Gorslas sits at the heart of the old coal mining area community of Cross Hands. Originally casualties from the village were (still are) commemorated on other local war memorials, however, the village now has a modern War Memorial, which was erected in Gorslas Church after research by local historians on Remembrance Day, 2004. Three more names were recently added to the memorial in 2010, after the local council was prompted to do so by information provided by myself. The photograph of the memorial has been kindly supplied by Councillor Terry Davies, MBE.
World War One, 1914-1918
Ivor Thomas Charles, Private, 39247, South Wales Borderers. Ivor was born on 6 February 1888, the son of David and Mary Ann Charles, Shoemaker, of Bank y Mansel, Llanarthney. He enlisted at Carmarthen into the Monmouthshire Regiment. Some time later he was transferred into the 6th Battalion, South Wales Borderers, Pioneers to the 25th Division. The Division moved to France in September 1915 and moved to the Vimy sector. They fought in every major battle thereafter and took part in some of the terrible fighting during the German Spring offensive of 1918 before being moved to the Soissons Sector. On 27 May 1918 a German attack hit them again, and during the coming days the Division was virtually annihilated. By 9 June, a decision had been taken to break up what was left of the Division to reinforce other formations. The core of the Division returned to England to rebuild, and returned to the front in September 1918, moving at first to St Riquier near Abbeville. Late in the month, it entrained for Fourth Army, coming under XIII Corps which was by now engaged in the more or less continuous and eventually victorious advance across Picardy, fighting at the Battle of Beaurevoir. They then fought during the remainder of the great offensive, at the Battle of Cambrai, the Pursuit to the Selle, the Battle of the Selle, and the Battle of the Sambre. Ivor was taken ill and died during the final offensive, and he died on 29 October 1918, aged 30. He is buried at Pont-De-Nieppe Communal Cemetery, France. Ivor has recently been added to the memorial at Gorslas.
George Davies, Sapper, 448501, Royal Engineers. George was the son of Thomas and Ann Davies, of Carreglas, Cross Hands. He lived with his wife at Glynllwchwr Road, Pontardulais prior to enlisting at Ammanford into the Royal Engineers. George was posted to the 90th Field Company, Royal Engineers, which was attached to the 9th (Scottish) Division. The Division had been in France since fighting at Loos in September 1915. It fought on the Somme in 1916, then at Ypres and Cambrai in 1917. In March, 1918 they were still in the Cambrai area, and were one of the Divisions hit there by the German Spring Offensive, fighting at the Battle of St Quentin, and the First Battle of Bapaume. After suffering terrible casualties the Division were moved to Flanders to rebuild, but the Germans launched another offensive there during April 1918, and the Division then took part in the Battles of the Lys, at the Battle of Messines, the Battle of Bailleul, the First Battle of Kemmel, the Second Battle of Kemmel and then during the Advance in Flanders, where they took part in the Action of Outtersteene Ridge. George was wounded in Flanders, and was evacuated to the Base Hospital at Longuenesse. He died of wounds there on 1 August 1918, aged 21, and is buried at Longuenesse (St. Omer) Souvenir Cemetery, France.
Thomas Davies, Lance Corporal, 68852, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Thomas was the son of William and Mary Davies, of Caerllwyn, Foelgastell. He was employed at the New Cross Hands Collieries prior to the war, before enlisting at Carmarthen into the Pembroke Yeomanry. Thomas then transferred to the Welsh Regiment, and the Royal Irish Rifles, before being posted to the 11th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, which was in Salonika, as part of 67 Brigade, 22nd Division. Thomas was killed in action in Salonika on 31 July 1917, aged 21. He is buried at Doiran Military Cemetery, Greece. (Soldiers Died in the Great War shows his date of death as 31 July 1917, as do the original grave registration forms, but the CWGC show his date of death as 31 July 1918 and have that date on his headstone. Local newspaper reports confirm he died in 1917.)
