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Welsh Students Company RAMC


sionyn
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Hi, I'm researching my grandfathers RAMC unit during the Great War but have become a bit stuck, and am looking for some help if possible.

He was a member of the "Welsh Students Company" RAMC unit, formed at Rhyl Town Hall in January 1916 which consisted of between 240 and 260 men - mostly ministers and theological students. Despite the title "Welsh Students", not all of them were Welsh - some came from other theological institutions and colleges in England, some were teachers and others had a medical background e.g. pharmacists.

The Army service numbers for these men seem to run consecutively from approximately 81723 through to 81983 with possible gaps, but there may possibly be additional numbers outside this run.

I've managed to cross-reference some of the information from the PRO on-line medal roll index with a list published in the Welsh language newspaper "Y Cymro" (Feb 1916) and with other sources, including my grandfathers own diaries, but there are many discrepancies between the lists.

Although some of the history of this unit has already been written in a few Welsh language books e.g "Breuddwyd Cymro mewn dillad benthyg" by (Rev'd) RR Williams (1964), "Dyddiadur Milwr" by (Rev'd) Lewis Valentine (1988), "Y bardd a gollwyd - cofiant David Ellis" by Alan Llwyd and Elwyn Edwards (1992), there appears to have been no research to follow-up the fates of the men in the unit, of which about 10 did not return (most, but not all, listed on the CWGC website).

As far as I can ascertain, the unit has never been mentioned in any English language books, although I did find some very interesting background information about Salonica in: Charles Packer's "Return to Salonica" (1964) (pp85-102), and about the RAMC and medical services in "My dearest Mamma & Papa" (1914 -1918 War letters of Octavius C Moore Haines), Barbara Beck (1994) (pp.200-270)

The unit was split up and the men scattered all over the place (France, Italy, Egypt, Palestine, Salonica, Malta etc)

After initial training at Llandrindod Wells and Hillsboro' Barracks, Sheffield, my grandfather sailed to Salonica (on board HMHS Essequibo) in Aug/Sept 1916 where he stayed until Nov 1917 when he was transferred to Cremona, Italy until January 1919.

I'm researching the background and fate of as many of the men as possible.

I would be grateful for any additional information.

Thank you/ Diolch

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Hi - I am very intrigued by your post. I think some (or all) of them may have ended up in the London Regiment. You might find this thread of interest: RAMC transfers to the London Regiment

Have you checked SDGW to see if any men have a number from this block showing in the additional info? (i.e. when you look up BLOGGs of the 4th Blankshires his entry also says "formerly 81234 RAMC"). This will give a good clue as to where they ended up.

The former RAMC men I am researching all ended up in the 19th Londons. I dont have any (that I know of) falling into the block of numbers, but I do have men that come not far outside it:

* Pte SKITTRALL 80675 tf 19th London Regt 6364 and 612615

* Pte JEANS 82026 tf 19th London Regt 6273

I only have the RAMC numbers for those who were casualties or commissioned. For the other 3/4s of the block I am looking at I only know that they were ex RAMC. I would need to look at the service records to find those.

Another ex RAMC man - from Flint - is discussed on this thread.

Hope this helps

Charles

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The 38th (Welsh) Division departed Rhyl in December 1915 and as such I doubt if any of them joined its RAMC support units (which from memory were the 130th and 131st and I think another (at least not until some time later).

Bernard

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Sion;

Have no infomation whatsoever, but would just like to comment on how fascinatiing and worthwhile your research project is; what we think we know about troops from Britain, Ireland and the Commonwealth in the Great War is so incomplete, despite all the studies devoted to the subject, and work such as your own is to be applauded and welcomed..may I be the first of many on the forum to wish you the utmost success

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Hi Charles and Diolch

I'm not sure if this will help you but I have a database of RAMC personnel that I am adding to constantly and which is ready to go live onto the internet soon.

The numbering system is starting to form a pattern but with RAMC personnel being transferred and allocated to different units/regiments, and with wounded soldiers being tranferred into the RAMC it is not clear cut.

Chris, I have looked through the database for any personnel with numbers between the block you stated on your previous thread but I have only found two or three in any particular Unit and not a Unit with that block of numbers.

I know that many ex-RAMC transferred into the Labour Corps, especially towards the end of the war, assumably to dismantle military camps, and to get the agriculture working again.

