West Wales War Memorial Project
West Wales War Memorial Project

Pontrhydfendigaid War Memorial

Pontrhydfendigaid lies on the western flank of the Cambrian Mountains, between Devil's Bridge and Tregaron, near the source of the River Teifi. Nearby are the ruins of the Cistercian Strata Florida Abbey, which was founded in 1164. The memorial is a granite obelisk, with the figure of 'Peace', dressed in Romanesque style, holding her hand up to the sky, clutching an olive branch. It was unveiled by the Countess of Lisburne on 9 June 1923, and contains the names of 102 men who served during the Great War, thirteen of whom died, and also the names of two local men who fell during the Second World War.

The Great War, 1914-1918

 

James Davies, Guardsman, 4283, Welsh Guards. James was the son of William and Anne Davies, of Talwrnbont, Pontrhydfendigaid. He enlisted at Aberystwyth into the Welsh Guards, and was posted to France, joining the 1st Battalion, Welsh Guards, which was attached to the 3rd Guards Brigade, Guards Division. James probably joined the battalion early in 1917, when it was rebuilding after the Somme battles the previous year. The Division took part in the advance caused by the German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line in March 1917, and later that year they moved north to Ypres, where they fought at the Battle of the Pilkem, and then at the Battle of the Menin Road, Battle of Poelcapelle and the First Battle of Passchendaele. November saw them move south again, where they took part in the Battle of Cambrai. They remained in the area over the final winter of the war, and were stationed near Gouzeaucourt when the German Spring Offensive hit the area on 21 March 1918, suffering heavy casualties over the coming days. From 21 August 1918 onwards the Guards took part in the great advance towards the Hindenburg Line. Once the Hindenburg Line had been broken, the Guards advanced north-eastwards past Le Cateau, fighting at the Battle of Cambrai, and then the Pursuit to the Selle, the Battle of the Selle and the Battle of the Sambre. James was killed on the Sambre on 6 November 1918. He was 26 years old, and is buried at Maubege-Centre Cemetery, France.

Richard David Davies, Private, 4904, Australian Imperial Force. Richard was born at Strata Florida in 1883, the son of Joseph Edward and Elizabeth Davies. The family migrated to Australia several years prior to the war, and resided at 3, Attfield Street, Fremantle, Western Australia. Richard married Jessie Wilson at Freemantle in 1905, but three years later she had left him to reside with an old boyfriend (This didn't stop her from attempting to claim a widows pension after Richard's death!). He enlisted at Holdsworthy, NSW on 22 September 1915 into the 1st Battalion, Australian Imperial Force, and was sent to Egypt with the 15th batch of reinforcements to the battalion. On 20 April 1916 Richard was one of half of the strength of the 1st Battalion which was transferred to form the basis of the newly formed 53rd Battalion, AIF. The battalion became part of the new 4th Australian Division. On 28 June 1916 Richard arrived at Marseilles, joining the Division in Northern France, where it had taken over the Fromelles sector from the 38th (Welsh) Division. On 19 July 1916 the Division was thrown into a suicidal assault against strongly defended German positions here, in an attempt to divert German attention away from the Somme. Richard was killed in the German lines that day, and was 33 years old. Due to the terrible state of the battlefield, Richard's grave was never identified, and he is commemorated on the V.C. Corner Australian Cemetery Memorial, Fromelles, France. Richard is possibly one of the men buried within the mass grave which was excavated at Fromelles several years ago. He is not commemorated locally.

Phillip Edwards, Gunner, 168352, Royal Field Artillery. Phillip was born at Pontrhydfendigaid in 1895, the son of Rachel Edwards, of 6, Terrace Road. He enlisted at Aberystwyth into the Royal Field Artillery, and served with the 4th Reserve Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. Phillip had served overseas, but had been discharged from the army at some time, and died in hospital at Nottingham on 31 January 1918, aged 22. He is buried at Strata Florida (St. Mary) Churchyard.

David Evans, Private, 34359, Labour Corps. David was born at Abergwynfi, Glamorgan, the son of Evan and Margaret Evans. The family later resided at Caemadoc, Pontrhydfendigaid, Evan's native home. David enlisted at Newport, Monmouth into the South Wales Borderers, but was transferred to the Cheshire Regiment, before being re-transferred to the 58th Company, Labour Corps. David served in France from 1916 onwards, and during the summer of 1918 was in Flanders. David died in Flanders on 10 July 1918, aged 34. He is buried at Esquelbecq Military Cemetery, France.

