Troedyraur is a parish four miles north-north-east of Newcastle Emlyn, which contains the village of Rhydlewis. The Parish Church, which is dedicated to St. Michael, contains a framed parchment scroll, which commemorates the men of the parish who fell during both World Wars. The list of the names has been kindly supplied by Sue Wright.
The Great War, 1914-1918
Eynon George Arthur Bowen, Lieutenant, Royal Flying Corps. Eynon was born on 19 August 1893, the son of Eynon George Rice Bowen and of Georgina Catherine Bowen, of Troedyraur, Cardiganshire. He had been a Scholar at Sherborne School, and had later attended the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich as a Cadet, before being gazetted Second Lieutenant into the Royal Garrison Artillery in December 1913. Eynon went to France with the RGA during June 1915, then volunteered for service with the Royal Flying Corps just two months later, qualifying first as an Observer, then as a Pilot on 6 March 1916. When he returned to the front he was posted to 22 Squadron. On 8 September 1916, Eynon was flying his FE2b, Serial 4921, with Lieutenant Robert Macallan Stalker acting as Observer, over Flers on the Somme Battlefield, when they unfortunately became a target for the German Ace, Oswald Boelcke, the man who trained Baron Manfred von Richtofen. Boelcke in his more able aeroplane shot down Eynon’s aeroplane in flames, killing both Eynon and Robert. As with so many other men of the RFC shot down in flames, their bodies were never recovered, and both men are commemorated on the Arras Flying Services Memorial, France. Eynon was 23 years old, and Robert was 25. Earlier that year, on 26 March 1916, Eynon’s father had passed away at the family’s home at Hambrook, near Bath, after being discharged from the Army, where he had served as a Lieutenant with the Army Service Corps Remounts Section, due to ill health.
Rhys Davies, Private, 33009, South Wales Borderers. Rhys was the son of John and Mary Davies, of Penffos, Rhydlewis. He enlisted at Colwyn Bay into the South Wales Borderers, and was posted to France, joining the 1st Battalion, South Wales Borderers, which was attached to 3 Brigade, 1st Division. The Division had been in France since the outbreak of war, and had fought in the retreat from Mons, before moving to Ypres, fighting at the First and Second Battles of Ypres. In September 1915 the Division took part in the Battle of Loos, and in the summer of 1916 fought on the Somme. Rhys probably joined the battalion in time for the Somme offensive. They followed the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line in early 1917, and were then briefed for an operation on the Flanders Coast, and moved there during the summer of 1917. While training on the coast, the Battle of Third Ypres had stalled in the mire, and the Division was recalled to Ypres, where they fought at the Second Battle of Passchendaele. After spending another Winter in Flanders, they were near Estaires when the German Spring Offensive caught them, and saw heavy fighting over the coming weeks. Rhys was wounded during the relatively calm period after the German offensive had died down. He died of his wounds on 23 July 1918, aged 20, and is buried at Pernes British Cemetery, France.
Tom Rees Davies, Lance Corporal, 7313, South African Infantry. Tom was the son of Rees and Maria Davies, of Ffoslas, Ffostrasol. He worked as a Carpenter prior to migrating to South Africa prior to the war. Tom enlisted into the 1st Regiment, South African Infantry, which was raised in Cape Province, joining the South African Infantry Brigade. In December 1915 the Brigade moved to Egypt, seeing action there against the Senussi tribesmen, before becoming transferred to France, joining the 9th (Scottish) Division. The Division then took part in the Battle of the Somme, fighting at the opening Battle of Albert, and then at the Battle of Bazentin, where they captured Longueval. They then fought at the Battle of Delville Wood, where the South Africans created a distinguished name for themselves. Tom was killed on the Somme on 18 October 1916. He was 33 years old, and is buried at Warlencourt British Cemetery, France.
