All Saints Church, Llanfrechfa – First World War Memorials
All Saints Church in Llanfrechfa has a rich display of war memorials, including those from the First World War.
In recognition of 46 men from the Parish of Llanfrechfa who were killed in the Great War, a brass bookplate commemorates them on the south wall of the church. The dedication reads:-
TO THE GLORY OF GOD AND IN GRATEFUL AND HONOURED MEMORY OF THE MEN OF LLANFRECHFA PARISH WHO MADE THE SUPREME SACRIFICE IN THE GREAT WAR
THEY ARE IN PEACE
The bookplate, made by Herbert Wauthier Osborne & Co Ltd, London, lists the names of the fallen in rank order:
- Major E. S. Williams.
- Lieutenant R. C. L. Pilliner.
- Second-Lieutenant H. H. Stephens.
- Second-Lieutenant C. L. James.
- Quartermaster Sergeant G. Rowlands.
- Sergeants W. Knight and G. M. Jarrett.
- Corporals J. Morgan, A. A. Lee and T. J. Lewis.
- Lance-Corporals A. R. Bosworth, S. Berrow, Albert Cording, R. Fisher, A. W. Price, and J. Rees (awarded military medal).
- Bombardier M. Robbins.
- Gunners Arthur Cording and S. Daleymount.
- Privates R. C. Dart, C. Morgan, E. Way, W. H. Bishop, Ivor Lewis (awarded military medal), F. J. Lewis, A. Lloyd, L. J. George, C. Passant, E. G. John, P. I. Lester, A. Wheeler, E. Roberts, G. Price, T. E. Nicholls, A. King, G. H. Brain, S. Pattimore, C. Bowles, H. G. Lowe, J. Watkins, R. C. Vizard, A. J. Wassall, T. Hardy, A. Nurden, W. J. Prosser and R. J. Carpenter.
Private Robert Thorne, 12691, of the South Wales Borderers, 5th Battalion is buried in the churchyard of All Saints, Llanfrechfa, but his name is not on this commemorative plaque. He died at the age of 45 years on 27th October 1919, almost a year after the armistice and presumably due to wounds. This event dates the manufacture of the commemorative plaque between the armistice and the date of Private Thorne’s death. He was married to Rosanna Thorne of 5 Chapel Row, Ponthir.
Both S. Daleymount and F. J. Lewis were change ringers at All Saints Church.
The two men who feature at the top of this commemorative plaque have further dedications to them in the church, namely Major E. S. Williams and Lieutenant R. C. L. Pilliner.
Major Edmund Styant Williams, 1st Monmouthshire Regiment
The death of an officer of the 1st Monmouthshire Regiment at Frezenberg Ridge is commemorated beautifully in a stained glass window on the north side of the nave, All Saints Church, Llanfrechfa.
The window, made by William Pearce, depicts Christ looking down upon a wounded officer:
To the Glory of God and in loving memory of Major Edmund Styant Williams. Killed in action at the second battle of Ypres May 8th 1915.
Beneath the window, engraved in bronze plate are the words:
ONLY SON GEORGE WATERS WILLIAMS LLYSBRECHFA
And, beneath this, a plaque affixed to the church wall provides a glimpse into the life of Edmund Styant Williams:
Edmund Styant Williams was born on 13th July 1875 at Gold Top, Newport, the only son of George Waters Williams and Ellen Jones. He grew up in Llanfrechfa and regularly attended the Church of All Saints where he served as a sidesman. Educated at King’s School in Warwick, Edmund excelled at sport and became renowned as a formidable rugby player. It was also the start of his career as a soldier. He was promoted to the rank of Major in the First Battalion Monmouthshire Regiment in September 1914. He was killed whilst leading his men to defend a frontline trench overun by German marines at Frezenberg Ridge on 8th May 1915 during the Second Battle of Ypres. His name is ‘Remembered with Honour’ on the Menin Gate Memorial. He was 39 years of age.
A letter written by Captain Oswald M. Williams to his father, dated 12th May 1915, describes the stalwart bravery of the officers and men of the 1st Monmouthshires during the battle of Frezenburg Ridge:-
“OUR MEN WERE SPLENDID”
Letter From Captain O. M. Williams.
“SURRENDER BE DAMNED”
I want the following to be known at once. Our men were splendid and would have stuck to and followed their officers to the last. Our officer casualties all occurred in the fire trenches as far as we know, which speaks for itself. The Colonel, Robinson, was last seen by Evill smoking a cigarette and smiling and surveying the position on the left of the battalion. He ordered a slow retirement, man by man, to a position at right angles of our original line, in order to face the enemy, and was leading this movement when shot dead through the head. I can’t express to you our admiration for him from the very beginning. He has shown always the very highest courage, coolness and cheeriness, and was the finest example any officer could have. E. S. Williams was also shot dead in fire trench.
In their book, Surrender Be Damned, Les Hughes and John Dixon describe how Major E. S. Williams was killed in this battle, while attempting to re-organize the right flank defence with his decimated battalion.
Second Lieutenant Rupert Colerick Laybourne Pilliner, 127th Battery, Royal Field Artillery
A white, marble plaque is grafted into the southern wall of the nave baring the badge of the Royal Artillery.
