The Village of Abergwili sits just to the east of Carmarthen, on the A40 leading out of Town towards Builth Wells. On the main street sits a War Memorial in the style of a Celtic Cross, carved from granite, which remembers the men and one woman of the Village who gave their lives during both World Wars. One man was killed by the IRA after surviving the Great War, and he is remembered on the Memorial also.
The Great War, 1914-1918
Robert George Duncan Dempster, Private, 227181, Monmouthshire Regiment. Robert was born at Fishguard in 1882, the son of Robert Dempster and Margaret Dempster (nee Evans). By 1891 the family had moved to Canal Bank Cottage, Brecon, where his father had gained a position as Huntsman. Robert lived for several years with his uncle, Thomas Evans, at Dolgwili, Abergwili, and was the secretary of the Abergwili Show. Robert enlisted at Newport into the 2/1st Battalion, Monmouth Regiment soon after the outbreak of war. The Battalion formed at Newport on 20 February 1915 as part of the Welsh Border Brigade, Welsh Division. On 19 April they moved to form part of 205 Brigade, 68th Division, and remained on Home Service until the Division was disbanded on 31 March 1918. The men of the 2/1st Monmouths must have been sent to reinforce the 1/1st Battalion in France, who were the Pioneer Battalion to the 46th Division. By this time, the German Spring Offensive was at its height, and the Allied armies were suffering a terrible onslaught, with many Battalions being almost wiped out. The War turned in the Allies favour on 8 August 1918, the ‘Black Day of the German Army’, when Australian troops won a decisive battle at Villers Brettoneux, and from that day on the Allies held the upper hand. The 46th Division pushed the Germans back in Flanders, then moved southwards, forcing a crossing over the formidable Hindenburg Line at Riqueval Bridge, and pushing on toward Cambrai. Robert was badly wounded on 10 October 1918, and died of his wounds at No 12 Casualty Clearing Station that same day. The 36-year-old is buried in Tincourt New British Cemetery, France. His brother Harry was killed in 1915. Both brothers are commemorated on war memorials at Wiston and Clarbeston Road, in Pembrokeshire.
Mary Evans, Nurse, Edmonton Military Hospital. Mary was born near Meidrim in 1888, the daughter of John and Elizabeth Evans (nee Reynolds). The family later moved to Derwen House, Priory Street, Carmarthen. She had worked as a Nurse at Edmonton Military Hospital, which was a Special Military Surgical Hospital, specialising in orthopaedics, for over eighteen months. Sadly Mary became one of four nurses at the Hospital to die of influenza within just four days of each other just after the end of the war, with Mary dying on 15 October 1918, aged 28. She was buried with full military honours at Abergwili Churchyard. On 6 July 1921 a Memorial was erected in the memory of the nurses, at the Chapel of the then renamed North Middlesex Hospital.
Arthur Fallon, Private, 13103, Welsh Regiment. Arthur was born at Worcester and was the brother of Frances Fallon. Records show that he resided at Abergwili prior to the War, and was well known at Llangunnor, through working for Colonel William Charles Aslett at Bolahaul Farm, Llangunnor, and enlisted at Carmarthen into the 8th Battalion, the Welsh Regiment, which was attached to 40 Brigade, 13th Division. During January, 1915 the Battalion were made the Pioneer Battalion to the Division, and on 15 June, 1915 sailed with the Division to Mudros. On 5 August, 1915 the Division landed at Anzac, Gallipoli, where they were to see some of the worst fighting on the Peninsula. During December, the Division were evacuated, arriving in Egypt in January, 1916. They were sent to Mesopotamia to attempt to relieve the besieged town of Kut, which is where Arthur sadly Died of Sickness on 29 June 1916. He is buried at Amara War Cemetery. Arthur is commemorated at Babell Chapel in Llangunnor and not at Abergwili.
