Grangetown at War - researching World War One casualties for online memorial

Click on the banner above or here to see the online memorial


Project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund

We are marking the centenary of the deaths all 480 men and women from Grangetown who died on active service, day by day until 1921.

We are including biographical details here and also Tweeting the names via @GrangetownWWI.

If you know of an ancestor whose anniversary is coming up and you have additional details or photos, please email us on grangetownwar@yahoo.co.uk. There is a full list of those who served and died here.

New book tells story of Grangetown casualties

Five years of research into the men and women from Grangetown who died in World War One has been published in a book, to mark the end of the centenary of the conflict.

It Touched Every Street tells the stories of soldiers and sailors from the Cardiff suburb who were killed - and the project also found another 156 men and women who were not included on the original war memorial in Grange Gardens.

The stories include the first Welshman to be killed in World War One, within hours of the declaration of war; the first member of the Cardiff 'Pals' regiment to die, as well as the Grangetown men caught up in the major battles of the Somme, at Ypres and in the North Sea at Jutland.

It was launched at Grangetown Hub on Saturday 10th November (1pm-3pm).

The 200-page book, which includes stories and memories contributed by families, was written by Grangetown Local History Society member and local journalist Steve Duffy.

He uncovered the stories of three women who died in different circumstances directly because of the War, and also tells the story of the only Cardiff City footballer to be killed - just two days before the end of the War.

"It started off as a project to research 330 names on the war memorial but soon it became apparent that there were many other local casualties not recorded - and this in itself was an unexpected twist," said Steve. "Apart from a few mysteries which may never be solved, we now have a pretty good idea about who all the casualties were - where they lived, their families and something about their lives before they went off to war. No Grangetown street was untouched and it's worth reflecting this would have been replicated in many streets across the country."

Since the publication of the book and the postcard project, three more casualties have emerged - thanks to family getting in touch - and these have been added to the online memorial and will be included in any subsequent editions of the book.

It Touched Every Street costs £ 14.99 and is available from the society, direct from Wordcatcher Publishing, online orders add postage. or via Amazon Email grangetownwar@yahoo.co.uk. If you live locally, it may be possible to arrange for you to collect the book or for a delivery. Copies will also be sold at the Grangetown World Market on 1 December at St Patrick's RC school yard. A sister publication In Proud And Honoured Memory about the Whitchurch war memorial, by Ceri Stennett and Gwyn Prescott, is being published at the same time.

Postcard project remembers the streets where they lived

Special postcards marked the house of each Grangetown soldier and sailor who died in World War One.

More than 400 postcards were distributed to last known addresses of those who died - with current householders asked to place them in their windows, as a sign of remembrance in time for the 100th anniversary of the Armistice.


Hugo - whose great-great grandfather from Grangetown died in the war - helps his family deliver postcards.

Grangetown Local History Society have researched the details of most of the 330 men on the war memorial in Grange Gardens, as well as more than 150 men and women who were omitted when it was erected in 1921.

Letters were included with the postcards to explain the idea behind the project. Each postcard included the name, regiment or ship and date of death of the casualty. And people can find out more about the casualty by looking on this website.

Thanks to members of the society for helping both collate and deliver the cards, which were kindly printed by Allens of Leckwith.

Some streets no longer exist or have no homes on them any more, so the nearest chapel, church or school will be asked to display the cards. There are a small number of casualties for which we either have no details or no address is known.

The project really caught the imagination of residents - and we had some very touching responses from those living in the former homes of soliders and sailors. Families also reacted very positively and there were cases of descendants visiting streets to take a look.

Meanwhile, postcards of the Grangetown "poppy map" - showing all the homes were casualties lived before the War - have also been produced.

Media coverage of our World War One project

There was tremendous coverage of the latter stage of our World War One commemoration - especially the postcard project.

ITV Wales ran a lovely report, talking to residents, pupils at Ninian Park Primary School - during a visit by Grangetown Local History Society, as well as society member Michelle Darby Charles. Watch the video above and read more here

The BBC Wales news website has also featured the project, talking to residents and the history society.

