Special report by Alan Evans and Bethan Thomas (Pontarddulais reporter)
IT seemed as if every man woman and child from Pontarddulais were at the War Memorial today, Sunday (Nov 11) at 11am to remember those who have fallen in conflict. you could have heard a pin drop as hundreds gathered around the War Memorial to pay their respects.
It was a similar scene in villages, towns and cities across the country as people gathered for this special centenary service marking 100 years since the end of the Great War.
Pontarddulais Town Band themselves with a rich history in the town and having men who served in the armed forces, led the parade to St Michaels Church watched and applauded by the crowds who had gathered to line the streets.
The Reverend John Gillibrand led the church service and read extracts from the book ‘Voices’ which contained the thoughts of those who celebrated the end of the war 100 years ago. He also mentioned one of the children born on this day 100 years ago, Dilys Armistice Fox saying that her birth would have signified hope following the dark days of war. The pensioner who is originally from Caerphilly received hundreds of cards wishing her well.
Community groups were well represented with the scouts, beavers, cubs, the police service, the fire service and the Royal British Legion amongst others.
At 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month 2018 a torrential shower of rain began but none fled. Thoughts may have been with those who would have suffered and endured far worse conditions in the front line trenches. As the rain stopped a beautiful rainbow formed an arch over the War Memorial as if to signify hope and maybe, just maybe not the promise of no more floods but the hope that we may eventually see an end to war and suffering.
Members of Pontarddulais Town Council and Llanedi Community Council placed wreaths along with representatives of Pontarddulais Rugby Club, Ponarddulais Cricket Club, Pontarddulais Workingman’s Club, the Air Cadets and the local community partnership. Local children also placed hand painted stones and crosses around the memorial.
Following the service at the War Memorial the parade regrouped for a march past.
There were some very unique stories to be told afterwards as people gathered at the offices of the Town Council for refreshments.
John and Peter Rees from Penarth were at the service to remember their father Harold who was given a gold Hunter watch inscribed with his name and the words ‘For Distinguished Conduct in the Great War’.
The brothers said that they were very proud of the gift given to their father by the people of Pontarddulais.
The centre piece for this year’s celebrations was a cascade of poppies along with thousands of poppies lining railings, hanging from trees and large poppies containing the names of the men from Pontarddulais who fell during the Great War. The town had also produced a memorial book detailing the names and lives of the service men from the town who served between 1914 – 1918. There is also an exhibition including a replica trench, which will remain at the Institute building on the high street.
Speaking to Llanelli Online following the event, Mayor of Pontarddulais, Clive Mathias said: “The way that the community has come together to honour those brave men has filled me with so much pride. We celebrate Remembrance Sunday each year but I have never seen it as busy as it was today, it was packed and truthfully it was quite an emotional day.”
Alan Evans from Llanedi County Council praised the community effort. He said “What a terrific day, we saw people from all parts of the community and from all different ages come and remember The Great War and our fallen soldiers and we couldn’t have asked for a better morning.”
Speaking to Llanelli Online Reverend John Gillibrand said that he was impressed with the way in which, the day panned out. He said: “I am delighted to see the enormous support from the community and the respect they have given to everyone who has worked so hard preparing and ensuring today would be a success, and it really has been.”
Michael Wiltshire and Robert Griffiths from the British Legion also had praise for the community. They said: “As former servicemen it is so humbling to see support and respect from so many younger generations. It is so important that young people understand what sacrifices soldiers give and today to see so many of them here honouring that sacrifice is truly something. The church service, the parade, the poppies around the cenotaph, it is all so important.”
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