World War One Help Needed

In 2014, the Heritage Society is proposing to develop an exhibition and display of articles relevant to the centenary of the outbreak of World War 1.

We would like to be able to show how this event was recorded in the Valley; how people lived here at that time and what their lives were like.

If you have any articles, stories, family memories, photographs or artefacts that may be relevant, and you would be willing to lend them to the Society so we can copy them, it would be appreciated if you could contact us.

We can assure you that any items will be returned in their original condition.

If you can help, you can contact us either via our website or, by telephone to 01656 722234

We look forward to hearing from you.

4 comments Add yours
  1. My grandfather, Jo Morgans of Tylagwyn, Pontyrhyl fought in the 2nd Glosters during the Battle of Cambrai, which was the first battle of the war in which tanks were used. He was wounded by a German sniper and taken prisoner by the Germans. German surgeons removed the bullet from his leg and he was then moved by train to a POW camp in Altdam, near Stettin which is now in Poland. He remained at Altdam, and was one of only a handful of British POW’s at the camp, the vast majority of Prisoners were Russians, who were badly treated. We have photos of him in the camp and of a War Memorial including names of fallen British POW’s. Jo worked in the camp’s Post Office, and at the end of the war the gates were flung open and Prisoners left to fend for themselves. He walked through the gates and eventually reached Denmark where he sailed home to the UK. For almost two years his family had given him up for dead as no letters were getting through to the camp, and a series of postcards which we now have show his rejoicing at knowing that his family finally knew he was still alive.

  2. Kim,
    What an interesting story. What is the posibility of either us or yourself writing up the story of your grandfather and together with a display of the postcards, we could use it as part of the planned exhibition for 2014. If you are agreeable you can reach me on the above email.
    Thanks for the input it is just what we are looking for.


    John Jones was my Great, Great, Grandfather and was born in Newport, Wales in 1833. He married Sarah Jenkins and they had eleven children. They moved to the Garw Valley in 1875.
    The eldest daughter, Mary Jane Jones (aka “Polly”) moved to Corfe Castle, Dorset and married George Gunsten. They had six children including John Henry Gunsten, born in 1893, Herbert Gunsten, born 1889 and William George Gunsten born 1891.
    Another of their daughters, Sarah (Sadie) Jones went to Canada with another sister and married Jack Collishaw who had emigrated there from Wrexham, Wales. They had seven children including the legendary fighter pilot Ray Collishaw.
    Another daughter, Alice Jones married John Pascoe at Llangeinor Church in 1890. They had five children, four daughters and a son, Joseph Pascoe. They lived in 8 Cuckoo Street, Pantygog.
    One of the sons was Frederick Jones. Fred married Maria (pronounced “Mar-rye-ah) Coleman and they had six children including John Peter Jones, known as “Johnnie” and Frederick Jones Jnr. They lived at 30 Pant Street.
    John’s wife Sarah had died in 1901 and John spent his final days (1910 to 1919) living in 8 Cuckoo Street with Alice and family.
    This is the story of SEVEN “1st cousins”, John Jones’s Grandsons. All went to war and each had a different outcome.
    Johnnie Jones, Frederick Jones Jnr, Herbert Gunsten, John Gunsten, William Gunsten, Joe Pascoe & Ray Collishaw.

    Johnnie Jones was one of the first to enlist. He caught the train from Pontycymmer and signed up to the Welsh Regiment at Cowbridge in 1914 aged 25. I have his war records from the archives. He went to the Somme and saw all of the heavy action in the trenches. He was wounded several times and admitted to various field hospitals. I have a photo of him taken in uniform during his last home leave. Johnnie died on the 19th September 1918 just five weeks before the end of the war. He fell in action during the attack on Holnon Village near St Quentin. His name is on the Vis-en-Artois war memorial on the Cambrai to Arras road.


    Frederick Jones (Jnr) was born in 39 Waun Bant, Pontycymmer in 1893 and joined the Royal Navy. We have one picture of him in Naval uniform and another of him with his cousin Joe Pascoe in RAF uniform. As of now, little is known about his Naval service although I am trying to research it. He survived the war and died in a cottage that he shared with my Great Grandfather, Alf Jones in St Brides Major in 1956.

