Llangurig is a village in Montgomeryshire, situated on the north bank of the River Wye, to the north-west of the junction of the A470 and the A44 trunk roads, and about seven miles north-north-west of Rhayader. The men of Llangurig who fell during the Great War are commemorated on a war memorial which is located within St. Curig’s Church, which also commemorates the parishioners who served and returned. The war memorial at Llanidloes also commemorates these men, on the Llangurig section of the memorial, together with the one man of Llangurig who fell during World War Two. I have taken the liberty of adding the details of several other men of Llangurig who are for some reason not named on either memorial.
The Great War, 1914-1918
John Pugh Abel, Private, 203677, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. John was the son of John Abel and Mary Abel (nee Pugh), of Hendre Aur, Cwmbellan, Llangurig. He worked as a Waggoner prior to enlisting into the 4th (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers at Welshpool on 22 February 1916, and was initially placed on the Army Reserve. John was mobilised on 22 January 1917, attesting at Wrexham, before being posted to Park Hall Camp, Oswestry for training. John, like Richard Davies (below), had only been in uniform for three weeks before he took ill, and contracted pneumonia. He died of pneumonia at Park Hall Military Hospital on 21 February 1917. The remains of the 27-year-old were brought home for burial in Llangurig Nonconformist Cemetery. His brother, William, had been killed in France in 1916.
William Osborne Abel, Private, 429513, Canadian Infantry. William was born on 2 December 1891, the son of John Abel and Mary Abel (nee Pugh), of Hendre Aur, Cwmbellan, Llangurig. He worked as a Waggoner at St. Harmon prior to emigrating to Canada in 1912, where he became a farmer. William enlisted into the 47th Battalion, Canadian Infantry at New Westminster, British Colombia on 13 March 1915, and sailed from Montreal for England aboard the SS Scandinavian on 1 October 1915, joining the Canadian Camp at Bramshott, before being posted to Shorncliffe. On 29 February 1916 William was drafted to France, and was posted to the 16th Battalion, Canadian Infantry, which was attached to the 3rd Brigade, 1st Canadian Division at Ypres. The sector held by the Division was a notorious one, with the Ypres-Comines railway cutting and Hill 60 to the left, and the St. Eloi Sector to the right. The infantry battalions of the Division were rotating between spells in the trenches and spells in support, at Bedford House, and the sector was an active one, with mines and counter-mines often being blown, especially around Hill 60. On 13 May 1916 William suffered multiple shrapnel wounds to his face and arm, and was treated at the 10th Casualty Clearing Station before being sent to the 3rd Canadian General Hospital at Boulogne for treatment, and re-joined the battalion on 23 June. He had fortunately missed the great Battle of Mount Sorrel, which had raged from 2 to 13 June, following a German assault which opened up a gap in the Canadian lines, forcing the Canadians to counter-attack to regain the lost ground. During August 1916 the Canadians were withdrawn from the Ypres Salient, and moved to the Eperlecques area to train in preparation for a move south to join the Somme offensive, and on 1 September the 1st Canadian Division reinforced the 4th Australian Division in front of Mouquet Farm, before relieving them three days later and carrying on with the attempts to capture the strongly fortified farm. After several terrible days in the line, the 16th Battalion then had a brief rest in Albert before moving back into the front line by 23 September, taking up support positions in Sausage Valley, and on the evening of 25 September moved into the front line, ready to launch an assault the following morning. The Canadians went over the top at 12.30 on 26 September, into a scene of carnage and ferocity, with dead bodies littering the battlefield, those of Australians killed over the previous weeks, and of Canadians killed more recently. William was originally reported as missing at some time between 25 and 28 September 1916, but was later assumed to have been killed in action on the latter date, 28 September 1916. The 24-year-old has no known grave and is commemorated on the Vimy Memorial, France. His brother, John, died soon after enlisting in 1917.
Richard Lewis Davies, Private, 203603, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Richard was born at Cefn, Llangurig in 1892, the son of Richard and Anne Davies. The family later resided at Bryncoch, Llandinam. Richard worked as a Waggoner prior to enlisting into the 4th (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers at Welshpool in February 1916, and was placed on the Army Reserve. He was mobilised on 18 January 1917, and attested at Wrexham prior to being posted to Park Hall Camp, Oswestry for training. Richard, like John Abel (above), had only been in uniform a matter of weeks before he took ill, and died of pneumonia at Park Hall Military Hospital on 14 February 1917. The remains of the 21-year-old were brought home for burial in Dolhafren Cemetery, Llanidloes.