The Western Mail and South Wales Echo both ran double page features on the It Touched Every Street book and our poppy map on Saturday. The story was also reproduced on Wales Online on Remembrance Sunday and on Monday in the Daily Mirror online.

There was also another terrific video item with residents and businesses talking about their postcards, produced by the Wales Online team.

Plaque remembers 150 'forgotten' war dead

More than 150 men and women from Grangetown have been honoured 100 years after they lost their lives during World War One.

Five years of research carried out by the Grangetown Local History Society discovered that the names of many people from the area who died were not included on the war memorial when it was first erected in July 1921.

The anomalies were found during research for the details of the 330 soldiers and sailors who were listed alongside their regiments or ships on the original monument in Grange Gardens.

Many details of the casualties - where they lived and worked were discovered - but then other names came to light involving dozens more who for various reasons had been missed.

Now a plaque and plinth have been added to the base of the memorial, in time for the centenary of the end of the war.

"It began with finding around 30 new names initially but it was surprising to uncover many more," said Steve Duffy, who has been researching the names for Grangetown Local History Society's World War One project.

"Some were long established families in the area with strong connections, so there is no straightforward reason why they might have been missed off. There were also three women who died directly as a result of the war in very different circumstances. We have built up an online record but it's really fitting now that their contributions are not forgotten and are remembered with the many others."


Zena Mabbs, Rita Spinola and Ray Noyes of Grangetown Local History Society

Cardiff Council in partnership with Mossfords Ltd, have now added a bronze plaque in memory of those whose "names are not recorded here" to the Grade II listed memorial. The plaque says "more than 140" and the number currently stands at 152.

Cabinet member with responsibility for bereavemen services, Councillor Michael Michael, said: "The sacrifices made by those who fought and died on our behalf should never be forgotten. This plaque ensures that, in this important centenary year, every Grangetown resident who lost their life in the service of our country is honoured in the place they called home."

The original memorial was erected using £1,000 raised by voluntary subscription by the "Grangetown War Heroes Memorial Committee" and was designed by Henry Charles Fehr (1867-1940) who also designed the dragon on City Hall. It was officially opened in front of large crowds on the fifth anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.

Current project work

Stories of Grangetown men who fought and died

Here are just some examples of the stories we will tell - the lives behind the names on the memorial:

DIED AT SEA The stories of Elmer Darrock who ended up being buried in the United States and John Cleal, who postponed his wedding to fight in a Naval battle.

HONOURED BY THE FRENCH Diaries of life in the trenches help remember John Henry Withers, who was killed shortly after he married.

THE SCHOOLBOY RUGBY STAR WHO FELL AT YPRES A few years after he played as a teenager for Wales George Harben died in Flanders. But his family suffered a second tragedy, which is not recorded on any memorial.

A WIDOW FOR 50 YEARS Soldier John Melean died after the end of the War but just before his wife reached hospital.

'COURAGE BORDERING ON RECKLESSNESS' The story of Lord Ninian Edward Crichton Stuart, local MP amd the highest ranking officer on the memorial who was killed rallying his men.

BLOODY DAYS OF JULY 1916 A look at some of the men who died at the start of the Battle of the Somme in July 1916.

DIED IN THE SECOND BATTLE OF THE SOMME The family of Pte Tom Goodland, who died at Mametz Wood two months before the end of the war, have been left some evocative photos of him - and his medals.

ONE OF MANY CASUALTIES ON A TROOP SHIP Henry James died in 1917 on his way to fight in Salonika when his ship was sunk by a U-boat.

WALES RUGBY INTERNATIONAL The story of Dai Westacott, who played for Wales and Cardiff but was later injured in the Somme and killed at Ypres.

THE SOLDIER WHOSE NAME WAS ADDED TO THE MEMORIAL 83 YEARS LATER The story of Pte Bill Laugharne, whose body was found nine years after his death - and was missed off the memorial.

THE FIRST WELSHMAN TO DIE IN THE WAR The story of William Welton, the 19-year-old from Grangetown who became the first casualty, only 32 hours into the war on August 6th 1914.

THE SOLDIER ON MEMORIAL WHO LIVED TO TELL TALE The remarkable story of Sgt Alf Norman who survived the war but whose name ended up on the memorial.

