Bethesda Independent Chapel, Ponthirwaun, is situated near Llechryd and Cenarth. The Chapel, and its attached Schoolroom, was built in 1840 to the design of John Jones, a carpenter from Ffynnonddwrgi Fawr. It has been continuously renovated and altered over the years, and is today a Grade 2 Listed Building. Inside the Chapel are framed photographs of three men who lost their lives at war; two during WW1 and one during WW2. Copies of these and a photograph of the Chapel have been kindly submitted to the website by Raymond Jones.
The Great War, 1914-1918
John Jones, Driver, 707356, Royal Field Artillery. John was the son of Evan and Mary Anne Jones, of Rhydycotty, Ponthirwaun. He enlisted at Aberystwyth into the Cardigan Battery, Royal Field Artillery, and was posted to France during March 1917, with the 331st Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, which was attached to the 66th (2nd East Lancs) Division. The Division initially moved to the Flanders Coast, and at the end of September 1917 moved to Ypres, and took part in the Battle of Poelcapelle. It then moved south to the Somme, and on 21 March 1918 was hit by the German Spring Offensive at the Battle of St Quentin, suffering heavy casualties during the subsequent retreat. John was wounded some days afterwards, and died of his wounds on 6 April 1918, aged 20. He is buried in Namps-Au-Val British Cemetery, France. John is also commemorated at Neuadd Cross.
William John Thomas, Private, 75173, Royal Army Medical Corps. William was the son of Mary Thomas, of Ponthirwaun. He resided with his wife, Martha Thomas, at 12, Glogue Terrace, Glogue, prior to the war, and enlisted at Cardigan into the Royal Army Medical Corps. William was posted to France, probably early in 1917, where he joined the 54th Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps, which was attached to the 18th (Eastern) Division. In March 1917 the Division followed the German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line, and in May took part in the Third Battle of the Scarpe, which was part of the Arras Offensive. Later that year the Division fought at Third Ypres. In 1918 the Division were stationed south of the Somme, and were one of the Divisions hit there by the German Spring Offensive, which was launched on 21 March 1918. They fought at the Battle of St Quentin, and suffered terrible casualties, and then took part in the Battle of the Avre and the Actions of Villers-Brettoneux. On 8 August 1918 they formed part of the force which attacked the German positions around Villers Brettoneux, south of the Somme Valley, during the Battle of Amiens, and then took part in the Battle of Albert, which began the great push by the Allies which ended the war. William was killed in action during fighting at Franvillers on 22 August 1918. He was 24 years old, and is buried at Franvillers Communal Cemetery Extension, France. William is also commemorated at Cardigan, Neuadd Cross and Tegryn.
World War Two, 1939-1945
Dewi Hirwen Thomas, Flying Officer, 117517, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Dewi was the son of Thomas and Mary Anne Thomas, of Arwel, Ponthirwaun. He was commissioned as Pilot Officer on 7 January 1942 and served with 169 Squadron, Royal Air Force, which was a tactical reconnaissance unit, equipped with the North American Mustang. In 1943 the Squadron re-equipped with the De Havilland Mosquito night fighter. Dewi was killed on a mission on 30 April 1943. He was 22 years old, and is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial, Surrey. Dewi is also commemorated at Cilgerran, Llandygwydd and Neuadd Cross, as well as on his parents’ headstone at Bethesda Chapel.