Hirwaun War Memorial Unveiling Ceremony

Thursdays Unveiling Ceremony of the Clock Tower

Memory of Forty Heroes Honoured
In the presence of what the Rev. E. Wern Williams described as a crowd he had never before seen the like of in Hirwaun, during the last 34 years, the clock tower erected in the Cardiff Arms Square as a memorial to the forty men of the village who laid down their lives in the Great War, was unveiled on Thursday afternoon. The ceremony was marked with due impressiveness, and solemnity. The rain that fell just prior to the formation of the procession near Nebo Chapel, seemed to create a general air of depression, but, out of the mists which gathered, the memorial rose high, and, twice or thrice as though to remind the bereaved relatives around, of the reward of supreme sacrifice struck the hour or half-hour with a note of serene felicity. Long before half-past three, which was to be the time for the commencement of the ceremony, many villagers had gathered in the street, some with wreaths and floral tributes, whilst the buses brought in hundreds who helped to swell the crowd which stood and watched the various sections lining up. The Hirwaun Silver Band, under the conductorship of Mr. David John Edwards, led the way, followed by the High Constable (Mr. W. M. Llewellyn). The Lord Bishop of Llandaff the Right rev. J. P. Hughes, D.D, Revs. D. J. Wills, M.A. vicar of Hirwaun. E. W. Hughes, B.A. vicar of St. Fagan’s, E. Wern Williams, (Nebo), J. Jenkins, (Tabernacle), D. Teify Davies, (C.M.), M. P. Moses, (E.C.), E. J. Hughes, (Baptist). Relatives of the fallen, representatives of public bodies, police squad under Supt. Rees and Sgts. Williams, Lewis & Kidd, local ex-Servicemen with Col. W. D. Phillips, Capt. Edwards, Lt. Trevor Davies, Lt. Hayden Morris and Major R. D. Williams. D.S.O, in command; Ambulance squad, under Dr. Ben Thomas, and 1st officer W. J. Meyler, a Nursing Division with Mrs. Richardson at the head. 1st Hirwaun Troop of Boy Scouts under Scoutmaster A. Jones, and member of the Aubrey and Morgan Harries-Whitting lodges of the R.A.O.B. including Messrs. Rees Jones, W. J. Durbin, – Hendon, Wm. Richards and Evan Evans. Marching to the memorial, the sections stood around, whilst on the platform, in addition to the High Constable, the Bishop and clergy, the company included Ald. W. A. Jenkins, C.C. M.P, Ald. Wm. Thomas, C.C, Mrs. A. N. Jenkins, O.B.E, Coun. J. O. George, W. J. Hodges, H. Cohen, R. L. Berry, D. James, Glen George, and the Clerk (Mr. Owen Williams), the Deputy Clerk (Mr. A. Watkins), and the Surveyor (Mr. Owen Williams), representing the Aberdare District Council, J. B. Young and Dd. Harris (Penderyn District Council), Dan Jones (Merthyr Board of Guardians), Illtyd Williams, E. Pugh, M. E. R. Buxton, M. E. David Jones (chairman of the Welcome Home War Memorial Committee), A. E. Cornish (vice-chairman), Mr A. H. Tuckfield (hon. Secretary), George James (hon. Treasurer), and others.

The Rev. E. Wern Williams presided over the ceremony, and remarked that the vast crowd before him presented a wonderful sight. He had never seen such a crowd and such a respectable crowd in Hirwaun before, during the last 34 years. They were there that day, not as supporters of war, but to honour the memory of those dear ones who fought their battle and died that they might live.

After the singing of verses from “O God our help in ages past,” “Iesu Cyfaill f’enaid i,” and “Lead kindly light,” Bible reading in English and Welsh by the Revs. John Jenkins and E. J. Hughes B.A., and prayers in English and Welsh by Revs. M. P. Moses and D. Teify Davies. The High Constable descended from the platform, and attended by Mr. Fred Jones, ex-serviceman who lost both arms in the Great War, removed the Union Jack which covered the base of the memorial, revealing the inscription, in English and Welsh, “In honoured memory of the men of Hirwaun who laid down their lives in the Great War, 1914-19. “Peace perfect peace.” And the following names of the forty heroes of the village:

Thomas Austin, John Ashley, William Bowen, Thos’. Barnes, Richard Davies, Wm. Davies, John Dew, Morten W. Evans, John Evans, Wm. Golding, Samuel Green, Arthur Gayland, Albert Harries, George Hewins, Gwilym E. Jones, John S. Jones, Ithel Jones, Thos’. Jones, Wm. D. John, John Coomber, Henry Lewis, George Llewellyn, Alfred Morgan, Morgan Morgans, Albert Matthews, Albert Mallett, Hurbert Nunn, James North, Roger Price, George Powell, David Price, David J. Price, Samuel A. Paget, Evan J. Roderick, John Roberts, Samuel Starr, Joseph Shannon, William Smith, Geoffrey L. Thomas, and Alfred Thomas.

