This year marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. To mark the occasion, the Argus has teamed up with an initiative commemorating the contribution of people from Gwent in the Great War. This column is written by organisers of the project called ‘Journey’s End’, and its title reflects how many people from the region died in service. It is hoped efforts to name them all will be completed in time for the anniversary on November 11

HARVEST Festival services were events with considerable meaning for the church and chapel goers of Gwent in 1918.

Notices of a record number of services to be held on 29th September appeared in the Argus. Food was still in short supply and much had depended upon a good harvest. The weather that day served to remind people how much had depended on the vagaries of the weather. In Newport it rained in torrents from early morning to late evening, while some parts of Gwent, including at lower levels, had snow –remarkable for September.

The weather earlier in the year had given great concern. There had been drought in June followed by heavy rain in July, which hit the hay harvest, leading to worries that production of coal would be threatened because of the lack of fodder for pit ponies.

In spite of more heavy rain in August, wheat, barley, oats and potatoes did well, promising a record harvest.

Farmers, however, faced another major problem –shortage of labour. Since early in 1915 Gwent farmers had been pointing to problems caused by the loss of experienced men to the army. The Monmouthshire War Agricultural Committee pulled out all stops to find the workers needed.

500 soldiers, mostly man who had served in the trenches but were now unfit for overseas service, were drafted in. 220 prisoners-of-war were deployed. Harvest camps were organised for public schoolboys at Llanarth, Llanfair Kilgeddin, Trellech, Llangattock Lingoed, Hendre, Llansoy and Newport, where 80 boys from Bromsgrove School were accommodated in a field in Duffryn, part of the Tredegar Estate. Local boys were given permission to miss school as long as they were on harvest work

Members of the Women’s Land Army added to the number of village women who had been recruited by the Women’s Section of the War Agricultural Committee.

In the end, ‘all was safely gathered in’ and the harvest turned out to be the best in 50 years.

Whereas at one stage Britain was within six weeks of running out of food, by the end of the harvest period the government was able to report that there was enough grain in stock to last 40 weeks.

As it turned out, the war was well and truly over well before this deadline.