John Evans. John was the son of Thomas and Mary Evans, of Caemadoc, Pontrhydfendigaid, and the brother of David (above). His military service cannot presently be traced.

John Llewelyn Griffiths, Second Lieutenant, Northumberland Fusiliers. John was the son of William and Martha Griffiths, of 1, Turberville Road, Mount Pleasant, Porth Rhondda. He resided at 13, Terrace Road, Pontrhydfendigaid prior to the war, and was commissioned into the 15th Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers. John was posted to France where he joined the 12th Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers, which was attached to 62 Brigade, 21st Division. The Division landed in France between 2 and 13 September 1915, moving to positions at Loos, in reserve, It was sent into action on 26 September, suffering over 3,800 casualties. The Division moved to the Somme in 1916, in readiness for the launch of the Somme offensive on 1 July 1916. John was killed on the Somme during the build up to the battle on 26 June 1916. He was 22 years old, and is buried at Dartmoor Cemetery, Bécordel Becourt, France.

Charles James, Private, 5919, London Regiment. Charles was the son of Evan and Mary James, of 1, Poplar Terrace, Pontrhydfendigaid. He resided at Westminster, London prior to the war, and enlisted at Caxton Hall into the King's Royal Rifle Corps. Charles was later transferred to the 1/19th Battalion, London Regiment, which was attached to 141 Brigade, 47th (2nd London) Division, probably joining the battalion in France early in 1916. They were north of Arras when the Germans attacked Vimy Ridge, and then moved south to the Somme, where they fought at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, and then at the Battle of Le Transloy, where the Division captured Eaucourt l'Abbe, and took part in Attacks on the Butte de Warlencourt. Charles was killed in action here on 2 October 1916. He was 22 years old, and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, France.

John Thomas Jenkins, Private, 45179, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Thomas was the son of Jenkin and Margaret Jenkins, of Butter Hall, Pontrhydfendigaid. He resided at Tooting, London prior to the war, and enlisted at Wandsworth on 15 February 1916 into the 16th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. The battalion trained at Colwyn Bay, before moving to Winchester, attached to 113 Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division, and landed in France during December 1915, spending their first winter in the trenches near Armentieres. In June they marched south to the Somme, where they were tasked with the capture of Mametz Wood. The attack on the wood began on 7 July, but met with fierce resistance, and it took until 14 July to totally clear the wood. The Division suffered terrible casualties at Mametz, and were taken out of the line, and moved to Ypres to rebuild. Here they fought at the Battle of Pilckem Ridge. John was killed in action at Pilckem Ridge on 31 July 1917. He was 24 years old, and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium.

David Jones, Private, 31421, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. David was born in 1887, the son of John Jones, of Talwrbont, Pontrhydfendigaid. He was a coalminer prior to the war, and enlisted at Cymmer on 7 June 1915 into the 16th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, which was attached to 115 Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division. David landed in France with the Division on 2 December 1915, and moved to the Fleurbaix Sector for trench initiation. On 15 April 1916 David was admitted to 130 Field Ambulance suffering from influenza. He rejoined the battalion in time to take part in the assault on Mametz Wood on 10 July 1916, and was wounded in the wood the following day. David was invalided to hospital at Rouen, and two weeks later was transferred to the 9th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, which was attached to 58 Brigade, 19th (Western) Division. David rejoined his new battalion on the Somme, and was killed during the Battle of the Ancre Heights on 27 October 1916. David was 29 years old, and was buried at Regina Trench Cemetery, Grandcourt, France. Mysteriously, David's father received two postcards from David, which were reportedly posted after his death, and two friends of his reported seeing him at Etaples after his reported death. Nonetheless, David is officially recorded as having been killed and buried on the above date.

