North Wales Western Front Association

Have a look under "Branch Meetings" to see our list of branch meetings and "Newsletters" for the latest newsletter items.  

We also have a Facebook page where items are often posted -

WFA North Wales Facebook Page

The centenary of the loss of the RMS Leinster

On 10th October, there was a commemoration in Dun Laoghaire near Dublin, of the loss of the "mail packet" RMS Leinster.  Philip Lecane of the Maritime Museum in Dun Laoghaire had persuaded the Irish government to make it an official commemoration, which they certainly did.  The current figure for the losses is 567, out of 771 passengers.  Some 350 servicemen and women were lost including American, Canadian, New Zealand and Australian.  Fourteen Royal Welsh Fusiliers (RWF) were lost and are listed here.  In Holyhead, the maritime museum there has put on commemorative events, including a wreath laying on the 10th October.  Twenty four crew from Holyhead were lost.

In Dun Laoghaire, there was a reading of a Hedd Wynn poem by First Minister of Wales, Caerwyn Jones, and an address and unveiling of a new commemorative stamp by the Irish Minister for Culture, Josepha Madigan.  There was an address from the head of the Irish Naval Service on his experience of rescue operations, good and bad.  The head of the Irish postal service, An Post, told us that all postal workers in Ireland had stopped work 09.50 that day, the time of the disaster, to commemorate their lost colleagues - out of the 22 mail sorters on board, only one survived.  Various family members of victims and survivors were there, both local and from far-flung places such as New Zealand and the United States.  Ambassadors and military attaches were there from all the countries involved, inlcuing the lady military attache from Australia.

Unbelieveably, the Maritime Museum in Dun Laoghaire has two letters from the RMS Leinster which had been recovered at the time, dried out and delivered - one to Canada and the other to Mincing Lane in the City of London.  They are stamped as being damaged because they have been salvaged from the wreck of the RMS Leinster.  The mail must get through!  The link for Holyhead Maritime Museum is here.


Leinster21Leinster31

Leinster61Leinster11P1020872No resting place but the sea - the Kish Lighthouse, the nearest marker to the Leinster site

 

Newsletter for October

We have a new edition of the newsletter, which you can find here.

Old Colwyn war memorial

Steve and Diege are in the "Daily Post" for their work on this memorial - Daily Post article.

Hirano Maru

A recent post from the group commemorating the sinking of the RMS Leinster has mentioned the sinking of the Hirano Maru on 4th October 1918.  She was a Japanese owned ocean liner that was in a convoy from Liverpool to North America when she was sunk by a U-boat UB-91 south of Ireland with the loss of 292 lives. There were 28 survivors.  There are 8 bodies buried in the graveyard of Dale Parish Church in SW Pembrokeshire, which were washed ashore between 4th and 29th November 1918.  As the bodies were unidenitifable, the CWGC declined to maintain the grave, and the memorial cross was erected by the people of Dale. Other bodies are buried at Angle and Freshwater West.
A memorial is to be erected at Angle in time for the 4th October, financed by the local community and the shipping line Nippon Yusen Kaisha, the original owners of the Hirano Maru, who were delighted to learn of the locals' interest in the whole story. This information has come from the Dale Coastlands History Society and the West Wales Maritime Heritage Society.hirano maru

 Steve and Nancy

Steve and Nancy are back in the UK, or almost.  Steve is talking to the branch in September.  Further details of their exploits to date are here.

Bill Fulton

We have learned that Bill past away over the weekend 8th/9th April.  He was a stalwart of the WFA and an expert on the Machine Gun Corps, in which one of his forebearers served.  Our thoughts go out to his family and friends. DSC02707

New article - Why was there a WWI?

The talk given to North Wales WFA on this theme has now been turned into an article and put on to this website - here

New article on local history

We have a new article by Jerry Rendell on his great uncle, Lawrence Oakley, who was the silhouette artist of Llandudno pier - here.

New Book Reviews

There are two new book reviews on this site.  The first is on Mike O'Brien's book "Twilight of the Special Relationship", about Americans in the British forces in WWI, which is here.  The second review is on Norman Stone's book "The Eastern Front, 1914-1917" which is still arguably the best work on the Eastern Front, and that review is here.

Medals of Private George William Shaw

We were contacted recently through the website by Mark Shaw who is searching for information about his great uncle, Private George William Shaw, 12364 of 9th battalion Cheshire Regiment.  Mark's email reads as follows:

Hi

I hope you may be able to help me, as I am currently researching my Family Tree. I have identified George William Shaw as my Great Uncle. He served in A Company 9th Battalion Cheshire Regiment, from 01/09/1914 until his death 22/06/1917. His service number was 12364.

I have found that his medals (with the exception of his BWM), death plaque and associated certificates were sold on Ebay in 2014. I am unable to identify the seller or the purchaser.

I would like to find who it was that bought the items, if only to ask for copies of the documentation and, maybe provide a little background information in regard of my Uncle. Ideally, I would love to buy the items.

I know it is a long shot but I thought that it may be possible that one of your members may be the purchaser. I would be obliged if you could see your way clear to circulating the details to your membership.

Mark Shaw

If anyone does perchance know anything about Private Shaw could you please contact Mark at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.?

Battle of Cambrai centenary

There is an article on the BBC website about the use of tanks at the Battle of Cambrai - see the link here.

"Bloody April" film being made

From Leslie Lord: ASA Productions Ltd are currently making two one-hour documentaries for "Yesterday" channel based on the book "Bloody April" by Peter Hart. On their website there is a trailer for a film on building a Bristol Scout aircraft - Scout trailer.

Book reviews

We now have a specific book reviews section on the website - see Book Review Section.

Tribute to Hedd Wynn

There is a video on the BBC website which is a tribute to Hedd Wynn.  It is in English and includes footage of around his home farm in North Wales - Hedd Wynn video

Hedd Wynn's house now open

Hedd Wynn's house has now had the interior restored and the new museum there is open - see Yr Ysgwrn

 Easter Rising and WWI

We now have a write-up of the talk given to the branch, and elsewhere, by Trevor and Denis - see here.

Welsh women in WWI

I have just come across a website on Welsh women in WWI - click here

Local memorials and graves

We have some new articles on WWI soldiers from North Wales who are buried or commemorated locally - see Welsh memorials and graves 

Book on local soldiers in  the Conwy valley

Retired doctor Bridget Osborne has, with others, written a book on the local men from the villages of Eglwysbach and Llansanffraid (Glan Conwy) who served in WWI. Bridget has managed to trace family details of many of the men as well as the circumstances of their death in the case of fatalities.  The book was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and copies have been distributed to homes in those two villages.

Bridget's book

The Lost Tommies of Vignacourt

A collection of photos of Tommies billeted in the village of Vignacourt has recently come to light and is on the BBC One Show website - One Show site  Can you identify any of them?

 Welsh WWI casualties

There is an article on the BBC website on a book recording all Welsh WWI casualties and which will be on display at Bodelwyddan castle - see BBC website article

 Nurses killed in WWI.

The "Nursing Times" reports on a project to gather information on those nurses who were killed in WWI. See "Nursing Times" article