Machynlleth is a market town and community in the county of Montgomeryshire, situated in the Dyfi Valley at the intersection of the A487 and the A489 roads. The town has ancient origins and was the seat of Owain Glyndŵr’s Welsh Parliament in 1404. The town lies some eight miles from the Cardigan Bay coast. Maengwyn Calvinistic Methodist Chapel, the towns first Calvinistic Methodist Chapel, was in around 1784, rebuilt in 1822 and rebuilt again in 1867. The ten members of the chapel who fell during the Great War are commemorated on a simple marble memorial plaque, which is located inside the chapel.
The Great War, 1914-1918
Hugh Richard Jones, Private, 22222, Army Cyclist Corps. Hugh was the son of Richard and Mary Ann Jones, of 7, Rock Terrace, Machynlleth. He worked as a joiner prior to the war. Hugh enlisted into the army at Merthyr and was posted to the 66th Training Reserve Battalion at Kinmel Park for training. He was then transferred to the 67th Divisional Army Cyclist Corps. Hugh took ill during the summer of 1918 and went home on leave, suffering from enteric fever. He died at Machynlleth as a result of fever and pneumonia on 7 July 1918. The 24-year-old was buried in Machynlleth Nonconformist Cemetery.
John Jones. John cannot presently be identified.
John Haydn Jones, Corporal, 23041, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. John was the son of Daniel and Elizabeth Jones, of 13, Windsor Terrace, Machynlleth. He was in business with his father as a tailor and draper prior to the war and was also assistant scoutmaster to the Machynlleth troop of Boy Scouts. John was also an accomplished musician and was the organist at Maengwyn Chapel. He enlisted into the Royal Welsh Fusiliers at Machynlleth in February 1915 and was posted to the 13th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. The battalion had been raised at Rhyl by the Denbigh and Flint T.F. Associations, transferring to the Welsh National Executive Committee on 10 October 1914 and joined 128 Brigade, 43rd (Welsh) Division. The battalion trained in North Wales before moving to Winchester in the summer of 1915, where the formation became renumbered 113 Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division. The Division moved to France on 2 December 1915 and moved to the Nursery Sector near Fleurbaix for trench initiation alongside the Guards Division. On 17 February 1916 the 13th RWF moved from Divisional Reserve at Locon to take over a portion of the line at Givenchy by itself for the first time. John was killed in action here on 18 February 1916, probably whilst part of a patrol which was sent out to attack a German patrol which had been spotted. The 20-year-old is buried in Guards Cemetery, Windy Corner, Cuinchy, France.
Edward Lewis, Private, 55299, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Edward was the son of John Lewis and Catherine Lewis (nee Jones), of Rock Terrace, Machynlleth. He worked in Manchester as a warehouseman and was a talented musician prior to the war. Edward enlisted into the Royal Welsh Fusiliers back home at Machynlleth and was posted to Kinmel Park for training. He was drafted to France in the Winter of 1916-17, joining the 14th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, which was in the Canal Bank sector north of Ypres, at Boesinghe. The battalion was attached to 113 Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division and had taken over this sector of the line in September 1916 following its epic assault on Mametz Wood in July. 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. On 13 February 1917 the 14th RWF relieved the 13th RWF in the front line to begin a routine tour in the trenches. A large raiding party of 5 officers and 170 men was then organised and on the night of 16-17 February crossed No Man’s Land under the cover of night and raided the enemy lines. Operations such as this often brought swift retaliation in the form of artillery fire being directed onto the front lines, so this spell in the trenches was to prove horrific. Edward was wounded during this tour and was evacuated to the Casualty Clearing Station at Mendinghem where he died of his wounds on 24 February 1917. The 26-year-old is buried in Mendinghem Military Cemetery, Belgium.
Haydn Lewis, Guardsman, 2172, Welsh Guards. Haydn was the son of Henry and Jane Lewis, of Tower House, Machynlleth. He lived at Aberystwyth prior to the war and enlisted into the Welsh Guards. He had served in France with the 1st Battalion, Welsh Guards for two years before being invalided home wounded and suffering from shell shock. Haydn had been hospitalised at Warrington for several months and was looking to be on the road to recovery when he died on 23 September 1919, aged 23. He is buried in Machynlleth Nonconformist Cemetery.
George Griffiths Parry, Private, 55996, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. George was the son of John and Elizabeth Parry, of Bryn Hyfryd, Cemmaes. He enlisted into the 7th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers at Machynlleth and in the spring of 1917 was drafted to France, being posted to the 15th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, which was at Ypres attached to 113 Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division. The Division had moved to Ypres following heavy losses at Mametz Wood in July 1916 and had taken over the Canal Bank sector at Boesinghe, north of Ypres. Over the coming months the Divisional troops had worked hard, improving the defences and constructing deep dugouts and saps, in preparation to take part in the opening of the Third Battle of Ypres on 31 July 1917. The 15th RWF had spent much of July training at Flechin, moving back to Proven, just behind the lines, on 18 July, and on 23 July moved back into positions in the front line. On 27 July one Company of the 15th RWF was sent out to investigate reports from an RFC aircraft that the Germans had withdrawn, but suffered heavy casualties upon reaching the German lines, as the reports had been incorrect. Nevertheless, the battalion remained in the line and continued to prepare for the launching of the great offensive, the Division being tasked with the capture of Pilckem Ridge. At dawn on 31 July 1917 the Division went over the top, and the 15th RWF, for their part, captured its objective of Iron Cross, before consolidating its gains. George was killed in action during the days fighting. The 28-year-old has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium.
