Llandeilo is an ancient market town, situated in the heart of the Towy Valley, at its crossing by the A483 road. The men from Llandeilo Parish who fell during both World Wars are commemorated on wooden panels inside the Parish Church of St. Teilo. Terry Norman originally sent in the list of names to enable this page to be created, but photographs have also recently been sent in by Wyn Edwards and Les Nixon.
World War Two, 1939-1945
Fritz Bernstein, Private, 13800973, Pioneer Corps. Fritz was born on 31 January 1916 in Germany, the son of Hans and Selma Bernstein. He fled to England during the early years of the Nazi regime, and married Florence Jean Ward in 1939. During 1941 the couple had a son, Jack. Fritz volunteered to serve in the British Army at the outbreak of war, and due to his nationality was posted to the Pioneer Corps. He was posted to Carmarthenshire to work on coastal defences, but was bitten by a rat and contracted Weils Disease. Fritz was transferred to Newton House Hospital at Llandeilo, but died soon afterwards, on 4 August 1942. Fritz was 26 years old, and is buried at Llandeilo Fawr (St. Teilo) Churchyard. Fritz is not commemorated at Llandeilo. Many thanks to Mr. W. Stuart Davies for the photograph.
Jack Falkner Buckwell, Lieutenant, 292514, Royal Artillery. Jack was the son of Arthur Laurance and Rhoda Emily Buckwell, of Haywards Heath. He married Margaret Gwenllian Davies, of Llandeilo, in 1942. Jack served in the 19th Battery, 25th Mountain Regiment, Royal Indian Artillery, which served in the Burma Campaign. Jack died on 25 December 1944, aged 25, and is commemorated on the Rangoon Memorial, Myanmar. Jack is not commemorated at Llandeilo.
Jesse Clifton, Sapper, 14381971, Royal Engineers. Jesse was the son of David and Ethel Clifton, and the husband of Irene Alice Clifton, of Rhosmain. He served with the 59th Field Company, Royal Engineers, and had fought in North Africa, before the invasions of Sicily and then Italy. On 19 October 1944 Allied forces reached the town of Cesena in Italy, and found that the Germans had withdrawn to a line behind the Savio River. Jesse was Killed in Action here just two days later, on 21 October 1944, aged 33, and is buried in Cesena War Cemetery, Italy. Jesse is not commemorated at Llandeilo.
Ronald William Coole, Sapper, 3915905, Royal Engineers. Ronald was the son of William and Doris Coole, of Llandeilo, and served with 144 Field Park Company, Royal Engineers. In 1942 the Company were operating in North Africa, from Medjez-el-Bab, during the Tunis Offensive, and then moved to Italy with the 6th Division. Their role was to pave the way for the Divisions advance through Italy, and in one such operation they built a Bailey Bridge under enemy fire, which enabled the advance of the British into the Po Valley. Ronald was killed in Italy on 30 December, 1944 aged just 21, and is buried at Faenza War Cemetery, Italy.
Bertie Daniel Crooks, Driver, T/109158, Royal Army Service Corps. Bertie was the son of William and Catherine Crooks, of Llandeilo, and served with the B.E.F. in France at the outbreak of war, with the 3 Corps Troops Ammunition Company, Royal Army Service Corps. On 25 May 1940, due to the overwhelming superiority of numbers of the advancing Germans, the BEF was ordered to pull back to positions around Dunkirk, to enable the evacuation of the BEF. On 27 May the evacuation from the beached began. Bertie was killed in action during the epic withdrawal to the Dunkirk Beachhead at some time between 28 May and 2 June 1940, aged 28, and is commemorated on the Dunkirk Memorial, France.
David Leslie Davies, Captain, EC/13395, 4th Prince of Wales’ Own Gurkha Rifles. David was the son of Albert Edward and Edith Davies, of Hampstead Garden Suburb, Middlesex, late of Rose Lawn Llandeilo. David served in the Far East with the 4th Prince of Wales’ Own Gurkha Rifles, and sadly survived the rigours of the war in the Far East before taking ill with pneumonia at the end of 1945. He died of pneumonia on 19 December, 1945 aged 24, and is buried at Rawalpindi War Cemetery, Myanmar. David is not commemorated at Llandeilo.
