Drefach is a small village situated on the A475, between Lampeter and Newcastle Emlyn, about a mile north of Llanybydder. The men of the parish who fell during the Great War are commemorated on the War Memorial which sits in the village alongside the main road. Many thanks to Huw Davies for the photographs of the memorial.
The Great War, 1914-1918
Charles Edward Cheverton, Guardsman, 2034, Welsh Guards. Charles was born on 28 September 1896, the son of William Henry and Alice Cheverton, of Lax Lodge, Llanwenog. Charles’ father worked as Chauffeur to Colonel H. Davies-Evans, of Highmead, Llanybydder. Charles was educated at Llanwenog School, and enlisted at Lampeter into the 1st Battalion, Welsh Guards. The Welsh Guards had been raised by Royal Warrant on 26 February 1915, and moved to France on 18 August 1915 to join the 3rd Guards Brigade, Guards Division. Charles possibly joined the battalion after it suffered heavy casualties during the Battle of Loos, arriving as a reinforcement in time to take part in the Battle of the Somme, which was launched on 1 July 1916. In late July 1916 the Division moved to the Somme, where they fought at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, and then at the Battle of Morval, capturing Lesboeufs Village. Charles was killed when his battalion were being relieved from the line at Combles on 24 September 1916. He was 23 years old, and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, France.
Dan Henry Davies, Private, 5985, King’s Liverpool Regiment. Dan was the son of Jonathon and Mary Davies, of Gwynfryn, Llanwenog. He was educated at Lampeter College, and took up a post as Teacher at the Kirkham Grammar School, Lancashire, before enlisting at Blackpool on 16 December 1915 into the 5th Battalion Kings Liverpool Regiment. The Battalion landed at Le Havre on 22 February 1915, joining 6 Brigade, 2nd Division, and in December 15 transferred to 99 Brigade, 2nd Division, before re-transferring into 165 Brigade, 55th (West Lancashire) Division. Dan landed in France to join the battalion on 5 July 1916, four days after the opening of the Somme offensive. In July the Division moved into positions facing the German front line at Guillemont, on the Somme. Dan was killed by a German shell on the Somme on 5 July 1916, aged just 23. It was his very first day in action. He was originally buried on the battlefield, but his grave was exhumed in 1920, and Dan was reburied in Péronne Road Cemetery, Maricourt, France.
David Morris Davies, Private, 52954, Cheshire Regiment. David was born at Drefach, the son of William Evan Davies and Mary Ellen Davies. At some time prior to 1911 the family had moved to 192, High Road, Ilford, Essex. David enlisted at Holborn, London in February 1916 into the 18th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, and landed in France in July 1916. In September 1916 David was transferred into the 13th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, which was attached to 74 Brigade, 25th Division. They fought throughout the Battle of the Somme, and then moved to Ploegsteert, where they held the line for the months leading up the Battle of Messines in June 1917. After fighting at Messines, the Division moved north, and fought at Pilckem Ridge. David was posted as Missing in Action at Ypres on 10 August 1917, and he was presumed dead. He was 22 years old, and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium. David is commemorated on the Llangynllo School Memorial.
John Clarke Davies, Private, 3346, Welsh Guards. John was the son of Mary Davies, of Beilibedw, Drefach. He enlisted at Caerphilly into the 1st Battalion, Welsh Guards, who had been in France since July 1915 attached to the 3rd Guards Brigade, Guards Division. John probably got posted to the front after the Somme battles of 1916, joining the Battalion at Ypres, where they took part in the opening assault of Third Ypres, the Battle of Pilckem Ridge. After helping to secure Pilckem, the Guards had a brief rest, before moving back into the line, and taking part in the Battle of the Menin Road, the Battle of Poelcapelle and the First Battle of Passchendaele. It was during the latter battle that John was killed, on 12 October 1917. He has no known grave, and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium.