David Thomas Harries, Private, 39828, South Wales Borderers. David was the son of David and Sarah Harries of Abergwili. He enlisted at Carmarthen into the Pembroke Yeomanry and was posted to France joining the 2nd Battalion, South Wales Borderers, which was attached to 87 Brigade, 29th Division. On 15 March 1916 the Division arrived at Marseilles after service in China and Gallipoli, and were to remain in France for the rest of the war. They saw their first action in France during the Battle of the Somme, and it was on the Somme, during the Battle of Le Transloy, that David was Killed in Action, on 20 October 1916. His body was lost on the battlefield, and so he is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, France.
Daniel Howell, Private, 113, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Daniel was the son of David and Margaret Howell, of Werndrevi Cottage, Abergwili. He worked at Birmingham prior to the war, and enlisted there into the 14th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, part of 13 Brigade, 5th Division. The Battalion were stationed in the Arras area during the beginning of 1916. On 25 March 1916, Daniel’s battalion was in the front line trenches, when Daniel was shot by a sniper, and killed. He was 21 years old. Daniel is buried at Cabaret Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez, France.
Walter James, Private, 203066, South Lancashire Regiment. Walter was born in Abergwili, the son of Thomas and Rachel James. The family later resided at Wauniago, Picton Place, Carmarthen. He enlisted at Llanelli into the 2/4th Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment, part of 172 Brigade, 57th Division. The Division landed at Boulogne on 6 February 1917, moving to the ‘Nursery Sector’ around Armentieres. Sadly Walter was wounded at Armentieres, and Died of Wounds on 19 April 1917 aged 32. He is buried at Hazebrouck Communal Cemetery. Walter is not commemorated at Abergwili.
Daniel James Jones, Gunner, 79521, Machine Gun Corps (Motors). Daniel was the son of Daniel and Ann Jones, of 29, High Street, Abergwili. He enlisted at London into the Army Service Corps, and was transferred into the 1st Battery, Machine Gun Corps (Motors), the predecessor to the Tank Corps. Daniel’s Battalion were taking part in the Flanders Advance of 1918 when he was Killed in Action, aged just 19, on 26 September 1918. He is buried at Mendinghem Military Cemetery, Belgium.
Herbert James Jones, Sapper, 96505, Royal Engineers. Herbert was the son of John and Harriet Jones, of Llanarthney. Prior to the war, he resided with his wife Edith F. Jones, at Eiros Cottage near Llandebie, where he worked as a miner. Herbert enlisted in London into the 171st Tunnelling Company, Royal Engineers. Upon arriving in France, the Company were sent to the Hill 70 and the Bluff area near Ypres, where they began one of the most terrifying campaigns of the Great War, the war underground. The tunnellers dug a network of dugouts, subways and mines around the Ypres Salient, and the men manning the trenches above grew to fear the sound of digging beneath their feet, after the explosion of several mines in the sector. Herbert was Killed in Action at Ypres, aged 31, on 2 June 1915, quite possibly underground whilst working on a mine. He is remembered on the Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres.
Thomas Lloyd, Private, 63126, Welsh Regiment. Thomas was the son of Thomas and Rachel Lloyd, of 58, High Street, Abergwili. He enlisted at Llanelli into the 11th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, part of 67 Brigade, 22nd Division. The Division spent just a month in France, before embarking at Marseilles on 30 October, 1915 bound for Salonika, arriving on 8 November. They remained at Salonika throughout the war, where Thomas was wounded in action during the Battle of Doiran. He Died of Wounds on 21 September 1918, aged just 21, and is buried at Sarigol Military Cemetery, Kriston.
David Idwal Morris, Private, 57145, Welsh Regiment. David was the son of Jared and Elizabeth Morris, of Capel Dewi Issaf, near Abergwili. He enlisted at Nantgaredig into the Pembroke Yeomanry, with the service number 5119. David transferred into the 16th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, which formed part of 115 Brigade, 38th Welsh Division, which moved to France during December, 1915. The Division saw their first action at Armentieres, but were moved south to the Somme sector, tasked with the capture of Mametz Wood. After suffering severe losses in capturing the strongly defended wood, the Division moved to Ypres to rebuild. David joined the battalion here in August 1916. At Ypres, the Division took part in the Battle of Pilckem Ridge on 31 July 1917. Elements of 114 Brigade remained in the line to aid the 20th (Light) Division during their attack on Langemarck. It was during an abortive assault near Eagle Trench, Langemarck, that David was Killed in Action on 27 August 1917. He was 21 years old, and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium. As far as is known, David is not commemorated on any memorial locally.
