The Parish of Newchurch lies just three and a half miles North of Carmarthen, just south of Carmarthen Golf Course. It sits in a picturesque location adjoining the bank of the River Gwili. The men of the Parish who gave their lives during both World Wars are commemorated on two granite columns which sit in the Churchyard. The photographs of the memorials are courtesy of the Carmarthenshire Family History Society.
The Great War, 1914-1918
Daniel Davies, Lance Corporal, 120472, Machine Gun Corps. Daniel was born in 1895, the son of Thomas and Esther Davies, of Coitrefach. Prior to the war he worked as a farm servant at Cilgwyn Ucha. He enlisted at Carmarthen into the Welsh Regiment, but was later transferred into the Machine Gun Corps. Daniel was posted to France, probably early in 1918, joining the 74th Company, Machine Gun Corps, which was attached to the 25th Division. The Division saw heavy fighting during the German spring offensive, fighting around Bullecourt in March 1918. It moved north to Flanders to rest, but they was hit by a renewed German Offensive, and fought a desperate retreat at Estaires, Bailleul, Messines and Kemmel, before being pulled from the line and moving to the Aisne at the beginning of May to recuperate from their ordeal, taking up positions around Fismes in the Champagne region. On 26 May 1918 the 25th Division moved from reserve into positions north-east of Fismes, and saw heavy fighting during a fresh German offensive there. The division was almost wiped out, and withdrawn before being reformed, and moving back to France in September 1918, moving at first to St Riquier near Abbeville.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 advance across Picardy, and took part in the Battle of Beaurevoir. Daniel was killed in action here on 21 September 1918, aged 23. He has no known grave, and so is remembered on the Vis-En-Artois Memorial, France.
William Scurlock Davies, Private, 97818, Machine Gun Corps. William was the son of Thomas and Sarah Davies (nee Scurlock), of Cwmgwili Farm, Bronwydd Arms, Carmarthen. His mother died on 21 May 1898, and his father re-married. William enlisted at Carmarthen into the Welsh Regiment, and at some time probably in 1916 transferred into the 37th Company, Machine Gun Corps, which was attached to the 12th (Eastern) Division. The Division saw heavy fighting on the Somme, fighting at Pozieres and Le Transloy before being moved to the Arras area during October 1916, and then fought in the March 1917 Battle of Arras, taking part in the First Battle of the Scarpe, and the Battle of Arleux. They then fought at the Third Battle of the Scarpe, and helped capture Rouex. The Division remained at Arras until taking part in the Battle of Cambrai in November 1917. William was killed in action here on 2 December 1917. He was just 21 years old, and is remembered on the Cambrai Memorial, Louverval, France.
Evan Griffiths, Private, 320472, Welsh Regiment. Evan was the son of Timothy and Mary Ann Griffiths, of the “Plough and Harrow,” Newchurch, and enlisted at Carmarthen into the Pembroke Yeomanry. The Battalion formed during August 1914 and continued to serve at home until after the evacuation from Gallipoli, when the South Wales Mounted Brigade was sent to reinforce the Middle East. Here a detachment of the Yeomanry joined the Imperial Camel Corps, whilst the remainder of the Battalion combined with the Glamorgan Yeomanry to form the 24th Battalion, Welch Regiment in 74th (Yeomanry) Division. The Division had formed in Egypt in January 1917 and had fought through the Palestinian Campaign, and at the three Battles of Gaza. Evan was killed during the Third Battle of Gaza, on 6 November 1917. He was just 22 years old, and is buried at Beersheba War Cemetery, Israel.
John Griffiths, Sergeant, 13126, Welsh Regiment. John was born at Llanpumsaint, and enlisted at Tumble into the 9th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, which was attached to 58 Brigade, 19th (Western) Division. The battalion crossed to France on 18 July 1915, and moved with the division to positions near Loos. The Division fought during the opening attack of the Battle of Loos, and then moved to the Somme, where they took part in the second wave of the attack on Ovillers-La Boiselle on 1 July, capturing the village at heavy cost, and fought through the Somme Battles of Pozieres and the Ancre in 1916. They then moved North to Ypres, taking part in the Battle of Messines, and fought on the Menin Road and at Polygon Wood, before moving up to Broodseinde, Poelcapelle and Passchendaele Village itself. 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, and fought during the Battle of the Selle, Valenciennes, the Sambre and the Passage of the Grand Honelle. John was killed during the Battle of the Sambre, on 4 November 1918, aged 23. He is buried at Cross Roads Cemetery, Fontaine-Au-Bois.