Elwyn Michael Davies, Sergeant, 822991, Royal Artillery. Elwyn served with 143 (The Kent Yeomanry) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, which was attached to the 49th (West Riding) Division. The Division landed in Normandy from 12 June, 1944 onwards, and fought through the Normandy Battles, north through France and Belgium into occupied Holland. The Division earned the respect of the Germans, who nicknamed them the ‘Polar Bear Butchers’ after their Divisional badge of the Polar Bear, and the Division fought in the liberation of Arnhem, where Elwyn was killed on 19 January 1945, aged 35. He is buried at Jonkerbos War Cemetery, Netherlands.
James Ithel Davies, Aircraftman 2nd Class, 3059401, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. James was the son of Thomas William Stanley Davies and Margaret Jane Davies, of Llandeilo. Very little is known of him, but he served during the war with the Royal Air Force. On 22 November 1946 James was among a number of airmen aboard a double-decker bus at RAF Locking, when an American Douglas Boston crashed into it, killing eight men. James, who was 20 years old, was brought home for burial in Llandeilo Fawr (St. Teilo) Churchyard.
Harold David Evans, Fifth Engineer Officer, Merchant Navy. Harold was the son of Dudley and Mary Evans, of Llandeilo. He served in the Merchant Navy, aboard the troopship S.S. Justitia (London). The Justitia was torpedoed by a German U-Boat on 22 November 1940, and Harold lost his life in the sinking, aged 39. He is commemorated on the Tower Hill Memorial, London. Harold is not commemorated at Llandeilo.
Douglas Alexander (Sonny) Fraser, Trooper, 7955817, Royal Armoured Corps. Douglas was the son of Douglas C. H. and Zoe Alice Fraser, of Llandeilo, and served with ‘C’ Squadron, 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry, Royal Armoured Corps, who were equipped with the Sherman Firelfy, and were landed in Normandy on D-Day as part of the 33rd Armoured Brigade. The British had attacked positions near Bayeux, hoping to break through the German lines, and during the night of the 12/13 June, the ‘Desert Rats’ advanced through the German lines, towards Villers-Bocage. However the advance was detected by the famous SS Obersturmfuhrer Michael Wittman, and his SS Heavy Tank Battalion destroyed 53 British Armoured vehicles, thus stopping the British advance. This prompted a change in tactics by Montgomery, and it was decided to launch an operation to seize the Odon Bridgeheads to the west of Caen, and launch an offensive into the Bocage and thus take Caen itself. The codename of this plan was ‘Operation Epsom’, and on 26 June, 1944 Douglas went into action with his Battalion, at La Taille, north of Unchy. Douglas was killed in action the following day, when his tank was destroyed during on 27 June 1944. He is buried at Hottot-Les-Bagues War Cemetery, France, and was just 20 years old. Douglas is not commemorated at Llandeilo.
Herbert Clifford Gray, Greaser, Merchant Navy. Herbert was the son of James and Alice Ann Gray and the husband of Florence Gray, of Llandeilo. He served as a Greaser aboard the S.S. British Premier (London), which was an Oil Tanker, which had been launched in 1922. During WW2 she was used on convoy duties to bring oil to Britain from the Persian Gulf, around the Cape of Good Hope. In December, 1940 she was part of Convoy SLS-60, and was straggling behind the main group, when she came under the attack of a German U-Boat, U-65. At 16.41 hours on 4 December 1940 the U-65 torpedoed and sank the British Premier, which sank with 32 of her crew. One of these was the 50 year old Clifford, and so he is commemorated on the Tower Hill Memoria, London. Herbert is not commemorated at Llandeilo.
Farnham Griffiths, Gunner, 1817097, Royal Artillery. Farnham was the son of Griffith Griffiths, and of Maria Griffiths, of Llandeilo. Farnham served with 3 Battery, 6th Heavy Anti Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery, who were stationed in Singapore at the time of the Japanese invasion, and he was taken into captivity when the Garrison at Singapore surrendered on 15 February 1942. On 19 October 1942 Farnham left Changi Jail with 516 other men of the Royal Artillery, and the group were taken to Ballali Island, under the command of Lt-Col. J. Bassett, R.A., 35 L.A.A. During the course of the war the men were systematically murdered by their Japanese captors, and Farnham was killed on 5 March 1943. The men were laid to rest on the Island, which is 12 mile north of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Farnham is now commemorated on the Singapore Memorial, and was just 22 years old.
