Bwlch-y-Cibau is a small village located between Llanfyllin and Welshpool, situated on the A490 main road. The village contains a very fine Church, Christ Church, which was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, before being built between 1862-64. The men of the village who fell during both World Wars are commemorated on the village war memorial, which is located alongside the wall of the Churchyard.
The Great War, 1914-1918
Harold Carver Barlow, Lieutenant, Royal Flying Corps. Harold was born on 29 August 1891, the son of Frank Barlow and Mary Barlow (nee Carver), of Woodville, Marple, Cheshire. The family owned Ystyn Colwyn Hall, Meifod. He was educated at Syrrell House, Llandudno and Leighton Park School, Reading. When war broke out, he was a partner in the family firm Thomas Barlow & Brothers Eastern Merchants. Harold was educated at Manchester University, and joined the University Officer Training Corps in February 1915. He was commissioned into the 20th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers on 21 May, before volunteering to transfer to the Royal Flying Corps, and trained as an observer. Harold was posted to France, joining 9 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps, which was, at the time, equipped with the B.E.2c, and was carrying out reconnaissance and artillery spotting missions, during the Battle of the Somme in 1916 and during the Second Battle of Arras in 1917. The Squadron re-equipped with Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.8s in May 1917, using them for artillery spotting and contact patrols. On 18 June 1917, Harold was flying as Observer to Lieutenant Ralph Ellis, aboard RE8 A4290, which was carrying out photographic reconnaissance work over the Ypres Salient, when the unfortunate pair were spotted by the elite German Jasta 11, and the RE8 was attacked and shot down by the Squadron commander, Manfred Von Richthofen, crashing into the battlefield near Boesinghe. The pair became the 53rd victims of Von Richthofen. The 25-year-old Harold has no known grave and is commemorated on the Arras Flying Services Memorial, France.
Oswald Evan Bennion, Private, 21684, The King’s (Liverpool Regiment). Oswald was the son of Charles and Elizabeth Bennion, of Berllan, Llanfyllin. He worked as a joiner at Liverpool prior to the war. Oswald enlisted at Liverpool into the 19th Battalion, King’s (Liverpool Regiment) on 26 September 1914. The battalion was raised in Liverpool by Lord Derby, and on 30 April 1915 moved to Belton Park, Grantham to join 89 Brigade, 30th (West Lancs) Division. On 6 November 1915 Oswald embarked for France with the battalion, and the entire Division moved to Buigny L’Abbe before assembling around Vignacourt by 18 November. The Division initially took over positions near Foncquevillers, but in the middle of January 1916 moved to positions in the Somme valley, taking over front-line trenches near Carnoy, where its infantry battalions began the usual routines of trench rotation, usually four days in the front line, four in support and four in reserve. The only breaks came when the various units were withdrawn from the front to undergo systems of training, in readiness for the forthcoming Somme offensive. At dawn on 1 July 1916 the 30th Division attacked from Maricourt, suffering heavy losses during the day as it captured its objective of Montauban. The Division held the line here over the coming weeks, as fighting raged along the Somme front. At dawn on 30 July 1916 the Division launched an assault from its new positions in Maltzhorn Trench, but suffered terrible losses before being forced to withdraw. Oswald was reported to have been wounded during the attack and was on his way back to the aid station, but was in the act of dragging another wounded comrade into the shelter of a shell-hole, when they got spotted by a party of Germans, who shot Oswald dead. The 19-year-old was originally buried where he fell by men of the 7th King’s (Liverpool Regiment), but his grave was lost during further fighting, so he is today commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, France. Oswald is not commemorated on the Llanfyllin war memorial, but is commemorated at Llanfechain and Bwlch-y-Cibau.