Stephen David Morris, Private, 52753, Cheshire Regiment. Stephen was the son of Richard and Ann Morris, of the Black Ox, Abergwili. He enlisted at Porth on 9 December 1915 into the Welsh Regiment, serving in France with the 13th Battalion, Welsh Regiment from 28 June 1916. On 1 September Stephen was transferred into the 11th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, which was in France attached to 7 Brigade, 25th Division. On 31 October 1916 the Division moved to the Ploegsteert Sector, and took part in the opening of the Passchendaele Offensive, the Battle of Messines. Stephen was wounded at Messines, and sadly died of Wounds at the Casualty Clearing Station at Bailleul on 8 June 1917, aged 26. He is buried at Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension, France.
William Owen, Private, 240782, Welsh Regiment. William was born at Abergwili, the son of Elizabeth Owen. Elizabeth later resided at Penrhiol, Capel Gwyn, White Mill while William worked at Abercynon as a collier. He enlisted at Pontypridd into the 1/5th Battalion, the Welsh Regiment, part of 159 Brigade, 53rd (Welsh) Division. On 9 July 1915 they sailed from Devonport bound for Mudros, and then landed at Suvla Bay, Gallipoli on 9 August 1915. The Division suffered terribly at Gallipoli, losing a lot of men during the Winter blizzards, and on 11 December were evacuated to Egypt. From here, they fought in the Palestinian Campaign, capturing Gaza, before marching on to Jerusalem, which was taken on 7 December 1917. William must have been evacuated from Palestine to the Hadra Hospital at Alexandria. He Died of Sickness on 9 December 1917, and is buried at Alexandria (Hadra) War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt. William is not commemorated at Abergwili.
Joe Anthony Francis Parkinson, Lieutenant, Dorsetshire Regiment. Joe was born at Castell Pigyn, Abergwili on 28 February 1888, the Son of Thomas and Ada Blanche Parkinson. Thomas was J. P. for Carmarthenshire. The family later resided at Newent Court, Newent, Glos. Joe was educated at Rossall from 1901 to 1905, and joined the Dorsetshire Regiment from the Special Reserve in 1910, becoming Lieutenant in March 1912. At the outbreak of the Great War, Joe moved to France with the 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire regiment, which was attached to 15 Brigade, 5th Division. The Division had landed at Havre on 15 August 1914, and fought at the Battle of Mons, and during the retreat south, fighting at Le Cateau, then down to the Marne where the German attack was halted. They took part in the advance to the Aisne, before moving to Flanders, where they fought at the Battle of La Bassée, then at Messines in October 1914. Joe was killed when the Dorsets trenches came under heavy German artillery fire on 13 October 1914, and he was struck by shrapnel. He was 26 years old. Joe has no known grave, and is commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial, Richebourg L’Avoue, France. His elder brother was Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas William Parkinson, the Commanding Officer of the Carmarthen Pals battalion. Joe is not commemorated anywhere in Carmarthenshire.
John Clarke Phillips, Private, 790, Australian Imperial Force. John was born at Abergwili in 1874, the son of David Benjamin Phillips and Harriet Phillips and was baptised at Abergwili on 26 April that year. He emigrated to Australia with his wife, Hannah Maria Phillips, and their two children prior to the war, and the family lived at Stanley Terrace, Leabrook, South Australia, where John worked as a Tram Inspector. John enlisted at Adelaide on 17 February 1916 into the 43rd Battalion, Australian Infantry. He embarked at Adelaide on 9 June 1916 aboard HMAT Afric, and disembarked at Marseilles on 20 July 1916. The battalion then moved to Britain for further training, before moving to the Western Front early in December 1916, joining the 11th Brigade, 3rd Australian Division. The Division moved to Bailleul by 25 November 1916, then to the Armentieres Sector, where it began its routine of trench warfare. John was killed here by a German bombardment on 26 January 1917. He was 45 years old, and is buried at Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery, Armentieres, France. John is not commemorated locally.
