AFTER an 18-month long campaign researchers working on the West Wales War Memorial Project (WWWMP) have at last succeeded in securing formal recognition for the death of a First World War soldier from West Wales.
Gunner Robert Corfield died on a training exercise while serving with the Royal Field Artillery in 1915, but he has only now been accepted as a First World War casualty. His name will now be entered in the United Kingdom Book of Remembrance. Robert’s death has also, this month, been recorded in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) data based.
Laugharne-born military historian and Project leader, Steve John, said: “Robert’s death certificate, inquest and service papers all show beyond doubt that he was crushed after falling from a gun carriage during a training exercise. Without the benefit of the computerised records we have these days, I can appreciate how some casualties from the First World War were omitted from official records compiled after the Armistice.”
“In the summer of 2012 we drew attention to the oversight and provided the Army with all the necessary evidence to demonstrate that Robert Corfield was entitled to be commemorated. However, along with several hundred other cases, the Army allowed Robert’s case to remain unprocessed, gathering dust, until we started to mount a campaign in the local press and on BBC Radio.”
“In August last year Lord Astor of Hever DL, Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Defence, announced that the National Army Museum would take over responsibility, with immediate effect, for the investigation and verification of cases. He thanked one of our researchers at the WWWMP for bringing his attention to the backlog of cases that had been allowed to build up and gave his assurance that the Ministry of Defence was firmly committed to ensuring that those who have died as a result of their service in World War One received due recognition for their sacrifice and bravery.”
“However, despite that assurance it was only this month that the CWGC was able to announce that Robert Corfield was the first casualty in the backlog of cases to be accepted for commemoration.”
Steve said: “I sincerely hope that in this year, the Centenary of the First World War, the other West Wales cases we have submitted are processed by the National Army Museum quickly.”
Robert Corfield, a self-employed hairdresser from Aberystwyth, had joined that Cardiganshire Battery, Royal Field Artillery, within a week of the start of the war in August 1914 and had subsequently volunteered for service overseas a month later.
Robert’s battery, as part of the 1/2nd Welsh Brigade, was posted to Bedford to undergo training before deployment to the Western Front. It was while rehearsing artillery drills in a field off Ampthill Road, Bedford on August 26, 1915, that Robert fell from the firing battery wagon on which he was riding. As he fell from the wagon the wheel of the horse drawn gun carriage ran over his head.
Robert lay unconscious as Captain John Cook, Royal Army Medical Corps, tried in vain to save his life, but his skull had been crushed and he died shortly afterwards.
Steve says: “The memory of Robert Corfield deserved to be commemorated on the Nation’s official Debt of Honour. The Coroner at the Inquest into his death made clear that he was prepared to fight for his country and had died as nobly as if he had been fighting. It shouldn’t have taken so long for the country to recognise his sacrifice. His case could not have been clearer cut.”
Porth Cymorth Cynnar supporting residents in Ceredigion
During this challenging period, Porth Cymorth Cynnar has established a virtual platform to ensure that we are able to keep in touch with vulnerable residents across Ceredigion.
Due to the restrictions introduced to safeguard our communities against COVID-19, many residents are not able to access their usual provision or support such as parent groups or GP Referral Exercise Classes. Instead, we are ensuring that all residents whom are known to our services, and others, are kept in touch with, through regular welfare calls, should they wish.
Around 2000 residents from young people to families to carers, who may require or benefit from regular contact whilst their service is not operating in its usual form, will receive communication from our staff.
To date, almost 2000 welfare calls have been made, and have been well received by people across Ceredigion. Residents have said that it is great that someone is keeping in touch with them, to give them an opportunity to have a weekly phone call and someone to talk to.
Mrs Jones* (name changed for anonymity) who is 92 and lives alone, is used to receiving regular visits from Ceredigion’s mobile library was identified as benefiting from a weekly phone call, to check how she was doing, now that her usual library service would not be visiting for a while. Porth Cymorth Cynnar aimed to get in touch with Mrs Jones, but did not have a contact number. After tracking down a contact number through the local directory, a member of the Porth y Gymuned team was able to make contact. Luckily Mrs Jones has the support of family and neighbours to collect groceries, but nonetheless was extremely grateful to have someone to talk to, and to check that she is OK. A weekly phone check in has been organised with Mrs Jones, to ensure that she is doing well and to organise if she is in need of anything.