William Edgar Brown, Lance Corporal, 290126, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. William was the son of Sarah Jane Brown, of Pentre, Llanfyllin. He had worked as a farm labourer at Ty Ucha, Bwlch-y-Cibau, and then became a postman prior to the war. William enlisted into the 7th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers at Llanfyllin on 1 November 1912, and had attended the annual summer TA camps at Rhyl and Aberystwyth prior to the outbreak of war. The battalion was a Territorial unit, which mobilised for war at Newtown in August 1914, as part of North Wales Brigade, Welsh Division and moved to Conway until the end of the month, before moving to Northampton. In December the Division moved to Cambridge and then in May 1915 to Bedford, where the Division was numbered and the formation became 158 Brigade, 53rd (Welsh) Division. On 19 July 1915 the entire Division sailed from Devonport for Imbros and on 9 August 1915 landed at Suvla Bay. The infantry moved off the beaches into the bush, but due to a lack of maps and no knowledge of the terrain, many of the units became disorientated, and the situation became chaotic. The Division was eventually evacuated from Gallipoli in December 1915, moving to Egypt to join the EEF, and helped guard the Suez Canal before taking part in operations to drive the Turks out of the Sinai. The EEF then turned its attention onto driving the Turks out of Palestine, and on 26 March 1917 launched its first offensive against the coastal city of Gaza, which guarded the road to Jerusalem. Initial gains during the day were lost when the assaulting divisions lost touch with each other and communication broke down when a thick fog cloaked the battlefield. William was killed in action during the heavy fighting that day. The 25-year-old is buried in Gaza War Cemetery, Israel.
William Herbert Chaney, Rifleman, 45754, Royal Irish Rifles. William was the son of Alfred Charles Chaney and Miriam Chaney (nee Jones), of Cross Lane, Marple, Cheshire. He married Nellie Hicklin in 1913, and the couple initially lived at 71, Peel Terrace, Hawk Green, Marple. William was working as a Groom at Ystyn Colwyn Hall, Meifod when war broke out, and returned home to enlist at Stockport into the Army Service Corps. He was then drafted to France, where he was transferred to the Royal Irish Rifles, before being attached to the 1/8th Battalion, London Regiment. The battalion had been in France since 18 March 1915, attached to 140 Brigade, 47th (2nd London) Division, but following the re-organisation of the army in February 1918 merged with the 2/8th Battalion, London Regiment, joining 174 Brigade, 58th (London) Division. The battalion had a brief rest before moving into the line at the beginning of March 1918. On 21 March the Germans launched the first phase of their Spring Offensive, along a section of the front running south from Croisilles to La Fère. The 58th Division, near St. Quentin, was hit hard, and took part in desperate fighting over the coming days. William was killed in action on 22 March 1918. The 27-year-old has no known grave and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial, France.
Charles Edwards, Sapper, 65744, Royal Engineers. Charles was the son of David and Elizabeth Edwards, of Bryngwyn Cottage, Llanfechain. He worked at Liverpool as a Joiner prior to the war, and married Ellen Williams on 10 May 1913. The couple then moved to of Pant Du, Bwlch-y-Cibau. Charles enlisted at Llanfyllin into the Royal Engineers on 28 January 1915, and was posted to the RE Depot at Chatham, for training. He then joined the 106th Field Company, Royal Engineers, and embarked for France with the company on 26 September 1915. Charles served with the company in France for two years, before being wounded, receiving a gunshot wound in his abdomen, and was discharged from the army as medically unfit on 27 December 1917. He returned home after demobilisation, and died of appendicitis whilst under operation on 10 December 1919. The 38-year-old was buried in Christ Church Churchyard, Bwlch-y-Cibau.
David Thomas Ellis, Private, 55193, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. David was the son of David and Rachel Ellis, of Cefn Llyfnog, Llansantffraid. He enlisted into the Montgomeryshire Yeomanry at Welshpool soon after the outbreak of war, and was posted to Park Hall Camp, Oswestry for training. David was drafted to France in the winter of 1916-17, and was posted to D Company of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. The battalion was attached to 19 Brigade, 33rd Division, and was on the Somme. During the coming weeks the 2nd RWF received several drafts of reinforcements, and on 8 December the now fully rebuilt battalion moved to new positions at Suzanne, between Bapaume and Péronne. The Division remained in this sector over the coming months, before being transferred to the Arras sector, and reached Henin by 13 April, before the Division took over a section of front line facing the Hindenburg Line. The infantry battalions of the division then began the usual routines of rotating between the front-line, support and reserve trenches and the 2nd RWF took over a position known as Tunnel Trench. On 23 April the 2nd RWF took part in a costly assault on the Hindenburg Line, suffering heavy casualties. The battered battalion then moved to a rest camp at Basseux to rebuild, and by 15 May moved back into the line in the Croisilles Sector. The Division then carried out several assaults against the Hindenburg Line, but could not breach it, so on 27 May 1917 a large-scale assault was carried out again, with the 2nd RWF in the thick of the action. Following the attack, the 2nd RWF moved out of the line for a rest, until moving back into the trenches at Moyenville on 19 June. Two weeks later the Division was relieved, moving to Airaines, where it spent almost a month before taking over front-line positions on the Channel coast, near Bray Dunes, in the Nieuwpoort Sector. The intention was for the Division to launch an assault along the coast, but following the failure of the army to break out at Ypres, the Division was rushed to the city, before taking over positions facing Polygon Wood by 25 September, joining the Passchendaele offensive. Over the coming days the Division saw terrible fighting for the wood, before being relieved, and moved to the Messines Sector the following month. David was wounded soon afterwards, and was evacuated to hospital in Bailleul, where he died of his wounds on 11 October 1917. The 27-year-old is buried in Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension, France.