POVERTY NOT PATRIOTISM L/Cpl Horace Maynard, who died at the Somme, but joined up to help keep his widowed mother from the workhouse.

DIED AT PASSCHENDAELE The story of Pte Frederick Clargo, the butcher's son.

CARDIFF PAL AND LIGHTHOUSE VESSEL TRAGEDY The story of L/Cpl Alf Johnson, 24, the first reported casualty among the "Cardiff Pals" battalion. And Capt Hugh Leopold Phillips, who left a widow in Grangetown when his lighthouse vessel was sunk by a mine.

LIVES IN BRIEF The boys who died on the ships + One of three sisters who served in France + The docksman who left a young daughter.

SURVIVORS' STORIES Some of the Grangetown men who came home but for some, life was short or never the same again.

MY GREAT-GRANDFATHER - AND HOW TO RESEARCH AN ANCESTOR The story of Pte Ivor Darby, and a few tips on how to go about finding details of your ancestor's war service.

WHY WE BUILT A TRENCH Fitzalan High School explain how they commemorated the war by building a replica trench in the school grounds.

The Grangetown streets where they mourned the men who didn't come home

Very few streets escaped the effect of the war. We've reproduced a contemporary map here - thanks to Glamorgan Archives - and plotted where those who died were from in Grangetown. There are others too, not included, for which we have no exact address. Click on image or here for a larger map. You can also look at the list of streets here.


Click on the photos above for larger images to see the names on the Grangetown war memorial

Names on the memorial needing more research We're particularly interested in tracking down details of the following men on the memorial, including those with Grangetown connections which are uncertain. Some details on the memorial so far have proved inaccurate, so we'd like to hear from anyone who can help us:

CALLAN, Thomas On St Patrick's RC Church plaque, no details traced
CAVANAGH J Welsh Regiment TWT Royal Engineers Lieutenant - No details can be traced
CHIPLEN, Frederick - Grangetown address/connection?
COLEMAN, James Mark Grangetown address/connection?
DE VINE, James Arthur Forrest Grangetown address/connection?
DRURY, Robert b Lincoln but where did he live in Grangetown?
EVANS, D Welsh Regiment 3rd Battalion Private No details can be traced
GULMAN,J Welsh Regiment 2nd Battalion Private No details can be traced
HUGHES, S.J Welsh Regiment 13th Battalion Sergeant No details can be traced

JONES, W G Royal Welsh Fusiliers Regiment Private Grangetown address/connection?
JONES, William Norman, Royal Welsh Fusiliers 1st Battn Exact Grangetown address?
LEWIS, John A, South Wales Borderers 5th Battalion Grangetown address/connection?

MURRAY, James, Welsh Regiment 16th Battalion Grangetown address/connection?
O'LEARY,W.J Royal Navy H.M.S "Vivid" Eng Navigator No details traced
O'REILLY, Richard On St Patrick's RC Church plaque, no details traced
OLSEN, T Royal Navy H.M.S "Gosamer" Seaman Is it Trygve OLSEN, born Norway, living in Seaman's Hospital, Ferry Road in 1911 - a marine stoker, b 1889?
PAYNE, A Royal Army Service Corps Driver No details can be traced - possibly Alfred Edward Payne (b 1892, 32 Penhaved St) who may be the same who joined the RASC as a driver, No 174169, reinlisting in March 1916. -
PRIEST, C Royal Navy H.M.M.S No.7 Stoker No details can be traced - could have been serving on the Q7 ship Penshurst, which was sunk on Dec 25 1917.
REES, David Edmunds CWGC 3031914 Mercantile Marine S.S "Camerata (not Camelata) from Swansea Second Engineer d 2 May 1917, aged 24 Grangetown address/connection?
RIDLAND, W.C Machine Gun Corps Private Looks likely to be W Cridland - not sure of exact Grangetown address but connected to Grangetown family
SAUNDERS,William Welsh Regiment 2nd Battalion Private Exact Grangetown address needed
SMALLBRIDGE, C Royal Navy H.M.S "Warwick" Private No details traced
SMITH, T A Royal Army Service Corps Driver No details traced
THOMAS, George Edward, Welsh Regiment 11th Battalion Grangetown address/connection?
THOMAS, William J CWGC 607434 Royal Army Medical Corps 2nd (Welsh) Field Ambulance Private 1477 d 13 Aug 1915, aged 21 at Gallipoli Grangetown address/connection?
YORATH, W Welsh Regiment 9th Battalion Private No details traced

We believe details of some of the above may be wrong. But if you have any details or suggestions for the above, please get in touch with the society by emailing grangetownwar@yahoo.co.uk.

