What was in PenCambria: Issue 26 Summer 2014?

Introduction and Contents at a glance

This year, indeed almost to the day this edition comes out, is the centenary of the out break of the First World War – the Great War, the War to end all wars, as it was called after the event, until twenty five years later. In order to mark the occasion this edition of PenCambria is devoted to all things related to this epoch-changing event.

The Great War brought down the crumbling edifices of the European monarchies and finally brought about the social changes for which the people had been agitating for over one hundred years, since well before the end of the Napoleonic wars. The experience of the millions of men on the battlefield belongs to them, very few of them talked about it afterwards – they could not do so except to other soldiers, an experience common to all men who have served in conflict – and in this edition there is relatively little that relates directly to their service. However, one of the defining features of World War One was that it was the first time in history that the whole country took part.

Five million men were recruited in Britain and the British Empire for battlefields and the Royal and Merchant Navies, these latter often forgotten in the carnage of Flanders. But they all needed to be fed, clothed and armed, cared for when injured, the country still had to function while they were away from their civilian jobs and much of this work was taken up by the women. They worked in ammunition factories, on the land and in the hospitals and in a whole range of other essential services.  Working class women were used to working in factories, shops, offices and other establishments; upper class and aristocratic women were used to organising charitable activities, but this was the first time that middle class women had joined the work force en masse rather than wait for a suitable marriage partner to be presented to them. Even children and animals were commandeered.

In fact after the war girls at school were told that due to deaths of so many men, one in ten of them would not find a husband and so they should prepare to spend their lives doing something other than running a hone and raising a family. It is also an interesting fact that women over thirty years of age were given the vote in February 1918, a few months before the end of the war, as if the government recognised that  many women would soon be fending for themselves and they did not want to have to deal with suffragette activity on top of everything else that would beset them.

In this commemorative edition with Lawrence Johnson and Brian Lawrence we discover how the outbreak of war was reported in Montgomeryshire in the County Times and, with the Declaration made by the King George V, how Rhayader mustered in support.

Nia Griffiths has embarked on a remarkable project to bring to light the stories of the men whose names appear on the cenotaph and the memorial tablets in the Llanidloes, some of whom appear in this edition.

War makes poets of us all and none better than those two great, war poets, profiled here by Reginald Massey: Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, a native of Oswestry.

Gilbert Phillips, a Newtown man, was a prisoner of war in Germany and his daughters very kindly talked about him to Brian Poole.

Jack Morten served in Europe and the Far East and his mother kept all his letters in a shoe box. Norma Allen reviews a book written by his daughter-in-law who typed up all the letters and researched his Battalion.

Mary Oldham meanwhile looks at the Davies Sisters of Llandinam, who provided canteens for the Frenchmen at the Front.

Florence Haynes was recruited into the Women’s Land Army and Gwenda Trow was very kind to tell me all about this feisty lady. In addition, she gave me Florence’s Land Army Handbook, which I have reproduced for you all to see just how seriously these women were taken, how important their service was and what was expected of them.

Countless numbers of animals are used in the pursuit of war, none of whom have any choice but to give their lives when the time comes. Diana Brown sheds light on this sacrifice.

Gardening is an unlikely pastime pursued behind the lines of both armies and Diana Ashworth has been digging around to find out more.

The nursing profession as we know it today grew from the need to nurse the soldiers who had, in so many cases, suffered such terrible injuries. Chris Barrett has researched this history and pays tribute to all the nurses who were killed in France but whose names do not appear on any role of honour.

In the Dragons Crypt Norma Allen continues the story of Selina, and Bruce Mawdesley tells of a narrow childhood escape.

The true feelings of the men at the Front are revealed in the songs they sang to keep themselves sane and the words of some of these – those that are printable! – are interspersed in this edition, gleaned from The Wipers Times and Trench Songs from The First World War Poetry Digital Archive.    Toodle pip!    Good-byee!