Barbara

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S'mai Siôn,

Wnai ysgrifennu hwn yn Saesneg er mwyn i eraill ddeall a medru ychwanegu mwy!

Last week, I began an enquiry in the Soldiers Forum on Lt. John Savin Jones-Savin about a week or so ago which you can see if you click on the relevant link. He ended up in Salonika too about that time, though unfortunately, he never left there.

If you follow the posts on it, you'll find a few excellent sections there, which describe the hellish conditions they fought under. The one describing the Welsh attack on the Grand Couronne is awful.

Pob hwyl,

Trebrys.

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Thanks all for the info & encouragement

Charles:

Sorry,- none of the names you mention ring a bell, nor does the London Rgt. or Flint connection.

These men were dispersed among various Field Ambulances/ Casualty Clearing Stations, General and Stationary Hospitals, mostly in Salonica e.g 36th, 37th, 38th and 41st General Hospitals. After arriving at Salonica (Summer Hall Camp) my grandfather joined 'A' Section, 32nd Field Ambulance,(31st Brigade), 10th Division, B.E.F. (which I've just found out was an Irish division!), somewhere near Rest Camp kilo64 [salonica - Serres road? ] to go up the Struma Valley (when the village of Orliak was captured), and was later with the 30th Stat.Hosp (in Salonica?), before being transferred to Italy where his address is given as: RAMC (staff), 29th Stat Hosp, Croce Rossa, Ospedale Militare, Realto Columbo, Cremona.

As far as I can tell (from the PRO Medal Index), about 20 or so were transfered to other non-RAMC units e.g. RWF, Labour Corps, Scottish Rifles, Norfolk Regt, Royal Engineers etc., and given new service numbers for those units, the others appear to have kept their original RAMC numbers, including some who became Army chaplains, and my grandfathers diary lists some of his colleages working at various hospitals.

Please excuse my ignorance: what is SDGW?

Bernard:

- The "Welsh Students Company" RAMC ( nicknamed "God's Own" - presumably because of the background of most of the men) were a "special" company, a "one-off" apparently, created by the War Office mainly for ordained ministers and theological students in Wales who wanted to serve their country in any way they could but were opposed to the bearing of arms on religious grounds, and was instigated by Brigadeer-General Owen Thomas and the Rev'd John Williams of Brynsiencyn, Anglesey (Senior Chaplain to Welsh soldiers).

This enlistment at Rhyl Town Hall on January 28th 1916 is documented in the Welsh press (e.g. Y Cymro, & Rhyl newspapers) and in the books mentioned above.

Upon their return, some became very prominent people in Wales e.g. (Rev'd) Lewis Valentine, one of the founders of Plaid Genedlaethol Cymru, the Welsh Nationalist Party - served in France, (Rev'd) Albert Evans Jones (became Army chaplain, best known for his poetry (bardic name= "Cynan") and later became the Archdruid of Wales) - served in Salonica with the 86th FA, and France.

Barbara:

My main problem at the moment is that the lists I have are incomplete, inaccurate and sometimes contradictory. I have encountered gross mis-spellings on the PRO index of Welsh names, mis-numbering (mis-transcribed, sometimes incomplete or over-numbered), duplicate numbering, gaps (were some numbers not issued?) and of course, just to confuse matters further, being mostly Welsh there are a large number called Jones, Williams, Thomas , Owen(s), Davies, Evans or Hughes - and sometimes with the same forenames or initials!, so I'm having trouble with matching some occurrences on the various lists.

I will gladly contribute whatever information I have to compiling your database.

Thanks,

Sion ap Tudur

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S'mai eto?

The SDGW is a book listing soldiers killed during the war that records the following:

name of soldier, birthplace, location of enlistment, military number, rank and fate.

Apparently, they're not complete, but they do hammer home the huge amount of casualties suffered. I have the one for the RWF, if you ever need a peek!

Trebrys.

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Trebrys:

Sut hwyl?

Diolch, - dwi'n deallt rwan . Diolch am y cynnig.

Thanks, sorry for my ignorance.

So far I've only found two who were transferred to the RWF, and I think they both survived the War, so wouldn't appear there.(9305: JONES, Issac & 93102:JONES, Thomas RJ - according to the medals index)

Thanks also for the previous info. - very interesting - especially link to Caradog Pritchard's novel.