Isaiah Helevy, Lieutenant, 235663, Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment). Isaiah was the son of Jacob and Esther Halevy, of Brighton, Sussex. He had graduated from Oxford with a B.A. with Honours, and had moved to Llandeilo, before being commissioned into the Royal Fusiliers, and posted to their 2nd Battalion. The 2nd Royal Fusiliers had landed at Anzio on 22 January 1944, and took part in the Italian Offensive, where Isaiah was killed on 13 September 1944, aged 23. He is buried at Gradara War Cemetery, Italy. Isaiah is not commemorated at Llandeilo.
Douglas George William Humphries, Flying Officer (Navigator), 144604, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Douglas was the son of Francis John and Frances Mabel Humphreys, of Llandeilo, and served with 7 Squadron, RAFVR which flew the Avro Lancaster III, Based at RAF Oakington. Douglas was killed when his Lancaster was shot down on a raid over Hamburg on 24 March 1944. He was 22 years old, and is buried in Hamburg Cemetery, Germany.
Douglas Frederick James, Lance Bombardier, 1493032, Royal Artillery. Douglas was the son of Oscar and Jennie May James, of Llandeilo. He served with 7 Coast Regiment, Royal Artillery, who were stationed in Singapore at the time of the Japanese invasion, and he was taken into captivity when the Garrison at Singapore surrendered on 15 February 1942. On 19 October 1942 Douglas left Changi Jail with 516 other men of the Royal Artillery, and the group were taken to Ballali Island, under the command of Lt-Col. J. Bassett, R.A., 35 L.A.A. During the course of the war the men were systematically murdered by their Japanese captors, and Douglas was killed on 5 March 1943. The men were laid to rest on the Island, which is 12 mile north of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Douglas is now commemorated on the Singapore Memorial, and was just 24 years old.
James Walter Jones, Leading Aircraftman, 618625, Royal Air Force. James was the son of Herbert Stanley Jones and Mary Ann Jones, of Llandeilo. Very little is known of James, except that he served during the war with the Royal Air Force, and died on 9 April 1944. He is buried at Ffairfach (Tabernacle) Congregational Chapelyard. Photograph courtesy of W Stuart Davies.
Hubert William Godfrey Jones-Penderell, MC, AFC, Group Captain (Pilot), Royal Air Force. Hubert was born on 7 October 1890 at Llandeilo, the son of Thomas and Elizabeth Jones, later of Garth, Pontardawe, Swansea. Hubert was commissioned into the 4th Welsh on 17 April 1913, and served during the Great War with them, before transferring into the Royal Flying Corps, qualifying as a Pilot in 1916. The RFC reformed and merged with the RNAS in France in 1917 to form the Royal Air Force, and Hubert then saw out the war with the RAF, gaining the Military Cross and the Italian Silver Medal for Military Valour in 1917. On 1 July 1918 he was promoted to Major, and was granted a permanent RAF Commission. He was promoted Squadron Leader in 1925, Wing Commander in 1933 and Group Captain in 1938. Hubert was Killed on Active Service on 14 May 1943, aged 52, and is buried at Llanguicke (St. Ciwg) Churchyard, Glamorgan. Hubert is not commemorated at Llandeilo.
David Gerald Lewis, Flight Sergeant, 1337965, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. David was the son of John Isaac and Laura Jane Lewis, of Llandeilo, and he served as Flight Sergeant with 622 Squadron, RAF. 622 Squadron flew the Avro Lancaster III, based at RAF Mildenhall. David was Killed in Action when his Lancaster was shot down during Bomber Commands last raid on Cologne, while over Holland on 2 March 1945, and is buried in Hotton War Cemetery, Netherlands. He was just 21 years old.
