Llanrhian is a small village near the Pembrokeshire coast, south of Porthgain village, and north of Croesgoch, mid-way between Fishguard and St. David’s. The men of the village who fell during both World Wars are commemorated on two War Memorials which are located inside St. Rhian’s Church. There is also an individual memorial plaque to an officer, Philip Harding Jervois, who fell in 1917 and whose mother was a local woman.

The Great War, 1914-1918

Arthur William Charles, Private, 45716, Welsh Regiment. Arthur was the son of John and Phoebe Charles, of Llanrhian. He enlisted at Fishguard into the 20th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, which was designated the 3rd Rhondda Reserve Battalion. Arthur became ill while training, and died in hospital at Bangor on 6 August 1916, aged 19. He is buried at Mathry (Rehoboth) Congregational Chapelyard.

Theophilus Griffiths, Second Engineer, Mercantile Marine. Theophilus was the son of Joseph and Anne Griffiths (nee Morris), of the Post Office, Croesgoch, Letterston. He served as an engineer aboard the S.S. Bedale, a West Hartlepool registered cargo steamer. On 6 October 1917, Bedale was en-route from Cardiff to Berehaven, carrying a cargo of coal, when she was torpedoed by the German submarine U-96, and sank with the loss of three lives. Theophilus was 29 years old when he died that day, and is commemorated on the Tower Hill Memorial, London. His brother Gwynfred also fell, and is commemorated on the Croesgoch War Memorial.

William Henry Griffiths, Sapper, 157731, Royal Engineers. William was born at Maenclochog on 15 June 1879, and prior to the war resided at Treharris with his wife Elen and daughter Harriet Mary Griffiths. William worked there as a coalminer. He enlisted at Merthyr into the Royal Engineers, and joined their 172nd Tunnelling Company. On formation, the company moved to Houplines in Northern France, and moved to the Somme in July 1915, taking over French mine workings between La Boiselle and Carnoy, before concentrating on the Mametz sector. By October 1916, the company moved north of the Ancre, facing Beaumont-Hamel, before moving to St. Eloi. William was killed in action soon after the move to St. Eloi, on 3 February 1917. He is buried at Ecoivres Military Cemetery, Mont-St-Eloi, France.

William Meurig Harries, Private, 10872, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. William was born in Llanrhian on 21 April 1895, the son of William and Anne Harries (nee Owen), of Torbant Farm, Llanrhian. He was educated at St. David’s County School, and joined the 8th Battalion, Welsh Regiment in September 1914. William was then transferred to the 9th Royal Warwickshires, which was attached to 39 Brigade, 13th (Western) Division, which sailed for the Dardanelles at the end of June 1915. By 4 July the Division had moved to Mudros, and landed at Cape Helles, Gallipoli from 6 July 1915. William was killed in action here during the Battle of Sari Bair on 10 August 1915, aged just 20. He is remembered on the Helles Memorial, Gallipoli.

John Hughes, Private, 54156, Welsh Regiment. John was the son of John and Ann Hughes, of Porthgain. He resided at Letterston with his sister prior to the war. Their father John had moved to Pembrokeshire from North Wales, where he worked as a Slateworker, and met and married their mother Ann locally. John enlisted at Swansea, into the 13th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, which formed part of 114 Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division. The Division had landed in France during December 1915 and moved to positions in the ‘Nursery Sector’ near Fleurbaix. In June they marched south, and took up positions on the Somme, where they were tasked with the capture of Mametz Wood. The first attack went in on 7 July 1916, and it was several days later that the wood finally fell to the Welsh, after they had suffered terrible casualties. The British High Command was unhappy at the time taken by the Division to capture the Wood, and so they were removed from the line and sent to Ypres to rebuild and train. John was killed in action by a sniper whilst the Division was in reserve at Ypres, on 4 December 1916, aged 25. He is buried in Essex Farm Cemetery, Belgium.