David Idris Evans, Private, 80225, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. David was the son of Richard and Mary Evans, of 234, Park Road, Cwmpark, Rhondda. Both of his parents were from Llangurig, but had moved to Cwmpark in 1896 after his father had found work there as a Colliery Horse Farrier. David enlisted into the Welsh Regiment at Pentre, and was initially posted to France in the summer of 1917, joining the 16th Battalion, Welsh Regiment. The battalion was at Ypres, attached to 115 Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division, and had been holding the Canal Bank sector at Boesinghe since its assault on Mametz Wood the previous year. On 31 July 1917 the Division launched its famous assault on the Pilckem Ridge, capturing Iron Cross and reaching its objective of the Steenbeek, then played a supporting role in the Battle of Langemarck. The Division was transferred to the Sailly-sur-la-Lys sector in September, and remained in the area over the winter. In February 1918 the 16th Welsh was disbanded, and David transferred for a while to the 18th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, which was attached to 119 Brigade, 40th (Bantam) Division. The battalion suffered terrible losses during the Battle of the Lys in April 1918, which led to it being disbanded, and David was transferred again, joining the 14th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, which was holding the Bouzincourt Ridge sector on the Somme attached to 113 Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division. It held this sector, again carrying out minor operations and trench raids, over the coming months, before taking part in the great offensive of 21 August 1918, and began its advance towards the Hindenburg Line. By 2 September the Division had captured Morval and Sailly-Saillisel, before advancing to the Canal du Nord, and 114 Brigade forced the crossing of the canal, before the Division maintained its advance, reaching the strongly defended town of Gouzeaucourt by 16 September. On 18 September 1918 the Division launched an assault against the town, as part of the overall Battle of Épehy, the 14th RWF seeing heavy fighting during their capture of African Trench and Support that day. David was killed in action during the attack. The 21-year-old is buried in Gouzeaucourt New British Cemetery, France. One of his brothers, Richard, died in 1921 as a result of his service during the war. Neither brother is commemorated at Llangurig.
Richard Henry Evans, Private, 29480, Royal Field Artillery. Richard was born at Llangurig in 1890, the son of Richard and Mary Evans, of The Black Lion, Llangurig. By 1896 the family had moved to 234, Park Road, Cwmpark, Rhondda, after his father had found work there as a Colliery Horse Farrier. Richard worked as a Colliery Haulier prior to enlisting into the Royal Field Artillery on 4 September 1914. He embarked for France on 20 November 1915, and served on the Western Front until being wounded during the Battle of the Somme, and was eventually discharged as medically unfit on 3 January 1917. Richard returned to Cwmpark, but his wounds had taken a heavy toll on his health, and he eventually died there on 13 August 1921, aged 31. Nothing further is known of him, as he is not commemorated by the CWGC. One of his brothers, David, was killed in France in 1918. Neither man is commemorated on the Llangurig war memorial.
Walter Ingram, Private, T2/14288, Army Service Corps. Walter was the son of Thomas Ingram and Ann Ingram (nee George), of Factory House, Cwmbellan, Llangurig. He worked as a farm servant for Edward and Margaret Evans at Ystrad Olwen Fawr, Llangurig prior to the war. He enlisted into the Army Service Corps at some time prior to the outbreak of war, and embarked for France on 8 October 1914, with the 4th Company, ASC, which was attached to the 8th Division. The Division reinforced the thinly stretched BEF at Ypres, and saw its first major action at the Battle of Neuve Chapelle, and then at the Battle of Aubers the following year. The Division then saw further fighting at the Action of Bois Grenier, before moving to the Somme in 1916, and took part in the Somme offensive. In March 1917 the Division followed the German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line, and later that year moved to Ypres, fighting at the Battle of Pilckem, and the Battle of Langemarck. In March 1918 the Division was on the southern end of the Somme, and was hit hard when the Germans launched their offensive of 21 March 1918, seeing heavy casualties as it was driven back towards Villers-Bretonneux, before being withdrawn from the line to rest. However, the rest area, on the Aisne, was the area hit by the third phase of the German offensive in May 1918, and the Division took heavy casualties again, before being transferred to the Arras sector. Walter was later transferred to the 200th Company, ASC. He took ill just over a month before the end of the war, and was evacuated to the 5th General Hospital, at Abbeville, where he died of pneumonia on 5 October 1918. The 27-year-old was buried in Abbeville Communal Cemetery Extension, France.