Dan Ivor Price, Private, 40048, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Dan was born at Abergwili, the son of David and Margaret Elizabeth Price. The family later resided at Chapel House, Peniel. He was educated at Carmarthen Grammar School. Dan enlisted at Carmarthen into the 1st Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, part of 22 Brigade, 7th Division. On 7 October 1914 the Division landed at Zeebrugge, but were too late to prevent the city falling, and moved to Ypres, where they took part in the First Battle of Ypres, saving the City from the Germans. They fought at Neuve Chapelle, Loos and on the Somme, capturing Mametz Village, before spending the Winter of 1916/17 on the Somme, at the Ancre. Dan was Killed in Action on the Ancre aged just 20, on 26 February 1917. He is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, France. Dan is not commemorated at Abergwili.
W. M. Rees, Private, Australian Forces. The War Memorial at Abergwili shows that Private Rees died during August 1917. At present no records can be found of him, as no man of that name served with the AIF.
Edward Rockingham, Private, 320155, Welsh Regiment. Edward was born at Norwood, Surrey on 23 September 1895, the illegitimate child of Ellen Rockingham, a domestic servant. He was brought up in a home and came to Abergwili after 1911, where he worked for Mrs. Rees, Penybont. He enlisted at Carmarthen into the Pembroke Yeomanry, Army Number 2237. The Pembroke Yeomanry moved to Egypt in 1916, where it merged with the Glamorgan Yeomanry to become the 24th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, part of 231 Brigade, 74th Yeomanry Division, and fought in Palestine as a dismounted infantry unit. Early in 1918 when the tide of war was turning in favour of the Germans, with big breakthroughs on the Somme and in Flanders, the 74th Division was sent back to France, landing during May, 1918. They were rushed to Flanders, where they helped stem the German advance, before moving south, pushing against the Hindenburg Line around the Épehy area. Edward was killed during heavy fighting at Gillemont Farm on 21 September 1918, during the Battle of Épehy. Edward has only recently been accepted for commemoration by the CWGC, after evidence of his omission was presented to them by myself. He will be commemorated on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial, France, after 91 years of being forgotten.
Arthur Edward Thomas, Private, 957, Essex Regiment. Arthur was born in Beckenham, Kent in 1879, the son of Thomas Jeremy Thomas and Mary Griffith Thomas (nee Lewis). His father was a warehouseman and merchant from Carmarthen, whilst his mother was from Abergwili. His mother died in 1891 and Arthur was sent to Millbrook School in Hampshire for his education. Arthur worked as a farm labourer prior to enlisting at Bradfield, Essex into the 1/5th Battalion, Essex Regiment. The battalion mobilised at Chelmsford on 4 August 1914, as part of Essex Brigade, East Anglian Division, before moving to Norwich. In April 1915 the Division moved to Colchester where it became renumbered as the 54th (East Anglian) Division and on 21 July 1915 sailed from Devonport for Gallipoli. The Division landed at Suvla Bay on 12 August 1915 in order to join the last great push to seize the Peninsula. Unfortunately, the landings were a failure and the campaign bogged down into stagnant trench warfare again. Arthur took ill on Gallipoli and was evacuated by Hospital Ship to the 15th General Hospital at Alexandria, in Egypt, where he died of dysentery on 27 September 1915. The 36-year-old is buried in Alexandria (Chatby) War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt. Arthur is not commemorated locally.
Herbert Gordon Thomas, Second Lieutenant, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Herbert was born at Llandovery, the son of the Reverend Thomas Thomas and Mary Anne Thomas. The family later resided at the Vicarage, Abergwili. Herbert was educated at Llandovery from 1898 to 1904. Herbert was commissioned into the 3rd Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, which was a Home Service Battalion. He was posted to France, where he joined the 10th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, which was attached to 76 Brigade, 3rd Division. On 13 November 1916, the 10th RWF attacked the strongly defended village of Serre, in the northern sector of the Somme. Most of the officers in the leading waves were killed, including Herbert, who was 31 years old, when he was killed on 13 November 1916. He is buried in Euston Road Cemetery, Colincamps, France.