    Herbert Gunsten enlisted into the Royal Field Artillery at Bournemouth on 5th October 1915. He was a Gunner and his Army number was 87470. His brother, John Henry Gunsten enlisted 23 days later on the 28th October 1915 and received the Army number 87469. One digit before his brother! Herbert was to see action on the Somme and survive the war, sadly his brother didn’t. He emigrated to Canada in 1919 and died in British Columbia in 1955.

    John Henry Gunsten enlisted at Bournemouth and after initially serving on the Somme, served with the Royal Field Artillery as a Driver in Mesopotamia (Iraq). All we know is that he died on Sunday the 14th May 1916 and is buried in Amara War Cemetery on the banks of the Tigris river. Amara was the field hospital centre and there are 4,621 British servicemen buried in this military cemetery. His name is on a war memorial inside Corfe Castle Church, Dorset. He died just seven months after enlisting.

    William George Gunsten was a Private with the 6th Dorset Regiment and was discharged during WW1 because of “wounds” sustained in the capture of Wood Trench, south of Contalmaison, Somme on 10th July 1916. Ironically and tragically he was killed in a shooting accident in a field near his home in Corfe Castle on 12th July 1918 just four months before the war ended. He was accidentally shot with a rifle by his cousin, George Hooper whilst out shooting rabbits.


    Joe Pascoe joined the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry at first and saw action in the trenches. He then made the unusual step of transferring to the Royal Flying Corps (the forerunners to the RAF) where he served out the rest of the war. Perhaps Ray Collishaw “pulled a few strings” for him? We don’t know. He returned home deeply affected by the war and just a few years after returning he went out one day on an errand to get a grocery item and went missing. He was never seen again. (Post traumatic stress syndrome?)

    Ray Collishaw is the 3rd most successful fighter pilot of all time. He is credited with 60 kills in dogfights with the Germans. He led the Canadian “Black Flight” and called his plane “Black Maria” after his Aunt back in Pantygog. He is one of the most decorated airmen of all time and is credited with shooting down Karl Almenroder, the German number 2 flyer (although not officially). Ray had two skirmishes with the Red Baron himself and both survived to fight another day.
    The Glamorgan Gazette paid tribute to him and mentioned his Jones family in Pantygog in September 1918 when he was “Major Collishaw”. I have a copy of the newspaper cutting.

    Everyone dreaded the arrival of a motor car (rare in the Garw then) with two Army Officers in it. They were all praying that it wasn’t their house that was being called at. Sadly, two military officers knocked the Jones house at 30 Pant Street in either September or October 1918.
    John might well have been present at the bad news as his house was just 50 yards away in 8 Cuckoo Street.
    The war over, John Jones died on New Year’s Eve 1919 and is buried in Bettws Church with his wife Sarah.
    Fred and Maria’s lives were shattered by Johnnie’s death and they moved to Porthcawl in 1921.


    George Gunsten died in 1919 and Polly, accompanied by her sole surviving son, Herbert went to Canada to be with Sadie but didn’t stay and she, alone, returned to Corfe Castle where she died in 1924.

    Ray Collishaw’s exploits are legendary. A simple “Google” will deliver hundreds of hits.
    A regular highlight of the Trenches was the Infantrymen cheering on a British fighter pilot in a dogfight. It is quite conceivable that Johnnie (and possibly Joe) were looking up and cheering when they were unaware that it was their first cousin shooting down a German plane.

    A favourite story of mine is when Ray Collishaw encountered two German planes one day. They exchanged fire and Ray’s gun jammed. Incredibly, he got out of the cockpit and crawled along the plane to un-jam the gun. The plane flipped with turbulence and was flying upside down with Ray hanging on to the gun. The Germans, who showed admirable “flyer’s honour” assumed his inevitable death and flew away. Ray’s plane flew, still upside down, into some clouds where it self righted itself and he clambered back into the cockpit and returned home to fight another day.

    Just imagine that….. Hanging from a machine gun, flying upside down, 15,000 feet above ground in freezing conditions!


    Ray Collishaw became an “Air Vice Marshall” and commanded the entire North African air campaign in WW2. He visited 30 Pant Street at least twice in the 1930’s.
    All seven aforementioned servicemen are my “First cousins, twice removed”.

  4. David,
    Once again brilliant stuff and just the sort of thing we would like to feature in the forthcoming exhibition. I have been writing a Ray Collishaw WW1 biography for the website for this, would you like a copy to check over? If so contact me on my email direct.

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