Treffgarne is a small village and parish in Pembrokeshire, which lies to the south of the Preseli Hills close to the Western Cleddau, and near to the main A40 road from Fishguard to Haverfordwest. The area has been used for mining since at least Roman times, while the village is medieval in origin. The Parish Church is dedicated to St Michael) and has been locked whenever I have called in to search for war memorials, so I do not know if there is anything inside. Because of this, this page contains the details of men who fell during both World Wars who are known to have lived in the Parish. Some may be missing from any memorial which may be in the Church, but until I can get into there I will not be able to verify this.
The Great War, 1914-1918
Ebenezer George Griffiths, Driver, DM2/165522, Royal Army Service Corps. Ebenezer was the son of John and Mary Griffiths, of Ambleston. He worked as a Drapers salesman prior to the war, and married Florence Mary, of Castlefields, Devonshire Road, Hornchurch, Essex. Ebenezer served as an M.T. driver with the Army Service Corps, and was posted to France attached to 281 Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery. He died in France after the armistice, on 1 March 1919, aged 29, and is buried in Charleroi Communal Cemetery, Belgium.
Walter Griffiths, Rifleman, 5702, London Regiment. Walter was the son of William and Jane Griffiths, of Treffgarne Rocks, Wolfcastle. He married Winifred Elsie Carpenter in Islington in 1915 and the couple resided at 197, Brompton Road, Kensington. Walter enlisted at Westminster into the 1/16th Battalion, London Regiment (Queens Westminster Rifles), which was attached to 169 Brigade, 56th (London) Division. The division moved to France early in 1916 and moved to the northern Somme sector, taking part in the diversionary attack on Gommecourt on 1 July 1916. It was then moved southwards and in September took part in the Battle of Ginchy. Walter was killed in action in Angle Wood Valley, during the Battle of Flers-Courcelette on 19 September 1916. He was 30 years old and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, France. His widow Winifred married Enoch Thomas Allson, a Draper from New Quay, Cardiganshire, in London in 1920.
Sidney Charles Harris, Corporal, 26735, King’s Liverpool Regiment. Sidney was the son of Giles and Harriet Harris, of Greenway House, Spittal. He enlisted at Haverfordwest into the army, and was posted to the King’s Liverpool Regiment. Sidney served in France with one of the regular battalions of the regiment from 24 July 1915, but sometime later transferred to the 6th Battalion, King’s Liverpool Regiment, which was attached to 165 Brigade, 55th (West Lancashire) Division. The Division moved to France during January 1916, and fought on the Somme that year. During 1917 it took part in the Third Battle of Ypres. The Division relieved 42nd Division in the front line at Givenchy on 15 February 1918, and faced numerous strong enemy raids in March. April was at first much quieter, but it was a lull before the storm, as the Germans launched another offensive here, with the Division taking part in the Battle of Estaires. Sidney was wounded during this tumultuous period, and died of his wounds on 15 May 1918. He was 25 years old, and is buried in Bagneux British Cemetery, Gézaincourt, France.
Thomas George Harries, Sergeant, 503272, Canadian Engineers. Thomas was born at Ambleston on 2 January 1879, the son of William Henry Harries and Mary Elizabeth Harries. His parents later moved to Pembroke Dock, while Thomas migrated to Canada after having served for eight years in the Royal Artillery, leaving his two sisters in Ambleston. Thomas had found work as a miner, and enlisted at Calgary on 20 December 1915 into the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He was posted to France, and joined the 2nd Tunnelling Company, Canadian Engineers. Thomas joined the unit in Belgium, where it was at work on tunnels in the Mount Sorrel sector. He was killed in action during a German trench raid on 22 June 1917, aged 37, and is buried in Reninghelst New Military Cemetery, Belgium. (The CWGC show his date of death as 2 June).
Archibald Bellairs Higgon, MID, Major, Royal Field Artillery. Archibald was born on 19 April 1880 at Scolton Hall, Spittal, the son of Captain John Donald George Higgon, and of Edith Emily Higgon (nee Thompson). He married Isobel Jane Denroche-Smith, of Balhary, Meigle, Perthshire at St. Ninian’s Episcopal Church, Balhary in 1913. Archibald served with the Royal Field Artillery, and had taken part in the Battles of Mons and Le Cateau in August 1914, being Mentioned in Despatched and awarded the French Legion of Honour, after taking command of his battery after all of his senior officers had been killed. He was later invalided home, suffering from rheumatism, but after recovering, took up duty at a training camp in England. In June 1915 Archibald embarked for the Dardanelles with ‘D’ Battery, 69th Howitzer Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. Archibald was killed in action at Gallipoli on 9 September 1915. He was 35 years old, and was buried in New Zealand No. 2 Outpost Cemetery, Gallipoli. The exact location of his grave could not be found after the war, so Archibald is commemorated in the cemetery by a Special Memorial. His brother John also fell.