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Sion, have made a search in SDGW RAMC No's817*** Jan 1916 to end of War enlisted Rhyl

Private 81762 Idwal Davies,born Gwetherin, Merioneth, enlisted Rhyl, residence Corris, died Egypt 24/10/18

Private 81735 William Henry Edwards,b. Llanwrin, Montgomery, e. Rhyl, r. Bedlinog, d. Salonika 7/10/1917

Private 81734 Hugh Edward Evans, b. Llanfachraeth, Merioneth,e. Rhyl, r. Dolgelly, d. Salonika 28/10/1917

Private 81780 Richard Edward Kershaw,b. Ashley Bridge, Lancs, e. Rhyl, r. Haydon Bridge, d. Salonica 11/12/1917

No's 818**

Private 81875 John Edward Evans,b. Llansilin, Denbigh, e. Rhyl,r. Llansilin, d. Malta 3/4/1918

There are records of 819**

Hope this helps

Hwyl

Kevin

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Hi Sion (I'll try not to call Diolch again :lol: )

Thank you very much for your kind offer to contribute information to my database, any information will be really great.

I note from your previous message that your grandfather served in the 32nd Field Ambulance. I don't know if you are aware but there is a book '1914-1919 memoirs of the 32nd Field Ambulance by ex Sgt C Midwinter 1933. A few men were killed on 17/8/15 serving in Section A, their numbers ranged from 31412 - 39798.

30 Stationery Hospital went to Italy on 10th December 1917 and returned to Salonika 5th April 1918. 29 Stationery Hospital was already in Italy, arriving 22nd Nov 1917 but a B section was formed on 15th April 1918.

I'm not aware that I have any info on the Welsh Students Company. RAMC, but if I come across any I will let you know.

Barbara

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Sion, Burlington, a forum member lives in Llandrindod Wells and may be able to add to the Llandrindod aspect of your quest.

Hwyl

Kevin

Sion

As mentioned Burlington lives near Llandrindod Wells but if you check the Radnor Express - Llandrindod Wells printed edition, you will find plenty of information about the RAMC while they were based in the town. For example the more mature townswomen organised talks and meetings for the young women and girls to explain how they should behave while in the vicinity of so many young soldiers. Surely they wouldn't have found any problems with your grandfather's "Welsh Student Company". :)

Myrtle

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Noswaith dda, Sion,

I'm delighted that someone is taking an interest in the "Welsh Students Company" RAMC. I have my own copy of R.R.Williams' book and at one time tried to follow up casualties through the War Graves registers as you have done; but other projects and interests meant I never did much more about it.

Have you read Dewi Eirug Davies' book Byddin y Brenin (Cymru a'i chrefydd yn y Rhyfel Mawr), published by Ty John Penry, Abertawe 1988 ? For our non-Welsh readers the main title means "The King's Army"- which can be interpreted in both the straightforward and the religious sense. It's an examination of Wales and it's religious response to the Great War. Page 82 has a mention of Lewis Valentine joining the Welsh Coy., RAMC, and the footnotes give references to periodicals etc. which perhaps might be of value.

I think that you might find more information on such individuals (both during and after the War) in the various denominational newspapers and magazines. Later obituaries may also help, if these men did become Ministers after the conflict. You can find indexes to some denominational journals - e.g., I remember there was a Calvinistic Methodist index to obituaries, located in the Welsh Library at the University College, Bangor. I consulted it back in the 1970s on the advice of the then librarian when I was trying to research chaplain William Llewelyn Lloyd of Llangaffo, Anglesey, and it gave me a detailled obit from the 1940s.

For those who went on to become chaplains or other commissioned ranks during the War there should be personal files available at the National Archives in Kew. You may by now be aware that the Other Ranks' files were mostly destroyed in the Blitz, but a good number are left and it might be worth while searching for surviving individual records, if you have the mens' names and numbers to start with.

Lastly, have any of the Welsh local (county) archives / University archives / National Library of Wales any references to the Company or the individuals who joined it? Always the possibility of letters, diaries, or other material turning up in these places. There are other possibilities for information, such as using the Medal Cards index of the National Archives online; or Absent Voters Lists from 1918-19 if you happen to know exactly where the men were registered to vote and if such lists have survived (see the ongoing AVL thread on the Forum - I have a copy of the Carmarthenshire 1919 edition if it's any use).