Benjamin Herbert Pryce Jones, Corporal, G/65751, Royal Fusiliers. Benjamin was the son of Benjamin Jones and Elizabeth Jones (nee Price), of 1, Wesleyan Terrace, Llangurig. He enlisted into the Royal Fusiliers at Hitchen soon after the outbreak of war, and was posted to France on 23 May 1917, joining the 2nd Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, which was at Arras attached to 86 Brigade, 29th Division. The Division was a very experienced one, having fought at Gallipoli in 1915 and the Somme in 1916, and was just nearing the end of its ordeals during the Battle of Arras when Benjamin joined its ranks near Monchy. At the beginning of June 1917, the 29th Division was relieved and entrained at Beaumetz for the area around Lanches, and at the end of the month entrained for the Proven area, in the Ypres Salient. The 2nd Royal Fusiliers spent the first weeks in the Salient supplying working parties in the area, repairing roads, and suffered a number of casualties from German artillery fire before the 29th Division relieved the 38th (Welsh) Division on the Canal Bank sector at Boesinghe, so the latter Division could train in preparation for the forthcoming assault on Pilckem Ridge. In the week leading up to the assault, the opening phase of the Battle of Passchendaele, the Divisions then swapped, and the 29th Division moved back into support in the Proven area, whilst the 38th Division opened the offensive against Pilckem Ridge on 31 July 1917, taking its objectives of the Steenbeek, facing Langemarck. The 29th Division then moved into the line on 6 August, and took part in the Battle of Langemarck, and the 2nd Royal Fusiliers remained in the line here until 21 August when it was relieved again and had an extended rest period behind the lines. It was not until 8 October until the battalion moved back into the battle area at Rousseau Farm, and on the following day, 9 October 1917, launched an assault towards strategic points around Poelcapelle. Benjamin was killed in action during the assault that day. The 28-year-old has no known grave and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium.
Edward Stephen Jones, Private, 267789, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Edward was the son of Edward and Mary Ann Jones, of Glanbidno Isaf, Llangurig. He worked as a farm labourer at Llangurig prior to enlisting into the 6th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers at Welshpool on 16 February 1916, and was initially placed on the Army Reserve. Edward was mobilised on 2 May 1916, attesting at Wrexham, before being posted to Park Hall Camp, Oswestry for training. Edward was originally placed in Category II, as fit for home service, as he had a history of rheumatic fever, but due to the need for recruits at the front, he embarked for France at Southampton on 10 June 1917, disembarking at Rouen the following day before entraining for Abbeville. On 18 September 1917, Edward was posted to the 4th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, which was by that time in a rest camp at Eecke, following a long spell at Ypres, and was the Pioneer Battalion to the 47th (2nd London) Division. At the end of the month the Division moved south to positions some 2,000 yards north of Arras, and the 4th RWF began work on a trench 1,200 yards from Farbus and also on road repairs along the Roclincourt to Bailleul Road. The Division then took part in the Battle of Cambrai. During March 1918 the Division was situated near St. Quentin, and faced the German Spring Offensive here on 21 March, fighting an epic rear-guard action towards Senlis over the coming days. On 21 August 1918 the British attacked on the Somme, and the Division took part in the great offensive, from the area of Morlancourt, and over the coming weeks helped drive the Germans back towards the mighty Hindenburg Line, which was broken on 29 September, opening the door for the Allies. Edward had survived the war, but was taken ill after the Armistice and died of influenza at the 5th General Hospital, Boulogne on 1 December 1918. The 26-year-old is buried in Terlincthun British Cemetery, Wimille, France.
Simon Jones, Private, 203602, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Simon was the son of David and Jane Jones, of Glan-y-nant, Glynbrochan. He worked as a Waggoner at Nantygeifr, Llangurig prior to enlisting into the 4th (Reserve) Battalion at Welshpool in February 1916 and was placed on the Army Reserve. Simon was mobilised on 20 January 1917, and attested at Wrexham, before being sent to Park Hall Camp, Oswestry for training. Simon had been in uniform for little over a week, before he took ill and was taken to Gobowen Military Hospital, where he died of pneumonia on 4 February 1917. The remains of the 21-year-old were brought home for burial in Dolhafren Cemetery, Llanidloes.
