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First World War hero ‘remembered’

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hero rememberedAFTER 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.”

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Magistrates uphold council decision not to renew dog-breeding licence

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ON MONDAY 18 November 2019, Rhydian Jones of Waun Lluest, Gorrig, Llandysul appeared before Aberystwyth Magistrates at an appeal hearing objecting to the decision not to renew his Dog Breeding Licence.

Ceredigion County Council took the decision under the Animal Welfare (Breeding of Dogs) (Wales) Regulations 2014, because of breaches in licence conditions identified during unannounced inspections of the premises. The breaches included the lack of supervision, enrichment and socialisation given to the dogs. Breaches also included the unsatisfactory cleaning of premises and the absence of dog breeding records. There was also a failure to make improvements requested of Mr Jones previously.

Health and Welfare Reports provided during the hearing detailed health problems with the dogs which included lice and mange.

Mr Jones disputed the findings and decision of the council throughout the appeal hearing. His defence referred to the considerable amount of improvements that had been completed.

The court concluded that the council had provided full and clear grounds for not renewing the Dog Breeding Licence, stating that the council was both reasonable and proportionate in their actions. The court accepted that the establishment was unsatisfactory in many respects whilst acknowledging that significant improvements had been made. It took into consideration the history of non-compliance at Waun Lluest, the testimony given by the appellant and the lack of confidence in him as a licensee. The court concluded that the recent improvements made by Mr Jones were unlikely to be sustained and found in favour of the council. The appeal was dismissed. Mr Jones was ordered to pay £500 costs.

Alun Williams is the council’s Corporate Lead Officer responsible for Policy and Performance. He said, “We are delighted that Magistrates found in our favour. A decision not to renew a licence is not taken lightly and officers and council solicitors had to build a robust case to present to the court. We will continue to make unannounced inspection visits to all licensed dog breeders in the county, the great majority of which operate well within regulations and the conditions of their licence. We will also pursue those individuals who breed dogs without a licence. Anyone with information on such activities should contact the council on 01545 570 881.”

Mr Jones previously held a licence to breed 26 adult dogs. His establishment had recently featured in a BBC Wales investigative documentary, although the council had decided not to renew the licence many months before broadcast.

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A Battered Suitcase in the Attic: Explore Your Own Archive

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CEREDIGION’S Explore Your Own Archives’ campaign, ‘A Battered Suitcase in the Attic’, will be held from 25 to 30 November 2019. The intention is to get people to value their own personal archives. The title reflects the half-forgotten treasures that many people have hidden in the attic or under the bed in their homes.

Explore Your Archive is a national campaign delivered by the Archives and Records Association which aims to showcase the best of archives and archive services to a wide range of existing and potential users.

The local campaign wants to make people in the county consider and start to really value the documents that they’ve stashed away, and look after them.

During the week, various events and activities will take place at Aberystwyth Bandstand. The Bandstand will be open from 10am until 5pm Monday until Friday. Events and activities during the week are free for all, and some can be seen below.

· Displays of beautiful and interesting things from the Ceredigion Archives collections.

· A display of some special collections curated by Aberystwyth University Postgraduates studying Archive Administration.

· A chance to get your own free archive box for your family’s document treasures.

· A ‘Victorian’ photo-booth – dress up in the clothes (kindly loaned by Ceredigion Museum) and strike a suitable pose in front of our specially painted backdrop.

· Badge-making for all ages.

· Comfy corner: relax and watch a slide show of images from our collections, share your recollections with us.

· Browse a selection of Ceredigion Archives books, greetings cards and preservation items for sale at modest prices.

· Refreshments.

There are also lectures, workshops for adults and children and an evening with local ballad singer Owen Shiers. All events are free but so you’ll need to book for the workshops and Owen Shiers’ performance on Thursday night as numbers are limited.

Visit http://bit.ly/ArchifdyCeredigionArchives to book your place on workshops or Owen Shiers’ performance, or you can call Ceredigion Archives on 01970 633697 between 10-5 on Monday until Friday. Also, on the website you can see a full list of day to day activities and events taking place during the week.

If you need further information, call Ceredigion Archives on 01970 633697.

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Three New Quay RNLI crew members pass out as lifeboat mechanics

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THREE volunteer crew members have recently qualified as volunteer all-weather lifeboat mechanics at New Quay Lifeboat Station.

After a long training programme, which included courses at the RNLI College in Poole and extensive training on station, Pete Yates and Huw Williams were put through their paces by Peter McColl, RNLI Senior Assessor Trainer, Plant and Machinery, in their final pass out assessment 31 October.

After demanding assessments, where they had to deal with a variety of emergency situations at sea, Pete and Huw demonstrated the required level of competence to become lifeboat mechanics.

Pete said: ‘It was a very intense assessment, having to constantly think on your feet and remember your training.’

On 20 November, RNLI Assessor Trainer Simon Bunting visited the station and made it a hat trick of mechanic pass outs as crew member Dylan Price successfully completed a series of assessments, both onshore and afloat.

Huw added: ‘Pete, Dylan and I would like to thank the crew who gave up their time to launch the boat for our assessments and also thank our mechanics who have helped so much with training. We couldn’t have done it without their support.’

Roger Couch, New Quay RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager said: ‘As part of our ongoing succession planning, Pete, Huw and Dylan have trained hard over the past year and I’d like to thank them for their time and effort. It is essential that we have a mechanic available at all times and this gives us much more flexibility to cover weekends and holidays for our full time station mechanic.’

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