William Davies, MM, Private, 5540, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. William was the son of Thomas and Hannah Davies, of Penybont Cottage, Llanwenog. He enlisted at Tonypandy into the 2nd Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, and landed in France on 27 December 1914 to join the battalion, which was by then attached to 19 Brigade, 33rd Division, after having fought independently during the first weeks of the war. The Division saw its first major action during the Battles of the Somme, from July 1916 onwards. It then moved north, and fought at the Battles of the Scarpe. William was killed near the Hindenburg Line, during the Third Battle of the Scarpe, on 21 May 1917. He was 24 years old, and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial, France. William was the holder of the Military Medal, which he had been awarded for Bravery in the Field, probably during the Somme offensive.
David Lewis Evans, Private, 203572, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. David was the son of John and Elizabeth Evans, of North House, Llanybyther. He had resided at Rhydiau, Drefach prior to the war, and enlisted at Llanybydder into the Royal Buckinghamshire Hussars. David then transferred into the 6th Battalion, Ox and Bucks Light Infantry, which was attached to 60 Brigade, 20th (Light) Division, which had been in France since July 1915. David would have joined the battalion after the Somme Battles of 1916, when it took part in the advance to the Hindenburg Line before moving to Ypres. David was killed at The Battle of the Menin Road on 20 September 1917. He was 28 years old, and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium.
Evan William Evans, Sergeant, 290604, Royal Garrison Artillery. Evan was the son of Edward and Jeanette Evans, of Hull. He married Charlotte Evans, of Cledlyn Villa, Drefach on 25 July 1911, and the couple had a daughter, Rachael Myfanwy Evans. Evan enlisted at Hull into the Royal Garrison Artillery. He was posted to France to the 124th Heavy Battery, RGA, which was attached to 42nd Brigade, RGA, 5th Army. He became ill during the Battle of Passchendaele, and was hospitalised at Hull, where he died on 15 January 1918. Evan was 33 years old, and is buried at Hull Western Cemetery, Yorkshire. Evan doesn’t seem to be commemorated locally.
Thomas Davies Evans, Driver, 730701, Royal Field Artillery. Thomas was the son of Thomas and Sarah Evans, of Green Meadow, Llanybyther. He had married prior to the war, and lived with his wife, Gwen Evans, at Glynteg, 33, Foreland Road, Whitchurch, Cardiff. Thomas enlisted at Cardiff into the 2nd Welsh Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, which was attached to the 53rd (Welsh) Division. The Division landed at Gallipoli in August 1915, and suffered terrible casualties over the coming months, before being evacuated to Egypt in January 1916. It then took part in several skirmished in Egypt, before becoming part of the drive into Palestine in March 1917. Thomas became ill during the latter stages of the campaign, and died at Cairo on 6 November 1918. He was 32 years old, and is buried at Cairo War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt.
David Hughes, Private, 19019, South Wales Borderers. David was the husband of Dinah Hughes, of Tenby Cottage, Llanybyther. He enlisted at Ystradgynlais into the 5th Battalion, South Wales Borderers, which moved to France in July 1915 attached to 58 Brigade, 19th (Western) Division. The Division saw its first major action during the Battle of Loos on 25 September 1915. The Division moved to the Somme Sector in 1916, where they took part in the gallant capture of Ovillers-La Boiselle on 3 July 1916. David must have been wounded on the Somme, and was evacuated back via the network of Casualty Clearing Stations and Hospitals in France, before being sent to Bowood Hospital. He died there of his wounds on 16 September 1916, aged 37, and is buried at Aberduar Welsh Baptist Chapelyard, Wales. Many thanks to Bev Lewis, of Swansea for the photograph of David’s grave.
