Tiers Cross is a village situated in the heart of Pembrokeshire between Walwyn’s Castle, Robeston West and Johnston. It includes the areas of Thornton and Dreenhill and falls within the parish of Steynton. There is a small memorial garden in the village, which contains a memorial stone and a plaque inscribed: ‘To Those Who Fought For Freedom’. Also within the garden is a wooden memorial bench with a small brass plaque, containing the names of the parishioners who fell during both World Wars.
The Great War, 1914-1918
William Henry Thomas Davies, Private, 54489, Welsh Regiment. William was the son of Robert Septimus Davies and Emma Davies (nee Phillips), of Dale Road, Steynton. He enlisted there into the army, and was posted to France late in 1916 to join the 15th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, the Carmarthen Pals battalion. The battalion had been in France since December 1915 attached to 114 Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division, and had taken part in the capture of Mametz Wood in July 1916, before moving via Hébuterne to Boesinghe, north of Ypres. On 31 July 1917 the 15th Welsh took part in the assault on Pilckem Ridge, successfully capturing their objectives. During the following days, the battalion remained in the front line, and played a part in the Battle of Langemarck. After a winter near Armentieres, in April 1918 the Division was moved to positions near Aveluy Wood on the Somme, where it remained until it crossed the River Ancre from 21 August 1918 onwards, and successfully captured Thiepval and Pozières Ridges over the coming days. The Welshmen then advanced over the old Somme battlefields of 1916, capturing Longueval and Delville Wood, before taking part in the Battle of Morval, then advanced towards Sailly-Saillisel. William was killed at Sailly on 4 September 1918, aged 25. He is buried at Sailly-Saillisel British Cemetery, France.
William Harries, Private, 201569, Welsh Regiment. William was born at Steynton in 1889. He was the stepson of James and Mary Jones, of Bullford, Johnston. William enlisted at Haverfordwest into the Welsh Regiment. William was posted to France, where he joined the 1/6th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, the Pioneer battalion to the 1st Division. The Division had been in France since the outbreak of war, and had fought at every major battle thereafter. 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. William was killed here on 12 November 1917, aged 28. He has no known grave, and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium.
Edwin Thomas, Private, 15904, Welsh Regiment. Edwin was the son of James and Ellin Thomas, of Woods End, Robeston West. He enlisted at Haverfordwest into the Welsh Regiment, and was posted to France in December 1915 with the 10th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, which was attached to 114 Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division. The division moved to positions in the Fleurbaix sector for trench initialisation and training, and on 10 January 1916 moved into the front line at Riez Bailleul. Edwin was a signaller, and was positioned in an isolated post on 12 January when the battalion made an experimental demonstration of raising dummies above the trenches to test the Germans opposite. The Germans retaliated by shelling the Welshmen’s positions, killing Edwin and two other signallers, when their post suffered a direct hit that day. Edwin was 21 years old, and is buried at Pont-Du-Hem Military Cemetery, La Gorgue, France.
William Thomas, Private, 19778, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. William was born at Steynton. He enlisted at Cardiff into the Welsh Regiment, but was later transferred into the 6th Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, which was attached to 38 Brigade, 13th (Western) Division. Towards the end of February the Division concentrated at Blackdown in Hampshire, and on 13 June 1915 the first transports carrying the Division left port, moving to Alexandria. By 4 July, all units had moved to Mudros, preparatory for landing on Gallipoli, and between 6 and 16 July 1915 the Division landed on Cape Helles, relieving the 29th Division. They left and returned to Mudros at the end of the month, and the entire Division landed at ANZAC Cove between 3 and 5 August 1915, taking part in the Battle of Sari Bair. William was killed here on 9 August 1915, aged 25. He has no known grave, and is commemorated on the Helles Memorial, Gallipoli.