David Rowland Jones, Private, 55559, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. David was the son of John and Annie Jones, of Dolfawr, Ystradmeurig. He enlisted on 11 December 1915 into the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, and was mobilised on 7 April 1916, joining the 2nd Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. The battalion was attached to 19 Brigade, 33rd Division, and David joined them in time to take part in the Battle of the Somme. They then fought during 1917 at the Battle of the Scarpe and at Bullecourt, before heading to Ypres, and fighting at the Menin Road and at Polygon Wood. On 6 February 1918, the battalion was transferred to 115 Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division, and moved with the Division to the Somme, where it took up positions north of Albert, overlooking the Ancre Valley. On 21 August 1918 the Division made its famous crossing of the River Ancre, and began its drive towards the Hindenburg Line. On 1 September 1918 David was shot in the arm, whilst the Division was fighting near Bapaume, and was treated at 59 Casualty Clearing Station, before being evacuated to 48 General Hospital, then invalided home. He was discharged from the army on 7 December 1918, but died at home on 23 September 1919 as a result of his wounds. David was 32 years old, and is buried at Strata Florida (St. Mary) Churchyard.

John Lawrence, Private, 13052, South Wales Borderers. John was born in Ferndale on 8 June 1893, the son of Edwin and Margaret Lawrence. The family later resided at Dyffryn Cottage, Ffair-Rhos and John was educated at Pontrhydfendigaid. He enlisted at Newport, Monmouth into the 4th Battalion, South Wales Borderers, which was attached to 40 Brigade, 13th (Western) Division. Towards the end of February 1915 the Division concentrated at Blackdown in Hampshire and on 13 June sailed for Alexandria. It was moved to Mudros before being landed at Cape Helles, Gallipoli from 6 July 1915, relieving the 29th Division. The division was then withdrawn from Helles to Mudros at the end of the month before landing at ANZAC Cove between 3 and 5 August 1915, to take part in the forthcoming offensive. John was killed in action at Gallipoli on 12 August 1915, aged 22. He is commemorated on the Helles Memorial, Gallipoli.

 

Thomas Lawrence. Thomas is not named on the main War Memorial, but is commemorated on the Carmel Chapel Memorial, which states that he resided at Dyffryn Cottage, Ffair-Rhos. He was probably the son of Edwin and Margaret Lawrence, and the brother of John, above, but cannot be identified.

Thomas Llewelyn Morgan, B.A., Lance Corporal, G/25406, Buffs (East Kent Regiment). Thomas was the son of Evan and Barbara Morgan, of Pretoria, Llangeitho. The family had moved to 442, Edgware Road, Marylebone prior to the war, where they ran their own dairy business. Thomas enlisted there into the Buffs (East Ken Regiment, and was posted to France at sometime in 1917, joining the 1st Battalion, Buffs, which was attached to 16 Brigade, 6th Division. Thomas joined the battalion at Arras, where they fought at the Battle of Hill 70, and then during the Battle of Cambrai later in the year. In the spring of 1918 the Division was one of those hit by the German Offensive on the Somme, which had been launched on 21 March 1918, and the Division took part in the Battle of St Quentin. They were moved from the line, and went to Flanders to rest, but the following month the Germans launched another offensive on the Lys, and the Division fought during the Battle of Bailleul, the First Battle of Kemmel, and the Second Battle of Kemmel. The battalion was still in Flanders when Thomas was killed on 2 August 1918. He was 19 years old, and is buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium.

Philip Roderick, Corporal, 5033, Honourable Artillery Company. Philip was the son of Enoch and Margaret Roderick, of Pencreigian, Pontrhydfendigaid. He was a schoolmaster at Edmonton prior to the war, and enlisted on 15 November 1915 at Armoury House into the Honourable Artillery Company. On 29 June 1916 Philip was posted to France, joining the 1st Battalion, Honourable Artillery Company, which was attached to 190 Brigade, 63rd (Royal Naval) Division. The Division was on the Somme, where it took part in the Battle of the Ancre, and the resulting Operations on the Ancre. In April 1917 the Division was at Arras, and fought at the Second Battle of the Scarpe, where they captured Gavrelle. Philip was killed in action at Gavrelle on 16 April 1917. He was 30 years old, and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial, France.