Thomas Jones, Private, 292714, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Thomas was born in Llangurig in 1870, the son of Edward and Margaret Jones. The family later moved to Mount Street, Llanidloes. Thomas left home as a young man and enlisted into the 24th Foot (South Wales Borderers) at Newtown on 12 October 1887. He married Mary Burgess at Welshpool on 3 October 1893, after leaving the army, and the couple moved to 15, Bellvue Terrace, Aberfan, where Thomas had gained work as a collier. Following the outbreak of war, Thomas returned to his parents home at Mount Street, Llanidloes before enlisting into the 2/7th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers on 23 March 1915. With his previous experience as a soldier, he was immediately posted to the 1/7th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. 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 across the Salt Lake, under shellfire, into the scrub covered Chocolate Hill, but due to a lack of maps and no knowledge of the terrain, many of the units became disorientated, and the situation became chaotic. After the fighting died down, the winter rolled in, and the men first had to endure torrential downpours, which flooded the trenches, before the snow hit, and many men began falling ill in the terrible conditions. 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. A second attempt to force Gaza was launched on 17 April, which also failed, and the EEF suffered a change in leadership, with Sir Edmund Allenby assuming command, before being re-organised, and a third offensive was launched against a wider front from Beersheba to Gaza on 31 October 1917. This time the Turkish defences were breached, and the road to Jerusalem now lay open and the EEF began to advance north. On 6 November 1917, 158 Brigade launched an attack on the Khuweilfeh Heights. Thomas was wounded during the assault, and was evacuated to a Casualty Clearing Station where he died of his wounds on 10 November 1917. The 50-year-old is buried in Beersheba War Cemetery, Israel. Thomas is not commemorated on the Llangurig war memorial, but is commemorated at Aberfan.
Thomas Edward Lewis, Private, 5058, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Thomas was born at Llangurig on 4 March 1896, the son of Benjamin Lloyd Lewis and Jane Lewis (nee Bound). His mother died in 1900, so his widowed father moved to 5, Plantagenet terrace, Llanwonno with young Thomas and his sister Mary by 1901, after he had gained work there as a Coal Miner. Thomas became a Coal Miner when he was old enough to begin work, before enlisting into the 3rd Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers at Pontypridd on 22 September 1913. He then completed his four months training before attending a musketry course. After the outbreak of war, Thomas was mobilised at Wrexham, and was posted to the newly formed 8th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. The battalion had formed at Wrexham in August 1914, joining 40 Brigade, 13th (Western) Division on Salisbury Plain. On 13 June 1915 the Division sailed for Alexandria, and moved to Mudros before being landed at Cape Helles, Gallipoli from 6 July 1915, relieving the 29th Division. The Division then left and returned to Mudros at the end of the month, before landing at ANZAC Cove between 3 and 5 August 1915, taking part in the Battles of Sari Bair, Russell’s Top, and Hill 60, ANZAC. Soon afterwards the Division was transferred from ANZAC to Suvla Bay, and it was evacuated from Suvla on 19 December 1915, moving after a week’s rest to the Helles bridgehead, where it faced the last Turkish attacks at Helles. On 8 January 1916, the Division was evacuated from Helles, and by 31 January was concentrated at Port Said, where it held forward posts in the Suez Canal defences. On 12 February 1916 the Division began to move to Mesopotamia, to strengthen the force being assembled for the relief of the besieged garrison at Kut al Amara. By 27 March, the Division had assembled near Sheikh Saad and came under orders of the Tigris Corps, and then took part in the attempts to relieve Kut. Thomas was reported as missing in action on 9 April 1916, and it was not until 5 November 1917 that he was eventually officially recorded as having been killed in action on that date. The 20-year-old has no known grave and is commemorated on the Basra Memorial, Iraq. Thomas is not commemorated on the Llangurig war memorial.
Samuel Richard Lloyd, Corporal, 355075, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Samuel was the illegitimate son of Jane Lloyd, of High Street, Llanidloes. His mother married Charles Rice in 1910, and the family moved to live at Brynhyfryd, Llangurig. He worked as a Farmer prior to enlisting into the Montgomeryshire Yeomanry at Llangurig on 11 April 1912, and attended the annual Territorial summer camp every year until the outbreak of war in August 1914. 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. In September the Division moved south to the Somme sector, to join the great offensive, and on 18 September 1918 took part in an assault on the Orchard Post and Gillemont Farm positions near Lempire and Ronssoy, which formed part of the outer defensive line for the Hindenburg Line. Samuel was killed in action during the terrible fighting that day. The 24-year-old is buried in Ronssoy Communal Cemetery, France.