Gay Roberts, Editor

 CONTENTS ISSUE 26

World War 1 – Rhayader 1914 Brian Lawrence

Remembering the Great War RCAHMW

The War Cloud Lawrence Johnson

Remembering the First World War – A Llanidloes Trail Nia Griffiths

Sassoon and Owen – Great War Poets Reginald Massey

The Conquering Conkers Gay Roberts

The Great War and a Newtown Man as Prisoner of War in Germany  Brian Poole

Post Card in Newtown on 14th August 1914 submitted by Sterling Mullins

Book Review: “I remain, Your Son Jack”  Norma Allen

Preparing for the Front RCAHMW

The Davies Sisters at the Front in World War One Mary Oldham

Florence Haynes  as told to Gay Roberts by Gwenda Trow

The Women’s Land Army L.A.A.S. Handbook

“They Had No Choice” Diana Brown

Kitty Gay Roberts

War and Gardening: Gardening in the Trenches in World War 1 Diana Ashworth

Finding their Voices Nurses and Midwives in Wales 1910-1940 Chris Barrett

 

 

The Dragon’s Crypt

In Time of War: part two : Gathering Shadows Norma Allen

Guardian Angel Bruce Mawdesley

In Their Own Words : Songs and Snippets The Soldiers of World War One

 

 

 

 

What was in PenCambria: Issue 25 Spring 2014?

Eliza, Julia and Henry-a Victorian Triangle Val Church

“The One I Don’t Go To” Lawrence Johnson

The Trouble with History Diana Ashworth

My Roots Part 5: Salmon Poaching Richard Meredith

Torri Mawn: Peat Cutting in the Uplands of Mid Wales Brian Poole

Farming Between the Wars 1920-40, Part 2: Men’s Work R.M. Williams

1st World War Centenary Commemoration Gay Roberts

Put Out To Grass: Part 12 Left-Handed Challenge Diana Ashworth

How Not To Kill Yourself in Borth: a meditation on the Welsh hills by a flatlander Veronica Popp

Monastic Wales Diana Brown

Jottings of a Mid Wales Tourist Peter Watson

The Dragon’s Crypt:

Three Ladies Bruce Mawdsley

Back to the Smoke Gaynor Jones

In Time of War: A Trilogy Part 1: Selina’s Birthday Norma Allen

Editorial PenCambria Issue 25 by Gay Roberts

Well, after such a soggy winter, what a lovely spring we are having at the time of writing. We all love a good scandal and we start this issue with a splendid example of a Victorian marital disharmony and a wet lettuce – just read it and find out. Val Church tells us the extraordinary history of Eliza Williams of Dolanog, her friend, Julia Davenport and Julia’s husband Henry Crookenden.

Lawrence Johnson has been looking into the culture of the Chapel in mid Wales. Once Non-Conformity became legal and the Bible was printed in Welsh and English, people could interpret it and preach more or less what they liked. In Wales, which has always been a very religious and thoughtful country, a whole variety sects with their attendant chapels mushroomed and one could choose which group to attend, which group to avoid and to chop and change as the fancy took.

Prior to this, the invasion of the Normans in 1066 was followed in the 1130s by colonisation of the country by the monastic movement, which, in Wales, was overwhelmingly Cistercian. Professor Janet Burton of the University of Wales Trinity St David’s has created a database and website which will eventually provide a fully comprehensive archive of all material including a bibliography of primary and secondary sources relating to this phenomenon – a must for anyone research this fascinating topic. Diana Brown has been studying it and gives us a most interesting account of what she has learned.

It is thanks to the Chartists that we have the parliamentary democracy we enjoy today. Llanidloes played a small but notable part in this campaign and, taking the two main historical sources, Diana Ashworth manages to present an account that does justice to both sides.

Tracing his roots once again, Richard Meredith regales us with his youthful salmon poaching adventures on the river Severn.

Peat cutting is one of the great unsung crafts of the uplands of mid Wales. Brian Poole touched on it in his article on Capel Gerisim in the last edition of PenCambria. This time he does full justice to it through the oral history of the area and his own interest in and understanding of the technical side of these activities.

Meanwhile on the lower slopes and pastures R.H. Williams describes men’s work on the farm between the two world wars.

It is lambing time in Llawryglyn and our retired lady grasps the mettle, or rather the back legs of her sheep by the hand and attempts to administer all kinds of pills and potions to keep her flock in tiptop condition.

