Cpl Harry Patten Sth Lancs Sgt Harry Williams S Lancs
Sgt Harry Webber MM 14th Welsh Pte Robert Fowler RASC Pte D.J.Jones .13thWelsh Pte Thos Phillips 10th Welsh Sgt Robert Williams S Lancs
Non Com Officers & Men Pte George Ferris 3rd Welsh Pte A.Jeffries 10th Welsh QMS J.H.Price Welsh Sgt Richard Williams 15th Welsh
L.Cpl Oliver Bath 12th Welsh Pte Thomas Farrell RHA Pte Llewellyn Jones 1st Welsh Pte Evan Pyne Welsh Sgt Albert Watts 10th Welsh
Pte Thos Burns Welsh Horse Pte Charles Guy SLI Sgt Hugh Jenkins RFA Cpl George Prosser 17th Welsh Pte Chas Walters RFA
Pte Harry Bulley ASC Pte Albert Gazzard 5th Welsh Pte G.H.Jenkins ASC Pte Gomer Rees 10th Welsh Dvr W.Williams RASC
Pte Jas McCardle RM Pte Wm Gazzard 10th Welsh Pte Thos.Jenkins 13thWelsh Pte Rees Reynolds 1st Welsh Sgt Robert Welsh ASC
Pte Geo Cooksley 1st Welsh Pte J.H.Griffiths RE Pte George King 3rdWelsh Pte William Reece SLI Sgt D.J.Williams 15th Welsh
QMS Geo Winter RE Pte Edwd Griffiths WG Sgt Arthur Lord RFA Pte William Rees RWF Sgt Gus Williams .15th Welsh
Sgt D.O.John S.Lancs Pte William Harris 17th Welsh Pte Arthur Lee S.Staffs Cpl Bert Stockwell S Lancs Pte William Woodland 7th Gloucesters
Pte Thos J.Jones . ASC Pte Alfred Hughes 5th Welsh Pte Walter Lovett WG Sgt John S.Sweet ASC Pte Richd Williams S Lancs
Pte Christmas Davies..KRRC Pte Joseph Hughes 5th Welsh Pte R.C.Martin Welsh Cpl John Sandiland S Lancs Pte Sidney Webber S Lancs
Pte Morgan Day 3rd Welsh Pte Fred Hobbs RHA Pte George Morgan RE Pte Gomer Stephens RWF Pte W.J.Watts RWF
Pte Gwilym Evans 3rd Welsh Pte D.O.Harris RAMC Pte W.J.Evans YR Pte Abraham Smith RWF Pte Percy White ASC
Edwin Edwards HMS Pembroke Pte Herbert Harris KOYLI Pte Tom M.Morgan HSLI Sapper Herbert Smith RE Sgt James Williams ASC
Pte W.H.Edwards RWF Pte Robt J.Hughes 11th Welsh Pte Dan Morgan S.Lancs Pte Ernie Smith .ASC Pte Daniel Williams ASC
Pte Wm Evans DYLI Sgt Lemuel Jones RAMC Pte Stephen Morris RFA Pte Idwal Thomas 20th Batt TC Pte Samuel Young Welsh
g.h.matthews April 18th, 2019
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I have recently been sent an image of the World War One memorial to the war dead who had previously worked for the British Mannesmann Company, based in Landore, Swansea (with thanks to Bernard Lewis and Pam McKay). The works is long gone and so also, presumably, is this memorial. However, the family of Hubert McKay have kept this cutting from the South Wales Daily Post, probably from 1922 or 1923, which records the unveiling of the memorial. If you look at the image you will see where the family have put an ‘X’ next to Hubert’s name.
The number of men who were killed in action, 58, is breath-taking – or rather, heart-breaking. There were 1,600 men employed by the company in 1914, so in bald figures over one in 27 of them died as a result of the war.
Looking beyond the figures it does appear that there is more to this story. The Swansea newspapers, which accepted the line in 1914 that this was a just war, were enthusiastic about publicising which companies were doing the most to get their workers to volunteer. They published lists showing how many men had enlisted from different companies, and the ‘winner’ in this competition, by a large margin, was the British Mannesmann Tube Company. The list published by the Cambria Daily Leader on 14 September 1914 has 210 names of those from the company who were ‘doing their duty’. Many of these names – including Hubert McKay – are on the list of those who died.
