West Wales War Memorial Project
West Wales War Memorial Project

Gwaun-cae-Gurwen War Memorial

Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen is located five mile east of the nearest town of Ammanford and nearly twenty miles north of Swansea, and sits just over the Carmarthenshire Border, in Glamorgan. Nearby villages include Cwmgors, Brynamman, Tai'rgwaith, Glanaman and Garnant, which are in Carmarthenshire, and there is a strong link between the men of these villages who fell during both world wars, which is why Gwaun-cae-Gurwen has been added to this site. The Memorial contains the verse; ‘O Barch ac Anrhydedd i ddynion Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen a’r ardal a roddasant eu bywyd yn aberth dros rhyddid eu gwlad yn y Rhyfel Mawr 1914 – 1918’, which translates as ‘In Respect and Honour for the men of GCG and the area who sacrificed their lives for the freedom of their country in the Great War’.

The Great War, 1914-1918

 

Frederick Brooks, Private, Worcestershire Regiment. Frederick was born in London in 1888. He had worked at Gwaun-cae-Gurwen for several years prior to the war, and enlisted into the Worcestershire Regiment. Frederick was based at Plymouth with the 5th (Reserve) Battalion, when on 19 June 1916 he murdered a 12 year old girl, Ellen Clara Gregory. He was captured by the police soon after, and on 12 December 1916 was hung in Exeter. Frederick was 28 years old. Although he is not commemorated on the GCG memorial, and does not deserve to be due to his crime and subsequent punishment, Frederick’s story is of local interest, so I have decided to add him here.

 

Frederick Collins. Frederick cannot be positively identified, but his name was a later addition to the memorial, so he probably died post war. He was quite possibly a medic with the Royal Army Medical Corps, who had given some enlightening talks about his war experiences in France whilst on leave in the summer of 1915.

 

George Cook, Private, 18320, Worcestershire Regiment. George was the son of John and Sarah Cook, of Greenfield Cottage, Garnant. He resided at Pontardawe Road prior to the war, and was engaged to Corrie James prior to enlisting into the 11th Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment, which was attached to 78 Brigade, 26th Division. The Division landed at Boulogne on 23 September 1915 but were soon moved again, arriving in Salonika during November that year. Here they fought in the Salonika Campaign against the combined Bulgarian and Turkish forces. George was killed in action in Salonika, during the Battle of Doiran on 25 April, 1917. He was 23 years old and is remembered on the Doiran Memorial. Corrie sadly, yet strangely, passed away on the same day that George was killed.

David Davies, Private, 25987, Welsh Regiment. David was born at Llanguicke in 1870. He was living with his sister at Park Terrace, Pantyffynon when war broke out, and enlisted at Ammanford into the 17th Battalion, Welsh Regiment. The battalion was the 1st Glamorgan Bantam Battalion, made up of below height soldiers, and attached to 119 Brigade, 40th (Bantam) Division. The Division moved to France between 1 and 9 June 1916, and moved to the front near Loos. David had only been in France two weeks when he was killed at Loos on 19 June 1916, aged 46. He is buried at Maroc British Cemetery, Grenay, France.

George Henry Davies, Private, 260431, Gloucester Regiment. George was born at Alcester, Warwickshire, the son of Edith Fanny Davies. His mother remarried in 1891, and lived with her new husband at 1, St. Peter's Street, Worcester, while George lived with his wife Sarah A. Davies, at Glwyd Road, Gwaun-cae-Gurwen. He enlisted at Cardiff into the Monmouthshire Regiment, and was posted to the 12th Battalion, Gloucester Regiment, which was attached to 95 Brigade, 5th Division. George joined the battalion in 1917, in time to take part in the Passchendaele offensive. He was killed during the drive towards Polygon Wood, on 9 October 1917, aged 31. George has no known grave, and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium. His widow, Sarah, later moved to Tadpole Cottage, Spetchley, Worcester.

Richard Davies, Private, 48784, Royal Army Medical Corps. Richard was the son of David and Sarah Davies, of 33, Frederick Street, Ferndale. He resided at Llwyn Road, Cwmgorse prior to enlisting into the Welsh Regiment. Richard landed in France with the 38th (Welsh) Division on 2 December 1915, but at some time later was transferred to the 58th Field Ambulance, RAMC, which was attached to the 19th (Western) Division. Richard would have seen action on the Somme in 1916, and the following year was with the division when it fought at Messines and at Ypres, during the Passchendaele offensive. He was badly wounded while dressing a wounded man during the German Somme offensive, and died on 24 March 1918, aged 32. Richard is buried in Lebucquière Communal Cemetery Extension, France.

 

William James Davies, Sergeant, 52767, Welsh Regiment. William was born at Mountain Ash, and resided at Brook terrace, Gwaun-cae-Gurwen prior to the war. He enlisted at Cardiff into the 8th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, which was attached to 40 Brigade, 13th (Western) Division. The Division landed on Cape Helles in July 1915, relieving the 29th Division. They fought here until being evacuated on 8 January 1916, concentrated at Port Said, where they held forward posts in the Suez Canal defences. On 12 February 1916 the Division began to move to Mesopotamia, to strengthen the force being assembled for the relief of the besieged garrison at Kut al Amara. By 27 March, the Division had assembled near Sheikh Saad and came under orders of the Tigris Corps, and then took part in the attempts to relieve Kut. However, after these efforts failed and Kut fell, the British force in the theatre was built up and reorganised. The Division then took part in several operations to push the Turks from Persia, under very trying conditions, of unbearable heat, William took ill and was hospitalised in India, where he died on 31 October 1918. He is commemorated on the Kirkee 1914-1918 Memorial, India.

