• ST. DOGMAELS’ – FIRST WORLD WAR DIARY

    by  • July 5, 2014 • Uncategorized • 11 Comments

    From the pages of an unpublished book, it is my intention to add to this post over the next four and a half years, marking the centenary of the events of World War I as they affected the village of St. Dogmaels and its’ people.

     

     

    THE ST. DOGMAELS WAR DIARIES: VOL. 1: FIRST WORLD WAR 1914-18.

    Introduction.

    It would be easy to imagine that the people of a small rural community on the fringes of West Wales would have felt rather removed from the global events of 1914-18, sending a few men to the front and having a token memorial to those who failed to return. In reality this is a far from accurate picture of the way the First World War affected the community of St. Dogmaels. Both at home and abroad, St. Dogmaels, in its’ own small way, did vital service to the war effort, was represented at most of the major battles, and has its’ own modest place in the turbulent history of those frightening days when the world seemed to have lost all reason and logic.

    This is not merely the story of the men of St. Dogmaels who were lost in the service of their country, although I hope I have done them justice here, nor even of those who served in the armed forces and the mercantile marine during that time. This is a diary or calendar of how the events of the war panned out, and how they affected the community of St. Dogmaels and its’ people, and it is to that generation who lived through those awful times that this humble work is respectfully and affectionately dedicated.

    1914 – “KEEP THE HOME FIRES BURNING.”

    Before the events of the summer, the average St. Dogmaels man might have expected the year 1914 to be remembered by history for the Welsh Disestablishment Bill which was passed, but as it transpired, was suspended until after the War. On a more local level, the death on 12 July of Rev. Job Thomas, the popular minister of Bryn Salem Chapel, Cippyn, St. Dogmaels, aged 38, seemed to be a likely bet for the most traumatic event to strike the community itself. It is not that local people were unaware of the delicate political tensions in Europe, or the threat that they posed to peace, they merely preferred to hold on to the hope that everything would blow over and all would be well. That gentle optimism faded quickly from the end of June, and within a month the people of St. Dogmaels could scent the approach of war in the same way that the old fishermen of the village could scent an oncoming storm.

    On 28 June 1914 the murder by shooting of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife in Sarajevo by a group of six assassins – five Serbian and one Bosnian – led to a series of accusations and counter-accusations. The Archduke was the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and Austria-Hungary quickly initiated hostile political moves against Serbia. A month later, on 28 July, Austria-Hungary fired the first shots in their invasion of Serbia, having declared war at 11 o’clock in the morning. Serbia had mobilized its’ own forces three days earlier. By 28 July the Russian army were mobilised, and Germany was prepared to move in to Luxembourg and Belgium, ultimately threatening France and bringing Great Britain into the conflict. On 29 July Germany famously promised not to occupy France if Britain remained neutral, but had crossed the border before the end of the day! By the end of the month the British economy was already feeling the effects, and people were beginning to voice concerns that Britain might get dragged into the escalating conflict.

    On 30 July 1914 the Glamorgan Royal Engineers were ordered to Pembroke Dock to relieve the men on regular service at the various searchlight stations on the coast. The coastguards at St. Dogmaels left for their mobilising stations that morning, and the inhabitants of the village would have noticed that Captain William Lloyd had kept the Post Office open throughout Wednesday night, as had Post Offices throughout the country.

    On 1 August 1914 Germany declared war on Russia. In Britain the Royal Navy was ordered to mobilise.

    On 2 August 1914 Tom Parry Jenkins of Clynyrynys, Ferwig, led the former Royal Naval Reserve volunteers in leaving for training at Devonport to enrol as Territorials. The ‘Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser‘ reported their departure in the following terms five days later:

    “…The first batch to be called up were the Royal Naval Reserve, of which body there are a large number of local members. On Sunday morning the instructions came for the immediate mobilisation of the men throughout this district. The expeditious manner in which the call was answered raises feelings of pride in the hearts of all Cardigan. The Customs Office was besieged throughout the day with men signing on for service. Married men leaving behind them their wives and children, single men leaving mother and father, all flocked in grave eyed and determined that the Old Country should not be beaten if they could help. Many homes were sad on Sunday at the thought of the farewells which had to be said on the morrow, but it was a sorrow mixed up with that indefinable feeling of patriotic buoyancy.

    Preparations proceeded apace on Sunday night, and on Monday morning the men – about 60 in number – left by the 7.30 train en route for their ships at Devonport. Crowds gathered in the vicinity of the station and enthusiastically cheered the men as they en-trained. “Good-bye; God bless you!” were the words echoing in their ears as they passed out of the old town. The men hailed from Cardigan, St. Dogmaels, Aberporth,, etc…”

    On 2 August 1914 Germany sent troops into Luxembourg. Hostilities commenced on the border between France and Germany. Britain promised to help to defend the French coast.

     

    On 3 August 1914 Germany declared war on France. A general mobilisation of the British army was ordered.

    Cardigan Territorials' Camp at Porthmadoc, early August 1914 (Glen Johnson Collection)

    Cardigan Territorials’ Camp at Porthmadoc, early August 1914 (Glen Johnson Collection)

    On 3 August 1914 the Cardigan Territorials, who were in camp at Portmadoc, were awoken at 4 a. m. and were instructed to strike camp and head homewards. ‘C’ Company of the Fourth Welsh Territorials, to use their official name, headed for home, boarding a train at noon. They sent a telegram to notify Cardigan officials that they would arrive home that evening under the command of Lieutenant I. J. R. Jones. The railway station at Cardigan was besieged by large crowds, and at 10 o’clock that evening the train steamed up to the platform. There were loud cheers as the men, preceded by the Gwaen-cae-garwen Band, marched off to their headquarters.

     

    On 4 August 1914 Germany formally declared war on Belgium and began sending troops across the border, and on the same day formed an alliance with Turkey. That day the Cardigan Territiorials prepared and packed their equipment and underwent medical examinations, being under orders to be ready to mobilise at any moment. The orders came on the following day, and all of the men were notified that afternoon. At about 5 o’clock in the evening the Company, at full strength, paraded at the Drill Hall under the command of Lieutenant R. J. Griffith and Second Lieutenant I. R. J. Jones. Following the Gwaen-cae-garwen Band, they then marched to the Guildhall where the Mayor, Major R. W. Picton Evans (who would himself die in service overseas before the end of the war) gave a rousing address, and wished them “God Speed”. During the Boer War, Picton Evans had been in command of ‘C’ Company in South Africa. The Territorials then marched to Cardigan Railway Station where another large cheering crowd bid them “Good-bye” as they departed for five weeks of training at Dale, Pembrokeshire. At 11 o’clock in the evening Britain officially declared war on Germany and the Central Allies.

     

     

    It is interesting to note that a St. Dogmaels man witnessed the first British naval shots fired in the war. The German ferry boat ‘Konigin Luise‘ had been converted into a mine-layer, painted in the colours of the Great Eastern Railway Company ferry that plied between Harwich and the Hook of Holland. On the first day of the war, 4 August, she was spotted laying mines intended to sink shipping heading towards the Thames. At 10. 25 in the morning of 5 August, H. M. S. Amphion and the Lance and Landrail pursued and fired upon her, and finally sank her at 12.22. Of the 100 crew, 46 were rescued by the ‘Amphion‘. The ‘Konigin Luise‘ was the first German naval loss of the war. The ‘Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser‘ reported the St. Dogmaels man’s story on 14 August that year:

    “…SINKING OF THE MINE LAYER. ST. DOGMAELS MAN’S EXPERIENCE.