Maldwyn Richards, Corporal, 320175, Welsh Regiment. Maldwyn was born in 1881, the son of Evan and Ellen Richards, of 11, Windsor Terrace, Machynlleth. He had served in the army for twelve years, seeing action in South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War and then in India, prior to leaving the colours and becoming a postman at Aberystwyth. At the outbreak of war Maldwyn was mobilised from the Army Reserve, joining the Pembroke Yeomanry at Lampeter. During March 1916 the 1/1st Pembroke Yeomanry moved to Egypt, where it merged with the Welsh Border Mounted Brigade and formed the 4th Dismounted Brigade. On 2 February 1917 it merged with the 1/1st Glamorgan Yeomanry to form the 24th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, and became attached to 231 Brigade, 74th (Yeomanry) Division. The Division had formed in Egypt in January 1917 and had fought through the Palestinian Campaign, at the Battles of Gaza and the Battle and capture of Jerusalem. Maldwyn was killed during the march to Jerusalem on 31 October 1917, aged 36. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Jerusalem Memorial, Israel. Maldwyn is also commemorated on the Aberystwyth Post Office war memorial.
Henry John Rowlands, Private, 301963, Tank Corps. Henry was the son of Joseph Rowlands and Elizabeth Rowlands (nee Pugh), of 40, Railway Terrace, Cwmpark. Following the death of his mother, Henry was sent to live with his grandparents, Richard Rowlands and Ann Rowlands, of 35, Pentrehedyn Street, Machynlleth. He worked for the Cambrian Railways as a platelayer prior to the war. Henry enlisted at Cwmpark into the 10th Battalion, Welsh Regiment soon after the outbreak of war. The battalion was raised in the Rhondda Valley, comprised mainly of miners, but was soon oversubscribed, so Henry was among some 200 men transferred to the 15th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, which was the Carmarthenshire Battalion. The battalion trained in North Wales before moving to Winchester in the summer of 1915, where the formation became renumbered 114 Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division. The Division 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, 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. Henry must have been wounded at some time as he transferred to the South Lancashire Regiment, before transferring again to the Tank Corps and was posted to the 13th Battalion, Tank Corps. The battalion was formed in August 1917 due to the rapid expansion of the Tank Corps and arrived in France in January 1918, moving initially to Bray to complete its training before moving to the Somme. The Germans launched a massive offensive along the Lys Valley on 9 April, so the 13th Battalion then transferred to the Ypres Salient, by road, on 13 April and the men were, for the time being, used to reinforce the depleted 34th Division at Mont Noir. Henry was killed in action in the front line here on 25 April 1918. The 22-year-old has no known grave and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium.
David Thomas, Private, 61307, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. David was the son of Griffith and Ellen Thomas, of 25, Wesley Terrace, Machynlleth. He worked as an engine cleaner for the Cambrian Railways prior to enlisting into the Royal Welsh Fusiliers at Machynlleth and was posted to Kinmel Park for training. David was drafted to France in the Spring of 1917, joining the 15th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. The battalion was holding the Canal Bank sector at Boesinghe, north of Ypres, and had been there since moving from the Somme in August 1916, following its epic assault on Mametz Wood. After taking over the Canal Bank sector, the infantry battalions of the Division 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. Most of the work carried out by the Division over the coming months was in preparation for the forthcoming Passchendaele offensive, in which the 38th Division was to play a vital part, with orders to assault and take the Pilckem Ridge on 31 July 1917. In the meantime, its battalions carried out their work, intermixed with spells out of the line training on a scale replica of the battlefield. The 15th RWF was holding the line in the days running up to the offensive, when on 27 July 1917 intelligence was received from the Royal Flying Corps that the Germans facing them had withdrawn. It was decided to send out A Company of the 15th RWF to investigate the intelligence which, unfortunately, proved to be incorrect, and heavy casualties were suffered as A Company advanced towards the German trenches, which were fully manned. David was killed in action during the patrol. The 21-year-old has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium.
John Richard Williams, Private, 55555, The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. John was the son of James and Laura Williams, of 5, Bank Street, Machynlleth. He worked as a gardener prior to enlisting into the army at Wrexham on 2 August 1916 and was categorised at Grade C, unfit for overseas service, so was posted to the 2/7th (Cyclists) Battalion, Welsh Regiment, which was at Holt. The battalion moved to Fakenham early in 1917 and by mid-1918 was at Melton Constable. Despite being medically downgraded, losses on the Western Front had been so heavy during March and April 1918 that medical standards were lowered, so on 14 June 1918 John was compulsorily transferred to the 15th Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, which was the Pioneer Battalion to the 14th (Light) Division and embarked for France with the battalion on 5 July 1918. The Division had been rebuilding in England following terrible losses in May 1918 and upon its return to France joined the Second Army in the Ypres Salient. By the middle of August, the 15th Loyal’s had reached Proven, moving to a camp near Vlamertinghe before beginning work erecting shelters in the Vlamertinghe Defensive Line. By now the Allies had launched a general offensive along the southern sectors of the Western Front on 21 August 1918 and had begun driving towards the Hindenburg Line. The Ypres Salient remained relatively peaceful during the first weeks of the offensive, then began to prepare to launch an offensive in Flanders. John was wounded during the build up to the offensive, whilst working near Dirty Bucket Camp. He was evacuated to a Casualty Clearing Station at Hagle Dump where he died of his wounds on 13 September 1918. The 21-year-old is buried in Hagle Dump Cemetery, Belgium.