Thomas Evans, Private, 2057, Royal Army Medical Corps. Thomas was born at Llandeilo, the son of Thomas and Caroline Evans. The family had moved to 28, Church Street, Cwmgorse by 1900, and Thomas worked as a miner at Gwaun-cae-Gurwen prior to enlisting at Swansea into the Royal Army Medical Corps. He was posted to the 3rd Welsh Field Ambulance, which had been formed on 14 August 1914, and attached to the 53rd (Welsh) Division. During July 1915 the Division sailed from Avonmouth for Egypt, and then from Egypt they landed at Gallipoli on 8 August 1915. It was soon after landing that Thomas was wounded, and he was moved to a Hospital Ship where he died of wounds on 15 August 1915, aged 21. Thomas was buried at sea, and so is commemorated on the Helles Memorial, Gallipoli.

Charles Field, Stoker 1st Class, Dev/277845, Royal Navy. Charles was born at Briton Ferry on 12 July 1874, and prior to the war lived with his wife, Eva E. Field, at 40, Avon Terrace, Cwmgorse, Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen. He had originally enlisted into the Royal Navy on 11 September 1894, and after twelve years service, retired and joined the Royal Fleet Reserve. At the outbreak of war, Charles was recalled, joining Nelson Battalion, Royal Naval Division. He served during the Defence of Antwerp in 1914, and also possibly served with the RND at Gallipoli, landing on 25 April 1915. Charles transferred back to the Fleet on 26 July 1915, serving with them until demobilisation on 4 February 1919. He died as a result of his war service on 15 February 1920, aged 44. His place of burial is not presently known. Charles died as a result of his service, but is not commemorated on the Gwaun-cae-Gurwen Memorial, or by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Thomas Hawk, Private, 6749, Welsh Regiment. Thomas was the son of William and Sylvia Hawk, of 5, St. David's Street, Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen, and the husband of Caroline Rees (formerly Hawk), of 22, Brook Terrace, Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen. He was n army reservist, and at the outbreak of war rejoined the 2nd Battalion, Welsh Regiment. The battalion embarked for France in August 1914 attached to 3 Brigade, 1st Division. The Division had been one of the first to arrive in France, fighting at the Battle of Mons, and taking part in the retreat to the Marne, where the Germans were stopped. They then fought at the Aisne, and at Chivy Ridge, where the 2nd Welsh withstood a desperate German attack on 26 September 1914. Thomas was killed in action that day, near Vendresse. He was 32 years old, and is commemorated on the La Ferte-Sous-Joarre Memorial, France.

David Howells, Private, 20188, Welsh Regiment. David was the son of George and Mary Howells, of Llangyfelach. He resided at 3, Brook Terrace, Gwaun-cae-Gurwen prior to the war. He served as one of the original members of the 15th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, the Carmarthen Pals, which was attached to 114 Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division. The Division moved to France in December 1915, and took up positions in the line near Fleurbaix, where it was initiated into trench warfare. On 9 March 1916 the Battalion was in the line at Gorre when the Germans exploded a mine under their forward positions, killing seven men, including David. David was 27 years old and is buried at Guards Cemetery, Windy Corner, Cuinchy, France.

Tom Howells. Tom cannot be positively identified, but a newspaper article in the summer of 1918 printed news that Tom was home on leave, and was known by his nick-name of Tom Treforris. He must have died after the armistice, as his name was not among the 33 men named on the original roll of honour which was published after the armistice.

Evan James, MM, Able Seaman, Z/571, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. Evan was born on 23 September 1893, the son of Thomas and Catherine James, of 71, Star Terrace, Cwmgors. He was a Collier prior to the war, and enlisted on 9 January 1915 into the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, being posted to ‘D’ Company, Hood Battalion. The Battalion was attached to 189 Brigade, 63rd (Royal Naval) Division. The Division was then sent to Gallipoli, landing on 25 April 1915. After evacuation from Gallipoli in January 1916, the Division moved to France, arriving at Marseilles in May 1916 and moved to positions on the Somme, where it took part in the Battle of the Ancre, and the resulting Operations on the Ancre. Evan won the Military Medal for Bravery in the Field on 13 November 1916, but was wounded that same day, suffering a gunshot wound to his left leg. Evan died of wounds in the 13th General Hospital at Boulogne on 22 November 1916, aged 23, after having his left leg amputated. He is buried at Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, France.

Morgan Price James, Private, 14833, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. Morgan was the son of Mary Thomas, of Cilrhedyn Villa, Colbren Road, Gwaun-cae-Gurwen. His story is one of some mystery, as it has taken a lot of work to finally identify him, due to errors in official records. Morgan enlisted at Cardiff into the army, and was posted to the 7th Battalion, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. The battalion was attached to 61 Brigade, 20th (Light) Division, and moved to France in September 1915. The division was thrust into action at Fromelles within weeks of landing, before being transferred to Ypres. It remained here for several months, taking part in the Battle for Mount Sorrel, before being posted to the Somme sector in September 1916. Morgan was killed while the battalion was in the line near Ypres on 30 June 1916, while attempting to rescue a wounded comrade. The battalion must have been attacked by German flamethrowers, as an article in a local newspaper stated that a charred photograph of Morgan with his family was taken from his pocket and sent home to his mother. Morgan was 22 years old, and is buried at White House Cemetery, St. Jean-les-Ypres. He is shown on both SDGW and the CWGC website as being named James Morgan, which has made identifying him impossible, until a small article was discovered while trawling through archives of Llais Llafur. He is also incorrectly shown as serving with the 9th KOYLI, which was on the Somme when he died, so I have passed my research onto the CWGC in order to get his name and headstone corrected. Some poetry was published in his honour in the ‘Amman Valley Chronicle’ of 24 August 1916, entitled ‘Deigryn Hiraeth’, which translates as ‘A tear in grief’. (As of today, Monday 17 October 2016, his name has been corrected by the CWGC).

