Aberdare Cenotaph

In the main square of Aberdare is a cenotaph, one of only two, the other one is the famous cenotaph in Whitehall, London all the other monuments are war memorials.

Aberdare Cenotaph

Aberdare Cenotaph
Aberdare Cenotaph

Thursday Unveiling Ceremony

Performed by Sir D.R. Llewellyn and Orphaned Child

About twenty thousand people! Such was the estimated number of the crowd which attended, on Thursday afternoon, the unveiling of the Aberdare Cenotaph erected in Victoria Square to the memory of the 700 men of the district who fought and fell during the Great War. Long before the service commenced large numbers were flocking to the scene, and it was not long before Cardiff Street, from Canon Street on the side near the Midland Bank on the other, and from the rear of the memorial right up to Monk Street, presented a picture of a densely packed mass of humanity, almost in the shape of a cross, with the cenotaph rising from its centre, whilst the windows and balconies of the buildings around were tightly filled. There was no doubt about the efficiency if the barrier for constantly there came a swell, as it were, in the crowd which brought considerable pressure upon it, and, had it given way, probably ever pole and post, and even the platform would have been swept  away in the tide.

As it was, everything held intact but the police had their work cut out to keep the centre of the road clear in order that the procession could march through. It was particularly noticeable that the Girl Guides, who brought up the rear, were so closely followed at their heels by the general public that some of them were jumbled up together, and it was with difficulty they extracted themselves when the procession files into the enclosure. Everything then did seem all serene, but it was discovered by the High Constable that the Band was outside, and it was necessary that they should be inside, so he called  for police assistance Supt Rees looked around at the sea of faces and shook his head, “It is impossible” he said, and it certainly did look impossible. However by hint of persuasion the crowd opened up out sufficiently to allow the Band members to pass in single file to the rails; where they handed over their instruments and then crawled beneath. But the most interesting incident was when a street urchin suddenly put in an appearance inside the enclosure. He arrived on his hands and knees, but boldly stood up amidst the ladies and gentlemen as though he were a direct representative of the people. How he managed to force his way in nobody knew, but a gentleman was heard to remark, “He thoroughly deserved to remain,” and remain he did.

There were about 200 ex-service men who lined up outside the Club in Wind Street, and they were inspected by Col. Morgan Morgan of Mountain Ash. He spoke to some of the men and had also Scout Charles Henry Wiltshire, who was to assist in the ceremony, presented to him. The contingent them marched to Bute Street to join in the procession which was formed as follows:

Salvation Army Band, under Bandmaster Brown; Aberdare Company 5th Welch Territorials:, Lieut. H. Morgan; Ex-service men, Mr T. Marchant Harries, and Mr Reginald Welch; the Cenotaph Committee; Clergy and Ministers; Fire Brigade, Chief Officer Berry; Postmen, Lee Cpl Babe; Police Sergeant South; Aberdare Ambulance Division, Supt. D. Evans; Nursing Division, Mrs Richardson; Red Cross, Mrs T. Walter Williams, R.R.C. and Commandant Pritchard; Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, Marshalled by Supt. Rees, the procession moved down Bute St, and back along Cardiff Street to the memorial.

On the platform were: – Sir David and Lady Llewellyn, Mrs Rees Llewellyn, Bwllfa House, Cwmdare: Mr Illtyd Williams (High Constable) and Mrs Williams, Mrs C.E. Edwards, Mr Evan Jones, J.P. (chairman of the Aberdare District Council). Mr W.R. Morgan (Town Clerk), Rev. J.A. Lewis R.D. (Vicar of Aberdare). Rev F. Oswald Evans, B.A.; Rev D. Silyn Evans and Mr W.J. Evans (Siloa Chapel). Amongst those also present were Col. Morgan Morgan, J.P., Col W. D. Phillips; Major R.D. Williams. D.S.O., Captain Trevor Williams. Alderman William Thomas, C.C. T Marchant Harris, Messrs J.H. Powell, J.P. Frank Hodges, J.P., A.P. Thomas, J.P., Mrs A.N. Jenkins, O.B.E., Mrs Maria Richards (vice-chairman of the Merthyr Board of Guardians), Guardian Mrs E. Morgan, Guardian John Prowle, Councillors E. Ogwen Williams, Idwal Thomas, Ben Bruce, David James, David Davies, Augustus Davies, D. Morris Powell, J.O. George, Daniel Jones, Guardians Morgan Williams, and D.P. Jones, Mr Owen Williams (surveyor to the Aberdare District Council), and Mr Ivor A. Bryant (secretary of the Cenotaph Committee).

