Remembrance Day: Grangetown postcard inspires war grave visit

By Matt Lloyd
BBC Wales

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Image source, Gwyneth Jones
Image caption,
Gwyneth Jones: "I felt a real connection"

Gwyneth Jones was inspired to visit a World War One soldier's grave in France after finding out he had lived in her home more than a century ago.

She and hundreds of other Cardiff residents received details of soldiers with local connections in a project by Grangetown Local History Society.

The group sent postcards to the last known addresses of more than 400 men who had died in the war.

Ms Jones said it was emotional visiting Pte Robert Silvester Deans' grave.

Details of his life were sent to her home on Clive Street to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the war.

He had lived in the property with his parents and six siblings before enlisting in the Canadian Infantry. He died near the town of Albert on the Somme in 1916, aged 25.

For Ms Jones, there was an instant connection and the history enthusiast booked a tour of the Flanders battlegrounds.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Soldiers resting after the attack on La Boisselle on 7 July 1916, on the Albert-Bapaume Road

"Lots of people have lived in our homes before us and we never give them a thought," she said.

"So to have this story of this brave man who lived here before, really brought a connection."

Image source, Gwyneth Jones
Image caption,
A message of gratitude was left at the grave of Pte Robert Silvester Deans who died 29 September 1916

Once she had shared her motivations for visiting the area, the rest of the tour group joined her at Pte Deans' grave at Bapaume Post Military Cemetery, which happened to be on the anniversary of his death.

"It was very emotional to stand by his grave. It made it all very real and most of us were in tears," she said.

"I left a note to say how eternally grateful we are for his service.

"Those soldiers must never be forgotten and remembering just one young man means we remember them all."

History society secretary Ray Noyes said: "We had a great response to our postcard project and it's lovely that Gwyneth was so inspired by it to make her own personal journey to the Somme.

"Our research also uncovered that Robert, although he had moved to Canada, sent all his Army wages to his mother back in Cardiff."

He said there was also a copy of a will which he wrote a month before he was killed which included some money to "my sweetheart Daisy".

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