Philip Harding Jervois, Second Lieutenant, Royal Garrison Artillery. Philip was born at Shoeburyness on 19 February 1899, the son of Major Charles Edwin Jervois (R.A.) and Mrs. Clara Rose Jervois (nee Harries). He was raised with his mother, who was from Llanrhian, at 32, Wilton Road, Bexhill-on-Sea and was educated at Cranleigh. Philip was commissioned into the Royal Artillery during August 1916, and was posted to the 177th Siege Battery, RGA. The battery moved to Ypres, where it supported the Allied assault on Passchendaele Ridge. Philip was wounded on 28 October 1917, when a German shell burst in his gun pit, and died the same day. He was 18 years old, and is buried in Ypres Reservoir Cemetery, Belgium. Philip is commemorated on an individual memorial in Llanrhian Parish Church and is also commemorated on memorials in Newquay and Cranleigh.

Sidney James Lawrence, Private, 52972, Welsh Regiment. Sidney was born in 1894, the son of Catherine Lawrence. He married Ruth Reynolds, of Pant-y-Ffynon, Trefin late in 1914. Sidney enlisted at Carmarthen into the army, and was posted to France during 1916, where he joined the 2nd Battalion, Welsh Regiment. The battalion had been in France since the outbreak of war, attached to 3 Brigade, 1st Division, and had fought in the retreat from Mons to the Marne, before moving to Ypres later in 1914. Sydney probably joined the battalion on the Somme in the summer of 1916. 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 were 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 it was during the ensuing fighting that Sidney was killed in action, on 9 April 1918, aged 24. He is buried at Beuvry Communal Cemetery Extension, France. Ruth’s brother Joseph Reynolds also fell.

Benjamin Phillips Miles, Private, 52949, Welsh Regiment. Ben was the son of Thomas and Mary Ann Miles, of Croesgoch, Letterston. He worked as a Teamster at Treglemais prior to enlisting at Carmarthen into the army, and was posted to France at some time during the winter of 1916/17, where he joined the 14th Battalion, Welsh Regiment. The battalion was attached to 114 Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division, and had taken part in the capture of Mametz Wood in July 1916, before being moved to Boesinghe, north of Ypres. The Division held the line here until launching an attack on Pilckem Ridge on 31 July 1917, and remained in the area during the resulting Battle of Langemarck. Ben was killed in action at Langemarck on 23 August 1917. He was 28 years old, and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium.

William James Phillips, Private, 201432, Welsh Regiment. William was the son of John and Mary Phillips, of Barry Terrace, Trefin. He enlisted at Mathry into the 1/4th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, which was the local Territorial Battalion, attached to 159 Brigade, 53rd (Welsh) Division. The Division landed at Cape Helles, Gallipoli, on 9 August 1915, and was immediately thrown into action, spending the next few days in isolated pockets, fighting against a Turkish counter-attack during the Battle of Sari Bair, and then at the Attack on Scimitar Hill. The Division remained here throughout the coming months, and suffered severe losses in manpower strength during the great November 1915 blizzard on Gallipoli, when its total strength was reduced to less than that of a full-strength Brigade. On 11 December 1915 the Division was evacuated to Mudros, and by 23 December 1915 were moved to Egypt. They remained on the Suez Canal Defences for the next twelve months, where it took part in operations against the Sultan of Darfur, and in March 1917 took part in the advance into Palestine. William must have been attached to the 8th Welsh, as he died in Mesopotamia on 10 October 1917. He was 20 years old, and is buried at Baghdad (North Gate) War Cemetery, Iraq.

Joseph Henry Reynolds, Lance Corporal, 41536, Royal Engineers. Joseph was the son of Henry and Ann Reynolds, of White House, Trefin. He enlisted at Haverfordwest into the army, and was posted to France, where he joined Z Special Company, Royal Engineers. The Special Companies were early chemical warfare specialists, trained in the handling and delivery of poison gas on the battlefields, using either cylinders or trench mortars. Joseph was wounded during the summer of 1918, and was evacuated to the Base Hospital at Wimille, where he died of his wounds on 18 August 1918, aged 22. He is buried at Terlincthun British Cemetery, Wimille, France. His sister’s husband, Sidney James Lawrence, also fell.