So why were the men of the company so keen to volunteer? Does it have anything to do with the fact that the parent company was German? There is a report in a newspaper at the start of the war noting that the two sons of Mr Roeder, manager of the works, were going back to Germany to fight for their country. Given all the pressure for companies to show their loyalty to King and Country, did that then mean that the Mannesmann works was particularly eager to supply as many volunteers as possible for the Colours?
The McKay family have kept a cutting from the South Wales Daily Post of 18 October 1917 recording the death of Hubert, killed in action in Belgium on 9 October. His officer wrote that he ‘died for the cause of all and the glory of the regiment.’ He has no known grave, being commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.
Information on many of the other men can be found in the pages of the Swansea newspapers (which are available online). John M. Price was killed on New Year’s Day 1915 at Festubert. William Doel died in the vicinity of Loos on 11 May 1916; his brother Sydney died in the Somme campaign on 28 September 1916. Oswald Murphy was killed on 27 December 1916. Fredrick Woolard (named in the paper as Fred Wallard) was on the Laurentic when she was sunk after striking two mines on 25 January 1917.
There are also a number of men who are reported as former Mannesmann employees whose names do not appear on this memorial. James Keefe, a veteran who had served in the Boer War, rejoined the army as an instructor, but died of an illness in November 1915. Richard William Thomas was 19 years old when he was killed in a Flanders field in October 1917. Thomas Ivor Jones was 20 years old when he died on the Western Front in September 1918.
Most of the 58 men listed here are commemorated on the Swansea Cenotaph, where 2,274 dead of the First World War are named. The image above shows the name of William Henry Phelps, who was killed in the attack on Mametz Wood on 10 July 1916, while serving with the 14th Btn Welsh Regt (the ‘Swansea Pals’). He is also commemorated in the memorial to the WW1 dead from Carmarthen Road Congregational chapel, Swansea.
Oswald Murphy’s name appears among the 120 names on the WW1 memorial outside the Roman Catholic Cathedral Church of St Joseph.
One who is commemorated on another chapel memorial is
David James Jones, named on the Roll of Honour at Caersalem Newydd, Treboeth. He was killed when HMS Genista was sunk by a U-boat in October 1916. The newspaper says of him that he ‘was a lad who promised to have a successful career. He was a boy who was exceptionally popular and his tragic death will be mourned by a large circle.’ To get an idea of the effect of the war on the workers at the Mannesmann company, we can multiply that sentiment by 58 and more.
g.h.matthews June 11th, 2018
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I recently received from the Revd Jennie Hurd a picture of a memorial in a Welsh chapel, which at the time of the First World War was a Wesleyan chapel known as Cefnblodwel.
In loving memory of Pte William Tanat Jones, Glan-yr-Afon, who fell on the battlefield at Ronsey, France, 18th September 1918, aged 31
Also, Pte John Hugh Wooding, Sycamore Cottage, Moelydd, who fell on the battlefield in France, 30th August 1916, aged 23
“Greater love hath no man than this”
They gave their lives for Justice, Freedom and Religion
Although the biblical quotation (John 15:13) is one that is often seen in Welsh chapel memorials, the final line which explicitly places the men’s sacrifice as one for ‘Justice, Freedom and Religion’ is a stronger statement than is usually seen.
It is straightforward to find both men on the CWGC database. John Hugh Wooding is commemorated on the enormous memorial at Thiepval in the Somme region of France: he died while serving with the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry.
William Tanat Jones is actually buried in Ronssoy Communal Cemetery in the Somme region: he was serving with the 25th Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers.
Some information on William can be found in Welsh newspapers. The Llangollen Advertiser of 11 October 1918 notes how his death was announced in Llanyblodwel church:
On Sunday morning the Vicar (the Rev. J. Allen Jones) referred in feeling terms to the death in action on the west front of Pte. William Tanat Jones, Tyissa, who a month ago was at home on leave, and to the death of Arthur Lewis, The Stores, Porthywaen, who was killed in action in the recent Bulgarian fighting. The whole parish will lament their loss. The organist (Mr T. B. Griffiths) played the Dead March in “Saul.”
