WALES REMEMBERS THE FALLEN
The Armistice 100 years on:
WELSH heroes who lost their lives during the First World War will be commemorated on beaches across the country this weekend.
It’s all part of Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle’s UK-wide Armistice commission, Pages of the Sea, to mark the centenary of Armistice Day.
The public are invited to the beaches on Remembrance Sunday to pay their respects to those who left their home shores during the war.
Pages Of The Sea – the commission for 14-18 NOW to mark the centenary of Armistice Day – invites people to gather on beaches across the UK in an informal, nationwide gesture of remembrance for the men and women who left their home shores during the First World War, where millions of people served and many left by sea.
Each event centres around the drawing of a large-scale portrait of a casualty from the First World War, designed by sand artists Sand In Your Eye, which will be washed away as the tide comes in.
In addition, the public will be asked to join in by creating silhouettes of people in the sand, remembering the millions of lives lost or changed forever by the conflict.
The large-scale portraits of Welsh soldiers will be designed on Swansea Beach, Fresh Water West in Pembrokeshire, Colwyn Bay and Ynyslas in Ceredigion.
Poet Carol Ann Duffy has been asked by Boyle to write a new poem, which will be read out by individuals and families.
Isabel Grifin, producer of the event in Swansea, said: “The idea is that members of the community can get involved in reciting the poems. It will give people a chance to learn about the fantastic history of those who lost their lives.
“It is a very poignant way of remembering the events that took place. But also, we still see conflict today and that will be the message from the poem too, that we haven’t learnt lessons from the war.”
■ At Swansea Beach Dorothy Watson, a 19-year-old munitions worker, who was killed in an explosion at the National Explosives Factory in Pembrey in July 1917 will be commemorated.
A group of men died in the same explosion and the joint funeral of Dorothy and 18-year-old Mildred Owen, who also died in the explosion, brought Swansea High Street to a standstill.
■ At Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire, the event will remember Bridgend-born Major Charles Allan Smith Morris was originally part of the Bedfordshire Regiment.
In 1917 he was wounded in action on the Western Front at La Courcelette and was posted as missing, believed killed.
Several months later, his Uncle Charlie received a packet from the Red Cross with news that Charles had been found and taken to a German field hospital where he later died.
■ Hedd Wyn, Welsh for Shining Peace, was born in North Wales and was killed during the Battle of Passchendaele, on July 31, 1917. He will be remembered at the event in Colwyn Bay.
Whilst in Flēchin, France, waiting to move to the Front at Ypres, he finished writing and submitted a poem, Yr Arwr (The Hero), to the 1917 National Eisteddfod.
When the winner of the Bardic chair, with the pen-name ‘Fleur-delis’, was called to receive his prize during the chairing ceremony of the National Eisteddfod in Birkenhead in 1917, nobody rose.
Hedd Wyn, the victorious bard had been killed a few weeks previously on the battlefield in Flanders. The empty chair was covered with a
black veil and from then on, the Birkenhead Eisteddfod 1917 was known as “The Eisteddfod of the Black Chair”.
At Ynyslas, Ceredigion, a portrait of Richard Davies will be created. He was born at Borth in 1963, was married to Mary and they had six children. Richard worked as a labourer but was also a Royal Naval Reservist and was recalled to the colours at the outbreak of war and was posted to HM Trawler Evangel.
On March 25, 1917, Navy trawler Evangel was on patrol off Milford when she struck a mine which had been laid by the German submarine UC-48. It sank with the loss of 25 lives.
Richard, 54 was among the men killed that day. His body was recovered from the sea, and he was buried at Penygarn Calvinistic Methodist Cemetery, Tirymynach in Ceredigion. People are invited to go along to the beaches to witness the events unfolding – Ynyslas, Ceredigion (12.30pm-3.30pm), Colwyn Bay, Conwy (7.30am-3.30pm), Swansea (11.30am-4pm) and Freshwater West (TBC).
A series of community-led events will also be taking place at each beach. People who can’t make it on the day will be able to watch the activities and portraits from most of the beaches on social media.
THE Prime Minister drew on the words of First World War poets to pay tribute to fallen soldiers as she began to mark the centenary of the Armistice.
Theresa May travelled to Belgium and France yesterday to take part in a series of engagements alongside French President Emmanuel Macron and Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel.