Thomas Evan Roach, Private, 94283, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Thomas was born in 1898, the son of James and Emily Roach, of Square and Compass, Trevine. He enlisted at Carmarthen on 27 May 1918 into the Monmouth Regiment, and landed in France on 11 October 1918. Thomas was posted into the 17th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, which was attached to 115 Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division. The Division arrived in France during December, 1915 and fought at Armentieres before moving to the Somme, where they were decimated at Mametz Wood. After nearly a year rebuilding, they fought well at Passchendaele, and also played an important role in the battles of 1918, first during the desperate months of Spring 1918, trying to hold the aggressive German advance, and then later on in the great advance to the Hindenburg Line. Thomas was killed in action during the Battle of the Selle on 29 October 1918, aged 20. He is buried at Englefontaine British Cemetery, France.

Enoch Slack, Private, 18188, Welsh Regiment. Enoch was born at Greenwich, London in 1892, the son of John Henry Slack and Elizabeth Ann Slack (nee Kerry). He married Mary Salmon, of Porthgain, Letterston on 23 December 1913, and at the outbreak of war enlisted at Pontycymmer into the 8th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, which was the Pioneer Battalion to the 13th (Western) Division. Towards the end of February the entire Division concentrated at Blackdown in Hampshire, and on 13 June 1915 left port, and moved to Alexandria. During July 1915 the Division landed at Gallipoli, and relieved the 29th Division. They left and returned to Mudros at the end of the month, and the entire Division landed at ANZAC Cove from 3 August 1915. The Division took part in the Battle of Sari Bair on 8 August 1915, and it was during the initial assault that day that Enoch was killed. He is commemorated on the Helles Memorial, Gallipoli.

Gwynne Lewis Thomas, Corporal, 44345, Royal Engineers. Gwynne was the son of George and Jane Thomas, of Penlan Square, Mathry. He served throughout the war with the 75th Field Company, Royal Engineers, which was attached to the Guards Division. Gwynne survived the war, but suffered from gas poisoning during the latter stages of the war. He died as a result of his gas poisoning on 2 March 1920. Gwynne was 25 years old, and is buried at Mathry (Rehoboth) Congregational Chapelyard. Gwynne is not commemorated locally.

Walter Price Williams, Private, 201599, Welsh Regiment. Walter was born on 25 April 1895, the son of Owen and Mary Williams, of 4, Caerau, Llanrhian. He enlisted at St. David’s into the Welsh Regiment. Walter was probably posted to France early in 1917, and joined the 14th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, which was attached to 114 Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division. The battalion was at Ypres, positioned at Boesinghe, along the Yser Canal. On 31 July 1917 the division made its famous successful assault on Pilckem Ridge, moving the front line forwards to the Steenbeek. Walter was killed in action at Langemarck on 5 August 1917, aged 23. He is buried in Welsh Cemetery (Caesar’s Nose), Belgium.

World War Two, 1939-1945

Thomas Edward Bateman, Stoker, LT/KX 124850, Royal Naval Patrol Service. Thomas resided at Square and Compass, Trevine. He served with the Royal Naval Patrol Service aboard HM Drifter Uberty. On 7 May 1941, Uberty was on patrol off Lowestoft, when she was attacked and sunk by a German aircraft, with the loss of all her crew. Thomas was 34 years old, and is commemorated on the Lowestoft Naval Memorial, Suffolk.

Wilfred Eurfyl Davies, Stoker, LT/KX108142, Royal Naval Patrol Service. Wilfred was the son of Samuel Lewis Davies and Martha Ann Davies, of Caerau, Manorowen. Wilfred served with the Royal Naval Patrol Service aboard H.M. Trawler Vidonia. On 7 October 1944 Vidonia was off the Normandy coast, acting as a fuel carrier, when she collided with another vessel and sank. Wilfred was 27 years old when he drowned in the sinking that day, and he is buried at Bayeux War Cemetery, France.