Richard Allen Evans, Gunner, 245122, Royal Field Artillery. Richard was the son of Richard and Sarah Evans, of Godar Fach, Llansantffraid. He enlisted into the Royal Field Artillery at Llanfyllin, and was posted to B Battery, 293rd Brigade, RFA. The battery embarked at Southampton for Le Havre on 21 January 1917, as part of the 58th (London) Division, but was soon transferred to Army Troops. The battery saw its first major action at Bullecourt, during the Battle of Arras, that spring. The battery probably saw action at the Battle of Cambrai later that year, before wintering in the sector. On 21 March 1918, the Germans launched the first phase of their Spring offensive along the section of the front running south from Croisilles to La Fère. Richard’s battery was caught up in the desperate fighting which ensued, positioned near the village of Morchies. He was killed in action on that opening day of the offensive, 21 March 1918. The 34-year-old is buried in Beaumetz Cross Roads Cemetery, Beaumetz-Les-Cambrai, France.
David Hughes, Private, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. David served with the 4th Battalion, RWF, and resided at Talwrn Mill. Nobody matching those details can presently be identified.
Benjamin Jones, Engine Room Artificer 2nd Class, Tyneside 1/226, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. Benjamin was born on 13 October 1893, the son of Edward and Mary Jones, of Glanypwll, Bwlch-y-Cibau. He worked as a draughtsman at Newcastle prior to enlisting into the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve on 16 February 1914, and was posted aboard the dreadnaught battleship, HMS Agincourt. She had been ordered by the Brazilian Navy, but following a financial crisis in Brazil, the unfinished ship was sold to Turkey. She was nearly complete when war broke out, and was seized by the Royal Navy, together with another dreadnaught. Upon completion, Agincourt joined the Grand Fleet in the North Sea, spending the early years of the war on patrols and exercises, but she took part in the Battle of Jutland in 1916. Benjamin was still serving aboard Agincourt when he took ill during the winter of 1916, and was taken aboard the Hospital Ship China, where he died of blood poisoning on 6 October 1916. The remains of the 22-year-old were brought home for burial in Christ Church Churchyard, Bwlch-y-Cibau.
Percy Bourne Jones, Private, 40164, South Wales Borderers. Percy was the son of Pryce and Mary Jones, of Blossoms, Meifod. He enlisted at Welshpool into the 3/7th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, and was posted to Park Hall Camp, Oswestry for training. Percy was drafted to France in the winter of 1917-18, joining the 6th Battalion, South Wales Borderers, which was the Pioneer Battalion to the 25th Division. Percy joined the battalion at Fremicourt, near Lagnicourt, where the men were at work on the Intermediate Line, digging trenches and excavating dugouts. On 12 February 1918 the 6th SWB moved back to Achiet-le-Grand, where the men enjoyed several weeks rest, and celebrated St. David’s Day, before beginning work again. The 6th SWB moved forwards into the Favreuil sector on 13 March, and began work in the forward areas again. At dawn on 21 March 1918, the Germans launched the first phase of their Spring offensive along this sector, on a front running from Croisilles to La Fère, and broke through along the entire front. The men of the 6th SWB were at work excavating dugouts in Favreuil Wood when the offensive opened, and the men were forced to revert back to their infantry role, taking part in heavy fighting over the coming days, whilst withdrawing towards Hébuterne. The battered division was then transferred north, to the Ploegsteert sector to rest, but unfortunately became caught up in the second phase of the German offensive, on the Lys, from 9 April, and again suffered terribly. 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. On 9 May the division moved to Fismes, 20 miles south-east of Soissons in the Champagne, to give it a chance to rest and rebuild again. However, on 26 May the division took up positions south of the Aisne, to guard against a predicted German Offensive. On 27 May 1918 the attack hit them, and during the coming days the Division was virtually annihilated, and was broken up. As a result, on 2 July 1918 the 6th SWB transferred to the 30th Division, in the Ypres Salient. On 8 August the Allies gained a huge victory over the Germans at Villers Bretonneux on the Somme, and from 21 August onwards went on the offensive. The 30th Division took part in the Advance in Flanders, and then at the Battle of Ypres and the Battle of Courtrai. Percy took ill towards the end of the war, and died of influenza in Belgium on 25 October 1918. The 21-year-old is buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium.