High Constable and the Value of the Memorial

After announcing apologies for absence, including those from Mr. G. H. Hall M.P., Marquis of Bute, and Lord Merthyr. The High Constable expressed his deep thanks for the honour that has been conferred upon him in being asked to unveil that memorial. He had the privilege of knowing, he said, a number of the young men who went from that village to fight for their country. There was absolutely no need for the miners to join up, owing to the fact that they were on work of national importance, and the men whose memory they were honouring that day went of their own free will. The miners during the war, proved themselves to be a most patriotic body of men, and a short time ago, when he had the privilege of seeing the unveiling of the memorial at Pontypridd, he heard Lord Allenby say of the miners that they were one of the best classes of soldiers in history, and that their record during the Great War was second to none.

Some people might question the value of war memorials, continued the High Constable, but, in his opinion a war memorial of that description served three useful purposes. First of all it commemorated the sacrifice of gallant men, and their relatives had the consolation of knowing that their sacrifice had not been forgotten. Secondly, the clock would be of service to the village. He hoped they would not mind his calling Hirwaun a village, although, as he said in previous occasions, with its vast mineral resources, there may come a day when it would not be the case of Hirwaun near Aberdare, but Aberdare near Hirwaun. The third reason why the war memorial would be useful was because it would demonstrate to the coming generation the consequences of war. It would be a lesson to them to make realise what war really meant. The present time in his opinion, was much more serious than in 1914, for there were greater crimes in the world to-day than ever before, except during the war when there was total mobilisation. So it behoved them to have such reminders as that of the horrors of war, and do all they could to prevent a future war. The League of Nations was an institution which deserves all the help they could possibly give to it, and they should help all other movements of a like nature. He would like to compliment the residents of Hirwaun for the manner in which they had taken the matter up. He had met some of the committee members and the secretary, who had done his work well, and the memorial reflected great credit upon the village and those responsible for the erection of so fine a memorial. The only unfortunate aspect of the matter was that sufficient money had not yet been received to pay for it. The sum of £100 he believed, was still outstanding, and so he hoped that the people of Hirwaun would see to it that the tower did not stand for long as a debt upon the community. Not only was he there as High Constable, but also as Chairman of the District Council, and he was receiving custody of the memorial from the committee on the Council’s behalf. In doing so, he could assure all that the memorial would receive proper attention, and be well looked after.

Mr Tuckfield then handed over the custody of the memorial. The last Post was sounded by Bugler H. James, Scouts Sedgmore, D. Pritchard, and Evans, and the Bishop of Llandaff dedicated the tower “to the glory of God and in memory of those whose names are recorded thereon.” The hymn, “Cawn esgyn o’r dyrys anialwch,” was also sung.

Ald. W, A, Jenkins, M.P. said he regarded it as a privilege to pay tribute to those dear men who sacrificed their lives that there might be no more war. It was their duty now to see that those who remained did not suffer, and, he hoped they would all do their best to make the burden of life easier for them. The clock would remind them that time was on the wing, and, the trusted, stimulate them to do all they possibly could to see to it that there was no more war.

Mr. David Jones, chairman of the committee, said that beneath the shadow of that memorial he wished to express, on behalf of the people of Hirwaun, their gratitude to those who died for home and country. No word was so dear to the hearts of Welshmen as “home,” and they honoured the memory of those men who fought for it. He also wished to express their sympathy with the widows, orphans, and families of those who went to save them, when the great call came, and marched, with others in the finest military machine that had ever been known. Forty men from Hirwaun laid down their lives, and they now had that glorious tower to their memory. In commemoration of that occasion he had great pleasure in handing a gold key of the door to the High Constable.

Vote of Thanks

Mr. A. E. Cornish, vice-chairman, said he hoped that now the memorial had been erected and unveiled, it would be treated as a sacred spot in Hirwaun, and that everyone would honour and reverence it in the right spirit. He had great pleasure in proposing a vote of thanks to the High Constable of Miskin Higher, and to the District Council, for the way they had assisted the committee, to the architect for the time he devoted to the work, and to the ministers and residents of the district.

Mr. M. J. Rees, in seconding, referred to the kindness of Sir David Llewellyn and Mr. Seymour Berry for placing the services of the architect at their disposal. It would have been difficult to have brought their efforts to a successful conclusion without the assistance from the architect, which was given free of charge. He was hoping to see a memorial hall erected shortly in the village. This would be of service to the young people, for they knew the difficulty at present experienced in finding accommodation for public meetings, and sooner or later, he hoped to see that difficulty overcome.