    The following graphic account of the sinking of the German mine-layer “Konigin Luise” is taken from the ‘Cambria Daily Leader’. The Chief Mate mentioned is Mr. W. Granville Thomas, youngest son of Mrs. Thomas, Sloop-terrace, St. Dogmaels.

    To have been held up to forty-one hours in the Kiel Canal in suspense as to whether they would be allowed to resume their journey, and then to have been the only persons except the combatants themselves to witness at close quarters the sinking of the German mine-layer ‘Konigin-Luise’, has been the thrilling experience of the crew of the S. S. ‘Bradford City’, of Bideford, which came into the King’s Dock, Swansea, this morning.

    To a ‘Leader’ reporter members of the crew told graphic stories of the engagement, of the horrors of naval warfare even on so small a scale, and of the hope that they might never see anything of the kind again.

    The Bradford City has come from Ijo Roytta, in Russian Finland, with a cargo of some thousands of tons of pit-props, and her crew of about 26 all told, including three Germans and an Austrian, signed on at Stettin. The skipper is Captain Hurrell, of Plympton, the chief mate, Mr. Thomas, hails from St. Dogmaels, Cardigan, and the chief engineer, Mr. Williams, is a Cardiff man.

    The two latter told the ‘Leader’ man the story of their adventurous voyage. Neither have been able to sleep soundly since witnessing the naval engagement, and the chief mate has particular reason to remember this anniversary of his birthday.

    They were, they said, in the Kiel Canal forty-one hours and there were doubts as to whether they would be allowed to leave. The officials could give them no satisfaction on this point, but told them that they should have six hours’ notice if they could go. Eventually the Customs made a search and gave them their permit. They had an escort of men with loaded revolvers, and were told that if they took any photographs of the measures adopted for defence they would be shot immediately.

    They left Kiel on Saturday night about five o’clock – not many hours before the declaration of the war – and considered themselves lucky. Coming to the naval engagement in the Baltic, they said, relating portions alternately:

    “We first heard firing just about 11 o’clock on Wednesday; we could not make out what it was, but could see the smoke. Then gradually we saw two torpedo boats attacking what was apparently a merchant vessel. She was running away; they were manoeuvring. Then she met a whole flotilla of torpedo boats – about twenty – and when she tried to get away they fired on her. She turned back, and so was compelled to fight the other two. They started attacking her seriously.”

    “We were right in the thick of it, for she was only half a mile from us, and they were at times quite close to us, firing across our bows.”

    “The first thing to go were the funnels; they were broken away. Then a lot of damage was done about the hull. The rudder and the stern were broken away. Steam burst out on the bridge, which the next minute was in a mass of flames. The blow amidships made her heel over, and we could see the men climbing over the rails on to the side of the ship. Gradually she went down, and they with her. The torpedo boats made a terrible mess of her.”

    Questioned as to the statement that four shots from the torpedo boats completed the destruction they said that on the contrary the engagement lasted three hours, and was an awful affair. At first they thought they were German boats attacking an English ship, and they believed the latter’s funnels were disguised. They were then in fear themselves. They ran right across where the mines were, and were right in the thick of it – in fact, could not have been nearer without getting damaged themselves.

    Later they came across six British cruisers in waiting, with guns out.

    Their course was diverted at Dover, and they did not know the actual meaning of what they saw in the Baltic until they got to the Mumbles…”

     

    Although W. Granville Thomas witnessed this historic event, another witness from St. Dogmaels was to have a greater significance in the history of the start of the war. His name was David Craig of the Watch House near the ‘Ferry Inn‘, Glanteifon, St. Dogmaels.

    H. M. S. ‘Amphion‘ had been launched at Pembroke Dock in 1911. She led the Third Destroyer Flotilla out of Harwich, protecting the English Channel. As already noted, she had fired on the ‘Konigin Luise‘ and had afterwards picked up her survivors on 5 August. On 6 August 1914, at about 6.30 in the morning, H. M. S. ‘Amphion’ was on her way back to Harwich when she struck a mine in the English Channel that had been laid by the ‘Konigin Luise‘. The bridge was enveloped in flames, and the captain was incapacitated. Many of those on the bridge were badly burnt, and all bar one member of the forecastle gun crews were killed. Many of the crew were having breakfast in the forward mess-decks and were trapped there. The captain eventually recovered and had the engines stopped. At about 7. 03, just after the last rescue boat had taken off survivors, the ‘Amphion‘ struck another mine and sank about fifteen minutes later, with the loss of 150 crew, including David Craig of Watch House, St. Dogmaels. Also lost were 18 of the rescued German crew of the ‘Konigin Luise‘.

    Leading Seaman David Craig was born on 24 May 1875 in Glasgow. He and his wife had made their home at the Watch House, St. Dogmaels, before the war. David had served as a Royal Navy rating for a number of years before serving on board H. M. S. ‘Amphion‘. He was given the Service No. 161407. Together with his crew-mates, he bears the dubious distinction of being one of the first British casualties of the First World War.

    On 7 August 1914 the first members of the British Expeditionary Force began landing in France. The first group completed their landings on 16 August. They included Fitter Titus Lodwig of Glanpwllafon, St. Dogmaels.

    In the first week of the war a German sailing ship was captured by a British destroyer in Cardigan Bay. The destroyer took the captured vessel in tow, until transferring her to the care of the Cardigan steamer S. S. St. Tudwal, who towed her to Cardigan, where she was anchored at the Mercantile Quay, Bridge End.

     

     

    On 12 August 1914 Britain declared war on Austria-Hungary.

     

    On 14 August 1914 the film called ‘Cardigan Territorials’ was shown at the ‘Pavilion’ cinema, Cardigan. It showed members of ‘C’ Company being trained at Dale camp, including some St. Dogmaels men.

    On 17 August 1914 there was a call for men over 30 to volunteer for the War and sign up at the Guildhall, Cardigan.

    By 21 August 1914 the following St. Dogmaels men were serving in the Royal Naval Reserve:

    Dan Davies, No. 8 Tivy Terrace, Bridge End, Cardigan

    Alphonso Davies, Abbey Cottage, Longdown Bank

    Thomas Davies, Cwmdegwel

    David George Davies, Singrug

    John Evans, Vicarage Terrace

    William Facey, late Forest House, David Street

    Benjamin Jones, Bwlchymwtshwr

    John Jones, David Street

    Gomer Lloyd, David Street

    David George Stephens, Bancshonsaer

    Washington Thomas, Cwmdegwel

    Benjamin Evans, Bryntirion

    Thomas Morris, Glanteifon

    Griffith John Owen, Brynteg

    J. L. Stephens, Alltfach

    Sidney G. Thomas, No. 3 Union Terrace

    On 22 August 1914 The British Expeditionary Force entered the Mons area and took up positions along a 20 mile stretch of the Mons-Conde’ Canal, where the first British shots of the land war, though few in number, were fired on that date.

    On 23 August 1914 the Battle of Mons was fought. Although heavily outnumbered, the efficiency of the British in rapid firing and trench digging saw them perform well in their first engagement of the war. The German attack was badly-co-ordinated, and the British held the position comfortably for 24 hours. On 24 August the British retreat began, and went on for about two weeks There were heavier losses on the British side during the retreat from Mons than there were in the battle itself. Fitter Titus Lodwig of Glanpwllafon, St. Dogmaels, who had been in the first batch of the British Expeditionary Force, was slightly wounded at Mons.

    On 25 August 1914 Austria-Hungary declared war on Japan.

    On 26 August 1914 the British were forced to retreat by the Germans at the Battle of Le Cateau where the forces retreating from Mons attempted to make a stand.