John Henry Thomas, Lance Corporal, 355138, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. John was the son of William and Elizabeth Thomas, of Cefngoleu, Meifod. He worked as a farm labourer for his father prior to the war. John had enlisted into the Montgomeryshire Yeomanry at Park View, Llanfyllin on 26 February 1914, and attended the Annual TA Summer Camp that year. On 5 August 1914 the Montgomeryshire Yeomanry was mobilised at Welshpool, as part of the South Wales Mounted Brigade, before moving via Hereford to Thetford, to join the 1st Mounted Division. On 4 March 1916 the 1st Mounted Division sailed for Egypt to join the EEF. On 4 March 1917 the battalion merged with the Welsh Horse Yeomanry to form the 25th (Montgomery & Welsh Horse Yeomanry) Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, as part of the newly formed 231 Brigade, 74th (Yeomanry) Division. The Division assembled in Egypt as part of the EEF, before crossing the Suez Canal into the Sinai, and saw its first major action during the Second Battle of Gaza. The battle was a failure, and the EEF was re-organised under a new commander, Sir Edmund Allenby, before launching the Third Battle of Gaza on the night of 31 October 1917. This assault was launched along a winder front, running from Gaza to Beersheba, and this time the EEF prevailed, opening the door to Jerusalem. The Division then took part in the drive north into Syria, but as a result of the heavy losses suffered in France, following the launching of the three German Spring offensives from 21 March 1918, was sent to France, landing in Marseilles on 7 May 1918. The Division underwent a system of training, to prepare it for the vastly different conditions on the Western Front, before taking over a section of the front in the St. Floris Sector. On 10 July 1918 the 25th RWF moved into the front line here for the first time, to begin its first tour on the Western Front. John was wounded in the head whilst in the front line here on 20 July, and was evacuated to the 39th Stationary Hospital at Aire, where he died of his wounds on 23 July 1918. The 21-year-old is buried in Aire Communal Cemetery, France.
Frederick Wells, Sherwood Foresters. Frederick lived at Cross Keys, Bwlch-y-Cibau, and served with the Notts & Derby Regiment (Sherwood Foresters). He cannot be positively identified, as there were three men of that name, none with any obvious ties to Wales.
Arthur Henry Williams, Private, B/23545, Royal Fusiliers. Arthur was the son of Jeremiah and Jane Williams, of The School House, Bwlch-y-Cibau. He was working at Bargoed when war broke out, and enlisted there into the 26th (Bankers) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers. The battalion had been raised by the Lord Mayor and City of London on 17 July 1917 from Bank Clerks and Accountants, moving to Aldershot to join 124 Brigade, 41st (London) Division. On 4 May 1916 the battalion embarked for France, and the division moved to the Ploegsteert Sector for trench familiarisation. Over the coming months, the Divisions infantry battalions took turns I the trenches, carrying out the routine system of trench rotation, normally four days in the front, four in support and four in reserve. On 17 August 1916 the Division began to move out of the Ploegsteert Sector, and on 23 August entrained at Bailleul, for the Somme. By 13 September the Division had begun to move towards the front line, reaching Fricourt, and marched forwards through the devastation that marked the ground taken from the Germans since the opening of the Somme offensive two months earlier, before taking over a section of the line facing Delville Wood. On the following day the Division launched its first assault on the Somme, during the Battle of Flers-Courcelette. Arthur was badly wounded during the assault, and was invalided to the hospital at Heilly, where he died of his wounds on 20 September 1916. The 19-year-old is buried in Heilly Station Cemetery, Mericourt-L’Abbe, France.