Edward Vaughan Richard Jenkins, Apprentice, Merchant Navy. Edward was the son of Elliot and Barbara Anne Jenkins, of Manor House, Llanrhian. He was an apprentice aboard the S.S. Llanwern, a London registered cargo steamer. On 26 February 1941 Llanwern was attacked and sunk by a German FW200 Kondor aircraft, with the loss of 27 of her crew. Edward was just 18 years old when he was killed in the bombing, and he is commemorated on the Tower Hill Memorial, London.

Melville Hugh Jones, Serjeant, 13012017, Pioneer Corps. Melville was the son of Mrs. M. E. Jones, of Post Office, Llanrhian. Melville served with the Pioneer Corps. He died on active service on 29 July 1941, and is buried at Llanrhian (St. Rhian) Church Cemetery.

Thomas Jones, Master, Merchant Navy. Thomas was the husband of M. E. Jones, of Rosedale, Letterston. Thomas was Master of the S.S. Tai Ming, a Hong Kong registered cargo steamer. Tai Ming was in port at hong Kong when the island fortress was captured by the Japanese and Thomas was taken into captivity. He died in captivity on 1 August 1944, aged 70, and is buried at Stanley Military Cemetery, Hong Kong. The photograph has been kindly supplied by Tony Beck.

William Evan Harries Jones, Petty Officer Cook (S), D/MX 49879, Royal Navy. William was the son of Hugh and Annie Jones; husband of Clara May Jones, of Porthgain, Letterson. He served with the Royal Navy as a Cook aboard the aircraft carrier HMS Glorious. Glorious was a converted WW1 cruiser, and spent the first months of WW2 hunting for the German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee in the Indian Ocean, before returning to the Mediterranean. She was recalled in April 1940 to support British operations in Norway. On 8 June 1940, Glorious was evacuating British aircraft from Norway when she was attacked and sunk by the German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau in the North Sea with the loss of over 1,200 lives. William is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial, Devon.

Glyndwr Meirion Phillips, Able Seaman, P/JX 168620, Royal Navy. Glyndwr was the son of James Lewis Phillips and Jane Phillips, and the husband of M. A. Phillips, of Abereithy, Llanrhian. He served with the Royal Navy aboard H.M. Motor Torpedo Boat 758. On 14 February 1945, HMMTB 758 was taking part in an effort to control fires in Ostend after German bombing, when Glyndwr and another two crew-men were killed. Glyndwr was 25 years old, and is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Hampshire.

Aerwyn Thomas Rees, Driver, 225227, Royal Army Service Corps. Aerwyn was the son of William Thomas Rees and Margaret Rees, of Mesur-y-Dorth, Croesgoch. He served with the Royal Army Service Corps, and was based at Singapore prior to 1941. When the Japanese captured Singapore in December 1941, Aerwyn was taken prisoner, and was sent to Thailand with ‘H’ Force in May 1943. He suffered in captivity, and died at Malay Hamlet Camp, Kannyu of cholera on 27 June 1943, aged 29. Aerwyn’s remains were first buried in Kannyu Jungle Cemetery, but his grave was later moved to Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, Thailand.

John Keble Williams, Second Lieutenant, 17th Dogra Regiment. John was the son of the Reverend Canon Robert Keble Williams, BA, and of Grace Winifred Williams, of Llanrhian Vicarage. He was educated at Llandovery College, and enlisted at the outbreak of war into the Army. John gained a commission into the Indian Army, being posted to the 10th Battalion, 17th Dogra Regiment. The Regiment fought in the Far East, gaining the Battle Honours of Kota Bahru, Malaya 1941-42, Donbaik, Nunshigum, Magwe, Kennedy Peak, and Burma 1942-45. John died in the Far East on 11 July 1942. He was 20 years old and is buried at Delhi War Cemetery, India.