John Thomas, Private, 2029, Australian Imperial Force. John was the son of John Thomas of Abergwili. He worked as a miner prior to emigrating to Australia, where he again took up work as a miner, near Brisbane. He enlisted at Brisbane on 27 January 1915 into the 9th Battalion, Australian Infantry, and embarked at Brisbane on 16 April 1915 HMAT Kyarra for Egypt. On 22 June 1915 John joined the battalion at Gallipoli, and fought at the Battle of Lone Pine in August. He then took ill, and was evacuated from Gallipoli, suffering from dysentery and diphtheria. It wasn’t until 25 February 1916 that John was well enough to return to duty, and was posted to the 49th Battalion, Australian Infantry. The battalion was formed by the doubling of the AIF, with half of its number being made up from 9th Battalion men, and joined the newly formed 13th Brigade, 3rd Australian Division. Arriving in France on 12 June 1916, the Division saw its first major battle at Mouquet Farm in August. John was wounded by a shell fragment during an attack at Mouquet Farm on 3 September 1916, and died two hours later, aged 35. John was buried on the battlefield, but his grave was never identified, so he is today commemorated on the Villers Brettoneux Memorial, France. John is not commemorated on the Abergwili Memorial.
John Thomas, Driver, 43259, Royal Field Artillery. John was born at Penygaer in 1893, the son of John and Jane Thomas. His father died in 1903, and Jane married William Walters, of 13, White Mill, Abergwili in 1906. John enlisted at Ammanford into the Royal Field Artillery, and was posted to the 13th Division. The Division came into existence during August 1914 and concentrated at Blackdown, Hampshire. By mid June 1915 the Division had been ordered to the Mediterranean, arriving at Mudros on 4 July 1915. From 6 July 1915 the Division landed at Cape Helles, and then moved to Anzac Cove by early August, taking part in the Battles of Sari Bair, Russells Top and Hill 60, where John was taken ill, due to the terrible insanitary conditions on the Peninsula. He was brought back by ship to the main Hospital at Alexandria, where he died of dysentery on 14 November 1915, aged 22. He is buried at Alexandria (Chatby) Military Cemetery, Egypt.
Thomas Thomas, Private, 238185, West Riding Regiment. Thomas was the son of David and Mary Thomas, of Rhydlydan, Nantgaredig. He enlisted at Nantgaredig into the West Yorkshire Regiment, then transferred into the Welsh Regiment. He transferred again, into the 2/4th Battalion, West Riding Regiment, part of 186 Brigade, 62nd Division. During January 1917 the Division moved to France, seeing action on the Ancre, before following the German retreat in 1917 to the Hindenburg Line. They took part in the Battle of Bullecourt during May 1917, and also the Battle of Cambrai during November and December that year. In early 1918 the Division were at Bucquoy near Arras when the German Spring Offensive was launched. The Division made a heroic stand, surviving ten days of the most terrible fighting they had seen, and were relieved at the end of March. In May, the German attacked French positions near Reims, and a British Corps, including the 62nd Division, were rushed south to plug the gaps in the line there. After the line around Reims had been stabilised, the Division moved north to the old Somme area, taking the village of Mory on 25 August, and pushing forward toward Vraucourt and Vaulx-Vraucourt. Thomas was Killed in Action during this advance, on 2 September 1918 aged only 22. He is buried at Vaulx Hill Cemetery. As can be seen from the photograph below, the CWGC have made an error with the carving of Thomas’s initial, placing J. Thomas on his headstone.