Evan Williams, Private, 9820, Cheshire Regiment. Evan was the son of David and Jane Williams, of Pentre Cottages, Llanfyllin. By 1911 he was lodging at 257, Parc Road, Cwmpark, Treorchy, where he worked as a coal hewer. Evan was probably an Army Reservist, and re-enlisted at Chester into the Cheshire Regiment soon after the outbreak of war. On 16 January 1915 he was drafted to France, joining the 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, which was attached to 15 Brigade, 5th Division. Evan joined the battalion at Bailleul on 20 January, where it was in Divisional Reserve. Four days later the battalion marched out of Bailleul, and began a short tour in the front-line trenches at Wulverghem. On 30 January the battalion was relieved and moved into support at Dranoutre, then on 2 February the battalion moved into support at Bailleul again. This routine was by now the usual system of trench rotation for the infantry battalions on the Western Front, and was to continue throughout the war, with the routine often broken up by supplying working parties or carrying out raids. By 4 March 1915 the Division had moved slightly north, taking over trenches between Ypres and St. Eloi. On 22 April the 1st Cheshire’s were holding the front line at Zillebeke, when fighting broke out to their north, following the launching of a German gas-attack in the Ypres Salient, against a section of line held by French Colonial troops. The Frenchmen fled as the gas rolled onto their positions, and a gap opened in the line, which was only closed after a stubborn resistance was put up by the Canadians, who were ordered to plug the gap. This fighting heralded the opening of the Second Battle of Ypres, and was to rage for weeks. On 29 April the 1st Cheshire’s moved into casements in the Ypres Ramparts, in Brigade Reserve. At dawn on 5 May 1915 the battalion was ordered forward to support the stretched line at Hill 60, and arrived at Larch Wood, before assaulting the new German front line. Evan was killed in action during the assault that day. The 26-year-old has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium.
Robert William Williams, Private, 355213, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Robert was the son of Hugh and Catherine Williams, of Glanypwll, Bwlch-Y-Cibau. He enlisted into the Montgomeryshire Yeomanry at Welshpool soon after the outbreak of war. On 5 August 1914 the Montgomeryshire Yeomanry was mobilised at Welshpool, as part of the South Wales Mounted Brigade, before moving via Hereford to Thetford, to join the 1st Mounted Division. On 4 March 1916 the 1st Mounted Division sailed for Egypt to join the EEF. On 4 March 1917 the battalion merged with the Welsh Horse Yeomanry to form the 25th (Montgomery & Welsh Horse Yeomanry) Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, as part of the newly formed 231 Brigade, 74th (Yeomanry) Division. The Division assembled in Egypt as part of the EEF, before crossing the Suez Canal into the Sinai, and saw its first major action during the Second Battle of Gaza. The battle was a failure, and the EEF was re-organised under a new commander, Sir Edmund Allenby, before launching the Third Battle of Gaza on the night of 31 October 1917. This assault was launched along a winder front, running from Gaza to Beersheba, and this time the EEF prevailed, opening the door to Jerusalem. Robert had been badly wounded during the battle which followed, and he died of his wounds on 2 November 1917. The 23-year-old is buried in Beersheba War Cemetery, Israel.
World War Two, 1939-1945
David William Evans, Sergeant, 1819055, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. David was the son of Edward Evans and Annie Jane Evans (nee Edmunds), of Tyddyn Sais, Bwlch-y-Cibau. He worked as a Pharmacist prior to the war. David enlisted into the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, and was posted to Egypt, joining 1675 Heavy Conversion Unit, for training on the Consolidated B-24 Liberator. The unit was based at RAF Abu Sueir, about ten miles west of Ismailia. David was killed in the early hours of 6 February 1945, when he accidentally contacted a propellor. The 26-year-old is buried in Moascar War Cemetery, Egypt.
Herbert Hughes, Serjeant, 2734669, Welsh Guards. Herbert was the son of Mabel Kathleen Morgan, of Bwlch-Y-Cibau. He enlisted into the army, and was posted to the 3rd Battalion, Welsh Guards. The Battalion sailed for North Africa on 5 February 1943, landing in Algiers eleven days later, then moved to El Aroussa, some twenty miles south of Medjez El Bab, where they joined the 1st Guards Brigade. On 9 April 1943, the 3rd Welsh Guards took part in an assault by the 1st Guards Brigade to capture the hills on the northern side of the Fondouk Gap, a feature about 1,000 yards wide through which passes the road to the coastal plain. The battalion came under heavy machine-gun and mortar fire, suffering heavy casualties. Herbert was killed in action during the days fighting. The 21-year-old is buried in Enfidaville War Cemetery, Tunisia. Herbert is not commemorated on the Bwlch-y-Cibau war memorial.