The memorial's history


The crowds out for the unveiling of the memorial in July 1921

The Grangetown War Memorial was dedicated at 3pm on 7th July 1921 - this coincided with the fifth anniversary of the Battle of Mametz Wood in the Somme, which saw many Welsh casualties. The memorial was paid for by voluntary subscription and contributions, led by an organising committee - the Grangetown War Heroes Committee - chaired by Thomas Williams. It was set up in autumn 2018, before the end of the war, after a public meeting at the Forward Movement mission hall on the corner of Corporation Road and Paget Street. Others on the committee included vice chairman, boilermaker Fred Cornish, baker John Henry Parfitt, Russian-born pawnbroker Morris Hauser, one time greyhound trainer turned hotel worker Robert Hornett, docks worker Thomas Podd and another local baker John Charles Julian (Hon Sec, who died before the unveiling). The dedication ceremony included music from the Cardiff Naval Brigade and the guest of honour was MP Sir Hebert Cory. No minutes of the committee survive but it is believed that local people submitted names of those to be remembered.


A copy of the programme for the memorial's opening. Click on the image above to look inside. Thanks very much to Ken Poole for sending us a copy of this artefact.

The name of another soldier Pte William Laugharne, 23, was added on a plaque in 2000. His body was not found until nine years after his death in October 1917 and too late to be included on the original memorial. A plaque was also added by Grangetown Local History Society to remember those who died in World War Two.

There are 58 members of the Royal Navy, Royal Naval Reserve and merchant navy on the memorial - the youngest just 15.

Names include the local MP and landowner, Lord Ninian Crichton-Stuart, and also a Wales rugby international.

Remembering the 30 Grangetown men who died at Ypres


Frederick Clargo

The Somme is the name that resonates when people think of World War One, especially in Wales, but the third battle of Ypres a century ago had just as big an impact in a place like Grangetown.

Altogether, 30 men from the community died in Flanders over a three month period ending at Passchendaele in November 1917. The series of major offensives, mostly beginning at dawn, on the German trenches in Belgium were notorious for the conditions men fought in.

They were characterised by unprecedented artillery bombardment and shellfire, of ground swamped in mud and of huge water-filled craters left by both sides’ heavy gun batteries.

The men who died from Grangetown had an average age of 27 and came from 17 different regiments. They included dock workers, butchers and a baker, a brewery drayman and a house painter. There was also  a photographer who had emigrated to Australia and joined a regiment in Brisbane. It led to a ship back to Europe.  

Francis Alfred had left Grangetown behind as a teenager. His father had a photography business in Clare Road and a shop in town. He joined the Australian infantry and, eventually, arrived in Ypres.

He was killed in September aged 23 and like many, his body was never recovered and he joins the many names on the Menin Gate memorial.

Dai Westacott was a docks worker, with four children, living in Hewell Street. He was also a retired rugby forward (pictured left), who had played for Cardiff and also won a cap for Wales against Ireland in 1905. Despite being a family man, he  joined up early in the War with the Gloucestershire Regiment. His war record saw him fight in the notorious Battle of Loos and he was also injured at the Somme. But after recovering from his wounds at home, Dai returned to the front line and in August 2017, was north east of Ypres, when he was killed by shellfire in a support trench, aged 35.

Frederick Clargo (pictured above) was the son of a master butcher from Paget Street. His mother died young and his father’s business failed. He first joined the Royal Field Artillery but after his battalion sustained losses he joined the Lancashire Fusiliers.