John James, Private. John cannot be identified, but lived at Old Star, Cwmgorse.

 

David Jones, Private, Welsh Regiment. This man cannot be positively identified, but he lived at High Street, and served with the Welsh Regiment.

 

Evan Jones, MM, Private, 28047, Welsh Regiment. Evan was the son of Evan and Emma Jones of Star Villa, Rhydyfro. He served with the 18th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, which was the 2nd Gwent Bantam Battalion, attached to 119 Brigade, 40th (Bantam) Division. This Division was formed between September and December 1915, composed of bantam units and others which had a mixture of regulation-height and shorter men. Weeding out of very under-sized or unfit men delayed the training programme, and it was not until late Spring 1916 that the Division was ready to proceed on active service. The Division moved to France between the 1st and 9th June, and moved to the front near Loos. Late in 1916 they moved south to the Somme, and fought at the Battle of the Ancre, and remained in the area over the winter. In March, 1917 the Germans withdrew to their shortened line, called the Hindenburg Line, and the 40th Division were one of the Divisions that followed the withdrawal. Later in the year they took part in the Battle of Cambrai, playing an important role in the attack on Bourlon Wood. Evan was killed at Cambrai on 27 November 1917. He was 20 years old, and is buried at Rocquigny-Equancourt Road British Cemetery, Manancourt, France. Evan was the recipient of the Military Medal, which was noted in the Amman Valley Chronicle of 28 December 1916 as being for ‘conspicuous bravery against great odds’.

John Parry Jones, Private, 64502, Welsh Regiment. John was born at Groes, Denbighshire. Prior to the war he had moved to Gwaun-cae-Gurwen to work as a collier, and resided with Mrs. Mary Thomas, of the Star Inn, Cwmgorse. He enlisted at Swansea in February 1916 into the 4th Welsh. John didn’t get posted to France until 30 March 1918, and was posted to the 14th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, which was attached to 114 Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division. On 4 October 1918 the 14th Welsh moved into the old German trenches in the Hindenburg Line. On 8 October they attacked Malincourt, which was a strongly defended German position in the Hindenburg Support line. John was shot during the attack, and brought to the 131st Field Ambulance for treatment, dying the same day. He was 35 years old, and is buried at Marcoing British Cemetery, France.

Rees Jones, Private, 203373, Welsh Regiment. Rees was probably the son of Daniel and Mary Jones, of Pant Farm, Rhiwfawr, Lower Cwmtwrch. He enlisted at Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen into the 11th Welsh, and went with the Battalion to Salonika after several months in France. A trained machine-gunner, Rees was transferred into the 67th Battalion Machine Gun Corps. He was killed in action during the Battle of Doiran on 6 October 1918, aged 32, and is buried in Mikra British Cemetery, Kalamaria.

William Jones, Gunner, W/1938, Royal Field Artillery. William was the son of Evan and Ann Jones, of Morriston, and the brother of John Jones, of 10, Aran Street, Pentremalwed, Morriston. He resided at Cwmgorse prior to the war, and enlisted at Morriston into the Royal Field Artillery, being posted to ‘A’ Battery, 119th Brigade, which was attached to the 38th (Welsh) Division. The Division moved to France in December 1915, and took the line near Fleurbaix, where it trained for several months, before moving to the Somme, where it fought at Mametz Wood. The Division then fought at Pilckem Ridge and Langemarck in 1917, before moving back to Fleurbaix, and it was back there that William became ill. He died in Hospital at Wimereux on 1 October 1917, and is buried at Wimereux Communal Cemetery, France.

Thomas Kinsey, Private, 2920, Army Cyclist Corps. Thomas was born at Herbrandston, Pembrokeshire the son of Jonathan and Emily Kinsey. The family had moved to Gwaun-cae-Gurwen prior to 1901. Thomas enlisted at Ammanford on 9 September 1914 into the 9th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. On 30 December he was posted to the XVII Corps Cyclist Battalion, and landed in France on 26 September 1915. Thomas was killed in action during the Second Battle of Bapaume on 4 September 1918. He has no known grave, and is commemorated on the Vis-En-Artois Memorial, France.

Arthur John Lavington, Sergeant, 7851, Coldstream Guards. Arthur was the son of Arthur John Lavington and Elizabeth Lye, of 1, Montague Villas, Newbury. He had joined the army several years prior to the war, but spent most of his leave with his brother Herbert Lavington, a photographer, at 4, Church Street, Cwmgorse, and was well known locally. Arthur embarked for France with the 2nd Battalion, Coldstream Guards on 12 August 1914, and took part in the retreat from Mons to the Marne. Arthur then fought at pres with the battalion before it was moved to Loos in August 1915, joining 1st Guards Brigade, Guards Division. The division saw its first action at Loos the following month, before moving back to Ypres to rebuild, and Arthur was lucky enough to return to Cwmgorse on leave, rejoining his battalion east of Ypres. Arthur was killed in action here on 24 April 1916. He was 29 years old, and is buried in Potijze Burial Ground Cemetery, Belgium. Arthur is not commemorated locally.

 

William Richard Maidment, Private, 15173, South Wales Borderers. William was born in Bassaleg, near Newport in 1870, the son of John and Elizabeth Maidment. He resided at High Street, Cwmgorse prior to the war and worked as a Collier. William was probably an army reservist, and enlisted at Neath into the 1st Battalion, South Wales Borderers. The 1st SWB was attached to 3 Brigade, 1st Division, and William landed with them in France on 10 August 1914. The Division had been one of the first to arrive in France, fighting at the Battle of Mons, and taking part in the retreat to the Marne, where the Germans were stopped. They then fought at the Aisne, and at Chivy, before being moved north to Ypres. Here they fought at the First Battle of Ypres, where they again stopped the German Offensive, before wintering in Flanders. The following year saw them in action again at the Battle of Aubers, before moving South to Loos, where they fought during the Battle of Loos. William was killed in action during the build up to the battle, on 17 September 1915, aged 45. He has no known grave, and is commemorated on the Loos Memorial, France.