William Maskell Meredith, Able Seaman, P/JX 259799, Royal Navy. William was the son of George Edwin and Margaret Helen Meredith, of Ffairfach. William served aboard H.M.S. Arethusa, which was a Light Cruiser which had been built in Chatham, and launched on 6 March 1934. She had helped to guard the evacuation of the BEF from France in 1940, and had taken part in the hunt for the Bismark before moving to the Mediterranean in July 1941. In November 1942 HMS Arethusa left Alexandria to form a part of the escort for a convoy to Malta. On the 18 November, 450 miles from port, she was torpedoed by low flying enemy aircraft, the explosion and resulting fire took the lives of 156 men from the ship’s complement of approximately 500. Arethusa was the only casualty of “Operation Stoneage” and the arrival of the 4 merchant ships of convoy MW-13 effectively marked the end of the siege of Malta. William was one of the unfortunate casualties of the explosion of 18 November 1942. He was 27 years old, and was buried at sea three miles off Alexandria, off the H.M.S. Aldenham, who had been tasked with the removal of the dead men’s remains for burial at sea. William is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Hampshire.
John Verdun Morris, Craftsman, 3958906, Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers. John was the son of Thomas and Margaret Morris, and the husband of Eunice Mary Margaretta Morris, of Garnant, Llandeilo, and served with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. John was in North Africa when he was killed on 19 May 1943, aged 28. He is buried at Enfidaville War Cemetery, Tunisia.
John William Nicholas, Major, Pioneer Corps. John was the elder son of Mr. J.W. Nicholas, who was Clerk to Carmarthen County Council. John served as a J.P., and lived at Maestilo, Llandeilo. He had joined the Indian Army in 1914, and fought throughout WW1 in Egypt and Palestine. In 1924 he was invalided out of the Army with the rank of Captain, and moved into Local Government, serving as High Sheriff in 1936-37, and being a Deputy Lieutenant and Justice of the Peace, as well as serving on Carmarthen County Council. In 1939 John re-enlisted with the rank of Major, into the Pioneer Corps. He was employed by the War Office to take charge of the organisation of Pioneer Corps throughout Wales, and was then seconded to the Ministry of Food in Cardiff. John died in Hospital in London in August 1943 after undergoing an operation, leaving his widow and 11 year old son behind. No more is known of him.
John Walter Phillips, Corporal, 510644, Royal Air Force. John was the son of William and Florance Phillips, and the husband of Edith Phillips, of Llandeilo. Very little is known of him, but he served with the RAF during WW2, and was captured by the Japanese, possibly at Singapore. John died on 4 October 1944, aged 37, during the infamous ‘death march’ from Sandakan to Ranau, and is buried at Labuan War Cemetery, Borneo.
Geoffrey Dilwyn Rogers, Aircraftman 2nd Class, 646328, Royal Air Force. Geoffrey was the son of Thomas Henry and Mary Anne Rogers, of Llandeilo. Again, very little is known of Geoffrey, except that he was killed on active service on 28 January 1940, aged just 19, and is buried at Ffairfach (Tabernacle) Congregational Chapelyard. Many thanks to W Stuart Davies for the photograph below.
Adoram Thomas, Private, 14796878, Welch Regiment. Adoram was born at Llandeilo in 1914, and married Leila O. Collins at Pershore in the summer of 1944. He served with the 4th Battalion, Welch Regiment, which was the Carmarthenshire Territorial unit, attached to the 53rd (Welsh) Division. The division landed on the Normandy beaches at the end of June 1944, and took part in the break out from the Beach-Head, and the subsequent drive through France into Belgium and Holland. Adoram survived the war, but died in Germany on 6 August 1945, aged 31. Adoram is buried at Cologne Southern Cemetery, Germany. Adoram is not commemorated at Llandeilo.
David Tomkinson, Signalman, 2346404, Royal Corps of Signals. David was the son of Fred and Elizabeth Tomkinson, of Llandeilo, and served with the 27 Line Section, Royal Corps of Signals. David was taken Prisoner by the Japanese, and was given the POW No. 2921. Between 29 January and 6 February 1945, nine groups of POW’s left Sandakan POW Camp in Borneo on the 1st Sandakan ‘death march’. David died along the way of Malaria, on 2 March 1945, aged 25, and was buried in Paginatan Cemetery. He is now commemorated on the Singapore Memorial. David is not commemorated at Llandeilo.