Joseph Longstaff Watson, Lieutenant, Canadian Infantry. Joseph was born on 4 May 1891 at Banchory, Scotland, the youngest son of Charles France Watson and Florence Watson. His parents died when he was just 13, and Joseph came to live with his Aunt, Mrs. Owen, the wife of the Bishop of St. Davids, at Abergwili Palace. Joseph enlisted at Victoria, British Columbia, on 9 February 1915, into the 16th Battalion (Manitoba), Canadian Infantry, part of 3 Brigade, 1st Canadian Division. Joseph would have been in France by June 1915, and probably fought at Givenchy that month. In 1916, the 1st Canadian Division fought at Mount Sorrel, south of Ypres, before being brought south to the Somme, fighting at Flers-Courcelette, Thiepval, Le Transloy and the Ancre Heights. In 1917 they played a big part in the famous capture of Vimy Ridge, and the Battles of Arleux and the Scarpe, before moving north again, to take part in the Second Battle of Passchendaele from 26 October onwards. Joseph was killed in Action, aged 26, on 8 November 1917. He is buried at Tyne Cot Military Cemetery. His elder brother Robert also fell.
Robert Watson, Sergeant, 189, Australian Infantry. Robert was the elder of the three sons of Charles France Watson and Florence Watson, late of Somerset House, and he was the nephew of Mrs. Owen, the wife of the Bishop of St. David’s, who lived at Abergwili Palace. Robert had emigrated to Australia some years prior to the outbreak of war, and enlisted at Sydney on 17 August 1914 into the 4th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force. The battalion was part of the 1st Brigade, 1st Australian Division, and sailed for the Mediterranean on 20 October 1914. After training at Mena Camp, Cairo, the 1st Australian Division were shipped to Mudros Island, and from there took part in the landings on Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. Robert was wounded in the desperate days following the landing, and was shipped to the Hospital at Alexandria for treatment. He died of his wounds on 9 May 1915, aged 35, and is buried at Alexandria (Chatby) Military Cemetery, Egypt. Robert is not commemorated locally.
Harry Weatherall, Private, 12107, Welsh Regiment. Harry was born at Wakefield, and prior to the war worked as a Farm Servant with the Lodwick family at Spitre, Abergwili. He enlisted at Carmarthen into the 8th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, which was attached to 40 Brigade, 13th (Western) Division. On 13 June 1915 the Division sailed for Alexandria, and moved to Mudros before being landed at Cape Helles, Gallipoli from 6 July 1915, relieving the 29th Division. They left and returned to Mudros at the end of the month, and the entire Division landed at ANZAC Cove from 3 August 1915, taking part in the Battles of Sari Bair, Russell’s Top, and Hill 60, ANZAC. Harry was killed at Gallipoli on 19 August 1915 aged 21. He is commemorated on the Helles Memorial, Gallipoli. Harry is not commemorated on the Abergwili Memorial.
John Williams, Driver, T4/173334, Army Service Corps. John was the Son of John and Margaret Williams, of White Mill, Abergwili. Not much is known of his wartime service, but he served in the Army Service Corps, and died at Cardiff hospital of pneumonia on 21 December 1918, aged 38. He is buried at Pyle (North Cornelly) Calvinistic Methodist Chapelyard.
The Inter War Years – Irish Revolution
Parcell Rees Bowen, MC, DFC and Bar, Captain, Welsh Regiment. Parcell Rees Bowen was the fourth son of Josiah and Mary Bowen, of Pantyglien, Abergwili. Parcell was a student at St. David’s College, Lampeter when he enlisted at the outbreak of War, becoming a Private in the Army Service Corps. He spent the Winter of 1914/15 in France, but in February, 1915 was sent home with badly frostbitten feet. In July that year, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant into the 5th Welsh, and he embarked with the Battalion for Gallipoli, where the Battalion formed part of 159 Brigade, 53rd (Welsh) Division. The Division fought at Gallipoli until the evacuation in December, suffering badly from casualties, forcing the 5th Welsh to merge with the 4th Welsh for a short period. After the evacuation, Parcell fought in the Palestinian Campaign, where he then transferred into the Machine Gun Corps, and it was with them that he was awarded his first decoration, the Military Cross. Parcell then transferred into the Royal Air Force on 10 January 1918, becoming an Observer. He gained his second decoration during the air war in Egypt, the Distinguished Service Order. After the Armistice on 11 November 1918, Parcell served in Salonika and Mesopotamia, before being placed on the unemployed list. Again though, Parcell wanted more adventure, and so he volunteered for further service with the R.A.F. in their private war in North Russia, fighting for the White Russians. On 17 July 1919 Parcell arrived at Archangel, where he met his old compatriot from Carmarthen, Ira ‘Taffy’ Jones.