John Arthur Higgon, Major, Pembroke Yeomanry. John was born on 12 November 1873, the son of John Donald George Higgon of Scolton Manor. He married Lurline May Moses, daughter of Hon. Henry Moses, on 27 July 1900 at Hong Kong, while serving with the Royal Welch Fusiliers, and rose to the rank of Captain in the service of them. He became a Major with the Pembroke Yeomanry before the outbreak of war, and was posted to the Australian Imperial Force, which was stationed in Egypt, where it was doubling the size of its strength after having been evacuated from Gallipoli. He joined the AIF at Alexandria, and then embarked on HMAT Transylvania, bound for Marseilles, arriving on 23 June 1916. John then travelled to Northern France, where he took command of ‘A’ Company, 32nd Battalion, Australian Imperial Force, which was based in the Fromelles sector. He was with his new unit for less than a month, before it was sent into action at Fromelles on 19 July 1916. John was killed while leading his men out of the trenches at around 18.00 on 19 July 1916. He is reported to have been stood on the parapet, shouting ‘Come on Boys’, when a German bullet hit him between the eyes, and he fell dead, aged 42. His body was one of the few to be recovered from the battlefield, and John is now buried at Ration Farm Military Cemetery, France. His brother Archibald also fell.
Arthur Meredith Jenkins, Private, 81462, Durham Light Infantry. Arthur was born at Lledrog Farm, Ambleston in 1899, the son of Arthur and Elizabeth Jenkins. By around 1910 the family moved to Gilfach y Rhaidd Farm, Ystalyfera. Arthur had worked as a miner, before enlisting into the Lancashire Fusiliers on 8 November 1917. He embarked for France at Folkestone on 31 March 1918, and upon arrival at Étaples, was posted to the 22nd Battalion, Durham Light Infantry, which was the Pioneer battalion to the 8th Division. The division was hit hard by the German Somme offensive which had been launched on 21 March 1918, and was moved south to the Aisne sector to rebuild. It was hit again here during the German Aisne offensive, and suffered heavy casualties. Arthur was killed in action there on 28 May 1918, aged 18. He is buried in Hermonville Military Cemetery, near Rheims, France.
Henry Jones, Gunner, 64680, Royal Garrison Artillery. Henry was born at Walton West, the son of Thomas and Martha Jones. He married Sarah Ann Owens, of Thornton, Spittal in 1915. Henry enlisted at Haverfordwest on 25 October 1915, along with his friend Benjamin Lawless, into the Royal Garrison Artillery. After training the friends were split up and Henry joined the 278th Siege Battery, R.G.A. The battery moved out to the Western Front on 18 March 1917, armed with 4 x 6 in Howitzers (26 cwt). They saw their first major action during Third Ypres, and suffered many casualties there during the course of the Battle, when they were attached to the 53rd HAG Brigade. The following year was one of turmoil on the Western Front, and Henry would have seen plenty of action during the months of March and April, during the German Offensive. As the year pushed on, the Allies gained the upper hand, and began the drive for victory during August 1918, after a series of successful Battles, at Villers-Brettoneux and Albert. During September the British pushed towards the Hindenburg Line, and in October it was smashed, allowing the Allies to pour through, and drive on towards Germany. Henry was gassed during the final offensives of the war, and was evacuated to the Base Hospital at Étaples for treatment. Sadly he died of his wounds there on 6 November 1918. He was 26 years old, and is buried there, at Étaples Military Cemetery.
James Hartley Jones, Private, 54162, Welsh Regiment. James was the son of Dan Jones (Weaver) and Annie Jones, of Martell Factory, Letterston. He married Amy Anna Lewis, of Ambleston in 1910, and the couple lived at Wallis, Treffgarne. James enlisted at Woodstock with his brother in law David Lewis into the 4th Welsh, and was posted to France late in 1916 among a batch of reinforcements for the 38th (Welsh) Division. James was posted to the 13th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, which had suffered heavy casualties at Mametz Wood with 114 Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division. The division moved to Hébuterne after its withdrawal from Mametz, before spending a month training in Northern France, and in August moved into positions along the canal bank north of Ypres, near Boesinghe. The division spent the following month’s trench building and carrying out raids against the German lines, and on 31 July 1917 launched its famous assault on the Pilckem Ridge. James survived the fierce fighting to capture the ridge, but was badly wounded during the Battle of Langemarck, on died on 6 August 1917, aged 30. He is buried in Dozinghem Military Cemetery, Belgium. His widow Amy’s brother, David, was killed on 30 April 1917.
