A NEW grave memorial for Cwmbran’s Zulu War hero, Private John Williams (Fielding), VC, has been placed at St Michael and All Angels Churchyard, Llantarnam.
The original memorial has been deteriorating over the years and The John Williams (Fielding) VC Memorial Trust managed to secure vital funding for a replacement.
The Cwmbran Regeneration Partnership awarded a grant of £3,752 and any additional costs will be covered by the Trust.
The removed memorial will now be cared for by the Museum of The Royal Welsh in Brecon.
The original headstone was placed at St Michael and All Angels Churchyard after his death in 1932 and kerbs were later added in the mid 1960s.
Since then, the memorial has suffered from the natural ageing process but also damage caused by acid rain.
The concrete base of the memorial was also failing and the Trust had received several complaints about it.
The John Williams (Fielding) VC Memorial Trust, established in 2002, looks after the memorial and works to ensure it has been cleaned and maintained for the annual Act of Remembrance Parade held in memory of Private 1395 John Williams VC.
Trust Secretary Stuart Cameron said: “I have monitored the deteriorating condition of the memorial and reported to Trustees that the lettering on the headstone is now almost illegible and physically breaking up.
“Over the past two years the Trust considered several options to resolve the issue and sought the opinions of all interested organisations. Consensus was reached to replace the memorial using granite of similar colour, design and style.
It was generally acknowledged this was the only long-term solution to halt the deterioration.”
Trust chairman, Lewis Freeman added: “Having taken a decision to replace the memorial we were faced with raising the capital cost. We presented our case to the Cwmbran Regeneration Partnership and were delighted when they agreed to fund the initiative.”
Trustee and chairman of Cwmbran and District Ex- Service Association Tony Burnett said: “Members were increasingly concerned that our local hero’s memorial had fallen into such a bad state of repair. We’re delighted that the Trust, backed by Cwmbran’s Regeneration Partnership is now able to renew the memorial to its rightful stature and prominence.”
● The new memorial will be dedicated at the next annual act of Remembrance service/parade to be conducted by the Rev Anthony Turner (team vicar of Llantarnam) and Canon John Griffiths (RC priest, Our Lady of the Angels, Cwmbran) to be held at the church on Saturday, January 19, 2013