Fred Gaen, Private, 202068, Tank Corps. Fred was born in Cadoxton, Neath in 1890, the son of Charles and Elizabeth Gaen. He worked as an accountant prior to the war and married Olwen Myfanwy Thomas, the daughter of Enoch and Mariah Thomas, of Bronllys, near Troedyraur, in 1914. Fred enlisted into the Machine Gun Corps, and was posted to their Heavy Branch, which was later converted into the Tank Corps. During the Battle of Cambrai, Fred was serving with H Battalion, Tank Corps, which had been ordered to push through the Hindenburg Line towards Ribecourt. Despite heavy losses the Hindenburg Line was broken, but the Germans counter-attacked, beginning a series of desperate battles. A number of tanks from H Battalion were ordered to support an assault by the 51st (Highland) Division to recapture the village of Fontaine Notre Dame. Fred was killed when the battalion was withdrawing from the battle area on 1 December 1917. He was 27 years old and is commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial, Louverval. His brother in law, Ivan Arthur Lloyd Thomas, had been killed earlier that year, but neither appear to be commemorated locally. Fred is commemorated on Enoch and Mariah’s grave at Salem Chapel.
Dewi Jones, Private, 58236, South Wales Borderers. Dewi was the son of Daniel and Elizabeth Jones, of Penrhiw, Ffostrasol. He enlisted at Bath into the Army Service Corps, but later transferred into the 10th Battalion, South Wales Borderers, who were attached to 115 Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division. The Division landed at Havre during December 1915, and moved to positions near Armentieres. They fought through some of the hardest and most famous battles of the Great War-at Mametz Wood during the Battle of the Somme, and at the Pilckem Ridge during the battle of Passchendaele. During September 1917 the Division was moved to the Armentieres sector, and remained here until being rushed to the Somme in April 1918, taking up positions around Aveluy Wood, near Albert. The German Spring Offensive had swept across the old Somme Battlefields, and had pushed the Allies back further than ever. However, the attack burnt itself out, and for several months this resulted in a stalemate settling along the line on the Somme. On 8 August 1918 a victory at Villers Brettoneux marked the turning point of the war, and the 38th Division launched an attack across the River Ancre on 21 August 1918, and over the coming days pushed the Germans back towards Bapaume. They then moved towards the Hindenburg Line, and fought at the Battle of Épehy, and on towards Cambrai. Dewi was killed in action, aged 20, on 8 October 1918. He is buried at Guizancourt Farm Cemetery, Gouy, France.
Evan John Jones, Driver, 19801, Royal Field Artillery. Evan was the son of John and Margaret Jones, of Cwmbwch, Rhydlewis. He enlisted at Newport, Monmouth into the Royal Field Artillery, and was posted to France on 2 September 1915, joining C Battery, 75th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, which was attached to the Guards Division. Evan wasn’t to experience much of the war. He died on 20 September 1915, aged 25, and is buried in Bethune Town Cemetery, France.
William Jones, Private, 2346, Welsh Regiment. William was the son of John and Elizabeth Jones, of Capel Farm, Ffostrasol. He enlisted on 4 September 1915 into the 3/4th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, which was a reserve battalion for the 1/4th Welsh, which was in the Mediterranean, attached to the 53rd (Welsh) Division. On 11 July 1916 William was discharged from the army as medically unfit, after having blown three fingers off his right hand whilst out shooting. William died of angina within weeks of being discharged, on 29 July 1916. He was 20 years old, and is buried at Bwlchygroes Independent Chapelyard. William is commemorated on the Bwlchygroes Memorial.
William Morgan Lewis, First Mate, Mercantile Marine. William was the son of David and Betsy Lewis, of Waun Villa, Rhydlewis. He served with the Mercantile Marine aboard the SS Snowdon, a London registered steamer. On 19 May 1918, Snowdon was on voyage from Cardiff to Milos with a cargo of coal, when she was sunk by the German submarine U-63, 84 miles off Malta, with the loss of two lives. William was 28 years old when he drowned that day, and is commemorated on the Tower Hill Memorial, London.
John Lewis Owen, Master, Mercantile Marine. John was the son of Thomas and Sarah Owen, of Wynebhwnt, Rhydlewis. He served with the Mercantile Marine as Master of the SS Snowdon, a London registered steamer. On 19 May 1918, Snowdon was on voyage from Cardiff to Milos with a cargo of coal, when she was sunk by the German submarine U-63, 84 miles off Malta, with the loss of two lives. John was 29 years old when he died that day, and is commemorated on the Tower Hill Memorial, London.
