Pte Richard T. Clarke. R.W.F. 1897-1916-2001

Born in the St Mary’s area of Brecon in 1897.  He was working in Blaengarw in the Garw valley as a collier in 1914 when he enlisted in the 2nd Batt: Royal Welsh Fusiliers.

After his initial training he was sent to France to support his regiment which had been badly depleted because of casualties in the recent battle for Neuve Chappelle.

On the 22nd of July 1916.  German sappers detonated a mine directly under the British forward trenches at Givenchy- la Bass’ee. The mine contained 35,000lbs of explosive and was fired at 2:50 a.m. Killing 52 men instantly and leaving a crater 120 yds long, 70 yds wide and 30 foot deep in the British frontline.

Continue reading Pte Richard T. Clarke. R.W.F. 1897-1916-2001

Bryngarw Exhibition & The Mayor

The first public engagement for the newly-sworn-in Mayor of Bridgend Reg Jenkins, together with Mayoress Teresa Jenkins, was to visit the Garw Valley Heritage Society’s exhibition held over the bank holiday weekend at Bryngarw Park.

The Mayor and Mayoress have always been supportive of the Society in its aims to record and preserve the history of the Valley, and it was a pleasure to show them around the various stands on display.

Exhibits included sections on mining, railways, churches and chapels, as well as many artefacts from World War 1 in the trenches.

The photograph shows the Mayor and Mayoress, together with  members of the Society and Bryngarw Park’s Head Ranger, Keith Douglas.

G.V.H.S. Exhibition at Bettws Social/Community Club

Gerard’s Diary Notes from the Exhibition


The set-up for this 3-day event went very well with the usual dedicated band of people helping out, and making it look all too easy. Giving the lie to months of work in the winter months up in the cold attic of Tabernacle Chapel. The weather was dry and soon we had a steady trickle of custom. In the heritage business you are better off with quality rather than quantity. People came with offers of old photographs for us to keep or digitise and return.       Continue reading G.V.H.S. Exhibition at Bettws Social/Community Club

Football Fines

A serious crime in April 1915….


Ernest Watts (15), 57 Victoria St, Pontycymmer. David Morgan (16) Amos Wood (15), Prospect Place; Llew Harries, Mount Pleasant, (16),Rees Coles: (15) Garreg Rd; and Daniel Harris (15), Garreg Rd, were each fined two shillings and sixpence ( £10) for having played football in Prospect Place ‘ to the annoyance of pedestrians’

Ernest Watts, appears to have been a ‘delinquent’ as he had previously been sentenced to a term in Truant School, Bridgend.
In May 1915, He fraudulently enlisted in the army, telling the recruiting sergeant in Maesteg that he was 19. As Pte 37012. Watts, he joined the 3rd (Service) Battalion: Welsh Regiment. After completing his initial training he was sent to France on 2/10/1915. He suffered three hospitalisations for ‘Trench foot,’ A very severe fungal infection caused by the waterlogged conditions of the battlefields. He was eventually dismissed from the army on 7/3/1916 after his father, William Watts wrote an impassioned letter explaining his sons immaturity. We will publish a copy of that letter in due course.

Letter for Ernest Watt’s release:

Dear Sir,

My son is Pte E. Watts, 37012. ‘A’ Company, 3rd Platoon, 2nd Battalion. Welsh Regiment. B.E.F. France. ” He was only 15 years of age in May last and has been in France for over two months. He has written to me appealing to have him at home on account of his age. I have received a letter from one of his comrades stating how excited he was and that every time the enemy fires he pushes his head into view. I enclose his Birth certificate. I quite understand the need of our country, but I hope you can grant me this favour of giving him his discharge, and that you will at least cause him to do Home Service until he is older.