There are two items about him in Y Gwyliedydd Newydd (the Welsh Wesleyans’ weekly newspaper). The first is a report of his marriage, at Cefnblodwel chapel on 4 January 1916, to Miss Helena Jones, daughter of Mr and Mrs Jones of Ty Isa. William was noted as serving with the Montgomery Yeomanry (a unit which would be re-organised as the 25th Btn of the RWF in 1917).
Then there is a much more detailed report of his death in the issue of 6 November 1918.
We are very sad at having to record the death of Mr Tanat Jones, dear husband of Mrs Tanat Jones, Ty Isa, and son of Mr & Mrs Wm. Jones Glanyrafon. Our friend fell in the battle in France, 18 September, to the great sorrow of his family and friends. He joined the army early in the War, and for two years served on the field in Palestine and we were glad to hear that he came out of every battle uninjured. During this year he was transferred from the East to France. In August he was allowed home for a visit, and everyone was delighted to see him looking so well and cheerful. But within a fortnight of his return to the field of battle, he received a fatal blow and his body was respectfully buried in the public cemetery of Royssons.
On Friday evening, 18 October, a memorial service for him was held in Cefnblodwel chapel. The Rev. Evan Roberts, Oswestry, preached to a large congregation referring to the character and work of our friend.
W.T. Jones was a quiet, unassuming young man who was liked by all who knew him. He was always ready to do a favour. The young men who were around him in the army testify that they have lost a true friend. He had a great love for the cause in Cefnblodwel, and great things were expected of him had he been spared. Here is another hopeful young man sacrificed on the altar of war. May he rest tranquilly in the far-off field and may the breeze blow gently over the site of his grave. We sympathise deeply with his young bride and his parents, brother and sisters. May the Lord console them in their sorrow.
However, when trying to locate Cefnblodwel chapel on the database of Welsh chapels created by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, there was a problem: no such chapel was listed. Further investigation showed why: this chapel is well on the English side of the border, six miles south-west of Oswestry.
Searching on the web for more information about the two men, some interesting material comes to light. William Tanat Jones is commemorated on the gravestone of his parents (William and Ann Jones) in Nantmawr – the gravestone is in Welsh although Nantmawr is firmly in Shropshire.
Also in Nantmawr, there is a Roll of Honour of all the former pupils of the Nantmawr British School who served in the war, including the name of John Hugh Wooding. Further information about him can be found here.
It does not appear that either of these men is included in the ‘Welsh Book of Remembrance’, commissioned in 1928 (although one would have expected that William Tanat Jones should have been included as he served in a Welsh Regiment).
The services in the chapel at Cefnblodwel are now held in English, yet they still belong to the Welsh branch of the Methodist church. It all goes to show that the border areas can have interesting ideas about identity, and have no trouble with identifying with both ‘English’ and ‘Welsh’.
g.h.matthews April 27th, 2018
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A new resource has been developed which illustrates some of the material gathered on the First World War memorials and rolls of honour in Wales.
Funded by the Living Legacies 1914-18 Engagement Centre, the Centre for Data Digitisation and Analysis at Queen’s University Belfast has worked with the information gathered by the ‘Welsh Memorials’ project, and also the Powys War Memorials Project, to create a map showing where these memorials are to be found. (The black dots are from the Powys project: the others are from ‘Welsh Memorials’).
Most of the memorials considered here were displayed in chapels, but there are also examples from churches, schools, clubs and workplaces.
These objects of commemoration can tell us a lot about how individual communities were affected by the war, and how they chose to remember the events of 1914 – 1919, and those whom they lost on the battlefield. They vary greatly in their design, in their choice of words to describe those who are commemorated, in the information they contain, and in how inclusive they were in their choice of men and women to remember and honour.
Whilst some rolls of honour feature very militaristic imagery, some memorials appear far more ambivalent about the necessity of war. One obvious example of these two contrasting perspectives can be found by comparing the choice of verse in the Tabernacle at Pontypridd (left), and Bethel Chapel in Llangyfelach, Swansea (right).
The Tabernacle in Pontypridd extolls the virtues of dying for one’s country – the poem is from the perspective of a mother who tells her son that “Dy fam wyf fi, a gwell gan fam, It golli’th waed fel dwfr, Neu agor drws i gorff y dewr, Na derbyn bachgen llwfr.” (“I am your mother, and a mother would rather you spilt your blood like a flood, or to open the door to the body of the brave, than accept a cowardly boy”). Bethel Chapel in Llangyfelach, on the other hand, quotes from the eulogy to Hedd Wyn (a Welsh poet who died at Passchendaele) by R. Williams Parry – “Garw rhoi’u pridd i’r briddell, mwyaf garw marw ’mhell” (It is grievous to give their remains to the earth, and harder still because they are far away).