Almost exactly a month before he was killed, he wrote to his older brother Charles “in case you should be worrying about me”. He hadn’t quite reached his battalion at this point and described being “as sick as a dog” during the rough Channel crossing. Frederick was part of a big attack north of Poelcappelle in October, The day before, Frederick and his regiment lay in shell holes and hid from enemy aircraft.

The battle when it came lasted 12 hours and large numbers of wounded had to be left out until nightfall as it was too dangerous to reach them. Frederick and 35 others from his battalion were killed that day. Men were said to be so exhausted “by frightful conditions of wet and cold” that they could scarcely get out of the trenches when they were eventually relieved.

Like many of his comrades, the shocking conditions meant Frederick’s remains were never recovered. The 20-year-old (pictured above right) is remembered on the Grangetown war memorial and the Grangetown Baptist Church plaque.

Perhaps the most poignant story is of another Poelcapelle veteran, Bill Laugharne, whose family lived in Maerdy Street. A legal clerk, he was known as being handsome with thick, dark hair and blue eyes. He had left school early but was an avid reader, who bought a book every week to help improve himself and indulge his love of literature. 

He volunteered for the Welsh Horse battalion because it was said he had always wanted to learn to ride. He eventually transferred to the 7th Battalion of the East Kent Regiment - the Buffs - which was involved in some intense fighting earlier in 1917. In the October, Bill was missing presumed dead during the attack on Poelcapelle.

But for some reason, even though he had been declared dead on his official records, his name was not included on the Grangetown memorial in 1921.

This was not the end of the story. In 1926, eight years after the end of the war, Bill's remains were found by a Belgian farmer digging his field and he was buried with full military honours.

It took the family nearly another 75 years to see his name added to the Grangetown memorial. A special ceremony was held on 13th October 2000, exactly 83 years after his death, with a bugler playing the Last Post.

Roll of honour: The Grangetown men who died at Ypres August-November 1917:

Sgt Francis Alfred, Pte Albert Bethell
Sgt Albert Blake, Pte John Caveill
Pte Frederick Clargo, Cpl Albert Cooksley, Pte Henry Cottier, Spr Charles Dickinson
Pte Robert Edwards, Pte David Fish
Pte Bert Forgan, Gnr Harry Fouracre
Driver Ted Fry, Pte Samuel Gatscias
Sgt George Goodwin, Pte Horatio Hancock, Sgt Alfred Harris
Pte Abraham Heins, Pte Arthur Hollyman
Gnr Ivor Ivanissevich Pte William Jones, Pte William Laugharne
Bmbdr George Packer, Pte James Pring
Pte Thomas Sullivan. Spr George Symonds
Pte Charlie Walker, Pte Dai Westercott
Gnr Thomas Wheeler and 2nd Lt Clifford White

This article appeared in the winter 2017 edition of Grangetown News

The race riot in the aftermath of the Great War

An unsavoury and little-known episode in Cardiff's history, a few months after the end of World War One was race rioting, with attacks on working black men.

One of the incidents involved an attack on the home of merchant seaman James Headley and his family in north Grangetown on June 12th 1919.

The story was given a scant mention in the South Wales Echo of the day, as "a mob of 1,000 men attacked the homes of two negroes." But it is re-told at length by Headley's grandson, the Butetown historian Neil Sinclair in The Tiger Bay Story and also in a BBC Wales programme The Forgotten Warriors of World War One

The rioting, which included attacks in streets off The Hayes and led to black men of Tiger Bay forming a protective cordon at the top end of Bute Street, will also be the subject of a play, Storm 2, by National Theatre Wales at the Tabernacl chapel in March 2018.

The Grangetown story centres around Somerset Street, at a house rented by Barbados-born James, who had arrived in Cardiff as a cabin boy and who married Agnes Jolly, a white Lancashire girl who had ended up in Tiger Bay. The couple had a daughter Beatrice and moved to lodgings at No 27.

James's ship had survived torpedo attacks in the war and he was taken prisoner, earning medals. But it was one summer evening in 1919 that neighbours alerted them to a mob of rioters on their way, and they soon arrived carrying torches. James escaped over the back wall, while Agnes and nine-year-old Beatrice fled upstairs.

