South East Wales

Celtic cross dedicated to Bridgend village's war dead

Male voice choir sings at memorial
Image caption A choir sings during the ceremony

The Archbishop of Wales and the First Minister were among guests who attended a ceremony for a new war memorial in the Bridgend village of Cefn Cribwr.

It marked the end of a vibrant project by the village community to build a new memorial to remember the 29 servicemen who died in two World wars.

The old memorial plaque at a bus stop had become a target for vandals.

The new Celtic cross memorial now stands in a prominent position on Mynydd Bach Common.

Funded by the village's community council, the memorial was designed by the Welsh artist Naomi Leake.

It is engraved with doves and poppies - ideas put forward by children at Cefn Cribwr primary school.

Headteacher Stephen Howells said the pupils had been delighted to take part in the process for the new memorial.

"This is a close village and community, in the best traditional sense, and the school is very much part of that community," he explained.

"The artist who designed the memorial came to see us, and a good couple of our children's ideas got incorporated into the design.

"Educationally it is important, as there are links to the curriculum. But also, we also know that the names of some of those that died still live on in the names of families in the school now."

In new memorial stones on the Celtic cross list the full names of the men who died in both World War I and World War II, and includes an additional four names that were missed by the original plaque that was unveiled back in 1953.

They include Alphonso Morgan, who died of battlefield wounds in February 1916 - described in the Glamorgan Gazette as a hero, and referred to as a "Cefn Cribwr hero" and "Dear Old Phons".

He had served in the navy but was discharged after an injury. But in 1915, he signed himself up with the South Wales Borderers. He is buried at the St Venant Communal Cemetery in France.

Telling their stories

Details of his past are recorded in a special booklet to mark the dedication ceremony on Saturday.

It names each and every man who died in the two wars, with as many details as possible that have been gleaned from service records and newspaper reports.

Included is a poignant letter from David John Edwards to his parents, while training for combat in Salisbury with 9th Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers:

"How are you at home all, don't worry about me Mam dear, I am alright am quite happy here and in the pink of condition getting quite fat and my moustache is growing quite thick.

"The King was here last Monday and inspected us, a fine sight. Lord Kitchener is coming next Sunday.

"Give my best love to my dear brothers and sisters accept same yourself. With heaps of kisses from your aff-Son, D John."

The lance serjeant was killed in action on 25 September, 1915, and is remembered on the memorial to the Battle of Loos in France.

Image caption Carwyn Jones speaking at the dedication

The foreword to the booklet is by the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, who is also at the ceremony.

"These ordinary sons and fathers, brothers and husbands from places all over Britain, including Cefn Cribwr, were taken into an unimaginable horror of bullets, bombs, gas and even mud," he writes.

"Their history can speak to us very powerfully, helping us to recover a sense of our own responsibility in helping to re-attune our present and thereby build a future for our own families - to make the best of the freedoms we now enjoy.

"The idea behind this book is to do just that. It helps to retell the story of each of the men from Cefn Cribwr who died.

"That will have a powerful impact on those who read it."

The First Minister Carwyn Jones also attended.

"As a nation we owe an immense debt of gratitude to those who contributed to the two World Wars," he said.

"I am pleased that Cefn Cribwr has a new and fitting tribute so that future generations can be reminded of the sacrifices made in order for us to enjoy the freedom and democracy we are privileged with in this country."

Image caption Welsh Guardsmen at the ceremony