Rhys Griffiths, Private, 57935, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Rhys was the son of Owen and Sarah Griffiths, of Bron Gwendraeth, Cwm Mawr, Tumble. He enlisted at Llanelli into the Army, and after training was posted to the 9th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, which was attached to 58 Brigade, 19th (Western) Division. The Division had been in France since July 1915, and had fought at the Battle of Loos that year, then on the Somme in 1916, and at Messines and Ypres in 1917. 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, and at Bailleul, and Kemmel. After suffering terribly again, they moved South to the quieter French sector to rebuild, but were caught up in the German offensive on the Aisne. Rhys was taken prisoner by the Germans at some stage, and was taken to a Prisoner of War Camp in Germany. He died as a POW on 24 July 1918, aged 18, and is buried at Niederzwehren Cemetery, Germany.
William John Hughes, Private, 26467, Welsh Regiment. William was the son of John and Emily Hughes, Gorsfach, Gorslas. He worked as a coalminer at Tylorstown prior to the war and enlisted at Porth on 23 April 1915 into the 17th Battalion, Welsh Regiment. The Battalion was attached to 119 Brigade, 40th (Bantam) Division, which 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 1 and 9 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. William was killed in action during this period, on 24 April 1917, aged 23. He is buried at Fifteen Ravine British Cemetery, Villers-Plouich, France.
David Robert James, Private, 1490, Welsh Regiment. David was born at Voelgastell, and had enlisted at Llanelli into the 2nd Battalion, Welsh Regiment. The battalion had moved to France at the outbreak of war attached to 3 Brigade, 1st Division, and had taken part in the Battle of Mons, and the subsequent retreat to the Marne in the first weeks of the war. After successfully stopping the German drive on Paris, the 3rd Division moved to Ypres, where it was tasked with the defence of the ancient City, to prevent the German drive to the Channel Ports. David arrived in France on 27 January 1915, as part of a large batch of reinforcements for the 2nd Welsh, which had been decimated during the defence of Ypres. He fought with the battalion during the following Battles of Festubert and Neuve-Chapelle, but was killed in action during the Battle of Loos on 26 September 1915. David has no known grave, and is commemorated on the Loos Memorial, France.
Arthur Edward Jones, Private, 10921, King’s Shropshire Light Infantry. Arthur was born at Llanarthney in 1890, the son of George and Jane Jones. George was the Gardner at Middleton Hall, and the family lived at Garden Cottage. By 1901 the family had moved to Newbridge-on-Wye, Radnorshire, and Arthur enlisted at Hereford into the 5th Battalion, King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, which was attached to 42 Brigade, 14th (Light) Division. The Division was to see its first action during the Action of Hooge, where the Division were the first to be attacked by the German use of flamethrowers. They then fought at the Second attack on Bellewaarde. In July 1916 they moved to the Somme, and fought at the Battle of Delville Wood, and then the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, and in March 1917 followed the German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line. May saw them at Arras, where they took part in the First Battle of the Scarpe, and this is where Arthur was killed on 3 May 1917, aged 27. He is commemorated on the Arras Memorial, France. Arthur is one of the new additions to the memorial at Gorslas.
David Jones, Lance Corporal, 8436, Welsh Regiment. David was born in 1886, the son of Henry and Mary Jones, of Penrhiwgoch, Maesybont. He was a widower when he married Susannah Williams, of Llanarthney. He was a pre-war regular, and had enlisted at Carmarthen into the 2nd Battalion, Welsh Regiment. At the outbreak of war, the 2nd Welsh moved immediately to France 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. David was killed while the 2nd Welsh were at Cuinchy on 20 April 1915. He is buried at Guards Cemetery, Windy Corner, Cuinchy, France.
David Jones, Private, 13131, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. David was the son of William and Hannah Jones, of Dock Terrace, Llanarthney. He enlisted at Tumble into the 8th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, which was attached to 40 Brigade, 13th (Western) Division. On 13 June 1915 the first ships carrying the Division left port, and moved to Alexandria. By 4 July, all units had moved to Mudros, preparatory for landing on Gallipoli, and between 6 and 16 July 1915 13th Division 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, Russell’s Top, and Hill 60, ANZAC. David was wounded at Sari Bair, and taken aboard a Hospital Ship where he died of wounds on 17 August 1915, being later buried at sea. He was 19 years old, and is commemorated on the Helles Memorial, Gallipoli.