Sinclair writes: "Disappointed at not finding him, they began to ransack and destroy the home. Agnes was attacked and struck to the ground while the rioters poured paraffin over the living room table, about to set fire to the house."

They stopped after learning the property belonged to a landlord not the Headleys; the police only turned up the next day and were said to have blamed Agnes for marrying a black man! The landlord later demanded they leave or he would evict them. The family moved to Tiger Bay.

Pte Lewis Alexander


Lewis Jr (back row left) with his father (centre)

Thanks to Aileen Buckingham for sending more details and a photo of her grandfather Lewis Alexander, who was killed in action on October 21st 1918, a couple of weeks before the end of World War One. He was a private in the 9th Battalion, Welsh Regiment. There is very little in the battalion diary about the day Lewis died, aged 34. They seemed to be be involved in an attack to take the River Selle around this time. But there's not even an entry for the day, which is unusual.

Lewis was a greengrocer living in Abertwsswg in the Rhymney Valley when he joined up but had been brought up in 43 Clive Street, where his father, also called Lewis, was a ship's pilot owner. Lewis Jr left a widow Miriam (nee Sutton) and two daughters, aged six and four.

There is some mention of Lewis Sr getting a medal for service with the Merchant Navy during the war. Aileen said he owned nine houses at the time of his death - two houses including the family home in Clive Street; four houses in Penhevad Street, two homes in Ludlow Street and a property in Amherst St. "He died in 1921 leaving his third wife, who inherited £897.8s. 9d and his 12 children each inherited £149.11s.5d each. My mother and her sister received Lewis Alexander Junior's share. I suppose he was quite a wealthy man by the standards of the day."

Remembering the Battle of Jutland

Grangetown Local History Society held a commemoration of the 12 men from Grangetown who died on 31st May 1916 in the Battle of Jutland.

This naval battle in the North Sea is a too often forgotten in the history of World War One but it was the occasion when more men died in one day from our area then any other in the course of the conflict.

The names of the men were read out by members of the society, local children and police officers at 6pm at the memorial in Grange Gardens, while a dozen crosses and a poppy wreath were laid. A poem was also read out to remind people of the families left behind in the conflict.

The men who died were:

The ships:

HMS Defence - 903 crew died when ship exploded after being hit by German fire.

HMS Indefatigable - 1,017 crew lost on the battleship when she sank at Jutland.

HMS Queen Mary - 1,266 crewmen were lost, only 20 survived - she was shelled, exploded and sank quickly in the North Sea, off Denmark - the wreck is a protected war grave

HMS Black Prince - all 857 crew died after ship was fired on by a German battleship.

+ Name appears on Grange Gardens memorial

Another mystery solved - a soldier with a chequered history who survived but died tragically later.

A name that cropped up in research whose military history proved hard to pin down was Jack Hedges of Saltmead. The South Wales Echo carried a notice that he was "reported killed" in June 1915 and had been a "well known boxer."

Well, it's now been discovered that he actually survived the war and lived until 1932. No casualty or obvious military record could be found for him - which prompted suspicion - but there are other records which point to his survival.

Hedges, born in 1887 to a flour mill worker, lived at one time in Monmouth Street and later in Wedmore Road. He had six professional fights between 1907 and 1912 in Caerphilly, Barry, Cardiff and Swansea. They included a defeat in September 1909 and a win in February 1912. He sparred for Jim Driscoll, who called him a "pluckly little fighter".

But he became better known, at least to the local police and magistrates, as a troublemaker. He went to a reform school in Dinas Powys as a teenager and then involved in mainly petty crime before being jailed for three years in November 1909 for his part in a nasty assault involving a gang of young men on a woman on the Taff embankment. Hedges had been with friends who got drunk spending his winnings from a prize fight in Mountain Ash. The 1911 Census finds him in prison. What ties this Hedges as one that survived the war is the link to his brother Ernest, a sailor. Both were convicted in August 1914 of assaulting two police officers, who intervened to break up trouble in the town centre one Sunday night. John Philip Stephen Hedges appeared in the dock with something of a truncheon injury and the officer described him "as one of the most violent prisoners he'd ever arrested". The court heard he had 15 other convictions, besides the case which led to his longer prison term. That also marked the end of his brother's time in the Navy.