    On 27-28 August 1914 the Battle of Heligoland Bight – a major sea battle – was fought. It was a decisive British victory.

    By 28 August 1914 the following St. Dogmaels men were amongst the Cardigan Territorials at Dale:

    Lance-Corporal D. T. Gibbon, Castle Street, Bridge End, Cardigan

    Private F. Davies, Eagle Inn, Castle Street, Bridge End, Cardigan

    Private D. O. Jones, Tivy Terrace, Bridge End, Cardigan

    Private T. J. Richards, Alltfach

    Private B. Williams, Rose Lynn

    Private D. M. Davies, Old Parkypratt

    On 29 August 1914 the British retreating from Mons reached Compiegne-Soissons.

    By the end of August 1914 a large number of St. Dogmaels people had contributed to the Prince of Wales National Relief Fund. Collectors in the parish included Hubert Williams; John Davies; Ben Gwynne; William Lewis; Captain George Lewis; and Captain T. B. Jones.

    On 1 September 1914 Soissons was bombarded and then occupied by the Germans. Titus Lodwig, fitter, of Glanpwllafon, St. Dogmaels, was present and survived and escaped unharmed. At Villers-Cotterets on the same day the British managed to halt the German advance.

    On 2 September 1914 British forces withdrew to Chantilly-Nanteuil.

    On 5 September 1914 the British retreat ended.

    Between 6-10 September 1914 the First Battle of the Marne was fought near Paris – a British and French Offensive, which checked the German advance and pushed them into retreat..

    On 6 September 1914 began a remarkable adventure which involved Mr. J. Nicholas of St. Dogmaels, the Chief Engineer aboard the 10, 000 ton Liverpool oil tanker S. S. “Elsinore.” The vessel was on its’ maiden voyage to San Francisco when the account, written by Asa J Evans, begins:

    “…It was whilst on voyage from Corinto (Nicaragua) to San Suis (California) that the unexpected happened. We left Corinto on the Sixth of September and everything went on smoothly until we got to the Gulf of California (Mexico). We were aroused on the morning of September 11 at 2.15 by a shell fired across our bows, and a powerful search-light playing on our ship. This was a warning to stop our engines, which we did immediately. At this time none of us knew whether we were stopped by a friend or by the enemy, but we had not long to wait before we realised that it was indeed the enemy. About half an hour after the first shot was fired we were boarded by a crew of two officers and ten me with loaded rifles. They proceeded to the saloon to examine the ship’s papers. After ascertaining that we sailed under the British Ensign, and having made a search through our engine room and bunkers for oil and coals, they left us. Before leaving we were told to get our boats ready, with as little clothing as each of us could carry in our handbags, as they were going to set us adrift in our own boats when they got to a convenient place to sink our ship.At this time we were in Lat. 21. 41 Long. 107.5, about sixty miles off the mainland. They also gave us instructions to turn our ship round and head back the same way as we had come, and to take all orders by signal from the “Liepzig.” About 11 a. m. we sighted another steamer on the horizon making towards us. We all met at noon, and then got orders to stop. This steamer turned out to be another German – the transport “Marie”, carrying coal for the “Liepzig.” We were again boarded, this time by seven officers and ten men, all armed to the eyes. They then gave us orders to take to our boats and pull for and go aboard the Marie. When we got on board we found that we were going to be closely watched and guarded. They had already posted a guard there, consisting of one officer, a signalman, and nine marines, fully armed, and a good watch was kept over us day and night.

    It was from here that we witnessed the sinking of the good ship “Elsinore”. In all it took twelve explosive shells to do the dastardly work, and the last we saw of our good old ship was about 4 p. m.; she was then a mass of flames and stately as ever, slowly sinking on an even keel. We then proceeded for Galapagos Islands aboard the Marie and accompanied by the Liepzig. On September 18 we arrived at Albermarle (the chief of the Islands) and bunkered the Liepzig. On September 19 we left Albermarle for Hood Island, where we arrived on Twentieth, leaving at 2.30 a. m. on the 22 for St. Christobel Island, where we were put ashore at 8 a. m. on the same day and abandoned to our fate – to find our way back to the mainland (a distance of about 600 miles) as best we could. The natives of this island speak Spanish only and are employed in the making of sugar, the sugar cane being cultivated. Coffee is also grown, and there is plenty of fruit on the island. The houses are simply wooden shanties raised about four feet above the ground and supported by wooden stakes. To sleep in a bed is an unknown luxury, practically all sleeping on wooden floors; a few sleep in hammocks. Our first night’s experience on the floor, with our coats for pillows and rat solos and duets for entertainment, will not be forgotten. After the second night on the floor our bones began to ache, so we put our heads together to try and devise something softer. Some of us found a few old sacks which we tied together and converted into hammocks, This contrivance was a God-send after the hard boards. During the whole time we remained on the Island we lived fairly well. There are cattle, horses, wild donkeys and cats.

    On September 24, two days after landing, our captain and half the crew (we were 40 all told) sailed for the mainland in a sloop owned by the Governor of the Islands. As this boat was not capable of carrying any more men, the remainder of us had to stay behind and take our chance when another boat called. As it turned out we had three weeks to wait before the happy day for our departure dawned. When the day did come we shed no tears. On October 25 we left the Island on a 20 ton sloop, and it was a picnic with a vengeance. The cargo consisted of 14 tons of sugar; she carried provisions and water for 13 days. There were 23 hands including crew, and hardly room to swing a cat round. The Elsinore’s crew slept in the hold on top of the sugar bags, whilst the remaining officers and engineers slept in what they called the cabin, fitted out with two shelves or bunks 8ft by 2 ft. The two officers shared one bunk and the fourth engineer and I the other. We are both built on rather fine lines, otherwise we should have fared badly.

    It took us 13 days to get across to Guayaquil (Ecuador). Hard boards again for 13 days, and our diet consisted of one ounce of bread, coffee, rice and beans at 11 a. m. for breakfast, and beans and rice for dinner and tea (combined) at 5 o’clock…Neither of us had a wash or a shave from the time we left the Island till we got to the mainland as we could not afford the water. You should see the sight we presented. Robinson Crusoe was not in it!

    On October 25 we arrived at Guayaquil and saw the British Consul. We were put on board the R. M. S. Ecuador, whose commander is an old acquaintance whom I had not seen for over 16 years – Captain W. H. Morgan, St. Dogmaels – bound for Panama. Mr. Nicholas, two apprentices and I proceed to San Francisco to join the S. S. Cordelia, another of the company’s boats; the rest of the crew go back to England…”

    In early September 1914 the Cardigan Territorials moved from Dale Camp to another camp at Scoveston, near Angle, Pembrokeshire. They remained here for a period before being moved to Biggleswade in Bedfordshire.

    On 9 September 1914 a parish meeting was held at St. Dogmaels Council School, presided over by Mr. T. Joseph, the purpose being the making of arrangements for collecting subscriptions towards the War Distress Fund. It was agreed to form a committee of members drawn equally from the various places of worship in the district. The following were elected:-

    Revs. J. D. Hughes; E. J. Lloyd; J. Myfenydd Morgan; D. Richards; and W. H. Jones; Messrs. E. Gwynne; J. Emrys Thomas; T. Joseph; J. James; D. Thomas; Captain Benjamin; D. T. Volk; Captain J. Jones; T. Davies (Esgyrn); W. James (Penrhynbach); G. P. Biddyr (Glanymor); J. Evans(Cippynfach),and D. Lewis (Cippynfawr).