I'll be very pleased to see what your results are. This is an excellent site for assisting with such queries and there are lots of people out there with specialist knowledge who are kind enough to lend a hand.

Pob bendith ar eich ymdrechion!

LST_164

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Sion

Just looked through some of my notes and found this as an example of the information that is available in The Radnor Express. This is an entry that appeared in 1915, before your grandfather was in Llandrindod Wells, but it gives an idea of the extent this small town was taken over by the RAMC.

Radnor Express February 11th 1915

3.600 troops of RAMC (4th Army Corps) under command of Major G. Delap DSO are now billetted in Llandrindod Wells. Military authorities have taken over several buildings, including motor garages, drill hall, pavilion and one or two schools for holding lectures for the men. Route marches and squad drills induged in each day. The authorities have also taken over the Red Cross Hospital temporarily, as the prospect of any wounded soldiers arriving in the town before April are bare, Headquarters and an orderly room have been opened in the High St. and Middleton St. respectively and a regimental barber's shop for "F" coy was opened in Middleton St.

Llandrindod Wells Football Challenge Cup Committee have handed over to the military authorities the challenge cup and medals for competition amongst the men. Inter-league matches are now being arranged and it is expected that the winning team will meet several first class outside teams. A dry canteen has been opened at the Grand Pavilion and it is expected that a wet canteen will soon be opened in the Rock Park Pump Rooms. The military authorities are endeavouring to secure billets for 200 men in Howey (a tiny village very near to Llandrindod) for the purpose of forming a field ambulance company.

Myrtle

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There is a photo of the drill hall in Llandrindod Wells on the database on our website http://www.drillhalls.org

Other Welsh drill halls are there too; mainly North Wales ones at the moment. Please bear in mind that the website is a work in progress and the images are still being added and improved.

Gwyn

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Hi, again,

Thanks to everyone for the info - it's a job keeping up with you all!.

Kevin:

thanks for the SDGW info - confirms the data I already held which was compiled from a variety of sources (incl CWGC), but not SDGW as far as I'm aware - unless this was already included in other references?.

The Rev'd RR Williams, author of "Breuddwyd Cymro... (etc)" states that there were 10 casualties (p.56-58) - nine of whom died of disease rather than military action - he names nine, but cannot remember the tenth.

81734 Pte. Hugh Edward EVANS b.17/11/1893 Llanfachreth, Meirionydd, Residence: Dolgellau, son of Griffith and Mary Jane Evans, Glan Eiddion, Rhydymain, Dolgellau, Meirionydd

Bangor Normal College Oct 1914 - Dec. 1915 enlisted at Rhyl, at end of his 4th term. RAMC, 36th Gen. Hosp.

Died in Salonica of Malaria whilst on active service 28th Oct, 1917 (23y) Buried Mikra British Cemy., Kalamaria, Greece (Ref 1594)

Web page dedicated to Hugh Edward Evans (http:\\freepages.history.rootsweb.com/~alwyn/D/rhyf/hee.htm) has several errors

81735 Pte. William Henry EDWARDS, b. ??? Llanwrin, Montgomeryshire residence: Bedlinog, son of Richard and Ann Edwards, Ceinws, Mont.

enlisted Rhyl. RAMC 36th Gen.Hosp. died (in hospital at Vertekop?) 7th Oct 1917 (32y) (5th October according to RRW) Buried: Mikra British Cemy., Kalamaria, Greece (Ref 1595)

David Ellis (81871 - see below) composed a series of "englynion" in memory of WH Edwards, beginning "Hyd waenydd Macedonia....(etc)"

81762 Pte. Idwal DAVIES, b. Gwytherin, Meirionydd, Res: Corris

Bala Theological College (Calv.Meth.) - served in Egypt RAMC 10th Combined Field Amb. d.24/10/1918 bur. Alexandria (Hadra) War Meml Cemy. Egypt ( Ref A.212)

81780 Pte. Richard Edward KERSHAW b.??? Ashley Bridge, Lancs, Husb. of Martha Kershaw, Crowther Fold, Horwich, Lancs.

Minister of Congregational Church, Haydon Bridge. Northumberland

Enlisted Rhyl. RAMC 86th FA d.11/12/1916 (31y) of dysentry Bur. Salonika (Lembet Rd.) Mil.Cemy Greece (Ref 726)

Apparently, the 1914-1919 section of the War Memorial near the parish church of St.Cuthbert, Haydon Bridge, Northumbs. includes "E. Kershaw Pte. RAMC" -

(data obtained ca. 2001 from website "Original Indexes Research Notes") - I'm assuming this is the same person as the RE Kershaw above - can anyone confirm this?