David Lewis, Private, 54277, Welsh Regiment. David was the son of Henry and Mary Lewis, of Woodside, Ambleston. He married Mollie Sheehan in 1909, and the couple lived at Penrhiw, Spittal. David enlisted with his brother in law James Hartley Jones into the 4th Welsh, and was posted to France late in 1916 among a batch of reinforcements for the 38th (Welsh) Division. David was posted to the 15th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, known as the Carmarthen Pals battalion, which was attached to 114 Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division. David would have joined the battalion after it had moved from the Somme to Boesinghe, following its mauling at Mametz Wood. He was killed in action during a trench raid on a German strong point near Pilckem Ridge, known as the Mortjelde Estaminet, on 30 April 1917, aged 31, and is buried in Perth Cemetery (China Wall), Belgium. His brother in law James died of wounds on 6 August 1917.
Ebenezer James Lewis, Private, 682, Welsh Guards. Ebenezer was the son of James and Elizabeth Lewis, of Temple, Treffgarne. By the start of the war he had moved to Aberdare to work, and enlisted there into the Welsh Guards. He embarked for France with the 1st Battalion, Welsh Guards on 17 August 1915. The battalion joined the newly formed 3rd Guards Brigade, Guards Division, and on 26 September took part in its first major action, the Battle of Loos. Ebenezer married Tabitha James, of 120, Glanaman Road, Cwmaman whilst on leave in 1916. He rejoined his battalion at Ypres. The Guards Division moved to the Somme during the summer of 1916, and took part in the Battle of Flers-Courcelette and the Battle of Morval. The Guards followed the German withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line in 1917, before moving to Ypres, taking up positions north of the 38th (Welsh) Division along the Boesinghe canal. Ebenezer took part in the successful capture of Pilckem Ridge, but was wounded during the later Battle of Poelcappelle. He died of his wounds on 12 October 1917, aged 22, and is buried in Solferino Farm Cemetery, Belgium.
Francis Oswald Lloyd, Second Lieutenant, King’s Shropshire Light Infantry. Francis was born in Burma on 26 April 1883, the son of Colonel Robert Oliver Lloyd, of Treffgarne Hall, and of Mary Isabella Julia Lloyd (nee Pollard), and was the Grandson of the late Reverend Charles Lloyd, Canon of Christ Church, Oxford. He was educated at Marlborough College, and passed for Woolwich in 1900, but failed the eyesight test. He enlisted in the Cape Mounted Police and served through the Boer War, before joining the British South African Police in Rhodesia. Francis then sailed for Canada, joining the N. W. Mounted Police, before taking up civil engineering, and was employed on the construction of railways in Canada. He enlisted into the 10th Battalion, Canadian Infantry at Valcartier on 28 September 1914, and embarked for France with the 1st Canadian contingent. He was present in the Canadian charge during the Second Battle of Ypres, and was wounded while rescuing wounded men under heavy shell fire. He was then commissioned in August 1915 into the 6th Battalion, King’s Shropshire Light Infantry after receiving a first-class certificate in the officer’s instruction class at Tenby, and went to France again in November. The battalion was attached to 60 Brigade, 20th (Light) Division, and was at Ypres. On the night of 11/12 February 1916 the 6th K.S.L.I. relieved the 5th K.S.L.I. in the front line near the Yser Canal. While the relief was in progress the Germans opened up a heavy artillery bombardment. After some fierce engagements during the following day, late on 12 February Francis was in a shelter in the canal bank along with a group of other officers, when a German shell crashed into the bank above them, causing the dugout to collapse. Francis was one of four officers killed in the collapse. He was 32 years old, and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium.