Bertie Arthur Charles Milham, Rifleman, S/6526, Rifle Brigade. Bertie was the son of Sarah Milham, of 32, Barrett Road, Norbiton, Kingston, Surrey. He married Mary Ann Ford, of 22, Tonyrefel, Gwaun-cae-Gurwen in 1911, and worked there as a bricklayer. Bertie enlisted at Pontardawe into the 2nd Battalion, Rifle Brigade, which was attached to 25 Brigade, 8th Division. The 8th Division was formed during October 1914, by the bringing together of regular army units from various points around the British Empire. The Division moved to the Western Front in November 1914, a badly-needed reinforcement to the BEF which had been all but wiped out at Ypres. They saw their first major action at the Battle of Neuve Chapelle, and then at the Battle of Aubers. They then saw further fighting at the Action of Bois Grenier, before moving to the Somme in 1916, where they fought at the Battle of Albert. Bertie was killed later on, during the Battle of the Ancre on 23 October 1916, aged 36. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, France. The CWGC records show him as being 45 years old, but his birth records differs.

Frederick George Mitchell, Private, 14355, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Fred was the son of David and Hannah Mitchell, of Council Houses, Abernant Road, Gwaun-cae-Gurwen. He enlisted at Tumble into the army, and was posted to the 9th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, which was in France attached to 58 Brigade, 19th (Western) Division. The Division crossed to France in July 1915, and moved to positions near Loos, where it took part in the opening attack of the Battle of Loos on 25 September 1915. The following year the Division moved to the Somme, where it took part in the second wave of the attack on Ovillers-La Boiselle on 1 July, capturing the village at heavy cost. It then fought through the Somme Battles of Pozieres and the Ancre in 1916. In 1917 the Division moved North to Ypres, taking part in the Battle of Messines, and fought on the Menin Road and at Polygon Wood, before moving up to Broodseinde, Poelcappelle and Passchendaele Village itself. In 1918 they were caught up in the German Spring Offensive near St. Quentin, where they suffered terrible casualties, and fought at the Battle of Bapaume. They moved to Ypres, but were caught up in the German attack at Messines. Fred was killed here on 18 April 1918. He was 28 years old, and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium.

Morgan Morris, Private, 1504, Australian Infantry. Morgan was born at Gwaun-cae-Gurwen, the son of John and Mary Morris. John had died prior to 1911, and Mary remarried, emigrating to Yuma Road, Phoenix, Arizona, USA. Morgan lived with his grandparents, and worked as a coal miner prior to the war, before joining his mother in America. He then emigrated to Australia at the age of 20, along with his brother David, where he studied as a Mining Engineer. He resided at Raymond Street, Collie, Western Australia prior to the war, and at the outbreak of hostilities enlisted at Blackboy Hill into the 16th Battalion, Australian Infantry. The battalion moved to Egypt at the end of 1914, where it trained in preparation for a move to France. Morgan was attached to the 2nd reinforcement draft to the battalion, and embarked at Fremantle on 22 February 1915. The Australians move to France was however cancelled, and instead, the Australians were used during the landings on Gallipoli. Morgan landed with his battalion at ANZAC Cove, Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. He took part in some heavy fighting during his short time at war, and was killed in action on 9 May 1915. Morgan was 21 years old, and is commemorated on the Lone Pine Memorial, Gallipoli.

William James Newlands, Able Seaman, Z/2219, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. William was born on 10 May 1897, the son of James and Mary Newlands, of Rhydyfro, Pontardawe. The family moved to 44 High Street, Cwmgorse prior to the war. William enlisted on 25 October 1915, and was posted to France on 18 September 1916, joining Hood Battalion, Royal Naval Division. The battalion was attached to 189 Brigade, 63rd (Royal Naval) Division, and saw fighting in the Ancre Valley on the Somme over the winter, before moving to the Arras sector in the spring of 1917. William was killed in action here during the Battle of Arras, on 23 April 1917, aged 19. He has no known grave, and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial, France. William is not commemorated on the GCG Memorial.

Edward Herbert Owen, Private, 24411, Welsh Regiment. Edward was the son of Moses and Mary Ann Owen, of 40, Wyeview Terrace, Builth Road, Breconshire. He enlisted at Cwmgorse into the 16th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, which was the Cardiff City battalion, attached to 115 Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division. The Division landed in France in December 1915, and was initiated into trench warfare at Fleurbaix for several months, before moving to the Somme in June 1916, and fighting at Mametz Wood. The Division then moved to Ypres, and held the line at Boesinghe for the next twelve months. Edward was killed while the 16th Welsh were working on the Canal Bank at Boesinghe on 19 June 1917. He was 21 years old, and is buried at Poperinghe New Military Cemetery, Belgium.

Frederick Richings, Private, 24460, Welsh Regiment. Frederick was the son of Henry and Anne Richings, of Leigh, Worcestershire. He lived at Cwmgorse prior to the war, after marrying Ellen Hughes at Pontypridd in 1911, and enlisted there into the Welsh Regiment. Frederick was posted to France, joining the 16th Battalion (Cardiff City), Welsh Regiment, which was attached to 115 Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division. He probably joined the battalion as one of a large number of reinforcements after it had suffered terrible casualties at Mametz Wood, and he was with the battalion when it moved to positions at Boesinghe, north of Ypres in August. Frederick was killed soon after the move to Ypres, when the battalion was in trenches on the canal bank on 12 September 1916. He was 26 years old, and is buried in Essex Farm Cemetery, Belgium. Frederick is not commemorated at GCG.

