In the Independent chapel in Rhyd-y-main (six miles from Dolgellau on the way to Bala), there is a brass plaque in a prominent position to commemorate the local men who were killed in the First World War. It is situated on the wall behind the pulpit, so that any worshipper who is looking at the minister will have the memorial in their line-of-sight.
The inscription reads:
ER COFFAWDWRIAETH SERCHOG AM
Y RHAI A’U HENWAU ISOD A
SYRTHIASANT YN Y RHYFEL FAWR
“MEWN ANGHOF NI CHANT FOD”
(In loving memory of those who are named below who fell in the Great War 1914-1918, “They shall not be forgotten”). After the list of names, including their home addresses, there is a verse from the Bible: “MYFI YW YR ATGYFODIAD A’R BYWYD” (‘I am the resurrection and the life’: John 11:27). These words are familiar, and one can find similar inscriptions in chapels and churches all over Wales.
There are eleven names listed:
Lewis Jones Esgeiriau
Hugh Edward Evans Glan Eiddon
William Williams Ty Cerryg
William Evan James Braich-y-Ceunant
John Richard James Braich-y-Ceunant
William Hughes Ty Capel
Robert Griffiths Pen-y-Bont
Edward Evans Blaen-y-Ddol
Thomas Evans Coedrhoslwyd
Eiddion Thomas Marchant Railway Cottage
Joseph Martin Bryncoedifor
Interestingly, these same eleven names are to be found in the memorial tablet of another local chapel. Siloh was a Calvinistic Methodist chapel between Rhyd-y-main and Bryncoedifor, founded in 1874 which is now a private dwelling. Its marble tablet is now located in the chapel’s graveyard.
Thus, whereas most chapels in Wales commemorate only those from their own congregation who served and fell, in this case both chapels have made the decision to jointly honour all the men from the area who were killed. At a time when there was a fair degree of rivalry between the different denominations, perhaps this is an indication that they saw that they were united by their grief more than they were divided by their doctrinal differences.
Almost all of the men commemorated here can also be found on Dolgellau’s war memorial. Research on these tells us more about them (the sources of information consulted are a booklet to be found in Meirionnydd’s archives in Dolgellau, and the website http://www.roll-of-honour.com/Merionethshire/Dolgellau.html ).
Edward Evans Son of John and Jane Evans of Blaenyddol, Rhydymain. Served with the 2nd Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Killed in action at Bullecourt 27 May 1917, aged 25. Commemorated on the Arras Memorial
Hugh Edward Evans Son of Griffith and Mary Anne Evans of Glan Eiddon, Rhydymain. Served in the Royal Army Medical Corps, with the ‘Welsh Students’ Company’ that went out to Salonica. Died of malaria in Greece 28 October 1917, aged 23. Buried in Mikra British Cemetery, Kalamaria, Salonika, Greece.
Robert Griffiths [Commemorated on the Dolgellau memorial and in the CWGC records as Robert William Griffith]. Son of David and Elizabeth Griffith of 2, Penybont, Rhydymain Served with the 9th Battalion, Welsh Regiment. Killed in action 20 December 1917, aged 20. Commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
John Richard James 10th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. 25th Division. Killed in action on the Somme 28th November 1916. Buried in Euston Road Cemetery, Colincamps
William Evan James 10th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. 25th Division. Killed in action on the Somme 16th August 1916. Buried in Guillemont Road Cemetery, Guillemont
Both James brothers enlisted in London.
Lewis Jones Son of John and Jane Jones of Esgeiriau, Rhydymain. Served in 1st Battalion, The Welsh Guards. Died of wounds at home 25 September 1917, aged 21. Buried in the graveyard of Rhyd-y-main’s Independent Chapel.
Joseph Martin Son of Samuel and Mary Martin of Trewent, Altamon, Launceston, Cornwall. Served in 13th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Killed in action 29 October 1916, aged 24. Buried in Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres.
Eiddion Thomas Marchant Son of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Nelson Marchant of Railway Cottage, Rhydymain. Served in 233rd Company, Machine Gun Corps. Killed in action at Ypres 4 October 1917, aged 21. Commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium
William Williams Served in 2nd Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Died of wounds 21 September 1918. Buried in Thilloy Road Cemetery, Beaulencourt
Of the other two men commemorated, it is quite likely that William Hughes can be identified –
William Hughes [Probably] Son of William and Ann Hughes of 91 High Street, Blaenau Ffestiniog. Served in 1/5th Battalion, South Wales Borderers. Wounded in action on the Marne Front and died of wounds on 30 May 1918, aged 19. Commemorated on the Soissons Memorial
However, the research that is available does not identify Thomas Evans of Coedrhoslwyd.
g.h.matthews March 7th, 2016
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