Edward Pryce Morgan, Company Quartermaster Sergeant, 355031, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Edward was born in Llangurig in 1872, the son of John and Mary Morgan. The family had moved to South Wales by 1891 and lived at Eglwysilan. Edward married Mary Lewis, at Sardis Chapel, Pontypridd on 21 November 1893, and by the couple were living in Elan Village, where Edward worked as a Butcher. By 1911 the family had moved to Whalley House, Rhayader, where Edward ran his own business and a Fellmonger and Roller Leather Manufacturer, assisted by the couple’s eldest son, Edward Pryce Morgan. Edward had enlisted into the 1st Battalion, Herefordshire Regiment (Territorials) on 7 January 1909, before transferring to the Montgomeryshire Yeomanry, and had attended the annual summer camp every year afterwards. By the time was erupted, he had been promoted to Sergeant, and once the Montgomery Yeomanry had been mobilised, moving to Norfolk with the South Wales Mounted Brigade, 1st Mounted Division, he was promoted to Staff Quartermaster Sergeant. The Division sailed from Devonport for Egypt on 4 March 1916, and was placed on the Suez Canal Defences. On 4 March 1917 the Montgomery Yeomanry was merged with the Welsh Horse Yeomanry to form the 25th (Montgomery & Welsh Horse Yeomanry) Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, in the newly formed 231 Brigade, 74th (Yeomanry) Division. The Division then took part in the Second Battle of Gaza, which resulted in a defeat by the Turks, before the EEF placed under the command of Sir Edmund Allenby, who reorganised his new command, before launching a third offensive against Gaza on a wider front, running from Gaza to Beersheba, on 1 November 1917. This time the EEF broke the Turkish lines, opening the way to Jerusalem, and captured the Holy City on 9 December. The EEF then continued its advance northwards over the coming months. Edward took ill, contracting malaria during the relentless advance northwards through the barren desert, and was initially sent to the Red Cross Hospital at Montazah, before being transferred to the 71st General Hospital at Helmand on 22 November 1917. Edward eventually weakened and died of enteritis on 14 February 1918, aged 46. He is buried in Cairo War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt. Edward is not commemorated on the Llangurig war memorial.
John Edward Morgans, Driver, 12324, Royal Field Artillery. John was the son of Edward Morgans and Mary Morgans (nee Rees), of Cwmbellan, Llangurig. He worked as a Coal Miner in South Wales prior to enlisting into the Royal Field Artillery at Pontypridd soon after the outbreak of war. John embarked for France on 13 September 1914, with the 20th Battery, Royal Field Artillery, which was attached to the 7th (Meerut) Division, Indian Army. The division saw its first action at the Battles of La Bassée, and then at Messines and Armentieres in October and November 1914. After a terrible winter, which saw the Indian troops of the Meerut Division suffer terribly, the following year the division took part in the Battles of Neuve Chapelle, Aubers Ridge, Festubert and Loos in September 1915. The Division was then withdrawn from the Western Front, and was relieved in the front line on 6 November, entraining for Marseilles before sailing for Basra, to join the Mesopotamian campaign, arriving in the Spring of 1917, and joined the Tigris Corps. The Meerut Division then saw extensive fighting in Mesopotamia before participating in the capture of Baghdad in March 1917. In December 1917 the Division then transferred to Palestine to join the EEF, under Sir Edmund Allenby, and on 1 April 1918 it relieved the 52nd (Lowland) Division, which was on its way to the Western Front. The 20th Battery, RFA transferred to the 52nd Division at this time, and embarked for France, sailing from Alexandria on 4 April 1918 aboard HMT Kingstonian. The ship was torpedoed and sunk en-route, but the men of the battery were rescued, although their guns and equipment sunk with Kingstonian. The men then landed at Marseilles on 12 April, entraining for Northern France where the battery was re-equipped later that month. The 52nd Division then took part in the great 100 days offensive from 21 August 1918, driving towards the Hindenburg Line and beyond. John was wounded two weeks before the Armistice, and was evacuated to the Casualty Clearing Station at Beugny, where he died of his wounds on 1 November 1918. The 30-year-old is buried in Delsaux Farm Cemetery, Beugny, France. John is not commemorated on the Llangurig war memorial.