That same Hedges died in Cardiff, aged 45, although tragically. By this time he was working as a ship's fireman and living in Llanbradach Street with his sister Gertrude Brooke. He left home on the morning of January 16th 1932 to join his ship on the Alexandra Dock but never showed up and was reported missing. Three months later, his body was found floating in water near the Roath basin. An inquest was held on May 5th, the cause an apparent drowning with the body in a poor state and having been in the water "for some months." An open verdict was recorded.


Mapping Grangetown: Language, Place and Poetry A creative writing workshop looking at Grangetown and World War One was presented by Cardiff University as part of its Conflict and Creativity season with Dr Dylan Foster Evans and writer Jon Gower.

Pictured above is poet Rees Rees "Teifi" (1870-1948), who lived in Cymmer Street in Grangetown during the war and published a volume of poetry in 1915. Dr Evans explained that Rees, who worked in Penarth Docks, was educated in the Rhondda but lived in Grangetown for 20 years, during which time he wrote poetry about the war. His early writing was caught up in the general "call to arms" and recruitment drive, with his poetry evoking Llywelyn, Owain Glyndwr and even the Duke of Wellington. His later writing was more reflective and reflected the loss and sacrifices.

Wrth sengi llwch eu hoesau hwy,
Wrth gogio nosau brad,
Ein calon dd'wed o dan ei chlwy
"Rhaid marw dros ein gwlad."

As we tread the dust of their lives
As we remember the nights of betrayal,
Our heart says in its wounds:
"We must die for our country."

Translated by Dr Dylan Foster Evans from Marw dros ein gwlad (To die for our country)

Mi glywais gwympo'r cedyrn
A llawer arwr tlws
On heddyw cwympir dewrion gwlad
Braidd yma wrth fy nrws
Mae llef pob newyddiadur
Yn lleddf gan alar mawr
Mae'r oes yn llawn gofidiau lu:
Dont gyda'r hwyr a'r wawr.

I heard that the brave had fallen
And many a fair hero,
But today the country's brave men
Almost fall here by my door
Every newspaper's cry
Is sad with great grief,
The age is full of numerous woes:
They come with evening and the dawn.

Translated by Dr Dylan Foster Evans from Oes y Gofidiau (The Age of Woes)

Dr Evans also talked about Edgar Phillips "Trefin", (1889-1962), born in Pembrokeshire but who learnt Welsh after moving to Cardiff, including some some time in Grangetown including at what is now Ninian Park School (then Sloper Road School). He was working as a tailor but also went off to war and was wounded in 1917, when part of a house collapsed after he was sheltering during a bombardment. His poetry was also written to fellow soldiers, including some in English.

The Mother (6 September 1917)
I remember seeing the boys
Marching all together
Their footsteps like thunder
Echoed through the street;
Hooray! Hooray! shouted the children -
Foolish youth is thoughtless;
A mother's heart asked quietly:
"Will my boy come back home?"

When Spring comes over the hills
With flowers on every side,
What will be on the little mound -
My son's grave over in Flanders?
Oh! I wish I could, like a bird,
cross the rough sea,
I'd be content if I could plant
One flower on his grave.
Gunner E Phillips

See more about the season here


Driver Christmas Williams


Christmas Williams on his horse

A descendant of a collier who died just over a month before the end of World War One has sent us copies of photographs of him. Merthyr Vale-born Christmas Williams also has a memorial stone in his home village, as well as being remembered on the Grange Gardens memorial. He was the son of a collier but moved to Grangetown, where he and his wife Beatrice (who lived latterly at 43 Wedmore Rd) had five children. He was a driver with the Royal Artillery and died of wounds suffered five days before at the age of 32. He worked as a plate layer in a coal mine before becoming a barber - and apparently ran several shops, although none in Grangetown, before he joined the Army in 1915. Family say his body was in a very bad state when he died. He is buried near Arras.


He is circled in this group photo here, with barbers sitting in the front row.


