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Remembered Today:

2/Lieut. Powell W.E.G.P.W, Welsh Guards Head Dress


Nick Farr
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2/Lieut. Powell W.E.G.P.W,  joined the Welsh Guards from the Royal Military College in 1917 and served with the B.E.F from the 16th August 1918 and was one of 19 Welsh Guards who died on the 6th November 1918 during and after the adance towards Bavai during the last stages of the war.  He was 18 years of age.  I have found a picture of him, but would ask the experts what type of head dress he is wearing? It does not appear to be anything Welsh Guards!

Lieut W E G P W Powell.jpeg

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He appears to be wearing a Balmoral bonnet and SD of the Royal Highlanders (Black Watch).  You can see the iconic red hackle on the side of his headdress.  It’s not 100% positive though as I cannot see his kilt and sporran to corroborate the ID.  There would ordinarily be collar badges for that regiment too, although they were often not worn by the regular battalions, just by TF and Service battalions.  How positive are you that it is him?  Unfortunately going by the uniform alone it could also be a later photo even up to pre-WW2, especially with rank on shoulder straps.  On balance it looks more like 1930s to me. A plain blue glengarry with badge was much more common with SD in barracks during WW1.  See comparison.

 

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7DEDA5E7-66B3-4EA8-85E2-95D739339E09.jpeg

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Edited by FROGSMILE
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Here is some more info I have, and another picture?

 

raining and camp life was quite demanding as this short article in the Chester Chronicle states:

From 8.30 until 9.30 physical drill parade takes place under duly qualified instructors. This drill is the lines laid down by the gymnasium experts at Aldershot, and varied by such games as will make the men agile sharp in their movements. At first the recruit doesn’t take this form of drill, and terms it physical torture, etc.; but he soon changes his opinion and votes it the best parade of the day. It is somewhat astonishing to note the change which takes place in a young recruit after a few weeks of progressive physical training.

              25 September 1915 Chester Chronicle

Billy left Eton College on 12 September 1917, and joined the 1st Welsh Guards Battalion, ranked as Second lieutenant, based in France in August 1918.

Tragedy struck, when Billy was killed during battle. Edward and Margaret Powell had lost their only son and furthermore the heir to the Nanteos estate.

It is said that while the Powells were celebrating the end of the First World War at Nanteos, the telegram arrived with the devastating news of Billy’s death in France. The tragic news shook the whole community.

William Edward George Pryse Wynne Powell was killed on the battlefield in Bayai France, on the 6 November 1918, (five days before the Armistice). He was nineteen-years of age. His death was a devastating blow not only to the family but also to the Nanteos estate; it signalled the end of the Powell line at Nanteos.

On the 6th of November 1918 – ‘Camping on muddy grounds, after a night with heavy rain showers almost continuous rendering the ground very heavy for the troops and the roads well-nigh impassable. Sadly, on this day Billy Powell the only son and heir was killed while in battle.’ The ‘funerals of the dead took place on the 8th November at 2:30pm at Buvignies. Poor young Powell was amongst the killed, the casualties were surprisingly few... Powell was killed trying to rush a light machine gun, and at his heels Private Hammond ... We feel we have not done justice to the valour of those men who formed and fought The Battalion of Welsh Guards. Amongst the fallen are many officers, who were the first, to Powell, who was the last. …‘At Bavai casualties were one officer, ninety-three other ranks.' -  History of the Welsh Guards C H Dudley Ward, 1920, Chapter XIX p.280-3

It was believed by some people that Billy Powell was shot by his own men during the battle, it can be clearly seen from the above in C. H. Dudley Ward’s vivid account of the battle in the History of the Welsh Guards, 1920, that it was not the case.

Billy was buried at Buvignies; then his body was relocated at the end of the War to Maubege Centre Cemetery in France, in Row C, grave 46.

 

billy.jpg.6f4fd372eeeae64ff310e71ffd5334ab.jpg

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Not the same man.  Different facial features, especially arch of eyes and mouth.  I think the photo in uniform is from a later generation.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Many thanks Frogsmile;  you have confirmed my doubts about the first jepg.  I appreciate your input and knowledge.  A beer I owe!

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8 minutes ago, Nick Farr said:

Many thanks Frogsmile;  you have confirmed my doubts about the first jepg.  I appreciate your input and knowledge.  A beer I owe!

Glad to help.  Don’t hesitate to come back with any more.  Sad to learn of Billy Powell’s fate.  Among the best of a bright generation lost. 

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There is no William Powell listed in Officers of The Black Watch Vol 1 or Vol 2 confirming the assessment above.