The last episode of recent television programme thriller “Hinterland” set in Aberystwyth included a murder in Borth. A few days later Veronica Popp sent me this delightful piece about one of her experiences as a student at the University in Aberystwyth entitled “How Not to Kill Yourself in Borth”. I won’t spoil it for you. Just enjoy it for yourselves.

Peter Watson had a holiday in mid Wales last year both for leisure and for research and here is his affectionate account of his travels.

The RCAHMW have been very busy with their activities to preserve our heritage and to make sure that we are as fully aware of them as is possible. One of these is the creation of computer 3-D animation reconstructions of complex archaeological sites, especially the Swansea Copper Industry, for which they have received an award. They have also managed to provide a conclusive date for the construction of Tredegar House, one of Wales’ great until now unsolved archaeological mysteries. And they are asking for our help in providing what information we can about our own areas, specifically when it comes to place names. They are also putting on a full programme of events open to the public which are very enjoyable and informative, so do go along if you can.

Mid Wales Arts Centre and Bleddfa Centre for the Creative Spirit are offering a wealth of creative and spiritual opportunities and you can read all about their activities as usual.

In The Dragon’s Crypt Bruce Mawdesley entertains us with his pen portraits of three women; going back to the smoke Gaynor Jones expresses what so many of us feel about have to leave mid Wales for a life elsewhere; and Norma Allen begins a three-part story set in the time of the First World War as the opening to our commemoration of this event, which will be published in the next issue.

 

What was in PenCambria: Issue 5 Summer 2006?

The National School, Llanidloes in 1945 John A. Williams

Robert Owen’s Newtown David Pugh

Averting Armageddon Lembit Opik MP

Following the footsteps of an Edwardian Field Society Rachael Jones

“Are you Church or Chapel?” – Part 2 Disputes and Diapasons Michael Brown

Independents from Llanbrynmair Reverend Malcolm Tudor

The Gentleman Hood – Part 4 Tyler Keevil

The Judge’s Lodging Gay Roberts

Summer in Llandrindod Wells Joel Williams

The Great Mid Wales Land Grab – Part 2 Gay Roberts

Aspects of Mid Wales Reginald Massey

The Arwystli Debate – Report of Dr David Stephenson’s Lecture

Murder in Garth Beibio Gay Roberts

Fitting In Tony Jones

Slate John Hainsworth
Hunter’s Moon R.S. Pyne
Two Poems Reginald Massey
The Tortoiseshell Combs Norma Allen
The Map of My Life Maggie Shepherd