A memorial walk on your smartphone

The stories of some of the Grangetown men who died in World War One can now be heard on a heritage walk app which has been produced by Cardiff Metropolitan University.

People can download a free app to their phone and starting at the memorial in Grange Gardens take a self-guided walk around the area, stopping at various points where soldiers used to live and hear their stories.

The Grangetown War project teamed up with Dr Spencer Jordan, of the Cardiff Metropolitan University, who developed the People's Stories app with colleague Dr Gareth Loudon. It tells the stories of eight men who fought in World War One, which were researched by the project.

It can be downloaded for free for Android from Google Play. An Apple version is available on iTunes which you can access via the App Store on any iPhone. Search on "Grangetown” to find it. It's suggested you take headphones for your smartphone, which needs 3G or 4G access and for your location services to be switched on. When you reach the memorial, turn on the app. It should pick up your location and you can start. The walk takes you down Holmesdale Street, into Clive Street and around back.

Read how it was featured in Wales Online and the South Wales Echo

Mystery over brass plaque


Where did the plaque come from originally? We're trying to solve the mystery of a plaque, containing the names of two Grangetown soldiers who died in World War One.

We were alterted to its existence by a church magazine in Dorset, which came across the names on our online memorial while trying to research it. A parishoner had come across the plaque in a sale of oddments some time ago.


David Evans and John Withers

The brass plaque pays tribute to Sgt John Withers of the Royal Marine Artillery - whose story we also feature here - and Pte David C Evans, of the South Wales Borderers. It appears to be part of a larger memorial, and included as an add-on. The two men, one who lived in Bromfield Street and the other with his wife in Clive Street - served in two different regiments and died at two different times, but there is a possibility they shared membership of the same organisation. Sgt Withers was in the Salvation Army and attended services at the Grangetown Weslyan Chapel. Although we don't know whether Pte Evans did similarly, or the two men were connected through another organisation or sporting club.

We're making inquiries but if anyone can shed any light, let us know!


Special booklets have been produced - and also a commemorative edition of Grange News (click to download a PDF copy)

School marks centenary

Fitzalan High School near Grangetown has been involved in its own anniversary projects, including constructing a trench in the grounds.

Grangetown Local History Society was invited to a commemoration day in July 2014 - and then four years later was invited back to give a series of talks to Year 7 and Year 8 pupils on stories of some of the men and women from Grangetown who died.

"Our trench looked very realistic and it was a good experience," said year 8 pupils Ray and Jake, back in 2014.

"All pupils in Key Stage 3 had a special timetable so that they could learn about life in the trenches and the First World War. There were special assemblies and all of the different departments across the school joined in. We also had a re-enactor visit (a Tommy) and First World War artefact boxes from Cardiff Castle."

You can read more about the Fitzalan trench here

Primary pupils learn about Great War

Grangetown Local History Society visited St Paul's Church-in-Wales primary school to give a presentation to pupils about our World War One project.

Michelle Darby-Charles told the story of her great-grandfather Pte Ivor Darby, who was killed in the war in May 1918 at the age of 32. Pupils also used our popular display map to find soldiers who may have lived on their own streets more than 100 years ago.

The lesson was a great success and we have been invited back in September. It's great to see the interest in the stories from children younger and older in the area.

© Photos: Roy Paul

Descendants tell their stories


Rita Spinola of Grangetown Local History Society, interviewing Joyce, a descendant of F.R. Marshall, one of the men on the memorial. Myrtle Hill (right) with a photograph of her grandfather, David Westacott, who was a Welsh rugby international - you can read his story here. We have also started a page of audio interviews with relatives.

Listen to an interview with Sheila Kite about her uncles Rifleman Ivor Jones and Eddie Jones, both killed in World War One

Listen to an interview about L/Cpl William Allsopp, d 1915

Useful links: Wales Remembers
Cymru 1914 digital archive
Welsh Voices of the Great War
1914.org
BBC World War One
National Museum Wales events
Glamorgan Family History Society WW1 blog
Rhondda Remembers
West Wales Memorial Project
Talking History 1914 blog
The Cardiff Story Museum
War Memorials Online

© Grangetown Local History Society 2018

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