Albert William Teague, Gunner, 71809, Royal Garrison Artillery. Albert was born at Ludlow, the son of William and Elizabeth Teague. By 1911 the family had moved to 4, Coelbren Road, Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen. Albert enlisted at Brynamman into the Royal Garrison Artillery on 10 December 1915, and was posted to the 233rd Siege Battery, landing in France on 13 August 1916. Albert was wounded at Arras on 20 April 1917. After recovering, he rejoined his Battery, but was killed during the lead up to the Passchendaele Offensive on 21 July 1917. He was 29 years old, and is buried at Coxyde Military Cemetery, Belgium.

David Thomas, Private, Welsh Regiment. David cannot presently be identified, but resided at Tairgwaith, Gwaun-cae-Gurwen, and served with the Welsh Regiment.

David Samuel Thomas, Gunner, W/4393, Royal Field Artillery. David was the son of David and Sarah Ann Thomas, of 2, Water Street, Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen. He enlisted there into the Royal Field Artillery, and served with 'C' Battery, 121st Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, which was attached to the 38th (Welsh) Division. The Division had landed in France during December 1915 and had spent their first winter in the trenches near Armentieres. The division famously captured Mametz Wood in July 1916 during the Somme offensive, and in 1917 captured Pilckem Ridge, during the Battle of Passchendaele. After wintering at Armentieres, the division moved to the Somme in March 1918, and remained here until taking part in the great offensive from 20 August 1918. The division then took part in the advance to the Hindenburg Line, and after the breaking of the German defences in the advance towards Le Cateau and the mighty Forest of Mormal. David took ill towards the end of the war, and died of influenza at the Base Hospital at Rouen on 13 November 1918, aged 25. He is buried at St. Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen, France.

Ernest James Thomas, Private, 7286, Welsh Regiment. Ernest was born at Swansea in 1885. He married in 1908, and lived with his wife Agnes Louisa Thomas, at 21, St. David Street, Gwaun-cae-Gurwen. Ernest was probably an army reservist, and at the outbreak of war rejoined the 2nd Battalion, Welsh Regiment. The 2nd Welsh was rushed to France with 3 Brigade, 1st Division. The Division had been one of the first to arrive in France, fighting at the Battle of Mons, and taking part in the retreat to the Marne, where the Germans were stopped. They then fought at the Aisne, and at Chivy Ridge, which is where Ernest was wounded. He died of his wounds on 16 September 1914, aged 29, and is buried at Vendresse British Cemetery, France.

John Thomas, Private, 58427, South Wales Borderers. John was born at Gwaun-cae-Gurwen, and enlisted at Cardiff into the 10th Battalion, South Wales Borderers, which was attached to 115 Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division. The Division had been in France since December 1915, and had fought at Mametz Wood in 1916, then at Ypres in 1917. On 22 August 1918 onwards, the Division took part in the great offensive which won the war, and swept the Germans back across the old Somme battlefields to the Hindenburg Line and beyond. John was killed during the Battle of the Selle on 17 October 1918, and is buried at Cross Roads Cemetery, Fontaine-Au-Bois, France.

Morgan Walters, Flight Sergeant, 2478, Royal Air Force. Morgan was the son of Thomas and Mary Anne Walters, of 6, Twynyrefail Place, Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen. Very little information can be found about Morgan, but he enlisted into the Royal Air Force, and had served in France during the war, landing on 15 January 1915 with the Royal Flying Corps. After the armistice Morgan was posted to 'E' Reserve. He died on 30 December 1920 aged 27, and is buried at Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen (Carmel) Burial Ground, Wales. He is not commemorated on the GCG Memorial.

 

David William Watkins, Private, 37701, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. David was the son of John and Margaret Watkins, of The Old Star Hotel, Cwmgorse. He was educated at Taunton before becoming a Solicitor's Clerk at Swansea. David enlisted at Swansea on 10 December 1915 into the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, and moved to France on 25 June 1916, being posted to the 1st Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. The battalion was attached to 22 Brigade, 7th Division, and was in positions near Fricourt, on the Somme. The battalion included the war poets Siegfried Sassoon and Robert Graves and the author Bernard Adams among its officers. David would have taken part in the battalions attack on Mametz village on 1 July 1916. He was killed in action two weeks later, during the attacks on High Wood on 14 July 1916. He was 22 years old, and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, France.

Bert Williams. Bert cannot be positively identified, and is not named among the original 33 casualties who were the subject of the first memorial service after the war.

 

Evan John Williams, Lance Serjeant, 11548, South Wales Borderers. Evan was an army reservist, and the son of Evan and Mary Williams, of Brook Terrace, Tai'rgwaith, Gwaun-cae-Gurwen prior to the war. He embarked for the Mediterranean along with a number of reinforcements for the 2nd Battalion, South Wales Borderers, which had been fighting at Gallipoli since the landings on 25 April 1915. Evan landed on 15 June 1915, and was wounded within days of landing. He was evacuated to the military hospital at Malta, where he died of his wounds on 4 July 1915, aged 29. Evan is buried in Pieta Military Cemetery, Malta. His medals and memorial plaque were recently sold at auction.

 

Evan Lewis Williams, Guardsman, 901, Welsh Guards. Evan was the son of John and Mary Williams, of Frondolau, Aberarth, Cardiganshire. He resided at Cwmgorse prior to the war, and enlisted at Neath into the 1st Battalion, Welsh Guards. The Welsh Guards were formed in February 1915, and moved to France in August to join 3rd Guards Brigade, Guards Division, and moved to positions at Loos. Evan fought at Loos that year, and in 1916 fought on the Somme. In 1917 the Guards Division moved to Ypres, taking up the northernmost part of the line near Boesinghe. Evan was wounded during the build up to the Battle of Pilckem. He died of his wounds on 28 July 1917 aged 22, and is buried at Dozinghem Military Cemetery, Belgium. Evan is not named on the GCG memorial.