If you, or anyone you know would benefit from the Keeping in Touch Service, please get in touch with our Customer Services team on 01545 570881 or firstname.lastname@example.org who will triage your query to Porth Cymorth Cynnar.
Porth Cymorth Cynnar are also regularly updating resource lists which are available on the Ceredigion County Council website here: http://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/coronavirus
The latest on plastic free Ceredigion
At its meeting held on 17 March, the Council’s Cabinet received an activity update from the Plastic Free Ceredigion Task and Finish Group, which was set up after full Council approved a motion on 22 February 2018.
Full Council approved the ‘Plastic Free campaigns throughout the County, including Plastic Free Aberporth and Plastic Free Aberystwyth’ motion to ensure that the Council helps to reduce the amount of single use plastics used in our day to day operations.
The motion involved a number of factors including; reducing single-use plastics within Council facilities and offices and encouraging local businesses, organisations, schools and communities to move away from single-use plastics and use sustainable alternatives. Promoting the use of sustainable alternatives to single-use plastics at all Council supported events, supporting beach cleans and any other events which aim to raise awareness of the issues of single-use plastics.
Since 22 February 2018, the Council have removed 5 single-use plastic that were used across the local authority, implemented projects in conjunction with NRW with local primary schools, worked closely with communities throughout Ceredigion and commenced the provision of Water bottle re-fills on request to all visitors to our public facing buildings.
In January 2020, the Schools Service were successful in bidding for funding from the Circular Economy Capital Fund, which allows for the purchasing of milk dispensers which will remove the need for the provision of plastic milk bottles and straws by 1,979 pupils at Foundation and Key Stage 2. This is equivalent to a reduction of 376,010 plastic milk bottles per school year.
Councillor Alun Williams, Member Champion for Sustainability said, “These are initiatives which, together, make a real difference to the amount of single-use plastics going into the waste stream from Council activities. Whilst it’s important that everyone seeks to minimise their use of single-use plastics, it’s particularly important that large organisations like councils take these kinds of actions because they can have a wider effect which, in turn, can lead to industry changing to more sustainable practices. Ceredigion Council is trying to lead the way in showing what’s possible within an organisation.”
This supports one of the Council’s corporate priority of Promoting Environmental and Community Resilience.
WASPI women help MP take pensions case to House of Commons
WASPI women have helped Ben Lake, Ceredigion Plaid Cymru MP, to take the case for 1950s women’s pension injustice to Parliament at a packed out Drop-In information session at Westminster on Wednesday 4th March.
“It was a pleasure to co-host this important event, bringing WASPI representatives from across the UK to Westminster to meet MPs of all parties face-to-face,” said Mr Lake. “It gave the WASPI women a chance to share their personal experiences and to show how these unfair pension changes have impacted upon the lives of 1950s women.
Unfortunately, despite being invited, Stephen Crabb MP (also Chair of the Welsh Affairs Committee) and Simon Hart MP (also Secretary of State for Wales), failed to attend. Across their Constituencies there are over 10,000 1950s women affected and many were left disappointed that their MPs did not support them at this event.
After the Drop In Session, Ben Lake took the WASPI women around the Houses of Parliament. He was a very knowledgeable guide and told the ladies some interesting stories. They saw some of Prime Minister’s Questions and a House of Lords debate. It really was a day to remember!”
Pembrokeshire WASPI along with multiple 1950s campaign groups from across the UK will travel to London on 21st July for a mass rally to support the appeal for pension justice, at the Supreme Court. For the first time in this 9 year campaign, a coach will depart from Haverfordwest.
A local spokesperson for Pembrokeshire WASPI said “Whilst our WASPI aim is to achieve fair transitional state pension arrangements and compensation for all 1950s women who have been affected by the 1995 and 2011 Acts, we support the Backto60s with their appeal. Over 10,000 women are affected across the two Pembrokeshire constituencies and they want this issue resolved. To date there has been too many words and not enough action. Successive governments have failed to address the injustice done to the 1950s women. At least 82,000 women between the age of 60 and 65 have died since the fight for justice started including members of Pembrokeshire WASPI. Others have been plunged into poverty or are having to work longer in physically demanding jobs which is having an impact on their health. The appeal will see the collective voice of 1950s women groups pulling together for the first time ever to support the Backto60s and to let the Conservative Government know that we are NOT going away. Hopefully the outcome of the appeal will be in the favour of the 3.8 million women affected”.