Ending her visit at the Thiepval Memorial, she toured the site – which bears the names of more than 72,000 members of the Armed Forces who died in battle – accompanied by the director-general and interns from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
In her second wreath-laying ceremony of the day, she and Mr Macron placed a garland combining poppies and cornflowers, the respective national emblems of remembrance for Britain and France.
On it she left a card with an extract from the poem A Soldier’s Cemetery by Sergeant John William Streets which read: “There lie the flower of youth, the men who scorn’d to live (so died) when languished liberty.”
She came to the ceremony from a working lunch with Mr Macron in Albert, the town in the heart of the Somme region which suffered significant bombardment during the conflict.
The president was born in nearby Amiens and his British great-grandfather, Bristol-born butcher George William Robertson, fought at the Somme, was decorated for bravery and stayed in France after the war, marrying Suzanne Julia Amelie Leblond in Abbeville in May 1919.
Mrs May began her morning some 80 miles away in Mons with Mr Michel, visiting the St Symphorien Military Cemetery.
Set up by the German Army, it is the final resting place for British and German soldiers killed at the Battle of Mons.
The pair were greeted by a guard of honour from the Royal Regiment of the Fusiliers and stood for the sound of the Last Post before a minute’s silence.
Later they met serving members of the British and Belgian armed forces.
Mrs May was sombre as she laid wreaths at the graves of Private John Parr of the Middlesex Regiment, who died on August 21, 1914 – the first UK soldier to be killed in the conflict – and the last to be killed, Private George Ellison of the Royal Irish Lancers, who died on the Western Front on November 11, 1918, at 9.30am before the Armistice came into effect at 11am.
In the note left by the resting place of Private Parr, Mrs May quoted another line of wartime poetry – The Soldier written by Rupert Brooke.
She wrote: “There is in that rich earth a richer dust concealed.”
The sonnet was written by Brooke, an officer in the Royal Navy, while on leave at Christmas and formed part of a collection of work entitled 1914 which was published in January 1915.
Brooke never experienced frontline combat and died from blood poisoning on April 23, 1915, after being bitten by a mosquito while sailing to Gallipoli. He was buried on the island of Skyros.
At the grave of Private Ellison, also in blue pen on a headed Downing Street card attached to the garland of poppies, Mrs May wrote: “They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted ... We will remember them.”
This was from another poem written by Laurence Binyon and published in September 1914 which is often quoted in Remembrance Sunday services.
Tonight she will attend the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall with the Queen and senior members of the Royal Family.
On Remembrance Sunday the Prince of Wales will honour the country’s war dead during the national service of remembrance by laying a wreath at the Cenotaph in Whitehall.
During the cenotaph event, the Queen will watch the service from the balcony of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office building, as she did last year.
After Charles has laid a wreath on behalf of the Queen, other floral tributes will be left by members of the Royal Family, senior figures from the Government, including the Prime Minister, Opposition party leaders, and other figures from national life.
For the first time, a German leader will lay a wreath at the Cenotaph, with President Frank-Walter Steinmeier performing the duty on behalf of his nation in a historic act of reconciliation.
After the service, 10,000 people, chosen by ballot, will have the opportunity to pay their respects to all those who served in the First World War by taking part in the Nation’s Thank You procession past the Cenotaph.
The National War Memorial in Cardiff will also be a focus of reflection at 11am, as will hundreds of memorials across the country.
During the day, church and other bells will ring out as they did at the end of the First World War – and a Westminster Abbey service will be held along with others in Cardiff – at Llandaff Cathedral – Glasgow and Belfast, to give thanks for peace and those who returned.
> Volunteers rehearse creating commemorative portraits in the sand
> Major Charles Allan Smith Morris
> Film director Danny Boyle
> Dorothy Watson
> Richard Davies
> Hedd Wyn
> Prime Minister Theresa May lays a wreath at the graves of John Parr, the first British soldier to be killed in 1914, and George Ellison, the last to be killed before Armistice, at the St Symphorien Military Cemetery in Mons, Belgium, yesterday, while Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel looks on
> Lance Corporal Derek Williams, from Cwmbran, plays the Last Post in tribute to the fallen ahead of Armistice Day
> Poppies fall through the atrium of the Lloyd’s building in London yesterday