David Jeremy, Gunner, 166601, Royal Garrison Artillery. David was born on 14 January 1879, the son of John and Hannah Jeremy, of Mount Pleasant, Ffynonddrain. He enlisted at Carmarthen into the Royal Garrison Artillery, and was posted to France at some time during 1916, joining the 49th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, which was at Ypres. David was wounded during the First Battle of Passchendaele. He died at the 47th Casualty Clearing Station at Dozinghem on 21 October 1917, aged 38, and is buried there, at Dozinghem Military Cemetery, Belgium. His cousin William also fell.
William Jeremy, Private, 56867, Welsh Regiment. William was born at Newchurch in 1895, the son of Stephen and Margaret Jeremy. The family later resided at Park Lodge, Carmarthen, and William enlisted at Carmarthen on 6 December 1915 into the Pembroke Yeomanry. He later transferred to the 13th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, which was attached to 114 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 12 July to clear the wood. The Division suffered terrible casualties at Mametz, and was taken out of the line, and moved to Ypres to rebuild. William was among a number of men who joined the division as reinforcements in August 1916 and on 1 September 1916 joined the 13th Battalion, Welsh Regiment at Elverdinghe. The following months at Ypres were relatively peaceful, with the 38th Division holding the Canal Bank at Boesinghe. William was probably wounded when the Germans raided the Welshmen’s lines on 22 March, and died at the 130th Field Ambulance on 27 March 1917, aged just 21. He is buried at Bard Cottage Cemetery, Belgium. William is not commemorated at Newchurch. His cousin David also fell.
William Lewis, Private, 267153, Notts & Derby (Sherwood Foresters). William was the son of John and Anne Lewis, of Pentrefynis Farm, Peniel. He enlisted at Hounslow into the army, and at some time during 1916 was posted to the 1/5th Battalion, Sherwood Foresters, which was in France attached to 139 Brigade, 46th (North Midland) Division. During March 1917 the Division followed the German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line, and then fought in the Battle of Arras, taking part in the Battle of Hill 70. In 1918 the Division took part in the Advance in Flanders, and then moved south, where they were tasked with the breaking of the Hindenburg Line. They fought at the Battle of the St Quentin Canal at the end of September, where the 137th Brigade completed one of the finest feats of arms in British military history, when it forced the crossing of the St Quentin Canal at Riqueval. William was killed soon after, on 3 October 1918, aged 27. He is buried at Ramicourt British Cemetery, France.
William Edward Northway, Private, 7416, Somerset Light Infantry. William was born at Portsmouth in 1887. By 1901 he was working at Voelcowan Farm, Newchurch. He was probably a regular soldier, as he landed in France on 3 December 1914 with the 6th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry, which was attached to 43 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 William was killed at Flers on 18 August 1916, aged 29. He is buried at Delville Wood Cemetery, Longueval, France. William is not commemorated locally.
Thomas James Thomas, Gunner, 310013, Royal Garrison Artillery. Thomas was the son of James and Elizabeth Thomas, of Rhydymarchog, Newchurch. He lived at 6, Chapel Road, Bangor prior to enlisting into the Caernarvonshire Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery (TA) on 27 May 1908 but by 1911 was back home in Newchurch, working on his fathers farm, although he attended the annual camp at Pembroke Dock that year. On 5 August 1914 he re-joined the 1/1st Caernarvonshire Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery and served in France and Salonika. He became ill towards the end of the war and was hospitalised at Edinburgh before being discharged as medically unfit on 20 February 1919. Thomas returned home to Newchurch, but his poor health meant that he could not work and he committed suicide on 24 June 1919, aged 43. Thomas is buried in St. Michael’s Churchyard, Newchurch. He does not appear to be commemorated locally.