John Neilson, MM, Private, 55915, Canadian Infantry. John was born in Dublin on 11 September 1890, the son of William Neilson, a Scottish engineer, and Esther Teresa Neilson (nee Lynch). His father died in 1893, and by 1911 the family was residing at Shepley House, Hazel Grove, Cheshire with Williams brother, Beaumont Neilson, who had become the guardian of John and his brother Richard, but the family moved to Plas Tylwch, Llangurig soon afterwards. John then emigrated to Canada, where he found work at Toronto. He enlisted at Toronto into the 19th Battalion, Canadian Infantry on 11 November 1914, and on 13 May 1915 sailed with the battalion for Liverpool. The battalion moved to the Canadian Camp Shorncliffe, where it was attached to the 2nd Canadian Division, and the Division then carried out a comprehensive training scheme before embarking for France in September 1915. The 19th Battalion disembarked at Boulogne on 14 September, before proceeding to the Ypres Salient, where the Division took over a section of the front between Ploegsteert Wood and St. Eloi, south of Ypres. On 22 December 1915 John was wounded in the scalp whilst the battalion was in the trenches at Vierstraat, and was evacuated to the 5th Canadian Field Ambulance, before returning to England. On 10 April 1916 he re-joined the battalion, at the height of a series of a period of fighting known as the Actions of the St. Eloi Craters. The next major action for the Canadians was during the Battle of Mount Sorrel, following a German attack on the Hill 62 area on 2 June 1916, which resulted in over a week of desperate fighting before the situation was restored. The Canadians were withdrawn from Ypres during August 1916 and spent a short period training in the Eperlecques area before transferring to the Somme, to take over the Mouquet Farm sector and saw heavy fighting during the Battle of Flers-Courcelette from 15 September. John was wounded again during the fighting for Courcelette on 28 September 1916, suffering shrapnel wounds, but by 10 October had re-joined the battalion again, and took part in the Canadian efforts during the Battle of Le Transloy and the Battle of the Ancre Heights. After wintering on the Somme, the Canadian Corps transferred to the Arras sector, and began to prepare for their famous assault on Vimy Ridge. John was awarded the Military Medal during this period in the line, probably for the assault on Vimy Ridge on 9 April 1917, and the award was published in the London Gazette of 26 April 1917. The Canadians saw further heavy fighting after capturing the ridge, during the Attack on La Coulotte on 23 April, and then at the Battle of Arleux from 28-29 April, and from 3 May took part in the Third Battle of the Scarpe. John was killed in action during the latter action, during fighting at the Mont Foret Quarries, east of Vimy, on 9 May 1917. The 27-year-old was buried in Écoivres Military Cemetery, Mont-St. Eloi, France. His brother, Richard, was killed at Ypres three months later.
Richard Clark Neilson, Second Lieutenant, Welsh Regiment. Richard was born at Rothesay, Bute, Scotland on 12 June 1891, the son of William Neilson, a Scottish engineer, and Esther Teresa Neilson (nee Lynch). His father died in 1893, and by 1911 the family was residing at Shepley House, Hazel Grove, Cheshire with Williams brother, Beaumont Neilson, who had become the guardian of John and his brother Richard, but the family moved to Plas Tylwch, Llangurig soon afterwards. Richard enlisted into the Montgomeryshire Yeomanry soon after the outbreak of war, and was probably posted to Park Hall Camp, Oswestry with the 3/1st Battalion for training, gaining the rank of Corporal before being commissioned as Second Lieutenant into the Welsh Regiment on 8 January 1916. Richard was then posted to the 16th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, which was in Flanders, attached to 115 Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division. The Division had moved to France on 2 December 1915 and moved to the Nursery Sector near Fleurbaix for trench initiation alongside the Guards Division. The Division then held a sector of the line near Cuinchy before marching south to the Somme sector in June 1916 to take part in the assault on Mametz Wood. The first attack on the wood was launched on a two-battalion front on 7 July, but failed, with the 16th Welsh suffering severe casualties, and the Divisional Commander, Sir Ivor Philipps, was replaced before the Division attacked again on a two Brigade front on 10 July 1916. After two days of ferocious hand-to-hand fighting, the wood was cleared up to its northern edge, before the battered Division was relieved. It then took over a section of the front at Hébuterne before moving to the Ypres Salient, and taking over the Canal Bank sector at Boesinghe. The infantry battalions of the Division then began carrying out the normal pattern of rotation in the trenches, four days in the front, four in support and four in reserve, whilst also working on trench improvement, digging new trenches, and also carrying out regular patrols and trench raids. One such raid, on 21 February 1917, was cancelled after Richard sneaked out onto the frozen canal to test the strength of the ice, and found that it was cracking under his feet. On 31 July 1917 the Division launched its famous assault on the Pilckem Ridge, capturing Iron Cross and reaching its objective of the Steenbeek, then played a supporting role in the Battle of Langemarck. The 20th (Light) Division had been unable to take Eagle Trench: a position named Pheasant Farm, still held by the Germans, proved a troublesome point for the Division, and as a result it was decided that the 16th Welsh should launch a daylight assault on Eagle Trench in conjunction with the 11th Division, on their right, which would attack Pheasant farm and several other strong-points. The objective for the 16th Welsh comprised of 650 metres of trench situated along the Langemarck to Poelcapelle road, connected by pill-boxes which housed machine-gun crews. The front line was held by the 11th SWB and was about 350 metres from the objective, and No Man’s Land consisted purely of mud and shell-holes. During the night of 26-27 August, the 16th Welsh crept forwards from the front line to a position about 120 metres from the Germans. The weather was diabolical: it was pouring down with rain and the incessant mud and driving winds made matters all the worse. Assembly was completed by 02.00 but the Cardiff City men had to lie in the mud for another twelve hours before zero, which was at 14.00 on the 27th. At around mid-day a German aircraft flying low spotted the Welshmen, and their positions were relayed back, so when the men rose to launch their assault, foundering in the knee-deep mud, they were annihilated by German machine-gun and artillery fire. During the attack on 27 August 1917, Richard and three other officers, as well as sixty-seven men had been killed, whilst seven officers and 128 men had been wounded out of a total of just over 400 men. Richard, who was 26-years-old when he was killed that day, has no known grave and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium. His brother John had been killed at Arras just three months previously.