David Williams, Private, 32734, South Lancashire Regiment. David was the son of Evan and Jane Williams, of Tycefn, Ffairhos. He resided at Pontrhydfendigaid prior to the war, and enlisted at Brecon into the army. David was posted to the 1/4th Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment. The battalion had landed at Havre on 13 February 1915, joining 7 Brigade, 3rd Division. On 12 October 1915 the battalion became the Pioneer Battalion to the 3rd Division, then on 9 January 1916 became the Pioneer Battalion to the 55th (West Lancashire) Division. The Division was fought on the Somme in the summer of 1916, before relieving the 29th Division at Ypres in October 1916, fighting at the Third Battle of Ypres then following year. The Division then moved to positions near Lempire-Ronssoy, and fought at the Battle of Cambrai, where it was decimated during the German counter attack on 30 November 1917. After rebuilding, the Division moved to the front line at Givenchy and Festubert on 15 February, and faced numerous strong enemy raids in March. April was at first much quieter, but it was a lull before the storm, as the Germans launched another offensive here, with the Division taking part in the Battle of Estaires, successfully fighting at the First Defence of Givenchy. David was killed in action here on 11 April 1918. He was 19 years old, and is buried at Chocques Military Cemetery, France.

World War Two, 1939-1945

 

David Daniel Davies, Quartermaster, Merchant Navy. David was the son of Daniel and Ann Davies, of Aberaeron, and the husband of Jane Davies, of Pontrhydfendigaid. He served with the Merchant Navy aboard the S.S. City of Ripon, a Hull registered steamship. On 11 November 1942 she was off Georgetown, British Guiana, on voyage from Capetown to Trinidad and New York, when she was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-160, with the loss of 56 lives. David was 49 years old when he died that day, and is commemorated on the Tower Hill Memorial, London. David does not seem to be commemorated at Pontrhydfendigaid.

Gwilym Rowlands, Fourth Engineer Officer, Merchant Navy. Gwilym was the son of John Rees Rowlands, and of Elizabeth Rowlands, of Pontrhydfendigaid. He served with the Merchant Navy aboard the S.S. Belcrest, a London registered steamer.  On 15 February 1941 Belcrest was torpedoed and sunk by the Italian submarine Michele Bianchi. Gwilym was 22 years old when he died that day, and is commemorated on the Tower Hill Memorial, London.

Robert Morgan Thomas, Sapper, 2008306, Royal Engineers. Robert was the son of Morgan and Bertha Thomas, of Elder Court, Pontrhydfendigaid. He served with 283 (Welsh) Field Company, Royal Engineers, which was attached to the 38th (Welsh) Division. Robert lost his life on active service at Blundellsands on 28 December 1940, aged 21. He is buried at Strata Florida (St. Mary) Churchyard.

Pontrhydfendigaid Air Crash Memorial

On the base of the memorial at Pontrhydfendigaid is a marble plaque, which commemorates airmen who died as the result of an aircraft crash at Penybwlch on 13 June 1941. The memorial is inscribed in Welsh;

 

I GOFIO Y RHAI A FU FARW FEL CANLYNIAD I DDAMWAIN AWYREN YN PENYBWLCH 13 MEHEFIN 1941

TO REMEMBER THOSE WHO DIED AS A RESULT OF A PLANE CRASH IN PENYBWLCH 13 JUNE 1941

 

On 13 June 1941, a Vickers Wellington IC, Serial R1286, of No. 15 Operational Training Unit, Royal Air Force, took off from RAF Harwell on a training mission. The crew of seven men were training in readiness to join one of the Bomber Command Squadrons during this routine flight over mid Wales. However, while flying over Pontrhydfendegaid, the engines cut out, and the aircraft plunged into the ground at Penybwlch, about six miles northeast of the village, killing three of the crew.

 

The men killed were:

 

Pilot Officer (Pilot) George Bewick Bainbridge

 

Sergeant (Co-Pilot) Robert Gerald Cosgrave

 

Flight Sergeant (WOp/AG) William Powell

 

The four survivors were

 

Sergeants W. Breeze; N. Scott; H. J. Ford; and   J.A. Sellars.

 

George Bewick Bainbridge, Pilot Officer, 63826, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. George was the son of Alick and Mary C. Bainbridge, of Redcar. He was 22 years old when he died that day and is buried in Redcar Cemetery, Yorkshire.

 

Robert Gerald Cosgrave, Sergeant, 1166447, Royal Air Force. Robert was the son of Captain Alexander Kirkpatrick Cosgrave, R.A.M.C., and of Iva Mary Cosgrave, of Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire. He was 19 years old when he died that day, and is commemorated in Golders Green Crematorium.

 

William Powell, Flight Sergeant, 552157, Royal Air Force. William was the son of Robert and Stella Powell, of Gretna. He was 20 years old when he died that day, and is buried in Gretna Cemetery, Dumfriesshire.

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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.

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