    Captain Lloyd made a spirited appeal at the meeting, resulting in the collection of nearly £10 at once in guineas and half-guineas. The committee agreed to meet the following Saturday to make arrangements for collections.

    On 11 September 1914 British troops pursued the German retreat from the Battle of the Marne.

    On 13 September 1914 the Allies recovered Soissons and made their way to the passage of the Aisne.

    On 14 September 1914 the Germans halted their retreat by the Aisne. From 14-28 September 1914 the First Battle of the Aisne was fought. Trench warfare was used for the first time. Fitter Titus Lodwig of Glanpwllafon, St. Dogmaels, was there.

    On 17 September 1914 there was heavy fighting around Soissions.

    On 21 September 1914 Chief Officer W. J. Baker of St. Dogmaels, the son-in-law of Captain W. Lloyd of the Post Office, was serving aboard the S. S. “Cornish City”, when he found himself embroiled in the war at first hand. He wrote:

    “…We sailed from Barry on September 4. On September 21, when in lat. 2.30 south 32.30 west, at 2 p. m., we were signalled to stop immediately by the German cruiser “Karlsruhe”, who sent a boat to our ship with two officers and an armed crew. They came alongside, and demanded the ship’s papers. The German officers examined them, and afterwards informed us that we should have an hour’s grace to get all our necessary clothing and belongings together. The “Karlsruhe”

    had up till this time captured thirteen ships in the South Atlantic. She was accompanied by the transports “Crofeld” (Bremen-Lloyd) and the “Rio Negro” (Hamburg-South Amerika line). Our crew were immediately put aboard the “Rio Negro”, where they remained for three weeks. Whilst on board this boat we were all treated in a most exemplary manner, and all possible kindness and courtesy were extended to us. The officers of the “Rio Negro” expressed great regret at the war. We were landed by the Norddentasher-Lloyd liner “Crefeld” at Tenriffe on October 22, and arrived at Liverpool on November 3…”

    On 22 September 1914 three old British cruisers – H. M. S. Aboukir, H. M. S. Hogue and H. M. S. Cressy, manned mainly by reservists were sunk by a single German submarine – U-9 – with the loss of approximately 1450 lives. This was a huge blow for confidence in the British navy.

    By 25 September 1914 the St. Dogmaels working party of the Red Cross Society had prepared a parcel containing 13 helpless case shirts, 6 night shirts, 3 pyjama shirts and 6 pairs of socks. The previous week another large parcel of garments had been sent off. The working group were also making garments for local women and children and proposed making garments for local sailors in the Navy.

    On 28 September 1914 Neuve Chapelle was taken by the British.

    On 1 October 1914 the remaining troops of the British Expeditionary Force pulled out of the Aisne and headed north and west.

     

    On 3 October 1914 the Germans occupied Ypres, Belgium.

    On 3 October 1914 a St. Dogmaels lady returned from Germany, and the ‘Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser‘ reported her experiences the following week:

    “…BACK FROM GERMANY. ST. DOGMAELS LADY RELATES HER EXPERIENCES.

    INFORMING INTERVIEW.

    The daughter of Mr. E. Evans, headmaster of the Council School, St. Dogmaels, returned last Saturday from Germany, where she had been since July 30, having left Weimer, a town in the centre of Germany, near Liepzig, on the previous Tuesday, and travelling through Holland and crossing from Flushing to Folkestone, arriving in London on the Thursday night.

    In a chat with our representative, Miss Evans said that she had been decently treated all through, the only anxiety being the suspense of waiting to be allowed to go home. Everything was in the hands of the military, and Miss Evans had her boxes packed for six weeks, and was promised leave to cross to England, before she finally was able to travel.

    The American Consul’s efforts for English people’s comforts was spoken of highly by Miss Evans, and it was through the Consulate’s good offices that she and many more were at last allowed to go home.

    Speaking of the declaration of war, Miss Evans said that the people seemed to go mad with the news. Up to the very moment of the declaration, the Germans were sanguine that England would keep clear of the quarrel.

    Immediately war broke out, the English people and all foreigners were required to register, although this formality has to be gone through by everybody on landing. They were then told that it would be better for them not to be seen on the streets, although they were not bound to stay indoors.

    Speaking of the excitement of the people, Miss Evans said that at the beginning of the war, the Germans in Weimer got “spyitis” badly, and the crowds followed, and in some cases badly mauled suspicious strangers. Russians especially came in for a full share of the fury of the mob, and several were shot. English dare not be spoken on the streets, and the foreign consuls have now advised all foreigners to leave the country.

    The opinion of the German people of the war, said Miss Evans, is that Germany is in the right, and is bound to win. A French lady prophesied some years ago that a great war would take place in 1916, and that one nation would rule the whole world. The people thoroughly believe that Germany is the favoured nation. England is thought of as the arch-enemy.

    As to what is going on in England, the Germans seem to hold peculiar views. It is stated that Lord Kitchener’s appeal for recruits has signally failed, and that the people write on the pavements “We don’t want war.” The newspapers in Germany are full of the news of victory to German arms, and any reverses are given small space indeed. The Crown Prince is the hero of the hour.

    Miss Evans speaks of the marvellous enthusiasm of the people for the war, old men of 70 weeping for a chance to go to the front, and even boys of 16 or 17 offering their services. The women and even children are taking their part, and everywhere is evidenced the wish and the will to do anything to help. In this aspect, in any case, we can take a lesson, even from Germany.

    Touching on the stories of atrocities, Miss Evans said that the Germans say that the Belgians are to blame; that German soldiers have had their hands cut off by Belgians; that the English are throwing Germans in England into the Thames, and that the Russians are hewing the people down in the streets.

    Regarding food, Miss Evans said there seemed to be a plentiful supply, but no foreign produce such as bananas, oranges etc. is to be seen. Prices are a little above the normal.

    The Germans are sanguine that they will soon be in London, as is shown by a conversation which Miss Evans had with a German soldier who was leaving the town for the East. “Good-bye,” he said, “I am going to Russia now, and afterwards to London.” A platform inspector at a station said that he would probably meet Miss Evans in London, as he had already offered his services to take charge of the line there!

    Miss Evans was amongst the last of the English people to leave Weimar, and needless to say, she is glad to be home again. She is none the worse for her experience…”

    On 11 October 1914 the “Race for the Coast”, more properly named the Battle of Flanders began, and the fighting lasted for about six weeks.

     

    On 12 October 1914 H. M. Vaughan of Plas Llangoedmor, addressed a recruitment meeting at the Pavilion, Cardigan. The men who volunteered that day, including Garfield Francis of Mount Pleasant, St. Dogmaels, left Cardigan on 19 October, and were met at Cardiff Railway Station by Company Sergeant Major W. Bickerton, who conducted them to their barracks. Their company was the No. 1 Depot Company Welsh Regiment. On 22 October they left at 5 o’clock in the morning for Tidworth, where they joined the Ninth Battalion, Welsh Regiment.

    From 19 October until 22 November 1914 the First Battle of Ypres was fought in Belgium.

     

    On 24 October 1914 imports of sugar into Britain were prohibited.

    In a sermon delivered at a harvest festival in Dinas Cross in late October 1914, Rev. J. Myfenydd Morgan, the Vicar of St. Dogmaels, Monington and Llantood had made a reference to the Kaiser. He said that in St. Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians the devil is referred to as “the prince of the power of the air”, but that now his Satanic Majesty seemed to have exchanged places with the Kaiser of Germany, who sends his Zeppelins up to the air and drops down his bombs to destroy human life and property. The former “prince of the power of the air” did not do that sort of thing, so, by the Reverend gentleman’s reckoning, the Kaiser seemed to be a worse fellow than the devil himself!

