Remembering The Great War

St Edeyrn's Church
Llanederyn, Glamorgan

[Image] Soon after leaving the M4 at Junction 29, the white tower of St. Edeyrn`s can be seen on the high ground to the right as you head towards Cardiff on the A48(M). Take the next slip road, or, alternatively, continue along the M4 to Junction 30, then drive south for about a mile.

In a brief history published by the church, St. Edeyrn is recorded as having been born in the district and buried in the churchyard when he died in 522. The present building, which was established by the Normans as a chapel of ease to St. Mary`s, Cardiff, appearing in a deed dated 1153.


To the west of the church, a stone Celtic Cross mounted on a four-sided base forms the parish war memorial. Two sides have the names of those killed in the First World War. Those that fell 1939-1945 have been added to the back of the memorial. On the front face, and below a cross, the dedication in raised metal letters -

To The Glory Of God, In Grateful Memory Of The Men Of This Parish Who Fell In The Great War 1914-1918 - Their Name Liveth For Evermore.

Ten names are recorded, each without rank of regiment, the first of which is that of Private Arthur Bennett who was drowned 15 April, 1917 when his ship, the Arcadian, was torpedoed and sunk en route for Egypt.

Buried in the churchyard, south of the tower, is Private William Jones Thomas of the 1st Battalion, Welsh Guards who died on 13 April, 1917. He was twenty-nine and the son of Ann Thomas of Pant Glas Farm, Llanedeyrn.

Roll Of Honour

Within the church, and on the north wall of the nave, the same ten names appear on the centre of a three-panelled carved wooden memorial. This headed with the word - Fallen, and with the addition of five names for 1939-1945. To the right and left, and headed - Served, a further thirty-five names are recorded.

Oak memorial board showing those that served, along with those killed.

Private Walter Rowland Thomas

One of those recorded as killed, Walter R. Thomas, also appears on a brass plaque to the right of the parish Roll Of Honour. The dedication, which appears below the Crest of the Welsh Regiment, includes an alternative spelling of Llanedeyrn -

Brass plaque commemorating the death of Walter Thomas.

In Loving Memory Of Walter Rowland Thomas, Of The 24th Welsh Regiment And The Territorial Yeomanry, The Only Son Of Rowland And Ann Thomas, Tyn-Y-Berllan Farm, Llanedarne, Who Fell In Action At The Deliverance Of Jerusalem, 1st December 1917, Aged 27 Years, And Was Buried Near The Village Of Emmaus. "Call Him Not Dead Who Fell At Duty`s Feet And Passed Thro` Light Where Earth & Heaven Meet Call Him Not Dead, They Fallen Soldier Son But Say The Warfare Waged, The Victory Won."

 Raised in 1901, the Glamorgan Yeomanry was recruited throughout the county. The headquarters of its four squadrons being at Swansea, Bridgend, Cardiff and Pontypridd. The Regiment was to give up its horses in November, 1915 and in March of the following year went with other dismounted units to Egypt. Here much time would spent as part of the Suez Canal Defence Force. On 2 February, 1917 a merger took place between the Glamorgan, and also from Wales, the Pembrokeshire Yeomanry. In this way, a new battalion was added to the Welsh Regiment, its full title being 24th (Pembrokeshire and Glamorgan Yeomanry) Battalion, The Welsh Regiment.

As part of the newly created 74th (Yeomanry) Division, this formation comprising dismounted yeomanry regiments, the 24th Welsh joined the main force at Khan Yunis during the first week of April, 1917. It would now take part in the invasion of Palestine and on 31 October see action during the capture of the Turkish position at Beersheba. The battalion being in support during the opening hours of the attack then advanced over, what the records note as - just a desert of small hills, rocks and stones. The enemy`s machine guns, tells one observer, were used to great effect, the advancing troops, as they mounted hill after hill, offering perfect targets as they were caught on the sky-line of each.

Wriggling forward on their stomachs, the 24th were able to get to within six hundred yards of the Turkish lines. There would then be a short lull while the artillery bombarded the enemy`s wire up ahead. At 12.15 pm, the men went forward again, this time disappearing quickly into a fog of dust. With little trouble, records Major Dudley Ward in his history of the 74th Division, the Turkish trenches were carried - "....here and there the enemy stood to meet the bayonet but the majority fled."

Passing through the captured lines, the 24th moved on and quickly set up a defensive line some two thousand yards beyond. Here they would see the Turks in full flight towards Beersheba, which was soon to fall.

Further action was seen by the 24th Welsh during the attack, and subsequent capture, of the Sheria Position on 6 November. The Battalion giving a good account of its self when sent forward to assist men of the Suffolk regiment who were being counter-attacked.

The Battalion began its march north towards Jerusalem on 23 November. A march that is noted in many records and diaries as one of the most difficult yet undertaken. The War Diary of the 24th Battalion for 28 November -

"March to Latrun (Ramle), seven miles uphill all the way, taking four-and-a- half hours to accomplish. Continued march at night, but transport could not go to Beit Annan, as country too rough. Arrived Beit Annan 4.30 am on 29 November, 26 miles of rocky road - men exhausted. Enormous difficulty in taking over outpost line in jumble of steep rocky hills, falling precipitously into deep wadis and raising in places to over 2,000 feet. Only means of progress was by native tracks running up and down sides of mountains and along which only one man could move at a time."

On 1 December, the date of Private Walter Thomas`s death, the 24th Welsh were ordered to attack the Turkish line at El Tire. Moving forward in single file though the darkness, the men stumbled along until, after clambering up a steep ridge, they were ably to position themselves ready for the attack. At day break, the signal was given and the 24th advanced. Instantly, and for the entire move forward, bullets cut through the Welsh. Not just from their objective, but another strongly held position called "Hill 1750", or "Signal Hill." Et Tire was taken, however - and "without much opposition," notes Major-General Sir Thomas O. Marden in his history of the Welsh Regiment, but the enemy were now bombarding their attackers, and firing on the troops from the heights above. "In these circumstances it was impossible to hold Et Tire", records the Official History Of The Great War, "and the 24/Welsh took up a line west of it...." Walter Thomas is buried in the Jerusalem War Cemetery to the north of the city.

Copyright © Ray February, 2002

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