Herbert James Jones, Sapper, 96505, Royal Engineers. Herbert was the son of John and Harriet Jones, Agricultural Labourer, Penallt Cottage, Llanarthney. He had married prior to the war, and lived with his wife, Edith F. Jones, at 4, Maryland Road, Wood Green, London. Herbert enlisted there into the 171st Tunnelling Company, Royal Engineers. Upon arriving in France, the Company was 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 on 2 June 1915, aged 31, quite possibly underground whilst working on a mine. He is remembered on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium. Herbert is one of the new additions to the memorial at Gorslas.
Idris Tudor Rees, Private, 75290, Welsh Regiment. Idris was the son of Daniel George and Mary Ellen Rees, of Min-yr-Afon, Cross Hands. He enlisted at Cardiff on 23 May 1918 into the army, and on 14 September 1918 was posted to France, joining the 15th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, which was attached to 114 Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division. The Division had been in France since December 1915 and had fought at Mametz Wood and Pilckem Ridge. Idris joined the battalion during the course of the advance to victory, after it had advanced across the Somme battlefields towards the Hindenburg Line. The Division then fought at the Battle of Beaurevoir, and moved up towards Cambrai, capturing Villers-Outreaux. Idris was wounded during this great advance, and died of wounds on 9 October 1918, aged 19. He is buried at Beaulencourt British Cemetery, Ligny-Thilloy, France.
Stanley Thomas William Saunders, Private, 34121, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Stanley was the son of Thomas and Rhoda Saunders of Ipswich. He had moved to Llanarthney prior to the war, where he worked as a cowman. He enlisted at Tumble on 8 September 1914 into the Welsh Regiment, and married Miriam Davies, of Tanylan, Maesybont, Gorslas on 30 December 1914. On 11 August 1915 he was transferred to the 1st Garrison Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, and sailed for Gibraltar, where the battalion was on garrison duties. On 8 May 1916 Stanley was posted to France, joining the 10th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, which was attached to 76 Brigade, and by the summer of 1916 was part of the 3rd Division. Stanley was killed on the Somme, during the fighting around Bazentin, on 20 July 1916. He was 29 years old, and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, France. The photograph, which is presumed to be of Stanley, is courtesy of Graham Davies.
Joseph Henry Webster, Private, 27548, Kings Shropshire Light Infantry. Joseph was the son of Joseph Henry and Christina Webster, of Liverpool. By 1911 Joseph was working as a ploughman for John and Letitia Tobias, at Llanarthney. He married Rachel Evans, of Curn Dancerrig, Bronwydd Arms in 1916, and enlisted at Carmarthen into the Welsh Regiment. Joseph was then posted to the 6th Battalion, King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, which was attached to 60 Brigade, 20th (Light) Division. The Division had seen its first action in September 1915 at Fromelles. It then saw further fighting on the Somme in 1916, and at Ypres in 1917, before taking part in the Battle of Cambrai at the end of the year. They remained in the area between Cambrai and St. Quentin over the winter of 1917/18 and were attacked there by the German Spring Offensive of 21 March, 1918. They then fought in the retreat at the Battle of the Somme Crossings and the Battle of Rosieres. The Division was withdrawn after the heavy fighting of the Somme battles, moving on 20 April 1918 to an area south west of Amiens. Joseph was wounded here while the battalion was rebuilding, and was evacuated to the Base Hospital at Wimille. He died of wounds there on 10 September 1918, aged 27, and is buried at Terlincthun British Cemetery, Wimille, France.
Philip Morgan Williams, Chaplain, Royal Army Chaplains Department. Philip was born in 1889, the son of John and Catherine Williams, of Gwynondale, Llanarthney. He trained as a Chaplain before volunteering to serve in France with the Church Army in 1918. Philip survived the war, and looks to have become a curate in Yorkshire, before dying in 1971. The memorial is probably wrong, as Philip had a brother, Howell Morgan Williams who fell during the war, and is commemorated at Llanarthney and Llanegwad.
Howell Morgan Williams, Second Lieutenant, Welsh Regiment. Howell was the son of John and Catherine Williams, of Gwynondale, Llanarthney, and was commissioned into the Welsh Regiment, serving with the 19th Battalion, which was the Pioneer Battalion 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. 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 clear the wood. The Division suffered terrible casualties at Mametz, and were taken out of the line, and moved to Ypres to rebuild. Howell was killed in action during the build up to the Third Battle of Ypres, on 24 June 1917, when a shell crashed into his dugout, killing him and Captain Arthur Ernest Evans, of Swansea, and wounding Lieutenant Bert Palmer and another man. Howell was 23 years old, and is buried at Bard Cottage Cemetery, Belgium. He is also commemorated on the Llanegwad Memorial. (The County Roll shows his brother Chaplain Philip Williams, but he lived for many years after the war).