David John Thomas, Private, 561, Australian Infantry. David was born at St. Dogmaels, the son of Lewis and Elizabeth Thomas, later of Brynteg, Henllan. He had emigrated to Australia prior to the war along with his brother James Louis Thomas, and after the declaration of war, both brothers enlisted into the Australian Imperial Force. David attested at Perth into the 44th Battalion, AIF, and embarked at Fremantle on 6 June 1916 aboard the HMAT Suevic, bound for England. David was then posted to his Battalion in France on 16 March 1917, after spending two months in hospital in England. The Battalion spent most of May 1917 training near Armentieres, and at the end of the month moved to Ploegsteert, where they took up billets in the catacombs, providing working parties within the wood. David was killed during his first day at Ploegsteert on 1 June 1917. He was 34 years old, and is buried at Strand Military Cemetery, Belgium. His Brother, James Louis Thomas, died the previous year.
Ivan Arthur Lloyd Thomas, Second Lieutenant, Machine Gun Corps. Ivan was born at Llangadog, Carmarthenshire on 14 January 1887, the son of Enoch and Mariah Thomas. The family later resided at Bronllys, near, Newcastle Emlyn. Ivan was educated at Aberystwyth University and served for three years with the University OTC before becoming a teacher in Canada prior to the war. He enlisted at Montreal on 16 September 1915 into the Canadian Expeditionary Force and soon after arriving in England was commissioned on 25 October 1916 into the Machine Gun Corps. Ivan was posted to their 142nd Company, which was attached to the 47th (2nd London) Division. The Division was north of Arras when the Germans attacked Vimy Ridge, and then moved south to the Somme, where they fought at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, and then at the Battle of Le Transloy, where the Division captured Eaucourt l’Abbe, and took part in Attacks on the Butte de Warlencourt. Early in 1917 the Division moved north to Belgium. Ivan was killed in action at Ypres on 10 May 1917. He was 30 years old, and is buried at Bedford House Cemetery, Belgium. He is not commemorated at Troedyraur, but is named on the Aberystwyth University War Memorial.
James Louis Thomas, Private, 2936, Australian Infantry. James was born at St. Dogmaels, the son of Lewis and Elizabeth Thomas, later of Brynteg, Henllan. He had emigrated to Australia along with his brother David prior to the war, and enlisted there at Blackboy Hill into the Australian Imperial Force. James was posted to the 48th Battalion, AIF, which was in France attached to the 12th Australian Brigade, 4th Australian Division. On 5 October 1915 James embarked at Fremantle aboard the HMAT Hororata, and arrived at Ismailia on 8 January 1916. On 9 June 1916 the 48th Battalion landed at Marseilles, and moved to Bailleul. The Division moved to the Somme at the end of July 1916, and took up positions in Sausage Valley, while the 2nd Australian Division was fighting at Pozieres, and got ready to move into the line to replace them. James was killed just days after, when his battalion moved through the battered ruins of Pozieres, to attack the German positions near the Windmill on 6 August 1916. He was 33 years old, and is commemorated on the Villers-Bretonneaux Memorial, France. His brother David was killed at Ypres the following year.
World War Two, 1939-1945
David Joshua Lloyd Davies, Fusilier, 7046611, Royal Irish Fusiliers. David was the son of Evan Arthur and Elizabeth Davies, of Gwalia, Rhydlewis. He served with the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers, which was attached to the 38th Irish Infantry Brigade. The brigade served in the North African campaign. David was killed in Tunisia, during the Battle of the Kasserine Pass, on 20 February 1943. He was 29 years old, and is commemorated on the Medjez-El-Bab Memorial, Tunisia.
Gwyn Davies, Private, 3963443, Welch Regiment. Gwyn was the son of Daniel and Esther Davies, of Maesllyn. He served with the Welch Regiment and died at home on 1 September 1944, aged 29. Nothing further is known of him, but he is buried in Brongest (Salem) Presbyterian Chapelyard. He does not appear to be commemorated locally.
Emlyn Thomas, Sailor, Merchant Navy. Emlyn was the son of John and Elizabeth Thomas, of Tanrallt, Sarnau, and the husband of Ada Thomas, of Talog, Carmarthenshire. He served with the Merchant Navy aboard the MV San Emiliano, a London registered tanker. On 9 August 1942 she was on route from Curacoa for Trinidad and Table Bay carrying a cargo of aviation spirit, when she was torpedoed by the German submarine U-155, and sank with the loss of 39 lives. Emlyn was 22 years old when he died that day, and is commemorated on the Tower Hill Memorial, London. Emlyn isn’t named on the framed roll of honour, but is commemorated by a brass cross which is located within the Church.