Men of the 1/1st Welsh Heavy Battery

Listed below are the names of some of the men who served with the 1/1st Welsh Heavy Battery. Most of them have been included in the unit war diary. The battery joined the 23rd Heavy Artillery Group on their arrival in France then the 16th HAG until 29th July 1916 when it joined the 17th HAG. It then left the be part of the 32nd HAG on 2nd December 1916, ultimately joining the 11th HAG in October ’17.

Corporal Llewelyn Arvon Edwards without who’s words I’d know very little about Bertie. His memoire of the Battery’s life throughout the war has been at the centre piece of my research. He was born in Bangor in 1892 and worked as an accounts clerk at the city council as well as being one of the original Caernarvon RGA men. He married Jane Hughes in 1922 who sadly died ten years later. He himself died in 1956.

Major G.H.Nugent – wounded 20.8.16 and sent home

Major George Brymer MC – came from a prominent local family who featured regularly in the local press and owned Brymer & Davies tailors on Bridge Street. George would later become the Sheriff of Carnarvon gb1in 1946. Born 1883, he was known as footballer, golfer and early member of the Carnarvon Heavy Battery RGA. He married Bertha Farr in 1917 who he must have met while stationed in Bedford where their son George was born in 1918. After the war he was appointed as Labour Administration Officer for the whole of Wales and tasked with finding employment for disabled soldiers.

Capt Arnold Dargie MC – a local hero and very well known amateur footballer who played for Bangor and Liverpool and was also capped for Wales. He was killed 18.9.17 and buried at Bully Grenay. A digitised version of his remarkable obituary can be read on the Play Up For Liverpool. website.

Lt William Brymer – brother of George – seconded to the RFC as a Flight Lieutenant. Hewb1 was injured and spent time in hospital in Boulogne. Like George he was a keen footballer scoring in Caernarfon’s 10-0 rout of Pwllheli before the war.

2nd Lt Ewart Vincent Carder – 1883-1963, born in Stourbridge served with the 1/1st becoming a Lieutenant in 1921.

2nd Lt Harold Brookes Kidson – Also recognised as “Brooks”, he was granted rank of Captain in 1921. Born in 1890 in the Wolverhampton area he married Dorothea Johnston in 1918 and died in 1969.

2nd Lt H.H.Smith (previously a/Capt)

Lt J.Roberts

2nd Lt Herbert J Parker had been a career soldier, serving in India before WW1. He was tragically killed with RP Morris on 27.10.17 and is buried in Perth Cemetery (China Wall) Zillebeke. CWGC concentration records show he was initially buried just north of Zillebeke Lake.

2nd Lt T.G.Foad previously 130651 Royal Horse Artillery relinquished his Commission April 1920. He joined with 83 other ranks when the battery expanded from 4 guns to 6.

2nd Lt Frederick Augustus Howard Coon – born St Austell in 1891 served with battery between 2/6/17 and 2/7/17.

2nd Lt Thomas Dixon (wounded with RP Morris and HJ Parker) joined 26th June 1917. If correctly identified, he will have served with the BEF from 1914 as Private (300158) with the 5th London Regiment. His medal entitlement shows the award of “clasp and rose” given to the “Old Contemptibles” who served between 5 August and 22 November 1914.

The men listed below are those who I have come across during my research or from families with whom I’ve had the honour in making contact – sharing stories and often still painful memories that have resonated through generations.aj

Sergeant Aaron Jones MSM – killed 31.10.18. I’ve  had the pleasure of corresponding with his niece Gwyn and sharing information, who to this day remembers the raw emotion his loss caused to their family. The memoir of William Manns recalls his death from shell attack in 1918. He is buried in Thiant Cemetery. 