Evan Tom Jones, Private, 43634, Worcestershire Regiment. Evan was the son of David and Mary Jones, of Llettyrwenol, Cwrtnewydd, Llanybyther. He enlisted at Narberth into the Cheshire Regiment, before being posted to join the 2/8th Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment. The battalion had been in France since May 1916, attached to 183 Brigade, 61st (2nd South Midland) Division. The Division saw its first major action at Fromelles, which turned out to be a disaster, costing thousands of needless casualties. The Division didn’t see further action until the Third Battle of Ypres late in 1917, and the Battle of Cambrai later that year. The Division again suffered heavy casualties during the German Spring Offensive of 21 March 1918, fighting a gallant rearguard action near St. Quentin, before being moved to Flanders, where it again saw heavy fighting. The Division then took part in the Advance in Flanders from August 1918 onwards, and it was during this advance that Evan was killed on 5 October 1918. He was just 18 years old, and is buried at Leuze Communal Cemetery, France. There is a Memorial to Evan at Capel y Bryn, Cwrtnewydd
John Jones, Private, 2380109, Canadian Infantry. John was born at Drefach on 9 May 1889, probably the son of David and Hannah Jones, of Pantyronen, Drefach. He had emigrated to Canada prior to the war, where he lived with his Uncle, Tom Davies, at Durban, Manitoba, Canada, working as a Carpenter. He enlisted at Manitoba in November 1917, and was posted to France to join the 33rd Battalion (Manitoba), which was a feeder battalion to other Canadian units. John was killed in France on 2 October 1918. He was 29 years old, and is buried at Bucquoy Road Cemetery, Ficheux, France.
James Thomas, Sergeant, 15052, Grenadier Guards. James was the son of Evan and Hannah Thomas, of Pandy, Rhuddlan, Llanybyther. He enlisted at London into the 2nd Battalion, Grenadier Guards. At the outbreak of war, the 2nd Battalion was in Barracks at Chelsea, and on 15 August landed in France attached to 4th (Guards) Brigade, 2nd Division, taking part in the retreat from Mons to the Marne. The Division then saw heavy fighting at Ypres, and the Battle of Festubert the following year. In August 1915 a Guards Division was created, and the 2nd Battalion, Grenadier Guards joined 1st Guards Brigade, Guards Division, taking part in the Battle of Loos the following month. In the summer of 1916 the Division moved to the Somme, and it was there, during the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, that James was wounded. He died on 16 September 1916, aged 26, and is buried at St. Pierre Cemetery, Amiens, France.
William Alfred Thomas, Rifleman, 471312, London Regiment. William was the son of Thomas and Hannah Thomas, of Bodafon, Drefach. He enlisted at London into the 12th Battalion (The Rangers), London Regiment, attached to the 1st London Division. In December 1914 the Rangers left 1st London Division and landed at Havre 25 December, moving to Lines of Communication. In February 1915 they joined 84 Brigade, 28th Division, and in May moved to G.H.Q. Troops and formed a composite Battalion with 1/5th and 1/13th Battalions until August 1915. In February 1916 the Rangers joined 168 Brigade, 56th (London) Division, which was forming in the Hallencourt area. The Division took part in a disastrous diversionary attack on Gommecourt on 1 July 1916, to draw German attention away from the main attacks a little south, on the Somme. William was posted as missing in action that day, and it took months for official notification of his death to reach his parents at Drefach. He was 19 years old, and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, France. William is commemorated at Llangeler, and not at Drefach.
World War Two, 1939-1945
John Derrick Edwards Davies, Pilot Officer (Air Gunner), 176215, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. John was the son of Daniel Edwards Davies and Katherine Davies, of Llanwenog (later of Market Harborough, Leicestershire). He served with 180 Squadron, Royal Air Force, which was equipped with the North American Mitchell II, based at RAF Dunsfold. John died on 15 June 1944, probably during an air crash. He was 21 years old, and is buried at Brookwood Military Cemetery, Surrey.
Jonathan Cecil Davies, Gunner, 14270863, Royal Artillery. Jonathan was the son of Mr. and Mrs. D. J. Davies, of Drefach. The family later resided at Craig Cefn Parc, Glamorgan. He served with 59 Medium Regiment, Royal Artillery, which landed in Normandy at the end of June 1944 attached to the 3rd Army Group, Royal Artillery, and fought alongside the 43rd (Essex) and 53rd (Welsh) Divisions during their drive through northern France into occupied Belgium and Holland. Jonathan was killed in Holland on 2 December 1944. He was 21 years old, and is commemorated on the Groesbeek Memorial, Netherlands.