81807 Pte. Llewellyn Penri JONES b. ??? Bersham, Wrexham. Son of Daniel Jones, 18 High St., Rhostyllen Wrexham. Apparently enlisted at Bangor! (not Rhyl?)

RAMC 38th Gen.Hosp. d.7/11/1918 (26y) Bur. Mikra British cemy., Kalamaria (Ref 771)

Listed in "Breuddwyd Cymro.." as Penri Jones - a student with the Independents. Rev'd RR Williams states that he had worked with Penri Jones at the hospital near Mikra Bay

81841 Pte. Herbert LEWIS . b.??? son of David & Anne Lewis of Stafellwen, Llanycrwys, Cellan, Lampeter, Cardiganshire

RAMC Welsh Coy., Transferred to (529420) 201st Coy., Labour Corps.

d.22/1/1919 (34y) of enteric fever. Buried at Sarigol Mil. Cemy. Kriston, Greece. (ref C.525)

81868 Pte. Harold WILLIAMS b. 27/1/1893 Glandwr, Nantglyn, Denbigh - son of Evan Williams, Groesffordd Farm, Voryd, Abergele, Denbs.

Bangor Normal College Oct 1914 - Dec 1915. Previously an uncertificated teacher at Denbigh C.of.E school. Register states that he enlisted at the end of his first term and was killed in action.

RAMC 67th Gen Hosp. d. 6/1/1919 Bur Mikra British Cemy., Kalamaria (ref 1198)

81871 Pte. David ELLIS b. 1/2/1893 Penyfed, Ty Nant, Corwen. Disappeared 14/6/1918 - his body was never found.

A fictionalised account of his disappearance was written by "Cynan" (Albert Evans Jones) in "Ffarwel Weledig"

An accompished poet, he is the subject of Alan Llwyd and Elwyn Edwards book entitled "Y bardd a gollwyd" (the lost bard) [Cyhoeddiadau Barddas , 1992]

81875 Pte. John Edward EVANS (CWGC listing) (or Thomas EVANS - PRO listing!) N.B. This is one of the problems I have - two persons sharing the same number!

(JEE) b.??? Llansilin, Denbs. Enlisted Rhyl Residence: Llansilin Son of William & Margaret Evans, Llansilin, Oswestry

RAMC 38th Gen Hosp d. 3/4/1918 (26y) Bur. Pieta Mil.Cemy., Malta. (ref C.XVII.5)

(but according to the PRO Medal Roll Index: 81875: Acting Cpl.Thomas EVANS, RAMC !)

(apologies to the rest of you - I'll have to get back to you later!)

Sion ap Tudur

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Sion

Croeso yma

Re 81875 Pte John Edward Evans.

PRO shows that both 81875 and 81876 are a Thomas Evans.(put * instead of last digit- brings up 0 to 9)

Albeit Thomas Evans is a 'commonplace' name it would be a coincidence for two to have consec nos.This together with the fact that CWGC gives 81875 as John Edward Evans leads me to seriously consider that it is a typo on the PRO online.

A SDGW (which I don't have) would possibly clinch it.

I am pleased that you've posted your info about these men enlisting to 'to serve their country in any way they could but were opposed to the bearing of arms on religious grounds.' I am studying the men from the Deiniolen/Llanberis/Llanrug area of Caernarfonshire and found quite a number joining early on into the RAMC (mostly Quarrymen from what I see). I had heard that many did so for these reasons but could not pinpoint where I had read it.

Hywyn

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Noswaith dda!

SDGW states that Private 81875 John Edward Evans RAMC was born at Llansilin, Denbighs., enlisted at Rhyl, and was resident at Llansilin. He Died (of accident or illness or other natural causes) on 3 April 1918 in Malta.