    On 27 October 1914 the Germans captured Neuve Chappelle, but lost it to the British the following day.

     

    On 31 October 1914 the Germans broke through the British lines at Ypres, but the crisis was

    averted by the Worcesters, who fought them off.

    By the end of October 1914 around 120 substantial garments had been made in St. Dogmaels, chiefly for the Red Cross, but also for the Navy and for wives and children of service-men. Generous contributions of money had been received and others had assisted with cutting out and making up or other valuable use of their time and effort. The village children had been dropping the pennies they usually spent on sweets into the collecting boxes, or else knitting socks and mittens for the sailors. Miss Thomas of the Villa, High Street, and Miss Jones of Marine Villa, Glanteifon, were dealing with contributions.

     

    On 1 November 1914 the Battle of Coronel was fought. The Germans defeated a British naval squadron – the worst British naval defeat of the entire war. The ‘Good Hope‘ and ‘Monmouth‘ were both lost, with 1600 crewmen.

    On 5 November 1914 Britain annexed Cyprus and declared war on Turkey and the Ottoman Empire.

    On 6 November 1914 Private John Evan Jones died. He was born at Pwllheli, but was living at St. Dogmaels before the start of the war. He enlisted at Maesteg, joining the Second Battalion of the Welsh Regiment with the Service No. 8760. This was one of the first units to go out to France, and he fought at the Battle of Mons, also taking part in pursuing the German retreat through the Marne and Aisne. He was injured at an early date, and was sent to the Base Hospital at Bolougne for treatment. He died of wounds on 6 November 1914 aged 28.

    On 7 November 1914 a British steamer came into the bay and landed a party on the St. Dogmaels side. The men proceeded to Penrhyn Castle in order to question the coastguards regarding the whereabouts of a foreign mine-layer which was alleged to have been in the vicinity. There were no coastguards at Penrhyn Castle as they were all on service, and the woman and child who were the only occupants of the property were unable to offer any useful information. The steamer remained in the bay until the following morning. When news of this reached the village, it had some effect upon the local fishermen, who, rather than seeing the war as something somewhat distant, now began to be more vigilant, fearing the presence of mines in the local waters and enemy vessels around the coastline.

     

     

     

    On 9 November 1914 fierce German attacks on the British at Ypres cam close to piercing the line again, but they just managed to hold out. On the same day the German vessel ‘Emden’ was sunk by H. M. A. S. ‘Sydney’.

    The children of St. Dogmaels Council School held a “Pound Day”, when they went from door to door around the village seeking contributions for the soldiers and sailors at the front. They sent to Haverfordwest Infirmary two boxes of groceries, a small crate of home-made jam and three sacks of potatoes. The matron responded with the following letter:

    “…The Infirmary, Haverfordwest, Nov. 9 1914

    My dear Children,

    I am sending you a little letter to thank you for all your good gifts to us for our Pound Day. They were more than I expected, and I do think you have all worked very hard to help us. There have been so many things to give to, I did not expect such a splendid response. We have some sick soldiers here (not wounded), and you can all say you have helped to get them better by your gifts of groceries, money, etc. The jam tasted very god and arrived in a good condition. Thanking you once more, I remain,

    Yours Faithfully

    C. Lidgwick, Matron…”

    On 10 November 1914 the Germans continued to gain ground at Ypres. The following day the Prussian Guard briefly managed to enter British trenches, but were repulsed. On 12 November the Germans continued their aggressive tactics and took Lombartzyde.

    By 13 November 1914 the St. Dogmaels residents who were sympathetic to the Belgian refugees, had passed on gifts to the refugees staying at Cardigan via Miss Lewis of Argo Villa.

     

    On 17 November 1914 the Battle of Ypres wound down, and stationary warfare, mainly in the trenches, became the standard form of fighting for the rest of the war on the Western Front.

     

    On 20 November it was noted that recent recruits to ‘C’ (Cardigan) Company of the Welsh Regiment, stationed at Carmarthen, included the following St. Dogmaels men:

    Garfield Francis

    John Jenkins

    John Stephens

    John Picton Jenkins

    Also hailing from St. Dogmaels and in training with the unit at Carmarthen were:

    Thomas James Bowen

    Willie Thomas

    Marsden Davies

    Benjamin James

    Thomas John Morris

    From 22 November 1914 trenches stretched along the whole front, dividing Europe.

    On 2 December 1914 a Red Cross Society Social was held at the St. Dogmaels Council School. Mr. Emrys Thomas arranged a music entertainment, which was performed Mr. Tom John; Miss M. Roberts; Miss A. M. Davies; Mr. Emrys Thomas; Miss Polly Davies (recitation); Miss C. Lewis; Miss M. C. Rees; Mr. J. R. Davies; Mr. D. O. Richards; and Mr. Percy Mathias (encored). Rev. J. Myfenydd Morgan took the chair for the evening. Following the entertainments tea and refreshments were provided, and there were speeches by Rev. J. Myfenydd Morgan; Rev. D. Richards; Mr. Evans and Captain Lloyd. A number of stalls and side-shows assisted with the fund-raising, which totalled £10. The children had collected a further £1. 6s. 2d., and had been producing a large amount of woolly garments. As a thank-you to them, a special children’s social was held two days later.

     

    On 8 December 1914 the Battle of the Falkland Islands was fought. The British Royal Navy destroyed a German squadron. David Lawrence Jenkins of No. 3 Castle Street, Bridge End, Cardigan, was on board one of the British vessels – H. M. S. Europa.

    On 17 December 1914 a British Protectorate was declared in Egypt.

    On 19-22 December 1914 the Battle of Givenchy was fought between the Germans and Indian troops. The British joined the Indians on 21 December.

    On 24 December 1914 the Germans bombed Dover from planes, while the British bombed their airsheds at Brussels. On the western front, the unofficial Christmas truce began, and continued through Christmas Day with carols sung, followed by exchanges of greetings, gifts, and some friendly meetings in no-man’s land. There were even games of football played. Local men serving at Ypres would have taken part in these exchanges,

    On 29 December 1914 the village of St. Dogmaels was upset at the news received of the death of Benjamin Rees, Granant, St. Dogmaels, aged 85. A well-known figure in the community, he wrote the definitive history of Blaenwaun Chapel in 1899.

    On 29 December 1914 a British squadron was active off the coast of Belgium, including H. M. S. Majestic, with a number of local men aboard.

    During the year 1914 David Clifford Jones, the son of Captain Thomas Biddyr Jones and Anne Jones of Glantivy, St. Dogmaels, joined the Royal Army Medical Corps. He had formerly been apprenticed to Cardigan chemist Howell Morgan. He served in Salonika for more than three years without once returning home.

     

    1915 – “PACK UP YOUR TROUBLES IN YOUR OLD KIT BAG.”

    In 1815 Cardigan was the second largest Port of Registration in Wales, ranking Seventh in England and Wales. There were then 323 ships registered at the port – more than Bristol or Cardiff. A century later only 6 vessels were registered at the Port of Cardigan. The greatest legacy of the port was one of tradition – the men of St. Dogmaels serving in the mercantile marine and the Royal Naval Reserve were far more numerous than their land army counterparts.

    On 1 January 1915 the new medal called the Military Cross was introduced.

    On 24 January 1915 the Battle of Dogger Bank was fought – a naval victory for Britain.

    In late January 1915 Mr. Lewis Picton Davies of Llys Aeron, High Street, St, Dogmaels, obtained his second mate’s certificate from the Board of Trade.