World War Two, 1939-1945
Maldwyn Wallace Davies, Leading Aircraftman, 3010798, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Maldwyn was the son of David Morgan Davies and May Davies, of Drefach, and served with 511 Squadron, RAF. By the end of the war, the Squadron was based at Malta, equipped with the Avro Lancastrian C2. Maldwyn was among twenty-one men lost during the crash of Avro York Serial MW125, which crashed into the sea about 100 miles west of Penange on 6 October 1946. He was twenty-two years old, and is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial, Surrey.
Keith Presgrave Duncan, Aircraftman, 927951, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Keith was the son of Albert Presgrave Duncan and Elinor Louisa Duncan (nee Wilkins), of Gorslas, and served with 243 Squadron, RAF. The Squadron served in Burma, and was equipped with the Douglas Buffalo I. When the Japanese invaded Burma, the Squadron was evacuated from Kota Bahru. Little else is known, but Keith died on 14 February 1942, aged 21, and is commemorated on the Singapore Memorial, He is not commemorated on the Gorslas Memorial, as his father did not move to Gorslas until after the war, moving to Bronwydd, Church Road, Gorslas in 1948.
Donald Glyndwr Greville, Flying Officer (Pilot), 143449, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Donald was the son of William and Lily Greville, of Drefach. He enlisted into the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and was trained as a pilot. Donald was attached to No. 63 Operational Training Unit, which was based at RAF Chedworth, and was training on the Bristol Beaufighter II. On 1 January 1944 he took off from Chedworth flying Beaufighter R2304 to carry out a training flight and had completed its operations and began returning to base when an engine exploded and caught fire. Losing height, Donald and his observer baled out of the stricken aircraft, but Donald’s parachute failed to open and he was killed. The remains of the 22-year-old were brought back to west Wales and he was buried in Drefach (Capel Seion) Congregational Chapelyard.
Daniel Hughes, Petty Officer Cook (O), D/L 14323, Royal Navy. Daniel was the son of John and Sarah Hughes and served in the Royal Navy, as a Cook aboard the Dido Class light cruiser HMS Hermione. Hermione served in the Mediterranean and was torpedoed by the German submarine U205 on 16 June 1942, sinking with the loss of 87 men, including Daniel. He was 41 years old, and is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial, Devon.
Iestyn James, Sergeant, 1381676, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Iestyn was the son of David and Harriet Ann James, of Cefneithin, and served with 150 Squadron, RAF, which flew the Vickers Wellington III, based at RAF Snaith. The Squadron took part in the strategic night bombing offensive, and flew hundreds of sorties over occupied Europe. Iestyn was killed when his Wellington III, Serial X3309, was shot down during a raid on Bremen on 27 June 1942. He was 20 years old, and is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial, Surrey.
Haydn John Jones, Stoker 1st Class, P/KX 95866, Royal Navy. Haydn was the son of Evan and Beatrice Rebecca Jones, and served in the Royal Navy aboard the mighty Battleship HMS Hood. Hood was famously sunk by a salvo from the German pocket battleship Bismark in the North Atlantic on 24 May 1941, and exploded before sinking with the loss of all but two of her crew. Haydn was 26 years old, and is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Hampshire.
Herbert Llewellyn Jones, Sergeant (Flight Engineer), 570542, Royal Air Force. Herbert was the son of David John Jones, of Llanarthney. He served with 9 Squadron, RAF, which was a medium bomber Squadron, equipped with the Vickers Wellingtons, and it was with these that it was involved in anti-shipping sorties in the early stages of World War II. These were replaced in turn by the famous Lancaster bomber in September 1942 and the unit became part of Bomber Command’s strategic offensive against German targets, based at Waddington. On 5 April 1943 Herbert was flying aboard Avro Lancaster ED696 which was part of a force bound for Kiel, when it was shot down by a German night-fighter and crashed at Grossenaspe, south of Neumünster, killing all of her crew. Herbert was buried alongside his fellow crew-men at Grossenaspe, but their graves were later re-interred at Hamburg Cemetery, Germany. He was twenty-two years old. His uncle, Herbert James Jones, fell during World War Two.