John Morgan, Private, 13329, Royal Welsh Fusiliers. John was born in 1880, the son of Henry and Mary Morgan, of St. Ishmael’s. He lived with his wife, Emma Morgan, at Landwr, Ambleston. John enlisted at Tonypandy into the 8th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, which was attached to 40 Brigade, 13th (Western) Division. The Division landed at Gallipoli in July 1915, and relieved the 29th Division, before moving to ANZAC. They experienced heavy fighting until being evacuated from on 8 January 1916, and by 31 January was concentrated at Port Said, where they 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. However, after these efforts failed and Kut fell, the British force in the theatre was built up and reorganised. The Division then fought at the Battle of Kut al Amara, then at the capture of the Hai Salient and the capture of Dahra Bend. John was one of many men who fell in during the campaign in Mesopotamia. He died on 1 June 1916, aged 35, and is buried in Basra War Cemetery, Iraq.
John Perry, Lance Corporal, 19121, Welsh Regiment. John was the son of Henry and Sarah Perry, of Spring Wells, Ambleston. He enlisted at Haverfordwest in 1914 into the Welsh Regiment, and was posted to France on 2 December 1915 with one of the battalions attached to the 38th (Welsh) Division. John was later transferred to the 9th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, which was attached to 58 Brigade, 19th (Western) Division. It is not known when John switched battalions, but whichever one he fought with, he would have fought on the Somme in 1916, either at Mametz Wood or at Ovillers-la-Boisselle. The 9th Welsh moved to Belgium in 1917, and took part in the Battle of Messines, before moving to Ypres, and fighting at the Third Battle of Ypres. John was killed in action here on 20 September 1917. He was 19 years old, and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium. John is also commemorated on a memorial in Spittal churchyard.
William Rowlands, Master, Mercantile Marine. William was the son of Captain John Timothy Rowlands and Mary Louisa Rowlands (nee Davies). He had followed his father into the Mercantile Marine after being educated at Morriston trained at Adamsdown Square Navigation School, Cardiff. He quickly rose through the ranks with the company of Hughes and Co., Menai Bridge, before joining Radcliffe and Co., and had captained the SS Aden, and the SS Euston before taking command of the SS Paddington. William, while not at sea, resided at Lledrog, Ambleston. On 21 July 1917 his ship, the SS Paddington, was returning to Wales from Carthagena, carrying a cargo of admiralty supplies and passengers, when it was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-96, with the loss of 29 lives. William was 33 years old when he died that day, and is commemorated on the Tower Hill Memorial, London. He is also commemorated on his parent’s grave in Woodstock Cemetery. His elder brother, Johnnie Rowlands, lost his life at sea on 4 March 1905, while an uncle, John Davies, from St. Clears, was killed in Salonika on 4 March 1917.
Richard Thomas Shea, Second Lieutenant, Royal Garrison Artillery. Richard was born in Dover in 1888, the son of John and Mary Ann Shea. The family later moved back to his mothers native Pembrokeshire, and took up residence at Weir Castle, Wolfscastle. Richard was commissioned into the Royal Garrison Artillery on 18 June 1917, and does not appear to have served overseas. He became ill towards the end of the war and died of pneumonia at the 1st Southern General Hospital, Edgbaston, Warwickshire, on 12 November 1918, aged 30. His body was brought home for burial in Treffgarne (St. Michael) Churchyard. His brother William was killed the previous year.
William Devereux Shea, Private, 762776, London Regiment. William was born in Dover in 1896, the son of John and Mary Ann Shea. The family later moved back to his mothers native Pembrokeshire, and took up residence at Weir Castle, Wolfscastle. He had been educated at Hammersmith College and worked for London County Council prior to the war, marrying Laura Rebecca Southwick on 1 August 1914. The couple lived at 45, Barnard Road, Clapham Junction. William enlisted at Battersea into the 28th Battalion, London Regiment (Artists Rifles). The battalion had been formed as an officer training unit before moving to France in 1917 to join 190 Brigade, 63rd (Royal Naval) Division. William was killed in action on Passchendaele Ridge on 30 October 1917. He was 31 years old and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium. His brother Richard died a year later.
Hugh Williams, 2nd Lieutenant, Pembroke Yeomanry. Hugh was the son of John and Margaret Williams, of Landers Hook, Treffgarne. He married prior to the war, and lived with his wife Anna Williams, at Old Gate House, Robeston Wathen. Hugh was commissioned into the Pembroke Yeomanry, and in April 1918 was posted to the 7th Battalion, King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, which was attached to 8 Brigade, 3rd Division. Hugh then saw his first action during the defensive period on the Lys, near Locon, when the battalion suffered heavy casualties from German gas shells. The battalion remained in this sector over the coming weeks, and it was here that Hugh was killed, whilst on patrol in the forward zone near Fouquereuil on 28 July 1918. Hugh was 29 years old, and is buried in Sandpits British Cemetery, Fouquereuil, France.