World War Two, 1939-1945
John Edwin Devonald, Engineman, LT/KX 99905, Royal Naval Patrol Service. John was the son of Edwin Devonald and Martha Devonald (nee Griffiths), of Hayston Hall Cottage, Johnston. He served with the Royal Naval Patrol Service aboard H.M. Drifter Reed. She was a requisitioned minesweeper in 1939. On 7 November 1940 she was on patrol in the Thames Estuary when she struck a mine and sank. John was 25 years old when he died that day and is commemorated on the Lowestoft Naval Memorial, Suffolk. His brother William also fell. John is commemorated at Haverfordwest but his brother is not.
William Allan Devonald, Engineman, LT/X 6063ES, Royal Naval Reserve (Patrol Service). William was the son of Edwin Devonald and Martha Devonald (nee Griffiths), of Hayston Hall Cottage, Johnston. He married Gwendoline May Griffiths of Hakin in 1937. He served with the Royal Naval Patrol Service aboard H.M. Trawler Gairsay. On 3 August 1944 Gairsay was on patrol off Normandy, when she was hit by a German explosive motor boat, and sunk with the loss of 29 lives. William was 27 years old when he died that day, and is commemorated on the Lowestoft Naval Memorial, Suffolk. His brother, John Edwin Devonald, also fell, and is commemorated at Haverfordwest.
William Stanley Griffiths, Serjeant, 872260, Royal Artillery. William was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Griffiths, of Johnston, and the husband of Renee Griffiths, of Macclesfield. Cheshire. He served with the Royal Artillery, and had been attached to 301 Field Regiment, East African Artillery. The unit had fought at Madagascar since 1942, and in February 1944 were at sea, aboard the transport ship SS Khedive Ismail, bound to join the 11th East African Division. The ship was carrying over 1,500 passengers, including almost 1,000 men of 301 Field Regiment, when it was sunk by the Japanese Submarine I27 on 12 February 1944. William was drowned in the sinking of the ship, along with 1,343 others. He was 25 years old and is commemorated on the East Africa Memorial. The submarine I27 was sunk by the British Destroyers HMS Petard and Paladin.
James Thomas Mason, Able Seaman, C/JX 185146, Royal Navy. James was the son of William John Mason and Annie Jane Mason, of Haverfordwest. He served with the Royal Navy aboard HMS Avenger. Avenger was originally laid down as a merchant ship at Chester, Pennsylvania, but was converted to an aircraft carrier for the Royal Navy under the lend-lease scheme. She had a complement of 12 Sea Hurricane’s and three Fairey Swordfish. In September 1942, she took part in a large Russian convoy, and upon her return home, her captain drew up recommendations for future escort carrier design, after spotting several flaws in her design. In November 1942 she took part in Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of North Africa, where she suffered engine problems. While leaving North Africa to start the journey home Avenger was sunk by the U-155 as she was nearing Gibraltar on 15 November 1942, with a heavy loss of life among her crew. James was one of the men killed. He was 24 years old, and is commemorated on the Chatham Naval Memorial, Kent.
Alwyn Thomas John Phillips, Pilot Officer (Air Bomber), 137542, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Alwyn was the son of John Howell Phillips and Martha Elizabeth Phillips, of Tiers Cross. He married Stella Adrienne Pugh, of Hatch End, Pinner, Middlesex in 1941. He was training as an Air Bomber with the Royal Air Force when he was killed during an aeroplane crash in Caernavonshire while flying aboard Avro Anson I, Serial EG129 of No. 9 Observers Advanced Flying Unit which crashed after experiencing difficulties on 1 March 1943. Alwyn was 33 years old, and is buried at Tiers Cross Congregational Cemetery.
Thomas George John Warlow, Stoker, LT/KX 109957, Royal Naval Patrol Service. Thomas was the son of Thomas and Alice Warlow of Steynton. He married Sarah Ellen Thomas of Tier’s Cross in 1937. He served aboard HM Trawler Almond, which was a Tree class admiralty trawler which had been requisitioned by the Admiralty in May 1940 and converted for minesweeping duties. Thomas died when Almond struck a mine and sank off Falmouth on 2 February 1941. He was 28 years old, and is commemorated on the Lowestoft Naval Memorial.