Ivor Maldwyn Williams, Private, 15428, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Ivor was the son of John and Rachel Williams, of Pwllwrach, Gwaun-cae-Gurwen. He served with the 14th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, which was attached to 113 Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division. The Division had been in France since December 1915, and had fought at Mametz Wood the following year. In 1917 it took part in the successful capture of the Pilckem Ridge, and after a winter near Armentieres was moved to positions near Albert on the Somme in March 1918. The Division remained here until 22 August 1918 when it began its epic attack across the Ancre, driving the Germans back beyond the Hindenburg Line within weeks. During the last few days of the war, the Division was involved in desperate fighting around the Forest of Mormal. Ivor took ill towards the end of the war, and was evacuated to the Base Hospital at Rouen for treatment. He died of influenza on 15 November 1918, aged 24, and is buried at St. Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen, France. After his father died his mother remarried, becoming Mrs. Rachel Rees, of Water Street, Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen.

John Williams, Lance Corporal, 13194, Welsh Regiment. John was born at Aberaman, the son of John and Winifred Williams. He enlisted at Ammanford at the outbreak of war, and joined the 9th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, which was attached to 58 Brigade, 19th (Western) Division. The Division moved to France in July 1915, and took up positions north of Loos. Here they took part in the opening assault of the Battle of Loos on 25 September 1915, and suffered terrible casualties. John was one of the men killed that day. He was 20 years old, and is buried at Brown's Road Military Cemetery, Festubert, France. His brother Reginald Williams also fell.

Percy Williams, Lance Corporal, 11274, Welsh Regiment. Percy was born at Cardiff on 3 June 1896, the son of Thomas and Alice Williams. After Alice's death at Swansea in 1905, his father married Caroline Jane Bevan, of Swansea, and the family moved to 59, Collren Road, Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen. Percy drove an electrical engine at the Gwaun-cae-Gurwen Collieries prior to the war. Percy enlisted at Swansea into the Welsh Regiment on 14 August 1914, and was posted to France in February 1915 to join the 2nd Battalion, which was attached to 3 Brigade, 1st Division. The Division had been one of the first to arrive in France, fighting at the Battle of Mons, and taking part in the retreat to the Marne, where the Germans were stopped. They then fought at the Aisne, and at Chivy, before being moved north to Ypres. Here they fought at the First Battle of Ypres, where they again stopped the German Offensive, before wintering in Flanders. The following year saw them in action again at the Battle of Aubers, before moving South to Loos, where they fought during the Battle of Loos, and the action at the Hohenzollern redoubt. Again they were required for a major offensive, moving south to the Somme, where they fought during the opening of the Somme Offensive at the Battle of Albert. They then fought at the Battle of Pozieres, and it was during this fighting that Percy was killed on 26 July 1916. He was 20 years old, and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, France.

Peter Williams, Private, 201130, Welsh Regiment. Peter had been born at Wem, Shropshire, the son of Richard and Annie Williams. By 1911 he was lodging at Brook Street, Gwaun-cae-Gurwen, and worked there as a bricklayer. Peter enlisted at Llanelli into the 1/4th Battalion, Welsh Regiment. The battalion was the Carmarthenshire Territorial battalion, attached to 158 Brigade, 53rd (Welsh) Division. The Division moved to the Mediterranean in July 1915 arriving at Mudros by 5 August 1915. From here they moved to Gallipoli, landing on 9 August. Here the Division was immediately thrown into action, and spent the next few days in isolated pockets, fighting against a Turkish counter-attack during the Battle of Sari Bair, and then at the Attack on Scimitar Hill. The Division remained here throughout the coming months, and suffered severe losses in manpower strength during the great November 1915 blizzard on Gallipoli, when its total strength was reduced to less than that of a full-strength Brigade. On 11 December 1915 the Division was evacuated to Mudros, and by 23 December 1915 were moved to Egypt. They remained on the Suez Canal Defences for the next twelve months, and in early 1917 moved into Palestine, where it took part in the First Battle of Gaza. Peter was killed here on 26 March 1917, aged 29, and is commemorated on the Jerusalem Memorial, Israel.

William Williams, Private, 13175, Hampshire Regiment. William was born at Llangattock, and resided at Cwmgorse prior to the war. He enlisted at Pontardawe into the army, and was posted to the 12th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment, which was attached to 79 Brigade, 26th Division. Embarkation for France began in September 1915, and the concentration of units was completed before the end of the month. However in November 1915 the Division moved to Salonika, where it then remained.  On 26 December 1915 units began to move from Lembet to Happy Valley Camp, and all units were in place there by 8 February. The Division then took part in the Battle of Horseshoe Hill, between 10-18 August 1916. On 25 April 1917 the Battle of Doiran commenced, and William was killed on the first days fighting. He is buried at Doiran Military Cemetery, Greece.

George Henry Wilson, Private, 11371, Welsh Regiment. George was born at Islington, the son of David and Jeannie Wilson. He resided with his brother at Pontardawe prior to the war, and worked at Gwaun-cae-Gurwen as a collier. George enlisted at Cardiff into the 8th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, which was the Pioneer battalion to the 13th (Western) Division. Towards the end of February the entire Division concentrated at Blackdown in Hampshire, and on 13 June 1915 the Division sailed to Alexandria. By 4 July, all units had moved to Mudros, preparatory for landing on Gallipoli. Between 6 and 16 July 1915 the Divisional infantry landed on Cape Helles and relieved the 29th Division. They left and returned to Mudros at the end of the month, and the entire Division landed at ANZAC Cove between 3 and 5 August, 1915, taking part in the Battles of Sari Bair. George was killed here on 8 August 1915. He was 27 years old, and is commemorated on the Helles Memorial, Gallipoli.