    On 2 February 1915 a U-boat blockade on Britain began.

    On 3 February 1915 a concert was given in St. Dogmaels in aid of the Red Cross Society. By March, these events were being held on a weekly basis.

    On 5 February 1915 the ‘Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser‘ included the following article:

    “…CARDIGAN MAN’S EXPERIENCES.

    CAME THROUGH MONS, SOISSONS, AND THE AISNE UNSCATHED.

    Private Titus Lodwick of the Mechanical Transport (Fitters) Royal Engineers, a native of Cardigan, but latterly of Cardiff, has just been home on a visit to his parents, who reside at Glanpwllafon, after having some thrilling experiences at the front.

    Private Lodwick was brought up in the town, and prior to his departure worked at Messrs. W. James & Sons (Gwalia), Mr. T. M. Daniel’s, and Mr. S. T. Jones’, and was at one time chauffeur to Mr. D. Davies, solicitor.

    He had served his time in the Army, and was called up as a reservist on August 6. He was sent to France with the first batch of the Expeditionary Force. He took part in the great battles at Mons, Soissons and the Aisne, and came through without a scratch. He suffered, however, from frost-bite on the toe and hands, and spent some time at the Base Hospital at Boulogne, afterwards returning to the front. He was given leave on January 22, and left with 59 others, landing at Folkestone on the Sunday, where they had a great welcome. The leave extended until Saturday last, and Private Lodwick hoped to be back within sound of the guns on the following Monday.

    Seen by our representative on Thursday of last week, Private Lodwick showed natural reticence in speaking of his experiences. He said that he could never explain his feelings on being under fire for the first time, and id not want to wither. It was terrible.

    He talked of the retreat from Mons, and said there were too few Britishers there, they having had no time to prepare, and the German artillery being superior to our own. But this had now been remedied. He would not like to see such a thing again. A good many of his friends had been killed, but by good luck he had escaped without a scratch. The incessant firing of the big guns had shattered his nerves, and he experienced great difficulty in sleeping. This was the chief discomfort felt by the soldiers. At the first, life in the trenches was very hard, especially when the snow fell and the soldiers were up to their knees in snow. The downfall was succeeded by a heavy frost, which made “Tommy’s” lot a deal harder. That too was now altered and life was made more pleasant. During the retreat from Mons Private Lodwick, who was engaged in setting the mines for blowing up bridges to check the advancing Germans, was for days without food or sleep. On the morning he left for home the company had many narrow escapes, six shells dropping about 500 yards away from them. During Christmas Day a kind of truce was observed between the British and German soldiers in the trenches, and they were chatty one with the other. Not a shot was fired until 12 o’clock at night.

    Talking about the way the “Tommies” went in and out of the trenches, Private Lodwick said they went into the firing line like a lot of Welsh colliers, singing, whistling and laughing, and as happy as sandboys, and when relief came they returned in the same spirit. No-one slept much, and off duty time was spent in playing friendly games of cards, singing comic songs, and playing the mouth organ, which instrument seemed very much in demand.

    Asked as to when in the opinion of the men at the front the war was likely to end, Private Lodwick said that the general opinion in France was that something great was to happen in the beginning of March when the fine weather came, and that this would be the commencement of the end. “The Germans were getting short of ammunition, whilst we had plenty.” In proof of this he mentioned that whereas we were now firing 1911 shells, the Germans were firing 1914 shells…”

    By 12 February 1915 a further concert in aid of the Red Cross Society had been held at Bethsaida Baptist Chapel, High Street, and had raised a further £6. Since Christmas the following parcels had been sent off from St. Dogmaels:

    To the Red Cross: 24 day shirts; 6 night shirts; 13 body belts; 6 vests; 6 pants; 3 pillows; 2 pillow cases; 1 pair sheets; 1 pair slippers.

    To local men serving in the Army or Navy: 52 parcels, each containing 1 muffler, 1 pair socks, 1 pair mittens.

    To the Belgian soldiers: 14 mufflers, 10 pairs of mittens, 4 pairs of socks.

    On 24 February 1915 H. M. S. Majestic, with several local men on board, including Tom Evans and John Jones of St. Dogmaels, conducted mine-sweeping operations in the Dardanelles, and the following day and on 26 February attacked Fort Dardanus, which was armed with four 5.9 inch guns, and some new small batteries erected on the Asiatic Shore. In the earlier stages of the attacks on various forts that day in the Dardanelles, H. M. S. ‘Invincible‘ was involved, on board which was Mr. Tom J. Phillips of St. Dogmaels.

    By 26 February 1915 H. M. S. Majestic and other vessels had cleared a 4 mile channel in the Dardanelles. Poor weather the following day hampered progress.

    On 1 March 1915 a British blockade of German ports began.

    On 2 March 1915 the naval bombardment at the Dardanelles began again.

    On 4-7 March 1915 there was a further naval bombardment at the Dardanelles. Fort Dardanos was silenced on 7 March. Bad weather again halted operations on 8 March. The bombardment was renewed on 10 March.

    On 18 March 1915 the British attack on the Dardanelles was under way again. H. M. S. Ocean and H. M. S. Irresistible were sunk. Bad weather again halted operations on 19 March, and there was a violent storm the following day.

    On 23 March 1915 the Naval attack on the Dardanelles recommenced, but was ultimately aborted as a failure.

    On 3 April 1915 a letter was sent from Mr. Willie Davies, serving on board the H. M. S. ‘Majestic‘, to his uncle, Councillor John Davies of Castle Street, Bridge End, Cardigan. He writes:

    “…I daresay you know we are at present in the Dardanelles. We have been in action eleven times here, but we had a very big battle on the Eighteenth of last month, which you surely have read of in the papers. We lost two of our ships and one French battleship. We were not a thousand yards away from the three ships, and we only just escaped. That was a terrible day. We are not allowed to say much, but we have had some very narrow escapes since the war broke out. We were on the Belgian coast bombarding at Christmas time, with German submarines playing round us all the time. All the Cardigan boys are safe so far, but I would rather be with the Territorials in Scoveston than here. They can have a good time and plenty of food and sleep. We left England in January, and have not been in our depot since last August. I hope the war won’t last long. I thought it was bad enough on the Belgian coast, but that was only child’s play to the Dardanelles. I heard that the Mayor of Cardigan was going to send us a Christmas box, but we have not received it yet…”

    On a scrap of paper enclosed he adds:

    “…You can’t tell lies in your letters, because they read the all before they leave the ship…”

    It was quickly confirmed that, although Cardigan had been generous in sending gifts to the Territorials, nothing whatsoever had been sent to the boys of the Royal Naval Reserve.

    On 7 April 1915 a social tea and entertainment was held in St. Dogmaels Council School, once again in aid of the Red Cross Society. Rev. J. D. Hughes of Blaenwaun took the chair, and a musical programme was arrange by Mr. Emrys Thomas. Mrs. and Miss Bowen of Llwyngwair were in attendance, and Mrs. Bowen gave a short address. Following refreshments there was a dramatic performance entitled “Y Teulu Cintachlyd”. Together with the various stalls, the event raised a total of £11. 7s. 5d.

    On 7 May 1915 the R. M. S. ‘Lusitania’, a Cunard liner, was sunk by a German U boat of the Old Head of Kinsale, Southern Ireland. Nearly 1200 lives were lost, including 124 American passengers, the loss of which created much consternation in the United States of America, strengthening calls for them to side with the Allies and enter the war.