The service opened with the singing of the hymn “O God our help in ages past” to the tune of “St Ann,” under the conductorship of Mr W.J. Evans, and this was followed by a reading by the Rev D. Silyn Evans, and a prayer by the Rev Oswald Evans. Then the crowd sang “Jesu, lover of my soul” to the tune of “Aberystwyth,” and assisted by the orphaned child. Scout Wiltshire, Sir D.R. Llewellyn removed the Union Jack which graced the memorial. In doing so he said: – “Mr High Constable and fellow-townsmen, I accepted the honour of unveiling this memorial because I knew most of the brave men whose memory we are honouring today; but I do so with a deep sense of unworthiness. I am proud that this Cenotaph has been placed on the most important sites in the town. Just above you have a memorial to “Caradog” who taught the world that Wales is the land of song. How many of us, in those dark days of the war, saw our boys entrain from Victoria Station? They sand ‘Aberystwyth,’ ‘Ton-y-Botel,’ ‘Tipperary,’ and ‘Farewell, my own true love,’ which may be a curious medley but it left us spellbound till the small hours of the morning. These brave men sang all the way to France, and into the trenches, I recently found these tunes:-

“Did you tackle that trouble that came your way
With a resolute heart, and was cheerful?
Or hide your face from the light of day
With a craven soul and fearful”
Aberdare Cenotaph
Picture courtesy of RCTCBC
“These brave men,” concluded Sir David, with deep emotion, “to whom we do honour today, together with the men I see about me, tackled theirs successfully; and we must now tackle ours in the same resolute was. May God help us to do that?”

Buglers G.J. Lloyd, T.E. Irons, T. Davies and J.O. Davies then sounded the Last Post, and the Vicar of Aberdare dedicated the memorial.

As chairman of the Cenotaph Committee the High Constable handed over the chart of the Cenotaph to Mr Evan Jones, J.P. as chairman of the local District Council in taking possession, Mr Evan Jones remarked he had no doubt that the Cenotaph would be regarded in great reverence and respect by the inhabitants and he solicited the assistance of one and all in seeing that the Cenotaph was treated with that honour which was due to the memory of the brave dead. In their remembrance of the Great War, he hoped that they also desired that such movements as the League of Nations should be successful in the future in preventing wars. He extended to the relatives of the fallen his sincerest sympathy and that of his fellow-Councillors.

After the Welsh Hymn “Bydd myrdd o ryfeddodau,” and the “Reveille,” the National Anthem was sung, and led by Scout Wiltshire, who placed one in the corner of the Cenotaph on behalf of the Ex-servicemen; wreaths were placed around by the representatives of various public bodies and the relatives of the fallen heroes. At the close a muffles peal was rung on the Church bells.

The wreaths included; “Great deeds cannot die,” Sir David and Lady Llewellyn; in loving memory of our beloved heroes, 1914-1919, I Williams, High Constable; From the Aberdare branch of the British Legion to out fallen comrades, “Not forgotten:” To the unfading memory of our fallen comrades from the Aberdare United Services Club. To the undying memory of our dear Comrades, British Legion Hirwaun Branch. To the unfading memory of our colleagues, from the Aberdare District Council Staff: To our glorious dead from the members of the Aberdare and District Licensed Victuallers’ Association: in affectionate remembrance of the soldier members of the Aberdare Constitutional Club; Aberdare and District Chamber of Trade; St John’s Ambulance Brigade; Aberdare Football Club: From the Aberdare and District Boy Scouts: From the Post Office Staff, Aberdare and District, “In memory of their fallen comrades:” The employees of the G.W.R. Locomotive Department. Aberdare; “In loving memory of our fallen members of the Aberaman Original Band and Musical Institute, from the Committee and members: In everlasting memory of the fallen members and employees of the Cwmbach-Aberaman Co-operative Society: In loving memory of our departed heroes from the Aberdare and District Police; In glorious and affectionate remembrance of those who died that we might live, from the Aberdare Red Cross Division.

Aberdare Cenotaph

The Cenotaph

Stately it stands in cold, grey stone alone,
Proudly erect directing up to heaven,
Link connecting Souls who’ve nobly borne
Their cross on earth to make this world a haven
Symbol of Sacrifice! War’s hellish toll
Of human life, to Moloch God of War
On foreign soil beneath some grassy knoll
They lie, their souls at rest “across the bar.”
Aims noble and high-ideals that ne’er age-
For those they lived and died- not, for wars gain
The world is for all men their heritage,
When Peace on Earth amongst men re-emerge shall reign
On memory’s scroll we’ll ever photograph
That symbol of our dead- The Cenotaph!

William Lawrence
Sunny Bank, Aberaman