 

Frederick Worby, Private, 17985, Suffolk Regiment. Frederick was the son of Henry and Caroline Worby of Little Livermere, Suffolk, and the husband of Flora Worby, of Curatage Cottage, Caston, Attleborough, Norfolk. He lived at Cwmgorse prior to the war, and served with the 11th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment, which was attached to 101 Brigade, 34th Division. The Division moved to France in January 1916, and saw its first major action on the Somme, during the Battle of Albert, where it suffered very severe casualties during its part in the attack on La Boisselle. It then took part in the Battle of Bazentin, Battle of Pozieres and the Battle of Flers-Courcelette. The following year saw them fighting at Arras, during the First & Second Battles of the Scarpe, and the Battle of Arleux. The Division then moved to Ypres, and Frederick became wounded there, dying of his wounds on 15 October 1917. He was 40 years old, and is buried at Dozinghem Military Cemetery, Belgium.

World War Two, 1939-1945

 

Daniel Winston Davies, Fireman, Auxiliary Fire Service. Daniel was the son of John and Ann Davies, and the husband of Gwyneth Davies, of Glan-y-Gorse, Cwmgorse, Gwaun-cae-Gurwen. Daniel served with the Auxiliary Fire Service, and died while fighting a fire at Welcome Lane, Swansea, which was caused by a German Air Raid on 21 February 1941. He was 31 years old, and is buried at Old Carmel Cemetery, Gwaun Cae Gurwen.

 

David Gordon Davies, Sergeant, 1313560, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. David was the son of David James Davies and Sarah Davies, of Gwaun-cae-Gurwen,and served with 204 Squadron, RAF. At the outbreak of war 204 squadron began patrols over the English Channel and the Western Approaches, and was equipped with a variety of amphibious aircraft. After the invasion of Norway in April 1940, the squadron moved to Shetland to patrol the North Sea. In April 1941 it moved to Iceland, and in July 1941 was sent to Gibraltar, before heading to Gambia in West Africa, where it was utilised in anti-submarine duties. David died when his aircraft was lost at sea on 29 November 1942. He was 21 years old, and is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial, Surrey.

 

Glyn Davies. Cannot be positively identified.

 

Kenneth Davies. Cannot be positively identified, but he served with the Merchant Navy.

 

David Morgan Ellis, Sergeant (Flight Engineer), 1031023, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. David was the son of David and Jane Ellis, of Pontypridd. He married Iris May Jones, of Cwmgorse, Carmarthenshire, at London in 1940. David served with 101 Squadron, RAF, which was equipped with Blenheim IVs and was involved in attacks against enemy barge concentrations in the Channel Ports. In mid-1941, 101 Squadron became part of Bomber Command's medium-bomber force with Wellingtons and flew many night sorties against Germany and Italy. These aircraft were replaced barely 18 months later by the Lancaster and became specialised in airborne radar jamming to disrupt German night-fighters interceptions. David was one of the crew members of Lancaster ED328, radio call-sign SR-S (S-Sugar) of 101 Squadron. In the photograph below, having just returned from an operational sortie over Germany, from left is 1451351 Sgt John Henry Phillips, RAF (Mid-Upper Gunner); 415104 Flight Sergeant Douglas John Tresidder, RAAF; 416601 F/Sgt Robert Clarence Naffin, RAAF (Pilot); and 1031023 Sgt David Morgan Ellis. On the night of 23/24 August 1943, Lancaster ED328 failed to return from an operational sortie over Berlin. It was later determined that ED328 had been shot down over Lanke, 20 miles north-east of Berlin, killing all seven members of the crew.  All of the men are buried at Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany. David is not commemorated locally. (Photograph courtesy of the Australian War Memorial).

John Vernon Evans, Flight Lieutenant (Navigator), 124672, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. John was the son of David John and Hannah Jane Evans, of Gwaun Cae Gurwen. He had gained his B.A. at Lampeter prior to the war, and served with 109 Squadron, RAF. John served as a Navigator with the Squadron, in a De Havilland Mosquito, piloted by Alfred Payne. They took off from their base at Little Staughton on 4 March 1945, and after a successful mission crashed while landing at Brussels on the morning of 5 March 1945. John was 26 years old, and is buried next to Alfred at Brussels Town Cemetery, Belgium.              

William Rufus Griffiths, Private, 3967410, Welch Regiment. William was the son of John Sidney and Elizabeth Ann Griffiths, of Gwaun-cae-Gurwen, and served with the 1st Battalion, Welch Regiment. The battalion was in Palestine at the outbreak of war, before taking part in the fighting in North Africa. On 16 February 1941 the 1st Welch moved to bolster the garrison on Crete, and were almost wiped out during the German Airborne invasion of the Island over the coming weeks. William was probably taken POW at Crete, and died in Greece on 30 May 1941 aged 21. He is buried at Phaleron War Cemetery, Greece.

 

Edgar Hopkin, Leading Aircraftman, 1381675, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Edgar was the son of William and Rachel Hopkin, of Gwaun-cae-Gurwen, and served with the Royal Air Force. Edgar was sent to America to take part in the Commonwealth Air Training Scheme, but died in a training accident there on 20 January 1942. He was 19 years old, and is buried at New Castle (Castle View) Burial Park, Pennsylvania, USA.