Editorial PenCambria Issue 5 by Gay Roberts

Well, I hope you are all enjoying the sunshine. As a matter of historical interest, 30 years ago during the 1976 drought which started in July, for several weeks there was not a blade of grass to be seen on the hills of Mid Wales. The poor hungry sheep had eaten the fields to the bare earth and no rains came to grow any more. The only greenery to be seen were the dark patches of the hedges and the forestry. It was bad enough for plans to be prepared to raise the level of the Craig Goch Dam in the Elan Valley – just as there are murmurings now about putting in another dam in Mid Wales to supply water to the south-east of England. It was shelved again in the 1970s, as plans to build a dam in Twlych had been in 1966. Let us hope plans for any new ones here go the same way. Our well ran dry in 1976, as it always does in a dry summer and that year I was doing our washing on a stone in the River Dulas, just like the countrywomen always did until the installation of internal plumbing and the washing machine, that masterstroke of modern invention – and as so many do today in the poorer corners of the world. But that’s enough of my memories.
John Anderson will bring back all sorts of other memories of the National School in Llanidloes and some of you may even recognise yourselves in the photograph! John is one of a number of new writers who have joined our merry band during the last few months and I am delighted to welcome them and to introduce them to you in strictly in alphabetical order.
John Hainsworth is better known for his campaign to preserve the Llanfyllin Workhouse, about which more in a future edition of PC. In the meantime, he has shown an unexpected (for me at any rate) talent for poetry and has written a quite remarkable and moving poem about the slate quarrymen of North Wales.
Rachael Jones is a mine of information on local history, being in the process of completing her master’s degree in this very subject. She will be such an asset and I am delighted that she is willing to share her knowledge and expertise with us. I could not have written the article about the murders at Garth Beibio if she had not pointed me in the right direction. Her articles on the BBC website are a delight to read. For this edition she has written about a group walk from Welshpool to Madog’s Wells near Llanfair Caereinion in the footsteps of one made in 1910.
Tony Jones, whose column as “Newcomer” many of you will have enjoyed reading in the County Times, has turned his talent for lateral observation to PenCambria and I do hope you will all enjoy looking at life in Mid Wales from his gently humorous and slightly oblique angle.
When he is not serving his constituency interests as Member of Parliament for Montgomeryshire Lembit Opik’s passion is for astronomy, for which he is well known. In this issue he tells us all about his background and family interest in stargazing and his part in the campaign to set up the observatory at Knighton and to bring about Spaceguard, the asteroid watch. I have observed in the past how Mid Walians seem to delight in travelling as far afield as possible and I think outer space is about as far away as one could get.
R.S. Pyne is another very welcome new author to The Dragon’s Crypt. A West Walian, from Ceredigion, R.S.’s little spine chiller is based on a true incident. I look forward very much to reading more of his stories.
David Pugh, President of the Newtown Civic Society is a great fan of Robert Owen and he shares with us his observations on how the great man would have seen Newtown in the 18th and 19th centuries compared to how it is today today. David did mention to me last year that he was thinking about writing some biographical articles on Robert Owen. Robert Owen’s part in our social history is so little known about today and as a consequence, so under-appreciated. I do hope I am not being premature in looking forward to him presenting them to PenCambria so that we can all learn about him and give him the respect he deserves. Incidentally, mea culpa and my profound apologies for describing David Pugh as the Chairman of Newtown Civic Society in the last issue of PenCambria. He is of course the President. My grateful thanks for pointing this out go to John Napier, who holds the position of Chair.
Our regulars have been hard at it with quill and pen – or rather, keyboard and mouse this spring.
Tyler Keevil reveals just how much influence Murray the Hump had with Al Capone and his part in St Valentine’s Day Massacre in Chicago.
Michael Brown continues the saga of the chapel organ, which is finally ordered and delivered on time – just.
Reverend Malcolm Tudor has been looking at a family of Independent Congregationalists from Llanbrynmair who were born to the pulpit, it seems.
Catherine Richards brings us up-to-date with Powys Archives and from PenCambria point of view, special mention must be made of the late Carol Davies’ photographic archive of some 3,000 photos that Christina Edwards has very kindly presented to Powys Archives for the benefit of the community.
Llandrindod Wells in summer inspired some memories which Joel Williams has sent us from his new collection.
Reginald Massey has been browsing in the Great Oak Bookshop and come across all sorts of books about Mid Wales and by Mid Walians. He has also contributed two beautiful poems that I am delighted to publish this month.
Once again The Dragon’s Crypt contains a lot to surprise and delight. As well as R.S., John and Reginald, young women going off to do their bit for the war effort sparked off Norma Allen’s imagination, and Maggie Shepherd shows us once again what delightfully original talent she has for articulating life’s experiences.
My own offerings this month are an account of the 1906 tragedy at Garth Beibio as related in the County Times of that year, how the 12th century Normans settled into the Welsh Marches, a report of Dr David Stephenson’s fascinating talks on how the legal processes to determine the fate of Arwystli in the 13th century gripped the attention of Medieval Europe and a snippet about the Judge’s Lodgings at Presteigne.

What was in PenCambria: Issue 4 Spring 2006?

The Gentleman Hood – Part 3 Tyler Keevil

“Are You Church or Chapel?” – Part 1 Michael Brown

The Kerry Tramway Brian Poole

Father Gillespie O.F.M. Llanidloes and Rhayader E. Ronald Morris

Llywelyn ab Gryffyd Memorial Gethin Gruffydd

Walk Around Newtown with David Pugh and the Arwystli Society – Part 1 Gay Roberts