    On 13 May 1915 another letter addressed to Councillor John Davies of Castle Street, Bridge End, Cardigan, was written by Willie Davies – formerly a member of the crew of the ‘Majestic‘. After stating that he was in the best of health, he writes:

    “…I am sure that you will be surprised to hear that I have landed with the Australian soldiers in Cape Tebe, about 30 miles from the entrance to the Dardanelles, only about six miles from the Narrows. I left my ship a month ago. I was the only one of the Cardigan squad to go. There were 29 of us landed from our ship, and now we are only nine here. I was taking shelter from the shrapnel, which was bursting, one day, when I found a Cardigan boy, the son of Mr. David Morris, Corporation. He landed about four days after me. I was with him for about two hours, and I haven’t seen him since, but I hear that his battalion is gone again. He is with the British and I am with the Australians, and their trenches are a long way off. I am quite happy so far, but I would feel better if I had the company of a Cardigan man. I landed with the first boat load that went ashore. The Turks were on the shore waiting for us. That was a sight for a man to see. We landed at four o’clock on the morning of April 26, and before four o’clock that night, we drove the Turks back four miles. But we suffered very heavily. I should like to go back on the old ship to the old Cardigan boys. I have been in action twelve times on the old ship, and now I am having some more on land. Remember me to my old friends at Cardigan. I am quite happy. The only thing I don’t like is to sleep in the trenches when it is wet…”

    On 27 May 1915 Messrs. Auberey Grant of Castle Street, and Ernest Thomas of Brecon Terrace, both of Bridge End, Cardigan, joined the Pembrokeshire Yeomanry, and were seen off by the Mayor at Cardigan Railway Station when they left for Carmarthen.

    On 27 May 1915 H. M. S. ‘Majestic’, a pre-dreadnought battleship, was stationed off W Beach at Cape Helles when she was sunk by a single torpedo fired from the German submarine U-21 at about 06.45 in the morning. The ship suffered a huge explosion and quickly began to list to port. Nine minutes later she had capsized with the loss of 40 crew. Tom Jenkins of William Street, Cardigan, recalled:

    “…I happened to be on the upper deck, having only just come up from the lower mess deck, which is under three decks. I heard someone shouting “Torpedoes, torpedoes on the port side.” I ran to the sea gangway port side, when I saw it coming straight for me. It was then about 300 yards away. I blew up my life belt the first thing. I knew what was going to happen, so I ran across to midships and up the ladder to the boat deck, but when I was on the ladder, halfway up, the Majestic was hit right in mid-ships, where I was standing. I fell right back with the shock. Water was blown up and the coal from the bunkers blew all over the ship and right down on me. I was nearly choked on deck. I ran back to the quarter-deck and saw one of the boats outside the nets, so I jumped over the side and out over the booms, and into the boat. In about a minute afterwards the Majestic turned upside-down and sank. One good thing was that there were plenty of boats about in less than three minutes after she was hit, which was very smart work. I was picked up by a French steamboat, and it was all over…”

    There were several local men on board. Most of these survived, but the 49 names on the casualty list included that of Thomas Evans, aged 24, a Royal Naval Reserve Seaman, of No. 7 David Street, St Dogmaels.

    On 17 June 1915 the eight local survivors of H. M. S. Majestic received a heroes’ welcome at Cardigan Railway station. When they got off the early train at the platform, they were ushered to a carriage which, rather than horses, was borne along by willing hands from amongst the cheering crowd.

    At this time Captain William Bowen of Corner House, High Street, was the Recruiting Officer for St Dogmaels.

    In June 1915 Mrs. James of Tyrhedyn, High Street, St. Dogmaels received a double blow, when she was notified of two bereavements on the same day. Her husband, Captain David James, had been taken ill whilst acting as a Channel Pilot at Gibraltar, He died soon afterwards, aged 59. The same day she was notified that her nephew, Mr. Caradog Griffith of Abigail House, High Street, had died of natural causes aged 27. He had been working as an architect for the War Office. She was unable to contact either of her sons in time for them to attend the funeral. Sub-Lieutenant D. Emyr James was serving on H. M. Transport ‘Laurentic‘, and Mr. John Lloyd James had joined one of the Australian units.

    On 29 June 1915 a barque was sunk of Milford. The ‘Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser‘ carried the full story on 2 July:

    “…BARQUE SUNK OF MILFORD. CHIEF OFFICER A ST. DOGMAELS MAN.

    Just before five o’clock on Monday the crew of survivors of a submarine outrage arrived at Milford Haven Docks, landing stage from a sailing ship, one of the largest of the class under the British Mercantile flag, the Dumfrieshire, owned by Messrs. Law, of Glasgow. The vessel was homeward bound from San Francisco with a cargo of barley. The crew, consisting of Captain Foreman and 29 hands, the chief office being Mr. Thomas Davies, Golygfa’rafon, St. Dogmaels, had a miraculous escape, and it was no thanks to the pirates that they were not all killed or drowned. Indeed had not the officers been warned to have the boats swung clear for eventualities the men would have had no chance whatever, for the vessel appears to have been hit without any indication of the presence of the enemy. Some of the men were engaged at work, and others had turned in. When the latter got up on deck the ship was filling with water. It is calculated that all was over in three and a half minutes. The crew were picked up by a trawler. On landing they presented a sad spectacle, for the poor fellows, most of whom were Englishmen, had no time to save anything. As usual a home was found at the Sailor’s Rest.

    One of the survivors, a young Yorkshire-man, related to the ‘Western Mail’ reporter his experience: “We were struck near mid-ships,” he said, “and up went part of the deck in a twinkling. It was all so sudden, but as boats were swinging ready we just jumped in. One little lad got under a boat, and it required careful manoeuvring to get him up. Almost all the port side was blown out, and that is how she went down so quickly.”

    In reply to a query, he said “We never saw a submarine, nor heard any warning shots till she was struck, I suppose, by a torpedo.”…”

    On 29 June 1915 the Turkish counter-attack at the Dardanelles was repulsed, but with very heavy losses.

    On 30 June 1915 the ‘Majestic‘ survivors left Cardigan, after 14 days’ leave, to return to the war.

    In July 1915 Private David Williams of Rose Lynn was in the Dardanelles with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers.

    On 4-5 July 1915 the Turks put up a heavy fight against the Allies in the Dardanelles.

    On 15 July 1915 the Welsh miners went on strike. It was settled on 20 July and they resumed work.

    On 26 July 1915 engineers Mr. D. J. Davies of Ridgeway and Mr. T. Thomas of St. Dogmaels left for France where they were due to join the engineering shops at the Army base.

    By the end of July 1915 it was reported that the Cardigan Territorials had left the country for an unknown destination.

    On 7-8 August 1915 there was very heavy fighting at Gallipoli.

    On 9 August 1915 the Welsh Regiment, including David Francis Davies of James Terrace, Pilot Street, St. Dogmaels, landed at Gallipoli where they remained until December, suffering heavy casualties.

    On 11 August 1915, Lance-Corporal David T. Gibbons went missing at Suvla Bay in the Dardanelles, where the Cardigan Territorials had recently landed. David was the son of Thomas Gibbons and Mary Hannah Gibbons of No. 7 Castle Street, Bridge End, Cardigan. He was a member of ‘C’ Company of the First/Fourth Battalion, Welsh Regiment – The Cardigan Company. When war was declared David went off with the rest of the Territorials from Cardigan, and on 8 August 1915 found himself landing at Suvla Bay, Gallipoli, late at night. On 10 August they came under terribly heavy fire and a hefty casualty list resulted in a withdrawal. David was not seen after that date and was listed as “missing” on 11 August. In total confusion, David’s mother was later informed, incorrectly, that he was in hospital in Alexandria, giving her false hope that he might yet return home. He never did. He was 23.

