West Wales War Memorial Project
West Wales War Memorial Project

Laugharne & District Historical Society WW1 Project

Laugharne & District Historical Society have recently made a successful application for a Heritage Lottery Grant in order to research Laugharne’s experience of World War One. As a result the Society is keen to collate material and information about how the war of 1914-1918 affected the area and the people of the area.

 

I have donated all of my research on the Laugharne and District War Memorials and my research for my first book, ‘A Township in Mourning’, to the Society in order to help kick-start the project and have offered to help as much as I can by using my experience in researching the service men and women from the area. Among the donated items is a database which I have collated over the years of all of the men and women from Laugharne and its immediate area who served during WW1. However, a database is never completely finished, so if anyone reading this web page has ancestors from Laugharne who they think served during the war, either at home or overseas, men or women, then please get in touch with myself via the website contact page. Any small pieces of information are valuable, as it is a starting point to try and uncover more.

 

The Society are looking for people who have items of interest to the project, such as memoires, letters, postcards, photographs, medals, in fact anything related to WW1 which is of interest to the local area, so that material can be copied in order both to create an archive and to collate material in order to put all of the information together into a book.

 

Some examples from my own collection relating to Laugharne are as follows below:

The memorial plaque and 1914/15 Star to William Constable. These were bought in 2015 and came from the south of England. (The Star is not in the photograph below).

William Constable, Private, 12134, Welsh Regiment. William was the son of Philip and Jane Constable, of Horsepool Road, Laugharne. The family lived with Jane's mother, Bridget Jones, along with Williams other brothers and sisters, Gwendoline, John and Neville. At the outbreak of the War, William enlisted in Finsbury, in Middlesex, into the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. He was subsequently posted to the 19th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, which was the Pioneer Battalion to the 38th (Welsh) Division, and landed in France on 5 December 1915. After trench initiation at Fleurbaix, the 38th Division moved to the Cuinchy Sector, where the 19th Welsh became attached to 255 Tunnelling Company, Royal Engineers. In June 1916 the Division moved to the Somme, where it took part in the capture of Mametz Wood between 7 to 11 July 1916. After suffering heavy casualties at Mametz, the Division was posted to the sector north of Ypres, at Boesinghe. On 28 January 1917, William was in billets with his battalion behind the front lines at Trois Tours. The Battalion had been training and brought up to strength for the Summer Offensives, and were enjoying some relaxation in the Belgian towns around Poperinge. Sometime that day, William was killed alongside several of his comrades in their billets by shellfire from German long range guns. William was 20 years old, and is buried at Ferme-Olivier Cemetery, Belgium.

The memorial plaque to William Waters. This was bought from a man in Birmingham, about ten years ago, who had bought it at a jumble sale in Laugharne many years ago.

William Waters, Bombardier, 79715, Royal Garrison Artillery. Thomas was born in Laugharne around 1893, the son of John and Jane Waters of Pantyglas Farm, Broadway, Laugharne. He had an elder brother, Joseph, and younger siblings Mary Jane and Llewellyn Waters. William enlisted at the age of 22 years and 9 months along with his friend Herbert Roblin of Colston Farm, Laugharne, and was posted to the 216th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, while Herbert was posted to the Royal Field Artillery. The 216th Siege Battery consisted of four 6" howitzers, which together with their crews formed a small part of the 46th North Midland Division. The 46th Division had fought through some of the toughest campaigns of the Great War. They took a leading part in the opening of the Battle of the Somme in July 1916, and fought through the Battles of the Ancre, the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line in 1917, and through to the Battle for Hill 70. On 15 August 1917, the Battle for Hill 70 began, near Loos. Throughout the day, and the next, William's gun crew were in action, firing their massive shells at the German lines, when a German shell crashed into their gun pit, killing William and the rest of the crew on 16 August 1917. William is buried at Maroc British Cemetery, Grenay, France, alongside his fallen comrades; William Holt and Henry Barber. Gunners William Wallbank, Alfred Steele, Albert Stanisford, John Richards, Simeon Johnson, David Dair, and Bombardier Albert Rowley, from the same Battery as William, all died within a few weeks of each other and are also buried at Maroc.

The framed memorial plaque and photograph to George Watts. This was bought about eight years ago and came from a house clearance in Llanelli. It would be nice to know where his medals are.

George Watts, Lance Corporal, 208, Australian Infantry. George was born in Laugharne on 4 February 1883, the son of John and Esther Watts, who lived at The Lakes, Laugharne. George also had two elder brothers Thomas and William Watts, who later lived at 25, Biggyn Road, Llanelli. George was another Laugharne man with a taste for adventure. On 31 May 1902, George enlisted at Devonport into the Royal Navy, signing up for 12 years. He served for over five years in the Royal Navy on active service, and for six years on the reserve. In 1914, George found himself in Australia, working as a miner, and on 28 September 1914, he enlisted in Townsville, into the 15th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force, which was part of 4 Brigade, 4th Australian Division. George embarked at Melbourne on 22 December 1914 aboard the Australian Troopship Ceramic, bound for Egypt. On 25 April 1915 the Australians landed on the shores of Anzac Cove, Gallipoli, and were thrown into desperate fighting. From May to August, the 15th battalion was heavily involved in establishing and defending the ANZAC front line. On 14 July 1915 George was admitted into the 4th Field Ambulance, and sent to the Greek Island of Mudros, with a boil on his neck. He returned to Gallipoli, but was again admitted to the 4th Field Ambulance at Anzac beach on Gallipoli on 11 August 1915. George returned to his Battalion the next day and found himself caught up in one of the final stages of the Gallipoli campaign, the Battle for Hill 60. A detachment from 'A' Company of the 15th Battalion was sent to reinforce the 13th Battalions unsuccessful attempt to take the position. It was during this futile struggle that George was wounded, and taken to the 16th Casualty Clearing Station, on 27 August 1915, to be treated for a gunshot wound to his left arm. George was ferried aboard the hospital ship Huntsgreen, where he died of his wounds on 30 August 1915. The chief officer aboard HS Huntsgreen buried George at sea that day. George is commemorated alongside 4,931 comrades on the Lone Pine Memorial, Gallipoli.