James Lewis Evans, Ordinary Seaman, D/JX. 399443, Royal Navy. James was the son of William and Mary Evans, of Drefach, and the husband of Kathleen Audrey Evans, of Greenfields, Shrewsbury, Shropshire. He served with the Royal Navy at HMS Drake. Drake was an old French ship which was used for training purposes, and was moored at Fort Blockhouse. James must have been taken ill whilst serving aboard here, and died on 11 May 1943. He was 26 years old, and is buried at Llanwenog (St. Gwenog) Churchyard.
Tom Jenkin Lloyd Evans, Chief Officer, Merchant Navy. Tom was from Tangraigfach, Llanwenog. He served with the Merchant Navy aboard the SS Brinkburn, which was a Sunderland registered cargo steamer. On 21 June 1943, Brinkburn was in convoy TE-22, when she was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-73 west of Algiers. Tom was amongst 27 men who died in the sinking that day. He was 33 years old, and is commemorated on the Tower Hill Memorial, London. The ship was at the time believed to have been the victim of sabotage.
William Stanley Evans, Aircraftman 1st Class, 1303366, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. William was the son of Thomas Mordecai Evans and Maggie Evans, of Llanybydder. He served with 113 Squadron, Royal Air Force, which was equipped with the Bristol Blenheim IV, based at Maaten Bagush. William was probably wounded after German Messerschmitt 110’s attacked the airfield on 8 July 1941. He died on 11 July 1941, aged 19, and is buried at El Alamein War Cemetery, Egypt.
John Charles Jenkins, Pilot Officer, 64315, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. John was the son of David John and Gwendolene Jenkins, of Llanwenog. He served with 214 Squadron, Royal Air Force, which was equipped with the Vickers Wellington IC, based at RAF Stradishall. John was killed when his aircraft was shot down during a raid over Hamburg on 15 July 1917. He was 20 years old, and is buried at Rheinberg War Cemetery, Germany.
Teifi Jones, Aircraftman 1st Class, 1123171, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Teifi was the son of John and Ellen Jones, of Cwmgilfachwen, Llandyssul. He served in the RAFVR, and had been captured at some time by the Japanese in the Far East, and given the POW No. 2659. Teifi was taken to Sandakan Number 2 Camp, and the British were later moved from this camp to the Number 1 Camp about 15 April 1945. Survivors were then moved back to a wired section of Number 2 Camp on 29 May 1945. Teifi is recorded as having died of Malaria while a POW, on 21 July 1945. There is evidence of a large number of POW’s murdered by the Japanese on the ‘Sandakan Death Marches’ as they were killed, and their deaths attributed by the Japanese to disease. Teifi was 23 years old, and is remembered on the Singapore Memorial.
Johnny Lewis, Sergeant (Air Gunner), 1445360, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Johnny was the son of John and Elizabeth Lewis, of Henfaddau, Silian, Lampeter, and the grandson of Lewis Lewis, of Meinigwynion Mawr, Llanwenog. He served with 44 Squadron, Royal Air Force, which was equipped with the Avro Lancaster BIII, based at RAF Dunholme Lodge. Johnny was killed when his Lancaster, Serial ND751, was shot down by a German FW90 night-fighter during a raid to destroy a V1 rocket launch site in Pommeréval on 25 June 1944, and crashed, killing all of the crew. Johnny was 22 years old, and is buried at Criquetot-Sur-Longueville Churchyard, France.
Evan Leonard Pugh, Third Officer, Merchant Navy. Evan was the son of William Pugh, and of Jane Pugh, of Ciliau Aeron. He served with the Merchant Navy aboard the MV San Calisto, a London registered oil tanker. On 2 December 1939, San Calisto struck a mine and sank two and a half miles south-west of the Tongue lightship. Evan was among six men killed during the sinking that day. He was 27 years old, and is commemorated on the Tower Hill Memorial, London.