In Ira Jones’s book, ‘An Airfighter’s Scrapbook’, Ira writes glowing reports of Parcell, being glad to see another Welsh Warrior in his Squadron. A long passage from the book tells of an incident that earned Parcell a Bar to his Distinguished Flying Cross. In short, Parcell and his Pilot were carrying out a bombing mission when they came across a superior force of Russian Aeroplanes. Being the men they were, they agreed to attack the Russians, who dispersed in chaos when these two madmen plunged into their midst. The Russians took flight, but one fired a burst of rounds at the British pair, and Parcell and his Pilot were hit. The Pilot fainted at the controls of the aeroplane, and Parcell only had one good arm, but he leaned over his colleague and piloted the aeroplane back nearly 100 miles to base. Parcell was sent home wounded, and again placed on the Unemployed List, so volunteered for a Commission into the Lithuanian Army, with whom he served until July 1920 when he accepted a Government Post.
This post was Top Secret, and involved him going undercover in Dublin, at the time when the troubles were at a peak. Due to the secrecy of the work being carried out in Ireland, nothing much is known about the operations Parcell was engaged in. What is known is that Parcell had been lodging with a fellow Officer at 28, Upper Fitzwilliam Street, Dublin, and the two had spent the afternoon of 27 October 1920 watching a football match at Donnybrook. After the match, Parcell could not be found, until his lifeless body was discovered, lying face down, at Merrion Street. He had been shot in the back by an IRA assassin, the bullet hitting his spine. Parcell’s body was brought back to Carmarthen, where he was buried with full military honours in Abergwili Churchyard. Within a month, on ‘Bloody Sunday’, 21 November 1920, fourteen British Agents were murdered in Dublin by the I.R.A., led by Michael Collins. The British Army reprised the killings by storming into a Gaelic Football match at Croke Park in Dublin, and fired into the crowd to avenge their murdered colleagues, inflicting many casualties, with fourteen men and children dead. Later that night, three IRA prisoners suspiciously died in captivity in Dublin Castle, and the situation swiftly escalated. The Irish Public quickly turned against the Crown, and Peace negotiations ensued, resulting in a truce being declared on 11 July 1921. *Please note that the photographs relating to Parcell originate from myself but have been copied and used on an Irish website without permission or acknowledgement.*
World War Two, 1939-1945
Frank Ernest Burtenshaw, Second Radio Officer, Merchant Navy. Frank was from England but had worked for the Postal Service as a Telegraphist at Carmarthen. He joined the Mercantile Marine and served aboard the R.F.A. Gray Ranger. The Ranger Class were the first class of tanker built for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary since the First World War. The Gray Ranger measured 349ft in length, 47ft in breadth and 20ft in draught. The funnel was positioned on the port side and it was fitted with a derrick at the beam to facilitate fuelling at sea. The Gray Ranger could carry 2,600 tons of fuel oil, 550 tons of diesel and 90 tons of petrol. On 2 September 1943, Convoy PQ.18 departed from Loch Ewe, bound for Archangel in Russia. Among the Convoy was the R.F.A. Grey Ranger. After unloading their cargoes at Archangel, the Convoy (renumbered Q.P.14) sailed on 13 September bound for Loch Ewe. Nine days into the voyage, almost safely in Home waters, the Gray Ranger was torpedoed by the German Type VIIC U-Boat U-435. She suffered irreparable damage to her engines, so was scuttled and sank in the North Sea. Frank was killed in the explosion on 22 September 1942, aged just 19, and is remembered on the Tower Hill Memorial, London.