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  • 1 year later...
On 26/05/2021 at 20:53, Nick Farr said:

It was believed by some people that Billy Powell was shot by his own men

A strong belief to this day in Aberystwyth. I heard my father repeat this many times-he was born less than a mile from Nanteos. Powell was said to be very unpopular amongst the ranks.

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13 minutes ago, PhilB said:

Nanteos, now a luxury hotel/restaurant.

We went there when I was a kid, it was just a mansion then, to see the Holy Grail. (I can vouch for its authenticity). It was nicked shortly after that. (Not me guv.:whistle:

It reappeared a few years ago and is now on display at the National Library of Wales in Aber.

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You might have seen the substitute, Dai! If it worked for you, maybe the placebo effect?

People from far and wide came visiting to Nanteos to drink out of the Nanteos Cup.  Margaret Powell had a routine to the Cup lending, which was as follows:

The Cup was kept in the library at Nanteos, locked in a cupboard. The Cup that was on display was a replica made by Richard Rees Jones of Rhoserchan, Isaf, Capel Seion. The visitor that wanted to drink from the Cup would be sent into the Morning room to be greeted by Margaret Powell. Maggie the Housekeeper would be in the Library placing the genuine Cup on display instead of the replica and was put on display on the table between the two windows. She would fill it up with water, and then Mrs. Powell would enter the library from the morning room with the visitor. The visitor then drank from the Cup. After the water was drank Mrs. Powell took them into the dining room and slammed the door loudly so Maggie could hear. Maggie said that once she heard the door slam she would then take the Cup, dry it and then replace it with a replica in case anyone tried to steal it, and replace the real Cup in the locked cupboard. She said that this was done every time when a visitor called.

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3 hours ago, PhilB said:

Isn`t the man in the OP a full Lt?

Yes he is.

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 22/06/2022 at 10:08, Dai Bach y Sowldiwr said:

A strong belief to this day in Aberystwyth. I heard my father repeat this many times-he was born less than a mile from Nanteos. Powell was said to be very unpopular amongst the ranks.

Surely if Billy's parents thought their only child was murdered they would have been screaming for an investigation and a swift court martial (and death by firing squad or hanging) of the culprit? Would there not be some written indication in the correspondence held in the Nanteos archive at the National Library of Wales? Who was the murderer? Why is he never named? Whose ancestor are you accusing of murder?

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2 hours ago, Iantopeg said:

Surely if Billy's parents thought their only child was murdered they would have been screaming for an investigation and a swift court martial (and death by firing squad or hanging) of the culprit? Would there not be some written indication in the correspondence held in the Nanteos archive at the National Library of Wales? Who was the murderer? Why is he never named? Whose ancestor are you accusing of murder?

I didn't say that there was any factual basis for such rumours.

The fact is, there were rumours, as Nanteos themselves acknowledge:

https://www.nanteoshistory.co.uk/index.asp?pageid=690577

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3 minutes ago, Dai Bach y Sowldiwr said:

I didn't say that there was any factual basis for such rumours.

The fact is, there were rumours, as Nanteos themselves acknowledge:

https://www.nanteoshistory.co.uk/index.asp?pageid=690577

It seems we are in agreement then. "The fact is there were rumours". But that isn't saying much really especially since the author of this information (Janet Joel) refutes them.

I have just downloaded the relevant portion of the Welsh Guards war diaries from the National Archives. Interesting reading, lots of talk of machine gun fire:

Quote

"Enemy M.C. fire had been exceptionally heavy all day, and companies were much reduced..."

This is from the Nov 6th entry 1918.

Many details here seem to concur with the Dudley-Ward account but not everything is covered.

Ian

 

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Just as an aside, it seems odd that there is seemingly no photo of him in uniform.

In Dai’s defence (not that he needs any) “smoke” and “fire” come to mind.  The fact that the subject needed to be raised at all in that memorial piece is disconcerting.  It’s also notable that there’s no indication of who exactly said he was unpopular with his/the men, nor why that might be.  I suppose another possibility is that he was killed by accident by firers behind him, it’s not that unusual in a fire-fight during a helter skelter assault, and part of the reason why fire and manoeuvre is practised so assiduously during infantry field firing. 

Edited by FROGSMILE
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I've been hunting around for a BW link with no success. William was, I believe, an only child and his father Edward Athelstone Lewis Powell was in the General Reserve of Officers in 3/Leicesters. If he is indeed a relation, a search around William's uncles' progeny might throw up something, but I agree that the photo has a more modern feel.

Acknown 

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Surely there must be a photo of him somewhere in Welsh Guards uniform?  Given the obvious pride in their only son it would be extraordinary for his parents not to have had a portrait made of him wearing the uniform of the Sovereign’s Foot Guards.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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