There is no 81876 Thomas Evans on the list; indeed the only RAMC casualty of that name listed ( Pte. 2057, from Llandeilo, Carms.) died of wounds at Gallipoli in August 1915.

The nearest EVANS casualties to him in RAMC regt. number terms are 81734 Pte. Hugh Edward Evans (see previous thread responses) and 82110 Pte George Edward Evans b.Chippenham Wilts. & lvg. Bagshot, Surrey who was killed in action in France/Flanders on 4 October 1917.

There are 43 fatalities listed in the number range 81000-81999. In tighter terms (not being sure where the Welsh Students block begins or ends), there are None in the number range 81600-699; 5 in the range 81700-799; and 2 in the range 81800-899. None in the range 81900-999.

Can I maybe add to your list no.81713 Private George Augustine Drummond, born St.Giles, Midlothian, Scotland and enlisted at Leith (nr.Edinburgh) who was killed in action, France/Flanders 6 October 1918. He must have enlisted very close in time to the first Welsh casualty on your roll (81743), so is it just possible he was part of this unit?? All the other fatalities in the ranges above are definitely your men, and no others besides this one.

CWGC state he was serving with the 76th Field Ambulance, the son of Mr J Drummond of 60 Cobden Street, Jarrow-on-Tyne, County Durham. He is buried at Prospect Hill Cemetery, Gouy, France.

Of course, these statistics are only as accurate as the main SDGW list, so that other losses might exist, covered by the CWGC or other sources.

Hwyl,

LST_164

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  • 2 years later...
Guest darland76

I have just started researching my great-uncle Llewelyn Penri Jones and was delighted to come across your forum. He was one of the ten mentioned who did not return from Salonica. His date of birth was 8 March 1892 at Nant, Coedpoeth, Wrexham but the family moved to Rhostyllen soon after that. He was a teacher at Bersham School before going to Bangor University, where he enlisted in December 1915. He went out to Salonica on the Essequibo in September 1916. I have a postcard sent from the ship showing himself and seven other Bangor students. He died of pneumonia on the 7th November 1918.

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Hi ESCLUSHAM,welcome to the forum,

I have been researching all the men that fell from esclusham/rhostyllen,as all my family are from there.

My family are the thomas's ,edwards and lloyd's from ww1

have you got his service records?

julie

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Guest darland76

Hello Julie. Yes, I have Llewelyn's records from Ancestry.co and I'm in the process of writing a brief history of his life.

I was looking yesterday at the commemoration to those who died in WW1 in the Rhostyllen Memorial Gardens and I could see two Edward Edwards and a Thomas Edwards. There are three Lloyds: Albert, Ambrose and Ellis, but no surnames Thomas. Are any of these your relatives?

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Hi Esclusham,ambrose lloyd was my gt uncle,and i think edward edwards and thomas may have been cousins to my grandmother,but not found any records to prove this.

I am going to trawl through the wrexham leader and hopefully find an obituary for them.

I think they are also on the memorial in the old british legion club in bersham and they are named on the north wales memorial in bangor.

also we have a connection to the roberts family,but yet again can't find any evidence.

Although i am trying to meet ivor roberts a second cousin to my mum,to find out the names who served.

good luck with your research

julie

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  • 2 months later...

Hi Esclusham,

Just read your posting on the forum - nice to hear from you.

I would dearly like some more details about your great-uncle Llewelyn Penri Jones when you have completed your research.

Is the photograph you have of him the same as the one facing p.48 in "Breuddwyd Cymro..(etc)" ?

I'm still in the process of compiling an accurate list of the men and what happened to them all

Some quite interesting stuff so far, but it's turning out to be a much bigger job than I originally thought!.

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Sion

The only bit I have that would have been useful is the Cymro list of Feb 1916 but I see in your first post that you have that one.

I'm intrigued about the following in your first post

"there appears to have been no research to follow-up the fates of the men in the unit, of which about 10 did not return (most, but not all, listed on the CWGC website). "

Is it still the case that you have some casualties that you cannot find on the CWGC? There is a Non Commemoration subforum (I think it's in Cemeteries etc) where every effort is made to get such casualties officially recognised. Maybe we could help?

Hywyn

Hywyn

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