History: the Welsh National War Memorial, Cardiff

Welsh National War Memorial
Welsh National War Memorial

The sun shines on the Welsh National War Memorial in Cardiff.

It commemorates the servicemen who died during the First World War. A plaque to those who died during the Second World War was added in 1949.

The memorial takes the form of a circular colonnade surrounding a sunken court and was unveiled in June 1928 by the then Prince of Wales.

It features inscriptions in Welsh and in English, and was designed by Sir Ninian Comper, the Scottish architect who mostly worked on designs for churches.

At the centre of the court is a group of bronze sculptures by Alfred Bertram Pegram, arranged around a stone pylon.

Around the base stand three figures, a soldier, sailor and airman, holding wreaths aloft.

CATHAYS PARK 2

It is situated in Alexandra Gardens, Cathays Park, and is made from the same stone as the civic buildings which surround the gardens.

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The graves of Abbeville (WW1)

Abbeville cemetery
Abbeville cemetery

Abbeville was an important town for the Allied armies throughout much of the First World War.

It housed the headquarters of the lines of communication and three army hospitals.

Its cemetery contains more than 2,500 World War 1 graves and several hundred from World War 2.

The cemetery contains around 3,000 graves
The cemetery contains around 3,000 graves

The cemetery consists of the communal section and an extension which was begun in September 1916.

I took these photographs during a visit there a few years ago.

Here are a few of those buried there. Private Charles Leslie Bibby, of the King’s Liverpool Regiment.

Charles Leslie Bibby
Charles Leslie Bibby

Private E Edwards, of the 9th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers.

E Edwards
E Edwards

William Sheehan, of New Ross, County Wexford, who served in the Royal Irish Regiment.

William Sheehan
William Sheehan

The town also played an important role in the Second World War.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission notes: “Abbeville was a major operational aerodrome, but the town fell to the Germans at the end of May 1940. On 4 June, an attempt was made by the 51st Division, in conjunction with the French, to break the German bridgehead, but without success. Towards the end of 1943, eight large ski shaped buildings appeared near Abbeville. These proved to be storage units for flying bomb components and they were heavily bombed by Commonwealth air forces. Abbeville was retaken on 4 September 1944 by Canadian and Polish units.”

This memorial is in the town.

Abbeville memorial
Abbeville memorial

A D-Day Veteran’s Return to Normandy

Bayeux War Cemetery
Bayeux War Cemetery

A year ago today I was fortunate to be in France with Ted Owens, a veteran of 41 Commando who landed on Sword Beach on D-Day.

Ted, aged 88 and from Pembroke Dock, Wales, returned to the spot at which he had been wounded during the landings.

Ted was badly injured on the beach within a few minutes of the landing and was sent back home. He returned to his unit in August and later fought in Belgium and the Netherlands.

On June 6, we headed to Bayeux War Cemetery. Ted was keen to find the grave of a fallen comrade from 41 Commando.

Ted Owens at Bayeux War Cemetery
Ted Owens at Bayeux War Cemetery

He found the grave of Marine Ernest Spence, from Royton, Lancashire, and laid a small wooden cross.

Ernest Spence, killed on D-Day.
Ernest Spence, killed on D-Day.

Ted’s trip was filmed for a television programme called ‘Welsh Heroes of World War 2: D-Day Commando’, which is available to watch online here.

Calling all experts on the French Resistance/Maquis

November 11 1943 is, I understand, a well-remembered day for historians of the Resistance in Nazi-Occupied France.

It was on that day that the Maquis paraded through the town of Oyonnax in what Matthew Cobb in his excellent book The Resistance describes as a “stunt”.

The event was designed as a show of strength, a morale boost for the local population. The town was chosen because there was no German garrison nearby.

More than 200 Maquisards took part. They marched, sang the Marseillaise and then disappeared back into the mountains.

Sometime ago I came into possession of this small medallion. It features the date ‘XI Novembre, 1943’.

One side is the Cross of Lorraine smashing a Swastika.

medallion. French, dated 'XI Novembre 1943'

On the other side is an Astrix-like warrior.

One side Cross of Lorraine smashing Swastika - previous tweet. Other side this pic of a Astrix-like warrior.I would love to know the story behind it. I assume it relates to Oyonnax, but does it?

When was it created? How many issued?

Please help and share this post if you can.

Thanks.