Edward Ernest Poole, Corporal, D/3085, 3rd Dragoon Guards (Prince of Wales’ Own). Edward was born at Buttington in 1887, the son of Police Sergeant John Poole and Margaret Poole. By 1895 the family had moved away from the village, first to Llanfair Caereinion, then to Welshpool by 1901. Edward worked as a Groom prior to enlisting into the 3rd Dragoon Guards at Welshpool on 4 March 1909, and by 1911 was based at Aldershot with the regiment. His parents had by now moved to Railway Rank, Cwmbellan, Llanidloes. Edward was in Cairo with the 3rd Dragoons at the outbreak of war, and on 29 September sailed from Alexandria with the regiment. After a brief period in England, the 3rd Dragoons landed in France on 31 October 1914, entraining from Le Havre to Cassel, joining the 6th Cavalry Brigade, 3rd Cavalry Division. The Division took up defensive positions east of Ypres with the BEF, at Zillebeke by 13 November, and assisted the BEF with the defence of the ancient city, seeing heavy casualties over the coming days. Edward was wounded at Zillebeke, and was evacuated to Poperinghe, where he died of his wounds on 20 November 1914. The 27-year-old was buried in Poperinghe Old Military Cemetery, Belgium.
David Edward Thomas, Pioneer, 523980, Royal Engineers. David was the son of David Pryce Thomas, and Ellen Jane Thomas, of Pentre, Llangurig. He worked as a Farm Labourer prior to enlisting into the 7th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers at Llanidloes on 2 November 1914, and was posted to the 3/7th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers at Park Hall Camp, Oswestry. On 11 July 1917 David was transferred to the Bedfordshire Regiment, embarking for France on 18 December 1917 and joining the 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment. On 27 February 1918 he was transferred again, joining the 97th Field Company, Royal Engineers, which was attached to the 21st Division. The division was one of the units hit by the German Spring Offensive on the Somme in March 1918, seeing heavy fighting during the withdrawal before being evacuated to Flanders to rest. Unluckily though, the Germans launched a fresh offensive on the Lys in April 1918, and the division was caught up in the thick of the fighting again, during the Battle of Messines, and the Second Battle of Kemmel. The battered division now moved south to rebuild, but again was unlucky, as the Germans launched a fresh offensive on the Chemin-des-Dames, and the division was caught up in the action again, fighting in the Battle of the Aisne. The Division then moved north to the Somme sector, and from 21 August onwards took part in the great offensive which ended the war, driving from north of the River Ancre at Auchonvillers towards Le Sars then onto the Hindenburg Line, and towards the River Selle, where it saw its last major action during the Battle of the Selle. By 27 October the 97th Field Company had reached Poix-du-Nord, and began work on a Divisional bath-house for the troops, as well as erecting the 21st Divisional HQ, a theatre and horse troughs along the Harpies River. David was killed here when the village was heavily shelled by the Germans on the morning of 30 October 1918. The 20-year-old was buried in Poix-du-Nord Communal Cemetery Extension, France.