World War Two, 1939-1945
Ernesta Gilroy Sadler, Subaltern, 234615, Auxiliary Territorial Service. Ernesta was born on 28 August 1909, the daughter of Ernest Walters Price and Monica Snow Price (nee Phelps), of Mayfield, Narberth, and of Parcllyn, Ambleston. She was working in London prior to the war, and married William Sadler in 1934. Ernesta had served with the Women’s Transport Service, known as the F.A.N.Y., before transferring to the Auxiliary Territorial Service. She died while on active service in London on 21 March 1943, aged 34, and was brought home for burial in St. Mary’s Churchyard, Ambleston.
Peter Argent Saunders, Lieutenant, 217639, Army Air Corps. Peter was the son of Edward Argent Saunders of 1, Apley Terrace, Pembroke Dock, and The Weir, Treffgarne. He was educated at Pembroke Dock County School. His Grandparents Dr Edward Saunders and Louisa Gertude Saunders lived at Ford, and Peter was a regular visitor to the village. Peter was commissioned into the Rifle Brigade on 15 November 1941 and on 3 January 1943 volunteered to serve with the Army Air Corps, joining D Company, 10th Battalion, Parachute Regiment. He saw his first action during the Italian Campaign in 1943, when he was Mentioned in Despatches for his bravery. He returned to Britain prior to the invasion of Normandy, and took part in Operation Market Garden in September 1944, landing with his battalion at Arnhem on 17 September 1944, in command of D Company. Peter was killed in action during a heavy German attack at Oosterbeek on 22 September 1944, aged 24, and is buried at Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery, Netherlands. Peter is commemorated on a wooden panel inside Ford Church.
Robert Gordon Yaxley, DSO, MC, DFC, Group Captain, 33130, Royal Air Force. Robert was the son of Robert and Agnes Elizabeth Yaxley, of Bath. He had joined the Royal Air Force straight from school, and won the Military Cross for operations while serving with No. 2 Armoured Car Company, RAF in Palestine in 1936. He married Patricia O’Callaghan Baldwin, of Brompton, Kent, in 1940, and the pregnant Patricia was evacuated to Parc-y-Llyn, Ambleston soon after, where their son, Michael Charles Gordon Yaxley, was born in the summer of 1941. By then, Robert was commanding 252 Squadron, and had been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. The citation appeared in the London Gazette of 17 October 1941, and read: ‘This officer commanded a detachment of fighter aircraft which recently carried out a series of sorties with the object of assisting in the safe passage of our convoys in the Mediterranean. Attacks were made on certain aerodromes and seaplane bases which resulted in a loss to the enemy of at least 49 aircraft and a further 42 damaged. The Successes achieved undoubtedly contributed largely to the fact that the convoys were able to proceed without loss; only 1 ship was damaged but it succeeded in reaching port. The courageous leadership and determination of this officer is worthy of the highest praise, and throughout he set an example which proved an inspiration to his fellow pilots.’ He was then posted to 272 Squadron, and on 12 December 1941 was awarded the Distinguished Service Order: ‘Since the operations in the Western Desert commenced this officer has led his squadron with conspicuous success. Enemy aerodromes, as far west of the battle area as Benghazi, have been attacked daily and other serious damage has been inflicted on the enemy. On the opening day of the operations a number of Junkers 52 aircraft, carrying troops, were encountered and 7 of them were shot down. In addition to a daily toll of enemy aircraft destroyed, heavy casualties have been inflicted on ground crews while lines of communication have been harassed and petrol tankers set on fire. Altogether, within a space of 6 days operations, no less than 46 of the enemy’s aircraft were destroyed. Much of the brilliant successes achieved can be attributed to the courageous leadership and determination displayed by Wing Commander Yaxley. Throughout, he has set a magnificent example.’ He had been home on leave during the early summer of 1943, and on 3 June 1943 was returning to North Africa to join 117 Squadron when the Hudson serial FK386, which he was travelling aboard, was lost over the Bay of Biscay. Robert was 31 years old, and is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial, Surrey. Sadly the couple’s daughter Lucy was born in Kent on 21 February 1944, less than eight months after her father’s death. Patricia remarried Harold Coates, at Chatham, in 1948.