The plaque is inscribed: –
IN THANKFUL REMEMBRANCE OF RUPERT COLERICK LAYBOURNE PILLINER 2ND LIEUT. ROYAL FIELD ARTILLERY WHO FELL IN ACTION AT ARMENTIERES FRANCE 4TH NOV. 1914 AGED 23. DEAR ELDER SON OF ALFRED M. & EDITH M. E. PILLINER OF LLANYRAVON IN THIS PARISH “THE MASTER OF ALL GOOD WORKMEN HAS PUT HIM TO WORK ANEW”. “LÆTUS SORTE MEA”.
Rupert Colerick Laybourne Pilliner was born at Llantarnam Grange, Monmouthshire, on 5th February 1891, the son of A. M. Pilliner, J. P., of Llanyravon, Monmouthshire, and grand-son of the late Richard Laybourne, J. P., D. L.
He was educated at St. Peter’s, Western-super-Mare and Blundell’s School, Tiverton, Devon. He joined the Royal Field Artillery in December 1912, from the Territorial Force.
2nd Lieutenant Pilliner’s battery formed part of the 4th Division which left for the front on the 23rd August 1914. He received his baptism of fire three days afterwards at Le Cateau on the 26th of that month.
He was a fine horseman, and well known with all the Monmouthshire packs, the H. H. and East Kent Hounds.
War Graves – All Saints Church, Llanfrechfa
The churchyard of All Saints, Llanfrechfa, contains the graves of 5 soldiers who lost theirs lives in the First World War. That of Private Robert Thorne was discussed earlier. The remaining four: –
Private Alfred Lloyd, Welsh Guards, was born in Croesyceiliog, the only child of Thomas Henry and Lucy Lloyd of Ashford Farm.
He enlisted into the army at Pontypool and died of wounds at Military Hospital, Guards Depot, Caterham, Surrey, aged 23 years on 25th July 1918.
Alfred Lloyd’s war grave was later combined with his family’s grave. He is now buried with his mother, father and Joan Lloyd.
Private C. Passant, Monmouthshire Regiment, was born in Shropshire and as a regular soldier served in South Africa with the South Wales Borderers. During the Great War, he was a National Reservist and was killed by a passing train whilst guarding St Julians Bridge in Newport, Monmouthshire (south Wales).
He was married to Annie Agnes Passant of 39 The Highway, Croesyceiliog and died aged 42 years on 14th October 1914.
Private S. Pattemore, South Wales Borderers, was 22 years old when he died on 20th July 1918.
Lance-Corporal John Rees, 6th Battalion, South Wales Borderers, served in France and Flanders where he was awarded the Military Medal. He was wounded and returned home. He died on 28th October 1918.
He was born in Llantrisant, lived in Llanfrechfa and enlisted into the army in Newport.
PRIVATE FRED LEWIS, Croesyceiliog. News has been received by Mr John Lewis, carpenter, Croesyceiliog, that his son, Private Fred Lewis, South Wales Borderers, was killed at the Front on October 20th. Deceased was only 26 years of age. Prior to joining the Colours he was employed by the County Council as roadman. He also acted as sexton at the Parish Church, and was one of the bell-ringers at Llanfrechfa Lower Parish Church, in which he took a very keen interest. He was of a very quiet disposition, and liked by all who knew him. Mr Lewis has two other sons serving, viz., Arthur Lewis, Mon. Reg., and Albert Lewis, South Wales Borderers. Much sympathy is felt for Mr Lewis and the family in their bereavement.
PRIVATE GEO. PRICE, Cwmbran. Mr Price has also received notice from the War Office that his brother, Private Geo. Price, of the Grenadier Guards, died of wounds received in action on September 17th. Private Geo. Price had served 12 years in the Army, and on the outbreak of war re-enlisted in his old regiment, and proceeded to France in November 1914. He was a man of fine physique and a typical soldier. Previous to enlisting he worked for Mr A. M. Pugh, Glansirhowy Farm, and also at Messrs Guest , Keen and Nettlefolds. Another brother of Mr Price, Mr James Price, of the Royal Marines, took part in the Gallipoli Expedition, and has been posted as missing for over a year, while yet another brother, Mr Frank Price, of the Royal Engineers, fell at Tugela Bridge in the South African war. Mr Price’s eldest son is at present training at Bedford.
References, Notes and Acknowledgements:
- First World War Graves and Memorials in Gwent – Volume 1, Ray Westlake.
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission
- The image of Major E. S. Williams was restored by me and sourced from Shaun McGuire’s website: Monmouthshire Warriors.
- Many thanks to Carol Carpenter for allowing me to enter All Saints Church and photograph the War Memorials. Also, for providing valuable information to assist this project; information that she had already researched and collected separately.
- Thanks also to Ian Waugh of Old British News, who located three brief news reports regarding the tragedy of Private Charles Passant.
- HDR images taken inside the church were shot with a tripod-mounted Nikon D5100 and a telephoto Nikkor AF-S 55mm-300mm 1:4.5-5.6, ISO 100. Images merged with HDR Efex Pro 2.
- High resolution images of Llanfrechfa Church Great War Memorials.