Ernest Edward Varndell, Private, 14479039, General Service Corps. Ernest was the son of George Frederick and Alice May Varndell, of Llandeilo. Very little is known of him, but he served with the General Service Corps during WW2, and died on 25 September 1946, aged just 18. Ernest is buried in Llandeilo Fawr (St. Teilo) Churchyard. Many thanks to W Stuart Davies for the photograph.
David John Williams, Gunner, 1088166, Royal Artillery. David was the son of Thomas and Sarah Williams, of Llety Glyd Lodge, Llandeilo and the husband of Mary Williams, of Swansea. He served with 172 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery. The regiment served with 46 Division in Tunisia from January 1943, and took part in the landings at Sicily and Salerno. David was killed in Salerno on 9 September 1943, aged 32, and is buried in Salerno War Cemetery, Italy. He does not appear to be commemorated locally.
Stanley Erle Williams, MID, Major, 126179, Welch Regiment. Stanley was the son of Jonah Williams, and of Sarah Williams, of Llandeilo. He served with the 1st Battalion, Welch Regiment, who were in Palestine at the outbreak of War. They went on to serve in the Western Desert, then moved to Crete, where they were virtually wiped out when the Island was attacked by elite German Paratroopers in 1942. The survivors of the 1st Welch moved back to North Africa, and were again virtually annihilated when the Afrika Korps swept across North Africa. The Battalion was reinforced in 1943, and then served in Sicily, and in the Invasion of Italy, where Stanley was killed on 18 September 1944, aged 32. He is buried at Gradara War Cemetery, Italy.
Tom Ivor Williams, Corporal, PLY/X 983, Royal Marines. Tom was the son of Daniel Williams, and of Ellen Williams, of Capel Isaac, and served in the Royal Marines, aboard H.M.S. Hermes. Hermes was the first purpose built Aircraft Carrier to have been launched, and moved to the South Atlantic at the outbreak of WW2. In July 1940 she collided into another vessel, which required her to move to South Africa for repairs, and after these had been carried out, she transferred to the Indian Ocean. Hermes was stationed at Trincomalee in Ceylon in April 1942 when a Japanese attack had forced her out of harbour. She was spotted by a Japanese aeroplane on 9 April 1940, and was attacked by a force of over 70 Japanese Bombers, which hit her 40 times. The Hermes sank with the loss of 307 men, and also her two Escort Destroyers were sunk during the attack. Tom was killed aboard the Hermes that day, aged 32, and is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial. Tom is not commemorated at Llandeilo.
Trevor Williams, Sergeant, 620942, Royal Air Force. Trevor was the son of Thomas and Margaret Williams, of 2, Cefntiresgob Terrace, Llandeilo. He served as a Wireless Operator/ Observer with 406 Squadron, flying the Bristol Beaufighter IIF, based at RAF Acklington. Trevor was killed on 8 January 1942, when his Beaufighter, Serial T3037, crashed into the ground near Widderington after losing control in heavy cloud during a training exercise. He was 21 years old, and is buried at Llandeilo (Bethel) Calvinistic Methodist Chapelyard. Many thanks to W Stuart Davies for the photograph of his grave, and to Mark Collins for the photograph of Trevor.
Post World War Two
Gareth Melvyn Griffiths, Guardsman, 23929722, Welsh Guards. Gareth was born at Llandeilo on 13 March 1951, the son of John and Hannah Griffiths, and was the husband of Janice Griffiths. He joined the Welsh Guards straight from school, and had served at Cyprus and Northern Ireland prior to the Argentinian invasion of the Falkland Islands on 2 April 1982. As a result, the British Government sent a powerful naval task force to the Islands, arriving a month later. On 8 June 1982, Gareth was with the Welsh Guards aboard their troopship, the RFA Sir Galahad, when she was hit by an Argentinian bomb and set ablaze. Gareth was one of 56 men killed during the blaze, with over 150 more badly wounded. He has no known grave apart from the shattered wreck of Sir Galahad, and is commemorated on the Armed Forces Memorial, at Alrewas, Staffordshire. He was 31 years old, and left his widow to bring up their two children alone.