North Wales Western Front Association

Have a look under "Branch Meetings" to see our list of branch meetings and "Newsletters" for the latest newsletter items.  

We also have a Facebook page where items are often posted -

WFA North Wales Facebook Page

Monday 11 November at 11am

The Cenotaph Committee of John Chester, Rich Hughes and Colin Wagstaff, are planning for the 2019 Ceremony and details will be confirmed on the WFA website and next Stand To! Members are asked to assemble by 10.15am at King Charles Street and will parade out at 10.40am to the Cenotaph. After the Cenotaph ceremony there will be the usual service 12.15pm at the historic Guards Chapel* at the Wellington Barracks on Birdcage Walk, followed by an informal lunch at the Albert Pub, 52 Victoria Street, SW1H 0NP at 1.30pm. For lunch book via the office. Meet other Members. If you have a family member who died in or after the Great War this is a great opportunity to get close and personal to the Cenotaph where you can lay your own wreath. All members welcome! 

*The Royal Military Chapel, St James Park, known as the Guards Chapel, is the religious home of the Household Division at the Wellington Barracks in London. Constructed between 1839–40 in the style of a Grecian temple and restored in the 1870s, the chapel was damaged by German bombing during the Blitz in 1940/1941.  The Flanders Fields Memorial Garden is situated adjacent to the chapel. 

Met Police give green light to the WFA’s Remembrance ceremony

Further to last month’s worrying announcement the Met Police have now contacted the WFA to confirm that they will be supporting the WFA Cenotaph ceremony this year and will continue to do so.   The Cenotaph Committee of John Chester, Rich Hughes and Colin Wagstaff, are planning for the 2019 Ceremony and details will be confirmed on the WFA website, next Stand To! and via email to Branch Chairs.  

Members are asked to assemble by 10.20am at King Charles Street and will parade out at 10.40am to the Cenotaph.   After the Cenotaph ceremony there will be the usual service 12.15pm at the historic Guards Chapel at Wellington Barracks on Birdcage Walk, followed by an informal lunch at the Albert Pub, 52 Victoria Street, SW1H ONP afterwards at 1.30pm. For lunch - book via the office.   If you have a family member who died in or after the Great War this is a great opportunity to get close and personal to the Cenotaph where you can lay your own wreath. All members welcome!

Tillis Haley - 5000 hits!

The most popular article by far on this site is the account of local hero Tillis Haley, where the number of hits is 20 times anybody else's!  I presume his fame may be due to his having been a teacher in Caernarfon, and just maybe there is a school history project involving him?  His story is here.

Book reviews

We have three new book reviews -

Peter Hart: Fire and Movement, on the first four months of WWI;

Vejas Liulevecius: War, Land, on the eastern front on the German occupation in the east;

Sholto Douglas: Years of Combat on his reminiscences of WWI in the RFC.

They can be read - here

Bangor Railwaymen

There is a new article on the memorial to Bangor railwaymen, and names which are on it - here

Steve and Nancy

After a break back home over the winter, Steve and Nancy Binks are continuing their Some Kind Hand pilgrimage to visit all the British and Commonwealth graves and memorials on the Western Front,  See the April 2019 newsletter for the update.


What Happened next?
There is now a write-up of this talk on the website here.

So, let’s test your knowledge of this period, post 11th November 1918, which was most certainly not the end fighting, commotion, carnage and destruction. Can you answer the following questions?

  1. 3 VCs were awarded for an action 18 August 1919
    1. Which armed service?
    2. Where?
    3. Who on earth was the enemy in 1919?
  2. Was the Versailles Treaty the only one to emerge from the Paris conference?
  3. Which country lost most land and people in the Paris treaties, and it isn’t Germany?
  4. Which enemy capital was occupied for 4 years? It wasn’t Berlin.

The answers:

       1.    (a) Royal Navy, for an attack using coastal motor boats.

       (b) Kronstadt – and it’s not anywhere remotely near Germany, it’s the port guarding St Petersburg.

      (c) the Russians, or perhaps Bolshevism – so how do you fight a philosophy?

2.  No: there was Versailles, Neuilly, St Germain, Trianon, Sevres, San Remo plus lots of follow-on ones.

3.  Hungary, including the loss of 4 million ethnic Hungarians to other countries.

4.  Constantinople (Istanbul). You may have forgotten this, but the Turks have not.

 These are only some of the bizarre events following on from WWI.      

First tranche of pension records released
Ancestry has been digitising the WWI pension records which the WFA rescued from being pulped. The first 30% have now been done and are available on Ancestry or by going through the WFA main site, the latter method being free for WFA national members.

CWGC restoring African memorials

The CWGC is restoring the memorials to the many thousands of black African soldiers who died in WWI, many of whose deaths were not even recorded.  The memorials are in Nairobi, Mombasa, Dar es Salaam and Abuja (Kenya, Tanzania and Nigeria).  There is also a memorial at Mbala in Zambia to mark the surrender of German forces (who also used black African soldiers) on 23rd November 1918.Askari 2


Loss of HMY Iolaire 1st January 1919

The CWGC have marked the centenary of another forgotten catastrophe at sea - the sinking of HMY (HM Yacht) Iolaire off the Isle of Lewis when she was bringing home returning servicemen.  It is believed that some 200 died, of the 283 on board.  They are buried all over the Western Isles, and those not recovered are commemorated on memorials - see here.