 

Benjamin Cynddlan Jones, Flying Officer, 142452, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Benjamin was the son of David John and Sarah Ann Jones, of Gwaun-cae-Gurwen, and served with 166 Squadron, RAF. The Squadronw as formed at at Kirmington, equipped with Wellingtons, and joined the night bombing offensive, re-equipping with Lancasters in September 1943. On 24 March 1945, 173 Lancasters and 12 Mosquitos of Nos 1, 6 and 8 Groups attacked the Harpenerweg plant at Dortmund and the Mathias Stinnes plant at Bottrop. Three Lancasters were lost on the Dortmund raid, one of whose was Benjamin’s. He was 22 years old, and is buried at Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany.

 

David John Jones, Sergeant (Wireless Operator/ Air Gunner), 1316138, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. David was the son of Charles and Blodwen Jones, and the husband of Nellie Jones, of Gwaun-cae-Gurwen. He served with 103 Squadron, RAF, which was a heavy bomber squadron, equipped with the Avro Lancaster. John was killed when his Lancaster was shot down over Germany on 25 May 1944, during a night when over a thousand bombers hit the country. He was 27 years old, and is buried at Rheinberg War Cemetery, Germany.

 

Herbert Lewis, Fireman, Auxiliary Fire Service. Herbert was the son of David and Margaret Lewis, of 57 Neuadd Road, Gwaun-cae-Gurwen, and the husband of Annie L. Lewis, of 19 Amman Road, Brynamman. He died while fighting a fire at Castle Lane, after a German Air Raid on 21 February 1941. He was 37 years old, and is buried at Swansea.

 

Arthur David Michael Merretti, Leading Aircraftman (Pilot), 1107250, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Arthur was the son of David Morgan Davies Merretti and Alice Margaret Merretti, of Cwmgorse, Gwaun-cae-Gurwen. He served as a Pilot in the Royal Air Force, and was killed whilst flying Hurricane I, L1832 of No 9 SFTS, which crashed on the approach to Castle Combe on 8 July 1941. Arthur was 20 years old, and is buried at Chippenham (London Road) Cemetery, England.

David John Atherley Watcyn Price, Flight Sergeant (Pilot), 1322377, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. David was the son of David and Anne Price, of Cwmgorse, and served as a Pilot with 197 Squadron, RAF, equipped with the Hawker Typhoon IB, based at Ste Croix-sur-Mer, France. David was killed when his Typhoon was shot down on 17 August 1944, in support of the Normandy invasion. He was 23 years old, and is buried at St. Desir War Cemetery, France.

Ceirionedd Rhys, Private, 7374784, Royal Army Medical Corps. Ceirionedd was the son of David and Ann Rhys, of Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen, and served with the 6th Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps. Ceirionedd served in the Far East, and died in India on 2 June 1943. He was 23 years old, and is buried at Delhi War Cemetery, India.

 

Howell John Rees, Private, 6026955, Cambridgeshire Regiment. Howell was the son of Edward and Elizabeth Rees, of Cwmgorse, and served with the 2nd Battalion, Cambridgeshire Regiment, which served in the Far East. Howell died in Burma on 15 September 1945, aged 30, and is buried at Rangoon War Cemetery, Myanmar.

Post WW2

 

William Gethin Jones, Able Seaman, D097619N, Royal Navy. William was born at Gwaun-cae-Gurwen on 15 June 1949. He served in the Royal Navy aboard HMS Warspite. HMS Warspite was the third of Britain's nuclear-powered submarines, and was launched on 25 September 1965 by Mary Wilson, the wife of Prime Minister Harold Wilson, entering service 18 April 1967. William was just 24 years old when he died on active service on 17 March 1974.

DONATIONS. If you find this website of use, please think about donating to help cover the costs of the huge amount of work and the continual costs of keeping the website on-line. Donations can be made using the Paypal link below, or by contacting the author via the Contact page.

Website News

4 May 2017. Welcome news this morning that a new CWGC headstone has been erected in Laugharne for Domingo Mobile, a sailor who I found to be buried there a couple of years ago. Please see the Forgotten Soldiers section of the website for further details.

8 March 2017. Some more good news today. Another un-commemorated Welsh sailor, Samuel Arthur Griffiths, of Tredegar, has today been accepted for commemoration by the CWGC as a result of my research. Please see the Forgotten Soldiers section of the website for further details.

8 February 2017. Some more good news today. Another un-commemorated soldier, Llewelyn Owen Roberts, of Penmaenmawr, has today been accepted for commemoration by the CWGC as a result of my research. Please see the Forgotten Soldiers section of the website for further details.

 

7 February 2017. Some more good news today. Another un-commemorated soldier, Isaac Owen, of Seven Sisters, has today been accepted for commemoration by the CWGC as a result of my research. Please see the Forgotten Soldiers section of the website for further details.

20 December 2016. Some good news today that another uncommemorated soldier, Private Thomas Owen Davies, of Machynlleth, has been accepted for commemoration by the CWGC following my research. Please see the Forgotten Soldiers section of the website for further details.

30 November 2016. At long last my latest book has been published: Welsh Yeomanry at War. Please see the Steve’s Books page of the website for details.

23 November 2016. Some good news today with the acceptance of another Welsh soldier, Percy Griffin Williams, of the Welsh Horse Yeomanry, for commemoration by the CWGC following my research. Please see the Forgotten Soldiers section of the website for details.

 

15 November 2016. I would like to thank the people of Laugharne, especially the members of the Laugharne and District Historical Society, for their welcome during their recent History Event on Saturday when I visited to make a talk about how researching the Laugharne War Memorial inspired me to create this website and to begin my writing career. It was a very interesting day and was well attended by the locals.

26 Sep 2016. After a lot of hard work I have finally managed to identify a soldier from Gwaun-cae-Gurwen, Morgan Price James, who since the early 1920’s has been commemorated by the CWGC under the wrong name, James Morgan. Please see the Forgotten Soldiers section of the website for details.

Get social with us.

Print Print | Sitemap
Copyright © 2003-2016 West Wales War Memorial Project