Village unveils memorial to its three First World War dead

The lighting of candles will take place at Bishton Village Hall in a WW1 ceremony and dedication service for the three soldiers who were killed in in the Great War. Pictured are Robert Hepworth, (lt), and Ian Long

The lighting of candles will take place at Bishton Village Hall in a WW1 ceremony and dedication service for the three soldiers who were killed in in the Great War. Pictured are Robert Hepworth, (lt), and Ian Long

First published in News

A MEMORIAL plaque to three men from the village of Bishton who were killed during the First World War was unveiled yesterday by the Mayor of Newport.

The plaque commemorates soldiers George James, Edgar Morgan and Francis Williams who all attended Bishton School, which is now Bishton Village Hall.

Councillor Matthew Evans, Mayor of Newport, joined representatives from Bishton Community Council and villagers to unveil the plaque, which was funded by the community council, in the service at 7pm last night.

Bishton villager Ian Long researched the three soldiers, whose names he discovered on the war memorial in Magor, and put forward a proposal to the Community Council for a plaque to be erected.

64-year-old Bishton resident Mr Long said: “It was coming up to the centenary and I did some research and found out there were 10 soldiers from Bishton who went to war.

“Seven of them returned but three were killed in Flanders, and all three of them went to school in this building.”

Mr Long visited the archives in Ebbw Vale and even discovered school reports, family histories and the wills left by the three soldiers.

George James, who was killed just 10 days before the end of the war in 1918, also had a younger brother who later died in World War Two in 1945.

Some of George’s nephews and nieces made the trip down for the service, which welcomed visitors to light candles in memory of the three men.

Last night’s service also featured the Last Post, a reading by villager Margorie Lillie, a two minutes silence and an epitaph read by Alan Whiting of the Royal British Legion.

Mr Long said: “I do like local history, but I wanted to get behind the talk of battles and dates and find out the human story.”

Gwent Archives in partnership with the Western Front Association (Gwent Branch) yesterday launched ‘Gwent and the Great War Exhibition’.

Twenty themed banners are on display encompassing all aspects of Gwent in the First World War, including miners at war, food and rationing, Belgian refugees in Gwent, women at war, children at war, Gwent Merchant Seamen and sportsmen at war.

Around 50 people attended the event at the Gwent Archives on Steelworks Road in Ebbw Vale, including Blaenau Gwent AM Alun Davies and Mayor Bernard Willis.

Original First World War documents from the archive’s collection including letters, diaries and photographs will also be on display at Gwent Archives for two weeks before the exhibition moves around the county.

Tony Hopkins, archives manager said: “This exhibition will be fundamental to our learning activities not only for 2014 but for the years that follow.”

At yesterday’s event the Archives also had ‘The Battle of the Somme (1916)’ playing in the projector room. The film was shown on six screens with a 360 degree view, giving a unique experience. A World War One re-enactor was also on site all day.

One of the most exciting recent deposits to Gwent Archives which is on display as part of the exhibition is a bottle from Penallt War Memorial. The names of fourteen men of the parish who made the supreme sacrifice are not on the Memorial but were written and placed in a sealed bottle which was recently found in the base. The bottle also contains the names of the committee who sought the funds to erect the Memorial.

Thanks to Peter Garwood, depositor and leader of the archaeological dig, the bottle was eventually freed with no breakages and the bottle was sealed and taken to a cool dark place to await expert help from the Gwent Archives conservator Rhiannon Griffiths. The bottle and accompanying research forms an integral part of the displays.

Peter Strong, Chair of Western Front Association (Gwent Branch) said: “We have enjoyed helping to research and produce this travelling exhibition. We will be organising supporting events such as drama and musical evenings some of which will be staged at Gwent Archives.”

Many archives across Wales are holding a series of exhibitions and events. For more information contact your local archive or visit the Archives Wales website archiveswales.org.uk/projects/world-war-one. For more information on the exhibition contact Gwent Archives on 01495 353363, or email enquiries@gwentarchives.gov.uk. Alternatively visit the website www.gwentarchives.gov.uk l The Argus is publishing our 48-page centenary of the First World War commemorative supplement on Monday. We will feature stories of Gwent soldiers and their families and how the Argus reported the start of the war.

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