Springtime in Llandrindod Wells Joel Williams

Water Mills of Radnorshire Gay Roberts

Playing with Molten Lead David Rowlands talks to Dennis Duggan

Civil War in Montgomeryshire – Part I Dr David Stephenson

Gordonstoun in Llandinam Reverend Malcolm Tudor

Memories of Mid Wales Reginald Massey

The Great Mid Wales Land Grab – Part 1 Gay Roberts

My Foundry Days Eric Jervis

Llanidloes Gateway Sculpture

The Oldest Script Roger Garfitt
Lovers’ Leap Norma Allen
Falling in Love August Mullen & Matt Maus
Haiku Reginald Massey

Editorial PenCambria Issue 4 by Gay Roberts

Since the launch of PenCambria last Spring and I am delighted to find how much interest it has generated and how far afield its name and reputation is spreading. This is a credit to all our writers to whose talents this is directly due. We had our writers’ lunch at the Black Boy in Newtown on 19th January this year and a good feed and good conversation was had by all, most of whom had never met before and so some new friendships were forged as well.
Interest over the internet has been generated too, with enquiries as regards help with tracing family history and surprise at finding information about a certain ancestor, namely our roguish friend, Murray the Hump – he gets more roguish in every episode – you should read this one! I am also very pleased that The Dragon’s Crypt is giving such pleasure.
One quite serendipitous contact has been as a result of Reginald Massey’s article about the Newtown writer Eiluned Lewis. Her niece Janet contacted me, after having been sent a copy of the article by a friend and as a result Reginald and his wife Jamila treated Janet, Eiluned’s daughter Katrina, her husband Richard and myself to a delightful afternoon tea and conversation despite the snow.
I know that there were several errors in PC3 for which I must apologise and for which, apart from one, can only blame lack of proper proof reading and my haste to get out the magazine, which was already six weeks overdue. The most glaring of my own errors was not to spot in the third paragraph of the article Past and Present that although technically it has been over a thousand years since the Romans rested on Esgair Perfedd, two thousand years would give a more accurate indication of when they passed through to the lead mines of Cardiganshire. My thanks to Chris Lord Smith for pointing this out. The other mistake for which I am indebted to Lady Hooson for pointing out and allowing me to make the correct attribution is that the Gregynog Festival was re-started by Glyn Tegai Hughes with the artistic support of Anthony Rolf Johnson, not the University of Wales. My information came from his own excellent booklet on Gregynog in which he, with all modesty, does not mention his own part in the re-starting of the festival, implying that the driving force was University rather than him.
I should also like to apologise for the lack of content about Radnorshire in this edition. My attempts to find people willing and able to write about Radnorshire are not bearing very much fruit. I am very grateful to Peter Dean for his interview about the hotels and some of the more colourful characters of Llandrindod Wells last year and to Joel Williams for agreeing to send in items from his oral history collection from the same town and also to Keith Parker for last year’s item of the Gaolbreakers of Presteigne, and whom I also hope to interview for further article about Presteigne’s history. My own efforts have been limited to information from the Powys Archives Digital History Project and to Paul Remfry’s book Castles of Radnorshire. But if any of you are willing to send in material on Radnorshire, I should so much appreciate
it if you would contact me; or if you know of people who might be willing to do so, do please give them my contact details and if possible let me know how I can get in touch with them. We have a growing readership in the county and I would very upset to have to disappoint you all for lack of material. My very grateful thanks to you all on this matter.
In this issue we have all kinds of interesting goodies including the next stage in Murray the Hump’s career with Chicago Mob; fun in fundraising for the chapel organ; a portrait of Father Gillepsie, whom so many of you will remember with affection, I am sure; a campaign to raise a permanent memorial to Llywelyn ab Gryffydd; a bijou look at Springtime in Llandrindod Wells; a chat with David Rowlands as he looks back at his family’s history with the County Times and his own career as the manager of the Lake Vyrnwy and Llyn Celyn estates; the beginnings of the 1642-46 Civil War in Montgomeryshire; part one of the makings of the county of Radnorshire; walks all over Mid Wales including the Kerry Tramway, part one of a walk around Newtown and a brief look at the water mills of Rhayader and Presteigne for those of you who like to explore the by-ways and little-trodden paths. We have our update from Powys Archives and the calendar of events. The Dragon’s Crypt has attracted some first class storytelling and poetry this month about which, I shall say no more. Finally, we have several people requesting information regarding their Mid Wales forebears. So if any of you can help I am sure they will be more than grateful.