Remembering The Great War

St. James's Church
Rudry, Glamorgan


Two miles east of Caerphilly and close to the River Rhymney, St. James's is a stone building in early English style. Its register dating from 1640, the church was restored and refitted in 1886 and now consists of chancel, nave, south porch and western saddle-back tower.

Parish memorial, north side.

The first of two parish memorials can be seen from the road. A fine carved stone Celtic cross bearing dedication on the vertical member, and the names of the fallen on the base. There are thirteen men listed, two of which seem to have been added to the top of the base at some later date.

Private Mark Guy Baggett

Age twenty-six, Mark Baggett died from his wounds on 8 July, 1917. His burial taking place at Noeux-les-Mines Communal Cemetery which at that time was being used by No.7 Casualty Clearing Station. It would be difficult to establish in which battle Private Baggett received his fatal wounds. Save, that is to say, that his regiment in the weeks leading up to his death was engaged in operations towards Lens. These commencing on 3 June. Mark Baggett served with the 31st Canadian Infantry which was formed in November, 1914 at Calgary, Alberta.

Lance-Corporal Augustus Harris

Private James Herbert Richards

The two Welsh Guardsmen listed on the memorial, Augustus Harris and James Richards, were both killed on the same day - 16 September, 1916. A day that saw, notes Dudley Ward in his history of the Welsh Guards "....hard and confused fighting." With no known graves the mens' names are recorded on the Thiepval Memorial to the missing of the Somme. Arriving on the Somme from the Ypres Sector at the end of July, 1916, the Welsh Guards took over front line trenches for the first time on 10 August. These being between the villages of Beaumont-Hamel and Serre. Both scenes of horrific fighting during the 1916 Somme campaign. Having moved south, the Battalion took part in operations around Ginchy on 9-11 September. Here there would be fierce hand-to-hand fighting as the Guardsmen and other troops fought around and through the village.

For the Welsh Guards a short rest from the fighting would be enjoyed as final details were worked out for a big attack planned to take place on 15 September. This was to see British tanks in action for the first time. In preparation, the Guardsmen took up positions west of Trônes Wood on 14 September. Here, and in trenches close to Ginchy, the Battalion sat it out in pouring rain, patiently waiting for their turn to assault the enemy's line at Lesboeufs. A heavily fortified village on the right of the assault.

Just after mid-day on 16 September, the Welsh Guards went forward. But conditions were such that only short rushes could be made and the assaulting troops, finding themselves in standing crops, soon lost direction. The day yielding one hundred and forty-four casualties.

Private William Clifford Harris

Private David Stanley Jones

Private Thomas David Evans

Gunner Walter James Moses

These four men were members of the Ebenezer Chapel, Rudry and details of their service can be seen in my article for that church. Both David Jones and Walter Moses, however, are commemorated in the churchyard at St James's. David on the headstone of a family grave, Walter, one of two war graves.
Private David John Jones

David Jones of the 5th Australian Infantry Battalion is also commemorated in the church. His name and date of death being inscribed on the base of a brass missal kept close to the altar. Dying at home on 21 September, 1918, from wounds received in France, David was subsequently buried in the churchyard at St. James's. He was thirty-four and his Commonwealth War Graves Commission Headstone is made from Welsh Slate.

Below the scene of the Last Supper, brass missal dedicated to Private
David Jones.

Private Walter Edward Lewis

After the July, 1916 fighting at Mametz Wood, the 38th (Welsh) Division, this including Private Walter Lewis's 16th Welsh Regiment, moved north to the Hebuterne front. Here, and still on the Somme, the men of the Battalion were mainly occupied in digging advance trenches in No Man's Land. At the beginning of August, the Division moved north again. This time to the Ypres Salient and trenches close to Wieltje. It was in this sector on 17 October, 1916, that twenty-two year old Walter Lewis would be killed. His body being buried at Mendinghem Military Cemetery, Poperinghe.

Driver Daniel Mason

Daniel Mason served with "C" Battery, 124th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery and died in France from wounds received on 29 September, 1918. As part of the 37th Division, 124th Brigade during 1918 covered the Battle of the Ancre, 5 April, the Battle of Albert, 21-13 August, and the September fighting at the Hindenburg Line. The Battle of Havrincourt taking place on the 12th.

Private W.T. Shute

Recorded on the memorial as a member of the South Wales Borderers, only one soldier with that name appears among the war dead of that regiment. Private William Shute, born Aberavon, enlisted at Newport, being among those killed in France from the 1st Battalion on 20 August, 1918.

Private George Henry Butcher

The first of two names added later to the Parish memorial at Rudry, these being out of alphabetical sequence and separate from the others, is that of George Butcher of "B" Company, 6th Royal Berkshire Regiment. Killed on the first day of the Somme - 1 July, 1916.

At 3 am that day, the 6th Royal Berkshire took up its assembly positions close to the front line. Here the first casualties of the day would occur as the enemy's shells rained down on the huddled troops. At 7.27 am a British mine was exploded below the German position at Casino Point close to the Battalion's trenches. This having a disastrous effect on the enemy, but not without causing some casualties in the British line from falling debris. Advancing three minutes later, the Berkshire stormed across No Man's Land and into Mine Trench. By 7.50 am the men had taken Bund Support and parties were even as far forward as Pomiers Trench.

George Butcher's "B" Company are particularly noted in the Battalion's records as having "suffered severely." All officers having become casualties as the Company led the assault. Total casualties among the Battalion - twelve officers and three hundred and thirty-nine other ranks killed, wounded or missing. With no known grave, George Butcher's name was placed on the Thiepval Memorial to the missing. He was twenty-seven.

Gunner Hubert Morgan

Only one soldier with the name of Hubert Morgan is recorded among the war dead of the Royal Filed Artillery. The War Office publication, Soldiers Died In The Great War giving him as born Cardiff, enlisted Caerphilly, and dying from wounds on the Western Front - 13 October, 1918.

Move now into the church and there on the north side of the nave we find the second parish memorial. Fine carved marble this time, edged with a border of roses and with crossed flags on a blue background surmounting the dedication. Above the flags, and in gold lettering - PRO PATRIA. Shown in red, just eight of the fallen recorded on the cross outside are listed. Thomas Evans, Walter Lewis, W.T. Shute, George Butcher and Hubert Morgan not being shown on this occasion. But the memorial also lists the names of those that served. Sixty-two in number. Ending the inscriptions, and in Welsh - YN ANGOF NI CHANT FOD (Their deeds will not die).

Parish memorial, north wall.

Copyright © Ray Westlake, April, 2002

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