Cpl Llewelyn Edwards recorded his thoughts on the death of Aaron Jones:

“A shell had fallen through one of the houses where 15 of our men had assembled. Two men were killed outright namely Sergt Aaron Jones and Lance Bombardier Charles Archer. Many were wounded and gassed. More shells fell, consequently entailing in more casualties. During a lull in the shelling a roll call was taken and we found we had lost 23 men. The next morning our men went “over the top” and we continued firingmm until 9.00am when thousands of Germans came into our hands. After the attack was over perhaps our saddest task in France was the burying of Aaron Jones and Charles Archer. Fourteen of us formed the burial party. Of the whole company of lighthearted Welsh boys who set out for Pembroke Fort back in 1914 we were the sole survivors excluding a few drivers in the waggon lines. We laid these two soldiers to rest in the French cemetery at Thiant with feelings of bitter grief. They were brave loyal and extremely popular and their passing on left a deep impression on all present.. If grief is a measure of people’s feelings then the tears I saw this day were eloquent of the affection and esteem in which the two friends and compatriots were held.”

BQMS John Bracegirdle DCM (310175) – passed on news of Bertie’s death to his wife at home. He died of TB he’d contracted while on active service on 18th March 1919 aged 41 and is buried a few feet from Charlie in the Llanbeblig Cemetery outside Caernarfon. Like Charlie, he had also been missed from the CWGC records. The situation for both men was rectified by a very dedicated friend on the GWF.

Gunner William Tocker (or Tocher) – a Scotsman from Aberdeen, who is likely to have joined the battery 1.3.17 when it was expanded from 4 to 6 guns and 83 extra men were added. He later transferred to the 327 Siege Battery.

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Lance Bombardier Griffith Richard Hughes

According to his great grandson Rob, he started work as cobble setter with the Manchester Corporation. His war experience had a profound effect on him, as upon his return home he left his old job and retrained as a surveyor.

He retired as Chief Surveyor to the Hiraethog RDC and was awarded the 1935 Jubilee, 1936 Coronation and 1952 Coronation medals for services to Public Housing having literally designed the “Homes Fit for Heroes”.

“As is often the case my great grandfather never talked of his time in the war, we only ever knew he was ‘on the Somme with the big guns’ and that was the sum total of what he told his family – sadly an all too familiar tale.”

Driver Richard Morris Jones

Army number 310249  from 1 Alms House, Penmynydd. Thanks to Megan for some brilliant photos.

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William Huw Jones – of 2 Dew Street, Menai Bridge was a Driver (310340) with the 1/1st Welsh Heavy Battery, he later became a porter at the University Library in Bangor.  He first enlisted when under-age in 1914-15 and was discovered and kicked out. Later he married a Belgian lady, and got the local nickname “Wil Huw Belgie”! It’s believed his grave at Menai Bridge had small Belgian flags on it. He was in the Home Guard during WW2 and also had the King Albert medal, a veteran award. (Thanks to Clive for that one!)

Bombardier Robert Williams came from Llandegfan on Anglesey and was killed 26th Junerich 1917 aged 23 – service number 310077. He is buried in Chocques Cemetery. In conveying the sad news to the deceased’s sister Miss Williams of Llandudno, Major Brymer wrote “ I wish to afford you my deep sympathy in the regrettable loss to you of a brother who, I feel certain, will be greatly missed by you all. He and three Gunners received the wounds which resulted in death whilst at their post of duty in action at …. He is greatly missed by both Officers and men of this unit”
The Chaplain also wrote to express sympathy and added “I laid him to rest in our cemetery, a detachment from his battery was present and also your two brothers.”

Thanks to his great nephew Rich for sharing his story and photo with me.

Gunner JR Griffiths – wounded 23rd June 1917.

Gunner John R Jones, Gunner Willie Pritchard, Bombardier R Williams and Gunner RB Williams were wounded on 25th June 1917 when their gun exploded in an ‘unusual’ accident close to Maroc. According to Edwards, a gun had backfired igniting cordite which badly burned the four boys. They were well known from home and well liked by the men with their “loss casting a gloom over the battery”. All four died the following day. Robert Williams, RB Williams and JR Jones rest in Chocques Military Cemetery while Willie Pritchard is buried closer to the scene of the disaster at Fosse No10 Cemetery 20km further south.

Gunner Duncan Roberts – (310205) born in Beaumaris.  He was KIA on the 14th of February 1917.

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Gnr Thomas Rowe – (87235) Died 25th April 1918. Age 29. Commemorated at Tyne Cot Memorial.

Gnr J Stallard – Gunner 310159. Died 26th October 1918. Age 26 buried in Llanrhos Churchyard.

More of the battery men who lost their lives are commemorated on a Bangor history website