John Myrddin Evans, Lieutenant, Royal Artillery. Not much is known of John at present, except that he died in Carmarthenshire on 3 October 1945 aged 30. His grave location is not known by the CWGC so John is remembered on the Brookwood Memorial, Surrey.
Gwyneth Mary Henton, Aircraftwoman 2nd Class, 2076298, Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. Gwyneth was born on 18 October 1923, the daughter of Edward Charles Henton and Mary Henton (nee Jones), of Merlin’s Villa, White Mill. She served with the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, which had been established on 28 June 1939 for non-combat roles. Gwyneth died at Carmarthen on 9 December 1941 of broncho-pneumonia, which she had contracted on active service. She was just 18 years old. For some reason she is not commemorated by the CWGC, but she is buried with her parents at Abergwili.
David H. Jones, Corporal, Royal Air Force Police. Nothing is yet known about David at present, but the Memorial states that he died in Carmarthenshire during May 1948 aged 28. This would have been too late for him to be recorded as an official casualty of the Second World War by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Desmond Lewis, Sergeant, 1414771, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Desmond was the Son of W. T. and Margaret Lewis, of Carmarthen. He served in 429 (Royal Canadian Air Force) Squadron, R.A.F.V.R., which flew the Vickers Wellington Mark X based at East Moor. Desmond was just 17 when he was Killed in Action on a bombing raid, on 27 January 1943. He is remembered on the Runnymede Memorial, Surrey.
John Chapman Oliver, Rifleman, 7012565, 1st Airborne Battalion, Royal Ulster Rifles. John was the Son of John and Sarah Oliver, and the husband of Francis Nest Oliver, of Abergwili. He served in the 1st Battalion, Royal Ulster Rifles, which had been stationed in India at the outbreak of hostilities, but returned in time to help defend Dunkirk and evacuate the British Expeditionary Force. The Battalion became a part of the 31st Independent Infantry Brigade billeted in Wales, where they assumed a coastal defence role. At this stage in the war, the British Airborne Forces consisted of just the 1st Parachute Brigade, however in September 1941, the War Office decided that a Brigade of glider infantry should be raised to compliment them. The 31st Infantry Brigade was selected for this task and on 10 October that year, it was renamed the 1st Airlanding Brigade. The 1st Parachute Brigade had been detached since late 1942 and had been involved in heavy fighting in North Africa. The 1st Airlanding Brigade was called to join them in May 1943 to prepare for an invasion of Sicily. The 1st Royal Ulster Rifles and 2nd Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry were detached to form the experienced nucleus of the 6th Airlanding Brigade. As a part of the newly raised 6th Airborne Division, and landed at on 6 June 1944 near Ranville. Their task was to help enlarge the southern sector of the bridgehead by capturing the villages of Longueval and Sainte Honorine. The first of these was taken without incident, however the attempt to move on the second was dogged by communications difficulties and determined German resistance. The Battalion was forced to retire to Longueval, having suffered in excess of one hundred casualties, the overwhelming majority of which were either wounded or missing. The Ulstermen remained in this area for the following week and endured a great deal of shelling and numerous harassing attacks throughout, although no truly serious attempt was made to dislodge them. John was Killed in Action during the successful capture of Longueval on 7 June 1944, just a day after D-Day. John was 38 years old, and is buried at Ranville War Cemetery, France.
David John Dudley Thomas, Sergeant, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. David was the Son of Mansel and Elizabeth Thomas, of Tanerdy, Carmarthen. He served as a Wireless Operator/ Air Gunner in 226 Squadron, R.A.F.V.R. The Squadron were initially an ‘Eagle’ Squadron, with many of their men being Americans, but when the U.S. entered the war, 226 Squadron helped to train the newly arrived U.S.A.F. Bombing Squadrons. 226 Squadron flew the Douglas Boston IIIA, based at Swanton Morley. On 25 January 1943 David’s plane came down over occupied Holland, and David was killed. He was 20 years old and is buried at Flushing (Vlissingen) Northern Cemetery, Netherlands.