I saw this for sale on eBay, and bought it, as it is addressed to a Mrs. Jones, C/O Mr. Lewis, Hugdon, Laugharne. After looking at the uniforms and badges, and comparing with the list of Laugharne soldiers who fought in WW1 (which is below), I am 99% sure that the three men are Lance Corporal J. Jones, Royal Engineers, of Broadway, Sapper William Henry Jones, Royal Engineers, also of Broadway, and the man in the middle is Alfred Lewis, Royal Marine Light Infantry, of Hugdon. His two brothers, Charles Thomas Lewis and David John Lewis, also served.  There is a note on the back of the postcard also which says 'Remember to be at Llanstephan tomorrow-tell David John'. Of interest to me is that it most likely referred to my Great Grandfather, David Thomas John.

Also some other items, not Laugharne related, but which show the sort of items which are of interest and may be lying in a cupboard or drawer in someone’s house, forgotten about.

 

A ‘Soldiers Small Book’ (Belonging to William P. Price, of the South Wales Borderers who ded in WW1)

Memorial cards to local soldiers.

A Field Service Postcard, sent home to Wales

A memorial scroll to Benjamin Llewellyn, of Clynderwen.

Benjamin Llewellyn, Private, 14316, Welsh Regiment. Benjamin was the son of Griffith and Martha Llewellyn, of Vron, Llanycefn, Clynderwen. He enlisted at Goodwick into the 8th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, who formed part of 40 Brigade, 13th Division and in January 1915 became Pioneers to the Division. The Division concentrated at Blackdown in Hampshire at the beginning of 1915, and by the end of June the entire Division had left the U.K. for the Mediterranean. They arrived at Mudros from Alexandria, and then were landed at Gallipoli during July 1915, taking part in the Battles of Sari Bair, Russell's Top and Hill 60, and were evacuated from Helles on 6 January 1916. They held the Suez Canal defences for a month, but were sent to Mesopotamia to attempt the Relief of the besieged Garrison at Kut during March and April 1916, and it was during this campaign that Benjamin was Wounded in Action. He died of his wounds on 28 April 1916, aged 21, and is buried at Basra War Cemetery, Iraq.

It is always worth bringing these items to someone’s attention as research can be carried out which will give you a greater insight into them.

 

An example is a photograph album which I recently purchased at a local auction house. The Lot details stated that the photographs showed service in Gallipoli and that there were loose postcards with a Llandovery address. I managed to buy the album and postcards and began to research them. Luckily inside was a receipt from a Chester photographic studio which had sent the album to Mr Davies, at Maesygwaelod, Cilycwm by his former CO, Major Hubert Ronald Pettit. Several other postcards had been posted to that same address and were from Private John Davies, of the Pembroke Yeomanry. The album turned out to be a collection of photographs relating to the Imperial Camel Corps in Egypt and Palestine. The Pembroke Yeomanry had formed one Squadron of the Imperial Camel Corps, and John Davies was among the men in the photographs.

Postcards and Photographs relating to a Cardigan Soldier

Postcards to Carmarthen from a Carmarthen Soldier, from Egypt and France

A home-made plaque, relating to the 15th Welsh, with original WW1 cap, collar and shoulder badges and buttons, together with a photo of the Pilkem Ridge battlefield and a 15th Welsh 1917 Xmas Postcard. Picked up in an auction in Shrewsbury

A 1915 Star medal trio to a soldier of the 15th Welsh (Carmarthen Pals), from Llansteffan

WW1 Trench Art, all Welsh related

A silver plated bugle, presented to a battalion of the 38th (Welsh) Division in the Divisional Sports Day held after the Armistice. Several of these bugles were commissioned by the Divisional Commanding Officer, General Thomas Astley Cubitt, KCB, CMG, DSO, the man who commanded the Division following the failure in health and subsequent death of General Blackader. The bugles were engraved with the divisional crest and the details of General Cubitt. One of these bugles was presented to the 15th Welsh (Carmarthen Pals) for winning the Divisional Cross Country race and was subsequently donated by the CO of the 15th Welsh, Lieutenant Colonel Thomas William Parkinson, to the town of Carmarthen, upon the occasion of the return of the Cadre of the battalion to the town.

Has anyone got anything like this which has been handed down from their Laugharne ancestors? The Society and myself would love to see items such as these at their annual family history day at Laugharne Memorial Hall on Saturday 12 November 2016.

 

Although this is not really the place, as can be seen from the photographs above, I am also a collector, especially of items relating to Laugharne, St. Clears, and Whitland, and also to the Pembroke Yeomanry. the 15th and the 24th Welsh. As a result if anyone has anything they would like to sell, or any photographs they are willing to send copies of, please contact me through the website. The material will be copied and given to the Historical Society for their archives.

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

1 December 2017. A new section has been added to the website, which will cover some war memorials in Glamorgan, more especially the memorials nearest to the county border with Carmarthenshire. More will be added as time allows.

 

4 November 2017. Some good news this week following the discovery, after much searching, of the grave of Private Thomas Davies, of Laugharne. Please see the Forgotten Soldiers page of the website for details.

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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