Inside Mount Pleasant English Baptist Chapel (opened in 1892) there is a Roll of Honour on the wall, commemorating those members who served in the First World War (1914-18). The Minister of Mount Pleasant Chapel in 1914 was the Rev. J. Powell Griffiths, B.A., who was to serve in France, returning safely in March 1919 to resume his ministry. In April he celebrated the sixth anniversary of his ministry at Mount Pleasant.
The Roll of Honour shows 35 faces but I am only taking a sample of names to give some insight into the men and women from Mount Pleasant who served their country. If anyone wishes to study this in greater depths may I strongly recommend Heroes and Gentlemen All (a book by Grevin Jones) and a visit to Mount Pleasant Chapel.
Corporal Thomas Thomas, of Aberderfyn, was a member of Mount Pleasant Chapel and worked as a gardener in Erddig Hall. When war was declared, he joined the army, becoming a Corporal in the 13th Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, Machine Gun Section. In 1917, he was awarded the Military Medal for conspicuous gallantry on the field of battle. He fought in France for two and a half years, but was killed on April 22nd 1918. Thomas was buried in Bouzincourt Ridge Cemetery, Albert, Somme, France and was remembered along with others at a social gathering held at the Pavilion in Rhos in December 1918. Corporal T. Thomas’s Military Medal is on exhibition at Erddig Hall.
Corporal Charles Carrington of Chapel Street, Ponciau, was in “G” Company of the 4th Battalion (Territorials) of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. In late 1914, while he was fighting in France, his wife gave birth to twins, Charles and Katie Carrington. Sadly,Charles was killed at Flanders on Sunday, 9th May 1915, so it is possible he never saw his twins. Charles Carrington was buried in Le Touret Memorial Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France.
Five other members of Mount Pleasant English Baptist Chapel were killed in World War I. Their names were:
Private G. Roberts, 4th R.W.F., of 5 Bents Cottages, Ponciau (Killed 2nd February 1919 and is buried in Rhos Cemetery).
Private J. Matthews, 4th R.W.F. (13th R.W.F. at time of his death on 22nd April 1918 – buried at Pozieres Memorial, Somme, France).
Private R.T. Davies, 19th Australian Infantry (A.I.F.) was killed on 16th November 1916 and is buried at Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, Longueval, Somme, France.
Private Stanley Williams, of Fennant Road, Ponkey, joined the 4th “B” Company of the R.W.F. (Territorials). After two years in France, he was severely wounded on 3rd November 1916, receiving wounds to his chest, arm and leg. He was taken to a hospital in Manchester and discharged from the army in 1918. It was considered that he was making satisfactory recovery but sadly Private Williams died as a result of wounds on 8th November 1918 and is buried in Wrexham Cemetery.
Corporal J. Harold Jones, 14th R.W.F. of Ellis Street, Ponciau, a coal miner, had been a member of the Rhos Male Voice Choir and attended Mount Pleasant Chapel. He was drafted into service and during his first battle he was promoted on the field for bravery. He was killed in action in France on Saturday, 9th November 1918, during the final battle before the signing of the Armistice.
A few other members of Mount Pleasant who served their country were:
Stoker F. Roberts, Royal Navy. – Corporal E.S. Evans, 3rd R.W.F. – Private E. Mile, 4th R.W.F. – Private Albert Williams, R.A.M.C. – Private D.A. Thomas. 3rd R.W.F. – Private Isaac Jones, 2nd R.W.F. – Private R.T. Davies, 19th A.I.F.
One member of Mount Pleasant who deserves a special mention is Captain Gethin T. Davies, R.A.F., of the Royal Flying Corps. Gethin was a school teacher at Ruabon County School who signed up as a Private at the onset of the War. He has left us with a little mystery that maybe one of our readers can shed light on. Gethin apparently invented a “clever device” which was used by our airmen. For this invention he received a pension for life, so it must have been of some importance
Last, but certainly not least, the brave medical teams who nursed the wounded and dying, often coming under fire themselves, were well worthy of the name “hero” and deserve a special mention here.
One such medical worker was Sergeant Edward Owen Williams of Victoria Avenue, Johnstown, who served in the 4th Regiment of the Welsh Fusiliers. He was one of the highest decorated Rhos soldiers, being awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM), which came close to the Victoria Cross. Sergeant Williams served as a stretcher bearer and was praised as having done excellent work. He earned his D.C.M. by “tending to the wounded with great skill and courage under heavy fire. Utterly regardless of danger, he crossed a fire-swept area five times, carrying wounded to cover. In January 1918, Sergeant Williams was able to attend a service at Mount Pleasant English Baptist Chapel after being in France for three years. In September 1918, Sergeant Williams was wounded near his left eye and it was feared he would lose his sight, but fortunately his treatment in a London hospital saved his sight. Sergeant Williams was one of six local heroes who were given a splendid ovation at the Pavilion, Rhos, on Christmas night 1918.
Among the medical staff were many brave women and four such ladies were from Mount Pleasant Chapel and were named, Nurse H. Lloyd, Q.A.I.T.N.S., Nurse E.E. Williams, Sister J.A. Lewis, Q.A. (R) and sister M.E. Lewis (T.F.N.S.). They are pictured here.
WRITTEN BY: Grevin (Grev) Jones & Dafydd (Dave) Edwards. February 2015
SOURCES: Heroes and Gentlemen All (Grevin Jones); Roll of Honour, Mount Pleasant Chapel; Free Births, Marriages and Deaths (Internet); Llangollen Advertiser (25th April 1919).