There is also a wide range in regards to what the communities decided to record about those who were serving with the armed forces. Some, as in the Tabernacle (see above) included photographs. Others only recorded initials and surnames. Whilst some memorials and rolls of honour stated where the soldiers and sailors lived, others chose to list their ranks and regiments, or the date and place where they fell.
The map shows which areas chose to commemorate women who participated in the war effort. It seems that roughly a third of the chapel memorials in Wales include the names of women who served as well as men. Some of these are in clusters – such as those in the Pontypool area. This map resource makes it easy to identify these clusters. Very often the women’s names were separated out from the men’s as is the case in Capel-y- Garn, Bow Street, near Aberystwyth.
Sisters Hannah and Rebecca Rees are both listed as nurses on the right-hand bottom corner of the list. Occasionally women were listed among the fallen, as was the case with Janet Jones from Llanrwst, who was a Quarter Mistress with the Women’s Royal Air Force. On the roll of honour at the British Legion in Llanrwst, she is listed among the fallen men, in alphabetical order.
Another feature of this map is that it highlights which memorials and rolls of honour commemorate those men who served with overseas forces. Most men served with either the Canadian or Australian forces, although smaller numbers served with the Ghurkhas, New Zealanders and South Africans. The memorial which records the greatest number of men who fell whilst fighting with overseas forces is that of Crickhowell War Memorial Hospital. Out of a total of 67 men who fell whilst fighting in the First World War, 8 of them did so whilst serving with overseas forces (two Canadians, three New Zealanders and three Australians). Capel Seion in Llangollen also has a high proportion of men who served with overseas forces – 3 out of 12, that is, a quarter of those who served. One fought with the Australian Forces, another with the Canadians and the third with the South African Army.
Both Crickhowell and Llangollen are fairly rural areas of Wales, and perhaps the map of those who served with overseas forces can tell us something about the patterns of migration from Wales at the turn of the twentieth century. It also tells us how those who did emigrate maintained their links with the old country. One of those from Llangollen had emigrated to Canada a decade before the outbreak of war, but he was still considered enough of a Llangollen boy to be recorded on their Roll of Honour.
The memorial at High Street Baptist chapel, Abersychan, brings together many of the themes highlighted in this resource. The Roll of Honour has the dedication ‘To those who came to the help of the Lord against the mighty in the Great Struggle for the preservation of the sacred ideals of civilization’, showing that at the time of the memorial’s commission there was no question of who was in the right in the war. Eight men who died are listed, along with 70 men and 7 women who served. One of the men was with the Australian forces, and one with the Canadian Field Ambulance.
So far the Welsh Memorial Project has recorded over 160 memorials and almost a hundred rolls of honour from across Wales. These objects range from rough drafts of rolls of honour, such as this roll of honour from St Cross Church in Llanllechid, near Bangor, to statues such as this one from the Tabernacle in Aberystwyth, which was designed by the renowned Italian sculptor Mario Rutelli. This online map resource highlights the different ways of commemorating those who served from across Wales. It shows where rolls of honour were made, and those areas where memorials alone were more common. It gives a snapshot of the patterns of migration at the turn of the century, and it shows which communities decided that the contribution of local women to the war effort was worth commemorating.
g.h.matthews February 21st, 2018
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Here are images of the First World War memorials in Welsh chapels referred to in the book chapter:
Gethin Matthews, ‘Angels, Tanks and Minerva: Reading the memorials to the Great War in Welsh chapels’ in Martin Kerby, Margaret Baguley and Janet McDonald (eds.) The Palgrave Handbook of Artistic and Cultural Responses to war.