Rhys Jones, Sergeant (Air Gunner), 1424723, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Rhys was the son of Daniel and Blodwen Jones of Tumble, and the husband of Megan Jones, of Gorslas. He served as an Air Gunner with 619 Squadron, RAF, which was a heavy bomber Squadron, equipped with the Avro Lancaster I, based at Woodhall Spa. Rhys was killed when his Lancaster was shot down over Germany on 1 September 1943. He was 23 years old, and is buried at Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany. Rhys is not commemorated on the Gorslas Memorial.
Tom Howell Jones, Driver, T/10696291, Royal Army Service Corps. Tom was the elder son of Thomas and Elizabeth Jones, of Tycroes. Very little is known of his service, but he served as a Driver with the Royal Army Service Corps. He was 28 years old when he died as a result of active service on 21 August 1945, and is buried at Llanlluan Methodist Chapelyard. His younger brother William Elvet Jones had been killed in Germany just six months earlier.
William Elvet Jones, Lance Corporal, 4196920, Royal Welch Fusiliers. William was the son of Thomas and Elizabeth Jones, of Gorslas, and served with the 7th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. The battalion served with 158 Brigade, 53rd (Welsh) Division, which landed in Normandy in June 1944. After taking part in the break out from Normandy, the Division took part in the drive north through France and Belgium into Holland. At the beginning of 1945 the Division marched into Germany, and William was killed during the fighting in the Reichswald Forest on 11 February 1945. He was 26 years old, and is buried at Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Germany. His elder brother Tom Howell Jones died six months later, as a result of his war service. Neither Tom nor William are commemorated on the Gorslas Memorial.
William Islwyn Jones, Leading Stoker, D/KX 96144, Royal Navy. William was the son of George and Alice Jones, of Drefach, and served in the Royal Navy aboard HMS Itchen. Itchen was a River class frigate launched in 1942. She blew up on 23 September 1943 when hit by acoustic homing torpedo fired by the German submarine U-66, with all but three of her crew surviving. William was one of the dead. He was 23 years old, and is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial, Devon.
Elwyn Morgan, Leading Aircraftman (Navigator), 964106, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Elwyn was the son of Thomas and Jane Morgan, of Drefach, and the husband of Lilian Myfanwy Morgan, of Drefach. He served as a Navigator with 1 Squadron, RAF, which was a fighter squadron, equipped with the Supermarine Spitfire IXB, based at RAF Detling. Elwyn died on active service on 17 November 1944, aged 29, and is buried at Drefach (Capel Seion) Congregational Chapelyard, Wales.
Thomas Glyndwr Morgan, Lance Bombardier, 993995, Royal Artillery. Thomas was the son of David and Mary Ann Morgan of Gorslas, and the husband of Meirion Morgan, of Llanelly. He served with the Royal Artillery, attached to 1 Airlanding Light Regiment, which was a specialist glider borne unit, equipped with light artillery pieces, especially formed to support airborne forces. Thomas took part in the famous Operation Market Garden, which was designed to seize the bridges over the River Rhine, and he landed in Arnhem at the opening of the operation. He was killed in action at Arnhem on 18 September 1944, aged 30, and is buried at Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery, Netherlands.
David Owen Perkins, Petty Officer Stoker, D/KX 81082, Royal Navy. David was the son of Richard and Sarah Perkins, of Maesybont, Carmarthenshire, and served in the Royal Navy aboard HMS Neptune. Neptune was a Leander class light cruiser, and was part of Force K, which was sent out on 18 December 1941, to intercept a convoy bound for Tripoli. On the night of 19 December 1941, Neptune, leading the line, struck two mines, and sank. David was one of the 740 men lost aboard her that night. He was 32 years old, and is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial, Devon.
Ellis Adriel Thomas, Driver, T/14552607, Royal Army Service Corps. Ellis was the son of John and Elizabeth Thomas of Gorslas, and the husband of Irene Thomas, of Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent. He served with the Royal Army Service Corps as a Driver, and was killed during the drive through Holland on 19 September 1944. Ellis was 25 years old, and is buried at Eindhoven (Woensel) General Cemetery, Netherlands.