World War Two, 1939-1945
Glyndwr Davies, Gunner, 1691913, Royal Artillery. Glyndwr was born at Newchurch at the end of 1912. He served with 521 Battery, 85 Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery. The battery was formed to help protect airfields in the south west of England. Glyndwr was 28 years old when he died on active service near Oxford on 17 August 1941, and is buried at Carmarthen Cemetery.
Thomas Myrddin Evans, Signalman, 2356901, Royal Corps of Signals. Thomas was the son of Thomas and Elizabeth Evans of Newchurch, and the husband of Doreen Evans, of Ilford, Essex. He served with the Royal Corps of Signals in North Africa, and was attached to the famous Long Range Desert Group as a Signaller. Thomas operated as part of a squadron, hundreds of miles behind German lines. Thomas was killed on an operation on 18 January 1943. He was 32 years old, and is commemorated on the Alamein Memorial, Egypt.
David Elwyn Griffiths, Signalman, 2353492, Royal Corps of Signals. David was the son of David and Naomi Griffiths, of 7 Frederick Street, Ferndale. His father was from Llanpumsaint, and David and his brothers and sisters were regular visitors to family back in the village. David enlisted into the Royal Corps of Signals, and was posted to North Africa with the Mobile Corps Signals. He was killed in action during the 8th Army’s assault on the Gazala Line on 14 December 1941. David was 30 years old, and is commemorated on the Alamein Memorial, Egypt. His brother John also fell.
John Howard Griffiths, Sergeant (Navigator), 1337841, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. John was the son of David and Naomi Griffiths, of 7 Frederick Street, Ferndale. His father was from Llanpumsaint, and John and his brothers and sisters were regular visitors to family back in the village. He served with 166 Squadron, Royal Air Force, which was a bomber squadron, equipped with the Vickers Wellington, based at RAF Kirmington. John was killed on the morning of 24 May 1943, when his Wellington was shot down over Holland. He was 21 years old, and is buried at Amsterdam New Eastern Cemetery, Netherlands. His brother David also fell.
James Hywel Hughes, Sergeant (W.Op/Air Gunner), 1381323, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. James was the son of William David and Margaret Hughes, of Knightsford, Carmarthen. He served as a Wireless Operator/ Air Gunner with 77 Squadron, Royal Air Force, which was equipped with the Handley Page Halifax II, based at RAF Elvington. James was killed when his Halifax was shot down over Germany during a raid on 10 March 1943. He was 21 years old, and is buried at Durnbach War Cemetery, Germany.
James H. Jones, Lance Corporal, 2589516, Royal Corps of Signals. James was the son of Joseph and Rachael Jones of Newchurch, and the husband of Mabel Jones, of Brecon. He served with the 53rd (Welsh) Divisional Signal Company, which had landed in Normandy in June 1944, and had fought through France and Belgium into Holland and Germany during the coming months. James died while in Germany as part of the British Army on the Rhine on 20 December 1945. He was 28 years old, and is buried at Cologne Southern Cemetery, Germany.
Daniel David Clifford Thomas, Fusilier, 4204908, Royal Welch Fusiliers. Daniel was born at Newchurch, and served with the 6th Battalion, Royal Welch Fusiliers. The battalion formed part of 158 Brigade, 53rd (Welsh) Division, landing on the Normandy beaches as part of the reinforcing troops in June 1944. Daniel was killed during Operation Goodwood on 17 July 1944. He was 24 years old, and is buried at Hottot-Les-Baggues War Cemetery, France.
Thomas John Williams, Lance Corporal, 1605347, Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. Thomas was the Husband of Sarah Ardidfyl Williams of Newchurch, and served with the 2/4th Battalion, King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, which was part of the 46th Division. The Division had fought during the retreat to Dunkirk in 1940, before being moved to North Africa in January 1943. The Division then took part in the invasion of Italy, and it was there that Thomas was killed, on 12 September 1944. He was 26 years old, and is buried at Coriano Ridge War Cemetery, Italy.