Coun. J.O. George mentioned that however beautiful their memorial may be, they could not but regard it as paltry in view of the great sacrifices that were made during the Great War. It was very fitting, however, they should follow the example set at Westminster Abbey, where lay the unknown Warrior, and pay their small tribute to the gallant men of 1914-19.

Captain Edwards of Cardiff, on behalf of the British Legion, expressed thanks to the Hirwaun War Memorial Committee for their efforts towards perpetuating the memory of the fallen comrades. At the same time he felt it his duty to point out that there were that day, women and children who were still suffering owing to apathy of ex-servicemen to the British Legion. He appealed to them to join the organisation and help in their efforts to secure the rights of the bereaved relatives. He appealed to them to join the organisation so that Aberdare District could make their voices heard, and secure from the Government what they considered to be just and equitable.

Lieut. Trevor Davies seconded, and said they were fully aware of the difficulties of the committee, but those had been successfully overcome, and that day, they had a beautiful memorial which would remind future generations of Hirwaun of the work done by the brave lads of the war.

The buglers sounded Reveille, the wreaths were placed around the steps of the memorial by relatives and others. The singing in Welsh of “D fryniau Caersalem.” The National Anthem, and the pronouncement of the Benediction by the Bishop, brought the ceremony to a close.

Noticed among the wreaths were:

“The price of Victory.” British Legion, Hirwaun Branch; A token of sincere admiration of, and gratitude to, the noble men of Hirwaun who fell in the Great War, from the Hirwaun Welcome Home War Memorial Committee; “Peace, perfect peace,” with deepest sympathy from 1st Hirwaun Troop Boy Scouts; In honoured memory of the men of Hirwaun who laid down their lives for their country in the Great War, from St. Lleurwg’s Church Scouts; In loving memory of workmen of Penderyn Quarries, Hirwaun; A token of respect and deepest sympathy, from fellow workmen, Wagon Repairs; In loving and affectionate memory, from the young people of Nebo Congregational Church, Hirwaun; Silica Brickworks employees and staff, In proud and glorious memory, from the staff and officials of Tower Collieries; A token of remembrance, Aberdare men and women’s branch of the British Legion; Aberdare Nursing Division of St. John; from the staff of the Hirwaun Joint Schools; In memory of the fallen, 1914-19, from the Great Western Railwaymen, Hirwaun Station; With heartfelt sympathy, Bethel (C. M.) Chapel; Aberdare Red Cross Nurses.

The clock tower is built of rough Shaddris stone, relieved by Patent Empire stone, with two tablets bearing the names of the 40 men who fell in the Great War, and a suitable inscription in English and Welsh. The steps are of stone from the Forest of Dean. The memorial was built by Mr. E. P. Davies, builder and contractor, Dowlais, to the design of Mr. E. W. G. Richards, architect and surveyor, Merthyr Tydfil. The clock has three dials, and chimes the hour and half hour, and is illuminated by gas. It was designed and supplied by Messrs. John Smith and son, Midland Clock Works, Derby. The railings at the foot were designed by the architect and supplied by Messrs. Wm. Hayward and Sons, of Wolverhampton, The whole structure costing over £700. The committee responsible were: Ex-Guardian D. Jones, chairman; Mr. A. E. P. Cornish vice-chairman; Mr Geo. James, treasurer; Mr. A. H. Tuckfield, honorary secretary; Mesdames Boyns, Bishop H. Williams, (Dr.) Thomas, Senr, J. O. George, Revs. D. J. Wills, M.A. M. P. Moses, E. Wern Williams, D. Teify Davies, J. Jenkins, Councillor J. O. George, Guardian Dan Jones, Messrs. D. John, A. E. Lawton, Wm. Mathews, Horace Lloyd, M. J. Rees, F. C. Morgan, John Rowe, J. R. Williams, M. D. Johnson, C. Harding, Geo. Collier, W. J. Pugh, D. G. Jones, E. F. Jones, Wm. Jones, L.C. Boyce, T. Bevan, J.P. and Isaac Davies.

To Be Nameless in worthy deeds, exceeds an infamous history……….. Who had not rather been the good thief than Pilate?

The unveiling of the Hirwaun War memorial on Thursday 24th January 1924
This report was found in the Aberdare Leader dated 2nd February 1924.

When researching this report, I found a discrepancy in the name of the plaque i.e. Maurice Sewell, to the name in this report i.e. Samuel Star

Research by:
Rhidian H Wilcox
Hirwaun Historical Society
March 2002

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