Maes-yr-Haf (Independent), Neath:
Mynyddbach (Independent), north Swansea – ‘Roll of Honour’ created in February 1916:
Mynyddbach (Independent), north Swansea – ‘Roll of Honour’ from 1921:
Adulam (Baptist), Bonymaen, north Swansea:
g.h.matthews February 7th, 2018
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As the ‘Welsh Memorials’ project has gathered information about WW1 memorials from all over Wales, it has become clear that different parts of Wales can have different patterns of memorialisation. One clear generalisation is that industrial Wales had a greater number and variety of WW1 memorials than rural Wales. Although there are plenty of interesting exceptions, as a rule the WW1 memorials in rural Wales are thinner on the ground and have fewer names commemorated on them – which is obviously related to the sparser population in these areas.
Within industrial or urban Wales, there are also some interesting patterns: some areas where memorialisation was more intense than others. (Of course, one factor to bear in mind is the survival rate of memorials may not be uniform, and there are some parts of Wales where it appears that more have been lost than have survived). This article will focus in on Morriston, north Swansea, an area which had a very strong concentration of Nonconformist chapels in 1914.
The map above gives an idea of the distribution of these chapels (using the data of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales). Some of these chapels have closed down, while others have merged, but a fair number of their memorials are still extant.
As a result of there being so many chapels in one locality, there was an element of rivalry between them, and we can see that expressed during the period 1914-18 in terms of the question of how many recruits had joined from each congregation. Each institution sought to show that it was ‘doing its bit’ for the war effort, and so publicised the number of their young men who had joined the Armed Forces. For example, a newspaper report in 1916 declared that ‘Carmel Church is not one of the largest in Morriston, but has the good record of having 36 of its members and adherents with the Colours’ (Herald of Wales, 22 January 1916, p.8).
Here is an example of a contemporary Roll of Honour that was kept by Philadephia (Calvinistic Methodist) chapel, Morriston. It is likely that most local chapels had Rolls of Honour similar to this one on display as the war was being fought.
However, most of these have not survived, as they were superseded by more ornate memorials commissioned at the end of the war.
One thing that is clear from looking at the memorials below is that one local artist designed a number of them. W.J.James, of Penrhiwforgan, Morriston, designed all of the ones below: clockwise from the top-left – Soar; Carmel; Tabernacl; Tabernacl, Cwmrhydyceirw and Seion. In each of these designs there is an image of the chapel building in the middle towards the top, flanked by the Union flag and the Welsh dragon.
The design of the memorial of Tabernacl (on Woodfield Street – renowned as one of the most grandiose of all the chapels in Wales) is particularly interesting. It has the motto of the Welsh Regiment, “Better death than dishonour” in four languages (English, Welsh, French and Flemish) and ten militaristic pictures, including images of machine gunners and tanks.
As well as the Roll of Honour, Tabernacl (Baptist) Cwmrhydyceirw has a tablet commemorating the two men from the chapel who died.
Bethania (Calvinistic Methodist) does not have a Roll of Honour – although the Annual Report for 1919 does give details of the 55 men from the chapel who served in the war. It has, on one side of the pulpit, a marble memorial to the 10 men from the chapel who died. It also has, on the other side, a similar memorial to the 5 men who were killed in the Second World War, as sad testimony to the fact that the Great War was not, after all, ‘the war to end wars’.
g.h.matthews February 5th, 2018
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In a previous blog post we noted a few instances where individuals were commemorated on more than one memorial. This is to be expected if a man (or woman) had a connection with a number of institutions that felt the need, either as the war was being fought or at its end, to remember those who had served, and those who died.
Another way of finding these connections is to look at one memorial and see how many of the men are listed on other local memorials. We have recently been given an image of the WW1 memorial in Terrace Road School, in the Mount Pleasant area of Swansea. This lists 65 men who ‘gave their lives for Freedom in the Great War, 1914-1918’.
Many of these men appear on other local memorials in Swansea (as well as being listed on the Swansea Cenotaph, which names all the local dead from WW1). One name that stands out is David Dupree – he is the subject of a previous blog post, and is named on the Hafod Isha works memorial.
At least one of the men is named on the memorial in the Salisbury Club (which used to stand on Walter Road) – Malcolm McIndeor.
Llewelyn Arnold, Felix Edwards, Edward Gamage, Fred C. Thomas and George Fortune. The latter is also named on the memorial in Mount Pleasant Baptist chapel.
Richard Brayley is (almost certainly) the R. Brayley commemorated on Carmarthen Road chapel.
Further investigations will doubtless find more examples of these men listed on other local memorials.
g.h.matthews August 12th, 2017
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