    On 18 August 1915 a successful concert was held at St. Dogmaels Council School in aid of the Red Cross Working Party. The chair was ably taken by Mr. W. F. Roch, M. P. of Plasybridell. During the past twelve months a total of £86. 8s. 3d had been collected and 591 garments made and dispatched to the headquarters of the Red Cross Society and Belgian soldiers. All local army and navy men had been sent parcels. The concert itself was said to be of an excellent standard. The ticket-sellers were Mrs. Bella Thomas; Miss Roberts; Miss Richards; Miss Griffiths and Miss Charlotte Jones. The secretaries were Miss Thomas, The Villa, High Street, and Miss Lewis, Argo Villa, Glanteifon.

    On 20 August 1915 Italy declared war on Turkey.

    On 21 August 1915 another British attack on Anafarta, Gallipoli, failed.

    On 21 August 1915 the British government declared cotton absolute contraband.

    On 25 August 1915 the British line on the Western Front was extended.

    On 3 September 1915 a list of local men reported wounded included:

    Private Marsden Davies, St. Dogmaels, now at Cardiff Hospital

    Private D. Morris Davies, Hen-dy, St. Dogmaels

    Private J. Stephens, St. Dogmaels

    Private J. O. Jones, Tivy-Terrace, Bridge End, Cardigan (ill, not injured)

    On 5 September 1915 the Australians repulsed a night-time attack by the Turks in the Dardanelles.

    On 15 September 1915 the British took over another 17 miles of trenches on the French front.

    By 24 September it had been decided by the members of St. Dogmaels Parish Church to forward the money they had raised for Belgian refugees to the Belgian Minister in London. Mr. G. M. Lewis of Argo Villa was appointed the treasurer. The sum raised was a little over £24.

    On 28 September 1915 the Turks were defeated at Kut-El-Amara, Mesopotamia.

    In September 1915 Private D. Gibbons of Castle Street was listed as missing at the Dardanelles.

    On 2 October 1915 a recruitment meeting was held at St. Dogmaels, chaired by Cllr. G. H. Mathias, the Mayor of Cardigan. Although the St. Dogmaels Council School was full of people, most were women, children, and men over military age. The Mayor complained at the outset that he had never attended a recruitment meeting where not a single person present was eligible. Rev. E. J. Lloyd defended St. Dogmaels by pointing out that a large number of men from the village, about forty, were already in service, and several of them had been wounded. Despite some debate on the subject, there were no recruits available and the meeting was brought to a premature conclusion.

    On 5 October 1915 Britain began landing Allied troops at Salonika.

    On 13 October 1915 a Zeppelin raid on the east coast of England killed 200.

    On 15 October 1915 Britain declared a state of war with Bulgaria.

     

     

     

    About

    11 Responses to ST. DOGMAELS’ – FIRST WORLD WAR DIARY

    1. julie
      July 19, 2014 at 10:09 am

      My daughter sent me yr link as she is researching my branch of her family tree….my father’s family have links to St Dogmaels, in particular The Sloop. I was thrilled to find my grandfather’s name in the article…William Granville Thomas. My father, Kenneth Granville Thomas, lived with his aunt Violet Kendall for many yrs while his parents were at sea. He went to Cardigan Grammar School then before moving onto university, was called up at the start of the war in 39…following the family tradition and serving in the RNVS. Thank you for a brief glimpse into my past!!

      • glen
        July 19, 2014 at 3:45 pm

        Thanks very much for your kind comments and additional information. It’s always good to hear from the relatives of the people who have inspired me to research and write about local history!

    2. Anne Taylor
      December 13, 2014 at 11:08 am

      I have a photo of my G grandfather James Williams b ca 1842 on the bridge of the St Tudwal .in the 1911 census he was at Cambrian Quay Cardigan with crew..I have a copy. In March 1913 he died. I have always thought that the photo was taken when he retired ca 1911!
      However we can not match the buildings in the photo with Cambrian Quay of today. Is it the same as it was in 1911.
      I can se nd both the census and the photo to you.
      James built Bardsey View,now Bryn Elli in Moyelgrove,I have old photos of that as well. We were in St Dogmaels several times this year as always .best wishes Anne Taylor

      • glen
        December 13, 2014 at 7:33 pm

        I have one or two old photos of Cambrian Quay. If you want to meet up next time you are in the area, we can see if they match up. I also have one or two images connected with the S S St. Tudwal which you would be welcome to copy. Regards, Glen

        • Anne Taylor
          December 20, 2014 at 6:40 am

          Thank you for message re the Tudwal.only just picked it up on your site!
          I have details of a WW1 soldier from St Dogmaels.Joseph Gomer Williams b 1887 in Baptist street.
          If you are interested contact me. I have his family history and details of his regiment. It is possible to,get his service record from IWM. For 4.95 ,I may do this if the family do not have it! Waiting for info from them he is in my extended famiy tree. I will check,your site and my e mail for a reply one way or another . We are in Newport March 6&7.looking forward to,hearingfromyou,your stevis so interesting ,anne

          • glen
            December 21, 2014 at 3:12 pm

            Hi Anne. If it is possible, it’d be good to catch up in March. Kind Regards, Glen

    3. Anne Taylor
      December 21, 2014 at 8:29 am

      Anthea Darligton must be related to me thru Joseph Wiliams and Elizabeth Lodwig .Their fanily was at Webley Hotel1871 and 1881.I have a pretty full family history so was interested to see Antheas message.Do you have a contact e mail for her?
      Catch with you up on Joseph Gomer Wiiliams some time I hope !I may get his service record from IWM after Xmas,they are v busy so response is sometimes slow!JGWs brother George Lodwick Williams is the Grandfather of our Librarian here in Hay on Wye .I did a f tree for her!!
      Hope to hear from you.Merry Christmas Anne Taylor

      • glen
        December 21, 2014 at 3:11 pm

        Hi Anne. It would be nice to catch up re. Joseph Gomer Williams and other matters. Keep in touch. Have a lovely Christmas! Kind Regards, Glen

        • Anne taylor
          December 21, 2014 at 3:22 pm

          Glad to hear from you before Christmas melt down.I am already checking what Anthea says and cannot reconcile it with my records ,maybe I am missing something!
          Catch up in the New Year! Anne T
          PS not inAncestry at present,I was getting so many No Results even for tried and tested searches I gave up.use LDS and dusty docs, and anything else that I can find!
          Also use sites in Hay library where the g daughter of George Lodwick Williams i is librarian.Itbwas an amazing moment when a chance remark revealed the coincidence

    4. Peg Baseden
      May 25, 2015 at 2:37 am

      My uncle Herbert Oliver was on the S. S. “Elsinore.” when it was captured early in World War 1. I had been told that the Germans rescued the crew and put them ashore on the Galapagos and I have been searching for details for many years. So I am delighted to read this account by Asa J Evans involving Mr. J. Nicholas, Chief Engineer.
      It is written in the first person so was it related directly by Mr. Nichols to Asa J Evans? Do you have any more details that those that you have written about in this history? I wonder whether there was a list of the members of the crew and whether it is known which men left in the first party to leave St. Christobel Island.

      • glen
        May 25, 2015 at 10:04 am

        Hello Peg – thanks for your interesting comments. This is the only account I have found to date of the incident. The shipping company may have crew lists, which, failing that, should be on the Port Registers for her Port of Registration. I think there may have been other contemporary newspaper accounts, and the Liverpool papers of that year might be worth a search. Kind Regards, Glen

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *