Capel Als is an Independent Congregational chapel in Llanelli and is regarded as one of the most significant religious buildings in Wales. It was opened in 1780 and its first Minister was David Rees. The chapel was rebuilt and enlarged in 1852 and seventeen years afterwards became the ministry of Thomas Johns, who was the Minister until the outbreak of the Great War in 1914. Inside the chapel is a marble war memorial which commemorates the members of the chapel who fell during both World Wars, eleven in the first and five in the second. A memorial service held in the chapel in June 1919 referred to the deaths of 20 former members of the chapel during the war, while 110 others served and survived. Who are the nine men not named on the memorial? The chapel also contains among its historic treasures a fine stained glass window, which commemorates the members who fell during World War Two. The photograph of the window is courtesy of Huw Edwards.
The Great War, 1914-1918
David Daniels, Private, 3867, Welsh Regiment. David was the son of Benjamin and Ann Daniels, of 9, Box Terrace, Llanelli. He enlisted at Llanelli into the 1/4th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, which was the local Territorial Battalion, attached to 159 Brigade, 53rd (Welsh) Division. The Division landed at Cape Helles, Gallipoli, on 9 August 1915, and was immediately thrown into action, spending the next few days in isolated pockets, fighting against a Turkish counter-attack during the Battle of Sari Bair. David was wounded during the latter stages of the campaign at Gallipoli, and died on 10 December 1915 aboard a Hospital Ship, aged just 19. He was buried at sea, so is commemorated on the Helles Memorial, Gallipoli.
Benjamin Davies, Private, R2776, King’s Royal Rifle Corps. Benjamin was the son of Daniel and Jane Davies, of 41, Hoskin Terrace, Cwmbwrla, Swansea. He resided at Llanelli prior to the war, working as a tinsmith, and enlisted there into the army. Benjamin was posted to the 12th Battalion, King’s Royal Rifle Corps, which was attached to 60 Brigade, 20th (Light) Division. On 26 July 1915 the Division completed concentration in the Saint-Omer area, and moved to the Fleurbaix Sector for trench familiarisation and training. When the Battle of Loos was launched on 25 September 1915 the Division fought a diversionary attack towards Fromelles. Later that year they moved north, and fought at the Battle of Mount Sorrel alongside the Canadian Corps. Benjamin was killed here on 12 February 1916. He was 23 years old, and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium.
Griffith Davies, Private, 64841, Welsh Regiment. Griffith was the son of William Griffith Davies and Catherine Davies, of Glandulyn, Abersoch, Carnarvonshire. He resided at 85, Bigyn Hill, Llanelli prior to the war, where he worked as a Draper. Griffith enlisted at Llanelli on 2 December 1915 into the Welsh Regiment. Griffith was posted to France on 5 May 1918, joining the 9th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, which was in France attached to 58 Brigade, 19th (Western) Division. The battalion had been decimated during heroic fighting during the German Spring offensive on the Somme, and on the Lys during the preceding months, and had been moved to the more peaceful Aisne sector to rebuild. Unfortunately the division was caught up in the German offensive on the Aisne, and saw heavy fighting again. Griffith was taken prisoner by the Germans on 30 May, and brought to Cassel POW Camp in Germany, where he died on 28 September 1918, aged 30. Griffith is buried at Niederzwehren Cemetery, Germany.
John Edgar Davies, Private, 15250, Connaught Rangers. John was the son of William and Margaret Davies, of 5, Pennant Terrace, Llanelli. He enlisted at Marylebone into the Wiltshire Regiment, but was later posted to the 5th Battalion, Connaught Rangers, which was attached to 197 Brigade, 66th (2nd East Lancs) Division. The Division concentrated on the Western Front in March 1917 and moved to the Flanders Coast. At the end of September 1917 they moved to Ypres, and took part in the Battle of Poelcapelle. They then moved south to the Somme, and on 21 March 1918 were hit by the German Spring Offensive at the Battle of St Quentin, and moving back west fought at the Actions at the Somme Crossings, and the Battle of Rosieres. After suffering very heavy casualties during the Battles of the Somme in 1918, the Division was first reduced to a training cadre and then reformed and reconstituted, before taking part in the final offensive, fighting at the Battle of Cambrai, and the Pursuit to the Selle and the Battle of the Selle. John was wounded during the final days of the war, and died on 8 November 1918, aged 22. He is buried at Pont-Sur-Sambre Communal Cemetery, France.
Philip Davies, Private, 182, Welsh Horse. Philip was the son of William and Mary Davies, of 32, Wern Road, Llanelli. He had served for seven years with Royal Engineers previous to 1914, when he enlisted into the Welsh Horse Yeomanry, which formed in August 1914, joining the 1st Eastern Mounted Brigade. On 25 September 1915 the Welsh Horse was dismounted and the 1/1st Battalion sailed from Liverpool on SS Olympic for service at Gallipoli, landing at Anzac Cove on 10 October 1915. On 20 November 1915, Philip was one of a section of Welsh Horsemen working in a tunnel beneath the Turkish lines when the Turks blew a large mine, collapsing the workings. Philip was one of eight men buried when the mine blew that day. He was 29 years old, and is commemorated on the Helles Memorial, Gallipoli.
Thomas Dixon Davies, Sergeant, 3336, Welsh Regiment. Thomas was the son of James and Elizabeth Davies, of Llanelli. He had married in 1901, and lived with his wife Nancy Davies, at Stepney Place, Llanelli. Thomas enlisted at Llanelli into the 1/4th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, which was the local Territorial Battalion, attached to 159 Brigade, 53rd (Welsh) Division. The Division landed at Cape Helles, Gallipoli, on 9 August 1915, and was immediately thrown into action, spending the next few days in isolated pockets, fighting against a Turkish counter-attack during the Battle of Sari Bair. Thomas was wounded at Gallipoli, and evacuated to Hospital at Malta, where he died on 6 October 1915, aged 41. Thomas is buried at Pieta Military Cemetery, Malta.
David Henry Evans, Air Mechanic, Royal Air Force. David was the son of Samuel and Elizabeth Evans, of 71, Marble Hall Road, Llanelli. He had served in France with the Royal Flying Corps and later with the Royal Air Force, before being discharged as unfit and was posted to a munitions factory in Coventry. David was 28 years old when he died in Coventry on 4 July 1918 and was buried with full military honours in Box Cemetery, Llanelli. David is not commemorated by the CWGC because he had been discharged from the forces and civilians who died in WW1 are not eligible for official commemoration.
David Griffiths, Private, 20584, Welsh Regiment. David was the son of William and Harriet Griffiths of Llanelli. He enlisted during a recruitment drive at Llanelli in February 1915 into the 15th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, which was known as the Carmarthen Pals battalion. The battalion initially trained at Rhyl, suffering from severe shortages of equipment. David took ill at Rhyl, and died in hospital at Bangor on 22 June 1915. He was 35 years old, and is buried at Bangor (Glanadda) Cemetery.
David Luther Isaac, Private, 878, Welsh Regiment. David was the son of John and Mary Isaac, of 29, Glenalla Road, Llanelli. He enlisted at Llanelli into the 1/4th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, which was the local Territorial Battalion, attached to 159 Brigade, 53rd (Welsh) Division. The Division landed at Cape Helles, Gallipoli, on 9 August 1915, and was immediately thrown into action, spending the next few days in isolated pockets, fighting against a Turkish counter-attack during the Battle of Sari Bair. David was wounded in the right leg, and was evacuated to Hospital at Malta, where his leg was amputated. Sadly he died in hospital on 22 September 1915, aged 23, and is buried at Pieta Military Cemetery, Malta.
George Jenkins, Private, 317069, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. George was the son of John and Sarah Jenkins of Llanelli. He married Harriet Nelson at Llanelli in December 1913. George enlisted at Llanelli in February 1913 into the 4th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, which was the local Territorial Battalion, attached to 159 Brigade, 53rd (Welsh) Division. George remained in Britain when the 53rd Division embarked for overseas, and on 19 May 1917 was posted to France, joining the 15th Battalion, Welsh Regiment (Carmarthen Pals). He was wounded at Pilckem Ridge on 31 July 1917 and invalided home. He was then posted to the 23rd Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, which was a Home Service unit, attached to 224 Brigade. He died of sickness at the Lord Derby Hospital, Warrington on 1 March 1919, aged 31, and is buried at Box Cemetery, Llanelli.
David Jones, Private, 31234, South Wales Borderers. David was the son of John and Mary Jones of Llanelli, and the husband of Myfanwy Jones, of 4, Arthur Street, Llanelli. He enlisted at Llanelli into the army, and was posted to the 10th Battalion, South Wales Borderers, which was in France attached to 115 Brigade, 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 totally clear the wood. The Division suffered terrible casualties at Mametz, and were taken out of the line, and moved to Ypres to rebuild. Here they fought at the Battle of Pilckem Ridge, and the Battle of Langemarck. They then moved to Armentieres, where they remained from September 1917 until March 1918 when the German Spring Offensive was launched. The British had been over-run on the Somme, and so in April the Division was moved south, taking up positions North of Albert, from where they weathered the storm of the coming months. David was killed here on 9 May 1918. He was 36 years old, and is buried at Bouzincourt Communal Cemetery Extension, France. His young son had died just five months prior to this.
David Bowen Jones, Private, 51307, Royal Scots Fusiliers. David was born on 16 February 1889, the son of John Conwil Jones and Maria Jones, of Croesyceiliog. He was educated at Idole School, before training as a Tailor. David married Margaret Evans, of 52, Glenalla Road, Llanelli on 10 May 1915, and fathered a son, Raymond, before enlisting into the army at Llanelli on 17 April 1916. He was posted to the 3rd Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers, and embarked aboard the Troopship Aragon in December 1917, which was bound for Egypt. David was drowned when Aragon was torpedoed in the Mediterranean on 30 December 1917. He was 28 years old, and is commemorated on the Alexandria Chatby Memorial, Egypt. Although a faithful member of Capel Als, David is not named on its war memorial.
Ernest Jones, Stoker, 3794S, Royal Navy. Ernest was born at Pontarddulais on 25 June 1896, the son of William and Mary Ann Jones. The family later resided at Maes-Yr-Haf, Bradford Street, Llanelli. Ernest served with the Royal Navy aboard HMS Defence. Defence was a Minotaur Class armoured cruiser, and had been built at Pembroke Dockyards. She saw extensive service around the world, and became the flagship of Rear Admiral Sir Robert Arbuthnot, leading the First Cruiser Squadron at the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916. Defence was blown apart by German gunfire at Jutland on 31 May 1916, and sank with the loss of all hands. Ernest was 19 years old when he died that day, and is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial, Devon.
Gwilym Trevor Jones, MM & Bar, Private, 13367, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Trevor was the son of William John Jones and Elizabeth Jones, of 8, Cilwrfa Row, Llanelli. He enlisted at Llanelli into the 9th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, which was attached to 58 Brigade, 19th (Western) Division. The Division moved to France during July 1915, and moved to positions near Loos, where it took part in the opening attack of the Battle of Loos on 25 September 1915. The following year the Division moved to the Somme, where it took part in the second wave of the attack on Ovillers-La Boisselle on 1 July, capturing the village at heavy cost. It then fought through the Somme Battles of Pozières and the Ancre in 1916. In 1917 the Division moved north to Ypres, taking part in the Battle of Messines. Trevor was killed here during an attack south of Hollebeke on 31 July 1917. He was 22 years old, and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium. Trevor must have been a brave man, as he was awarded the Military Medal twice during his time at war, for the Somme and for Messines Ridge.
Oswald Glyn Jones, Sapper, 146924, Royal Engineers. Oswald was son of Thomas Daniel Jones, and Lizzie Jones, of 2, College Hill, Llanelli, and the husband of Gwladys Jones (nee Williams), of Pretoria, Glenalla Road, Llanelli. He enlisted at Llanelli into the Royal Engineers, and was posted to the 73rd Field Company, RE, which was in France attached to the 15th (Scottish) Division. During July 1915 the Division moved to France, and gained a reputation as one of the most formidable Divisions in the British Army. Here they fought at the Battle of Loos, and in Spring 1916, the Division was involved in German gas attacks near Hulluch. In July they moved to the Somme, where they took part in the Battle of Pozières, and then fought at Battle of Flers-Courcelette, where they captured Martinpuich. In October they fought at the Battle of Le Transloy, and also in the Attacks on the Butte de Warlencourt. The Division followed the German retreat to Hindenburg Line early in 1917, and it was here that Oswald was wounded. He died of wounds on 29 March 1917, aged 24, and is buried at Duisans British Cemetery, Étrun, France.
Richard Jones, Gunner, 124058, Royal Garrison Artillery. Richard was the son of George and Elizabeth Jones, of 22, Bigyn Road, Llanelli, and the husband of Mary Jones, of 3, Llanerch, Llanelli. He enlisted at Llanelli into the Royal Garrison Artillery, and was posted to France with 287th Siege Battery, RGA. Richard fought at Ypres, during the Battle of Passchendaele. He was wounded there during the latter stages of the offensive while leaving a dugout with some other members of his battery, when a German shell crashed nearby. He died of his wounds on 25 November 1917, aged 24, and is buried at Menin Road South Military Cemetery, Belgium.
Edgar Lewis, Private, 202542, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Edgar was the son of Eleazor and Elizabeth Lewis, of 26, Columbia Row, Llanelli. He enlisted at Wrexham into the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, and was posted to France, where he joined the 2nd Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. The battalion had been in France since the outbreak of war, and had fought in every major action thereafter. In February 1918 it became attached to 115 Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division, and moved with the Division to the Somme in April 1918, where it took positions in the line north of Albert. Edgar was wounded here in May 1918, and died on 18 May 1918, aged 20. He is buried at Varennes Military Cemetery, France.
William Henry Roberts, Gunner, 3248, Royal Field Artillery. William was the son of William and Eliza Roberts, of Marble House, Marble Hall, Llanelli. He enlisted at Llanelli into the Royal Garrison Artillery, and was posted to France with ‘A’ Battery, 84th Brigade, RGA, which was attached to the 18th (Eastern) Division. On 25 May 1915 the Division landed in Boulogne, and didn’t see its first major action until July, 1916 when it took part in the Battle of Albert. They then fought at the Battle of Bazentin, where they captured Trônes Wood, and moved on to the Battle of Delville Wood. In October they took part in the Battle of the Ancre Heights, and captured Schwaben Redoubt, and helped capture Regina Trench. William was killed here on 7 March 1917. He was 42 years old, and is buried at Pozières British Cemetery, Ovillers-La-Boisselle, France.
Hiram Rees Thomas, Private, 72075, Cheshire Regiment. Hiram was the son of William and Jane Thomas, of 1, Tunnel Terrace, Tunnel Road, Llanelli. He enlisted there into the army on 25 September 1917, and was posted to France on 11 April 1918, joining the 11th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, which was attached to 7 Brigade, 25th Division. The Division had seen heavy fighting around Bullecourt during the German Spring Offensive. It moved north to Flanders on the night of 30 March, where they took up positions at Ploegsteert again, where they received reinforcements, and rebuilt. However, on 9 April the Germans launched an offensive on the Lys, and the Division was caught up in the terrible fighting here, at the Battles of Estaires, Bailleul, Messines and Kemmel. The Division withdrew to Abeele on 17 April, but on 25 April was ordered back into the line, and took part in the Second Battle of Kemmel. Hiram was killed here on 3 May 1918, aged 18. He is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium.
David George Williams, Private, 267421, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. David was the son of John and Louisa Williams, of 32, College Hill, Llanelli. He originally enlisted into the 4th Welsh, before being transferred into the 2/7th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, which was attached to 182 Brigade, 61st (2nd South Midland) Division. The Division moved to France during 21 May 1916, moving to positions at Fromelles. The first major action in which the Division was engaged turned out to be a disaster, with heavy casualties suffered, for no real gains. David survived Fromelles, and served in France for a year before returning home ill. He died at Salisbury Hospital on 7 June 1916, aged 26, and was buried at Box Cemetery, Llanelli, the service being taken by Reverend D. Jones, of Capel Als.
Thomas John Williams, Sapper, 448495, Royal Engineers. Thomas was born in Llanelli, and enlisted there into the Welsh Field Company, Royal Engineers. The company fought at Gallipoli with the 53rd (Welsh) Division after landing on 8 August 1915, and after the evacuation in January 1916 moved to Egypt. In March 1917 the company was reorganised, and Thomas joined the 437th Field Company, Royal Engineers, still in the 53rd Division. Thomas died of sickness during the Final Offensive beyond the Jordan, on 15 October 1918 and is buried at Kantara War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt.
William George Williams, Private, 2598, Welsh Regiment. William was the husband of Margaret Williams, of 4, Funnel Road, Llanelli. He enlisted at Llanelli into the 2nd Battalion, Welsh Regiment, which moved to France at the outbreak of war attached to 3 Brigade, 1st Division. William probably joined the battalion early in 1915, and would have fought at the Battle of Aubers, before the Division moved south to Loos, where they fought during the Battle of Loos, and the action at the Hohenzollern redoubt. During 1916 they fought during the opening of the Somme Offensive at the Battle of Albert, then at The Battle of Bazentin Ridge. William was killed here on 18 July 1916. He was 37 years old, and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, France.
World War Two, 1939-1945
William John James Bowen, Bombardier, 2059893, Royal Artillery. William was the son of William John and Catherine Bowen, of Llanelli. He served with 484 Battery, 4 Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery. The battery was comprised of mostly Carmarthenshire men, and served in North Africa, before heading to Malta, to form part of the Maltese defences. On 1 November 1941, Malta came under heavy air attack by Axis bombers. William was killed at 484 Battery HQ at Naxxar, when it suffered a direct hit by cluster bombs. He was 24 years old, and is buried in Pembroke Military Cemetery, Malta.
Benjamin Gwynmor Davies, Sergeant, 1704708, Royal Artillery. Benjamin was the son of Edwin and Mary Davies, and the husband of Elsie Mary Davies, of Llanelli. He was in the Far East serving with the Royal Artillery, and had been attached to 22 Anti-Tank Regiment, West African Artillery, Royal West African Frontier Force. Benjamin died in India on 13 April 1945, aged 32, and is buried in Maynamatti War Cemetery, Bangladesh.
Hywel Griffiths, Private, T/166237, Royal Army Service Corps. Hywel was the son of Griffith John and Mary Annie Griffiths, of Llanelli. He served with the Royal Army Service Corps, and was posted to the Far East, joining the 18th Division Transport Company at Singapore. Hywel was captured by the Japanese at Singapore, and was sent to Thailand with ‘F’ Force in April 1943. He died at Songkurai Camp of diarrhoea on 28 July 1943, aged 23, and was buried in Songkurai No. 2 cemetery. Hywel’s grave was relocated to Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery, Myanmar after the war. The photograph below has been kindly supplied by Tony Beck.
Dennis Edwards Morgan, Corporal, 2216911, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Dennis was the son of David Edgar and Eva Morgan, of Llanelli. He served in the Far East with the Royal Air Force Police. On 29 June 1946 Dennis was aboard a transport plane which crashed in Malaya, killing ten members of the RAF Police. Dennis was 22 years old, and is commemorated on the Singapore Memorial, Singapore.
Jane Mair George Thomas, Sister, 270493, Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service. Jane was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. L. Thomas, of Llanelli. She was a nurse, and served with Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service. Jane was serving in Africa, and embarked on 6 February 1944 aboard the passenger ship S.S. Khedive Ismail at Mombasa. The ship sailed that day as part of Convoy KR-8. On 12 February 1944 the convoy was sailing off the Maldives when it was attacked by the Japanese submarine I-27. Two torpedoes struck the Khedive Ismail, which was loaded with over 1,500 personnel, and it sank in minutes, with the loss of over 1,300 lives. Jane was 25 years old when she died that day, and is commemorated on the Brookwood Memorial, Surrey.