Richard David Turner, Private, 130347, Machine Gun Corps. Richard was the son of Edward and Elizabeth Turner, of Maesmawr, Llangurig. He worked as a Cattleman prior to gaining work as a Coal Miner at Aberfan prior to the war. Richard enlisted at Merthyr Tydfil into the 4th (Reserve) Battalion, Welsh Regiment, and after completing his training at Pembroke Dock, was drafted to France, and transferred to the Machine Gun Corps. Richard was later posted to the 49th Battalion, Machine Gun Corps. The battalion had been formed from the merger of the 146th, 147th, and 148th Machine Gun Companies on 2 March 1918, and was in the Ypres Salient with the Division, holding a section of the line near Polderhoek Chateau. To the south the Germans launched the opening phase of their Spring offensive on 21 March 1918, along the section of the Western Front running south from Croisilles to La Fère, breaking the Allied line and driving back the Allies to the old positions of 1916. The 49th Battalion MGC were kept busy at Ypres during this period, but there were no real actions of note until 9 April 1918, when the Germans launched the second phase of their offensive to the Lys Valley, and the 49th Division was hurriedly relieved before moving south to the Neuve Eglise area, to bolster the thinly stretched lines following a German breakthrough in the Portuguese Sector. By 11 April the Division came into contact with the German attackers in front of Neuve Eglise and heavy fighting soon ensued. The various Machine-Gun Companies of the battalion took up defensive positions around Kemmel and Spanbroekmolen, where they suffered heavy artillery fire whilst supporting the infantry of the Division over the coming days, before being forced to withdraw towards Bailleul. Richard was badly wounded by shellfire on 29 April, and died of his wounds on the following day, 30 April 1918. The 23-year-old was buried in Grootebeek British Cemetery, Belgium.
World War Two, 1939-1945
Ronald Edwards, Corporal, 5509212, Royal Army Medical Corps. Ronald was born on 9 January 1914, and by 1939 was residing at 13, Havant Road, Portsmouth, where he worked as a general dairy worker. He married Florence Turner, the daughter of Edward and Elizabeth Turner, of Llangurig, in Portsmouth in 1939. Ronald enlisted into the Royal Army Medical Corps, and was posted to the 212th Field Ambulance, RAMC, which was attached to the 53rd (Welsh) Division. The Division, a Territorial Army unit, was mobilised at the outbreak of war, and moved to Northern Ireland to begin garrison duties. The Division then moved to Pembroke Dock, before moving again to the south of England, where it trained in readiness for the D-Day Landings. On 24 June 1944 the various units of the Division left England for Normandy, and landed at La Riviere near Ver Sur Mer. The Division then took part in heavy fighting over the coming weeks, as part of the effort to break-out of the Normandy beach-head, seeing heavy fighting at Évrecy. The 212th Field Ambulance was equipped with a number of Humber FWD 8-cwt light field ambulances, which were fully equipped with medical equipment and used as mobile Casualty Clearing Stations. Ronald was killed whilst the Division was involved in operations in the Odon Valley on 1 July 1944. The 30-year-old is buried in St. Manvieu War Cemetery, Cheux, France. Within the archives of the Imperial War Museum is an archive of cinematic footage of Ronald’s unit in action around the time he was killed. One film shows one of the Humber’s belonging to the unit being parked up, after suffering considerable damage from German machine-gun fire, despite the prominent Red Cross emblems painted on its sides. His widow, Florence, had returned home to Llangurig soon after their marriage in 1939, yet Ronald is not commemorated on the Llangurig war memorial.
Alfred Emanuel Meredith, Fusilier, 4197059, Royal Welch Fusiliers. Alfred was the son of Edward and Mary Meredith (nee Lewis), of Blaenglyn, Llangurig. He was a regular soldier, and was serving with the 1st Battalion, Royal Welch Fusiliers at the outbreak of war. The battalion embarked for France with the BEF, and took up positions on the River Dyle at Ottenburg, north of Wavre, where the battalion first made contact with the attacking Germans on 14 May 1940. The forward company was subjected to intense mortar fire and a series of unsuccessful attacks throughout the following day. Meanwhile the Germans had broken through near Sedan, threatening the southern flank of the BEF, and orders for the Battalion to withdraw came on the night of 15-16 May. There was no transport available initially, so the men were forced to withdraw on foot, digging in at night in case of further attacks. Trucks arrived on 18 May and took the Battalion to Tournai on the Escaut where they held the river line under heavy fire for two days. Late on 20 May, with the German forces again threatening to outflank the BEF, the 1st RWF were told to withdraw to the area north of Béthune, where they arrived on 24 May, but the shattered battalion was then ordered to advance westward to capture four bridges over the La Bassée Canal, south of Saint-Venant. The first attack was carried out on the evening of 24 May and the battalion captured Saint-Floris, but could not force their way into Saint-Venant. Fighting raged overnight and during the following days, and it was during this terrible period that Alfred died on 26 May 1940, probably as a POW. The 21-year-old is buried in Tienen Communal Cemetery, Belgium. There must have been terrible fighting in the village at the time, as the cemetery contains many graves of French and Belgian soldiers and civilians killed during May 1940.