The centenary of the loss of the RMS Leinster

The story of the RMS Leinster and its centenary commemoration are on this site - here

Old Colwyn war memorial

Steve and Diege are in the "Daily Post" for their work on this memorial - Daily Post article.

Hirano Maru

A recent post from the group commemorating the sinking of the RMS Leinster has mentioned the sinking of the Hirano Maru on 4th October 1918.  She was a Japanese owned ocean liner that was in a convoy from Liverpool to North America when she was sunk by a U-boat UB-91 south of Ireland with the loss of 292 lives. There were 28 survivors.  There are 8 bodies buried in the graveyard of Dale Parish Church in SW Pembrokeshire, which were washed ashore between 4th and 29th November 1918.  As the bodies were unidenitifable, the CWGC declined to maintain the grave, and the memorial cross was erected by the people of Dale. Other bodies are buried at Angle and Freshwater West.
A memorial is to be erected at Angle in time for the 4th October, financed by the local community and the shipping line Nippon Yusen Kaisha, the original owners of the Hirano Maru, who were delighted to learn of the locals' interest in the whole story. This information has come from the Dale Coastlands History Society and the West Wales Maritime Heritage Society.hirano maru

Why was there a WWI?

The talk given to North Wales WFA on this theme has now been turned into an article and put on to this website - here

Article on local history

We have a new article by Jerry Rendell on his great uncle, Lawrence Oakley, who was the silhouette artist of Llandudno pier - here.

New Book Reviews

There are two new book reviews on this site.  The first is on Mike O'Brien's book "Twilight of the Special Relationship", about Americans in the British forces in WWI, which is here.  The second review is on Norman Stone's book "The Eastern Front, 1914-1917" which is still arguably the best work on the Eastern Front, and that review is here.

Medals of Private George William Shaw

We were contacted recently through the website by Mark Shaw who is searching for information about his great uncle, Private George William Shaw, 12364 of 9th battalion Cheshire Regiment.  Mark's email reads as follows:


I hope you may be able to help me, as I am currently researching my Family Tree. I have identified George William Shaw as my Great Uncle. He served in A Company 9th Battalion Cheshire Regiment, from 01/09/1914 until his death 22/06/1917. His service number was 12364.

I have found that his medals (with the exception of his BWM), death plaque and associated certificates were sold on Ebay in 2014. I am unable to identify the seller or the purchaser.

I would like to find who it was that bought the items, if only to ask for copies of the documentation and, maybe provide a little background information in regard of my Uncle. Ideally, I would love to buy the items.

I know it is a long shot but I thought that it may be possible that one of your members may be the purchaser. I would be obliged if you could see your way clear to circulating the details to your membership.

Mark Shaw

If anyone does perchance know anything about Private Shaw could you please contact Mark at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.?

Battle of Cambrai centenary

There is an article on the BBC website about the use of tanks at the Battle of Cambrai - see the link here.

"Bloody April" film being made

From Leslie Lord: ASA Productions Ltd are currently making two one-hour documentaries for "Yesterday" channel based on the book "Bloody April" by Peter Hart. On their website there is a trailer for a film on building a Bristol Scout aircraft - Scout trailer.

Book reviews

We now have a specific book reviews section on the website - see Book Review Section.

Tribute to Hedd Wynn

There is a video on the BBC website which is a tribute to Hedd Wynn.  It is in English and includes footage of around his home farm in North Wales - Hedd Wynn video

Hedd Wynn's house now open

Hedd Wynn's house has now had the interior restored and the new museum there is open - see Yr Ysgwrn

 Easter Rising and WWI

We now have a write-up of the talk given to the branch, and elsewhere, by Trevor and Denis - see here.

Welsh women in WWI

I have just come across a website on Welsh women in WWI - click here

Local memorials and graves

We have some new articles on WWI soldiers from North Wales who are buried or commemorated locally - see Welsh memorials and graves 

Book on local soldiers in  the Conwy valley

Retired doctor Bridget Osborne has, with others, written a book on the local men from the villages of Eglwysbach and Llansanffraid (Glan Conwy) who served in WWI. Bridget has managed to trace family details of many of the men as well as the circumstances of their death in the case of fatalities.  The book was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and copies have been distributed to homes in those two villages.

Bridget's book

The Lost Tommies of Vignacourt

A collection of photos of Tommies billeted in the village of Vignacourt has recently come to light and is on the BBC One Show website - One Show site  Can you identify any of them?

 Welsh WWI casualties

There is an article on the BBC website on a book recording all Welsh WWI casualties and which will be on display at Bodelwyddan castle - see BBC website article

 Nurses killed in WWI.

The "Nursing Times" reports on a project to gather information on those nurses who were killed in WWI. See "Nursing Times" article