One Hundred Years Ago - The Battle of the Somme

By Carol Powell

2016 marked the hundredth anniversary of the infamous Battle of The Somme, which commenced on the first of July and lasted until the eighteenth of November that year, claiming the lives of almost a half a million young British men, among them nine of our villagers. Many more were wounded mentally or physically.

We honour them with remembrance

38th Welsh Division and Thiepval Memorials, The Somme

John Edgar REES Memorial at Oystermouth Cemetery and Plaque

The first Mumbles casualty was John Edgar Rees, who had served in the South African Campaign and in German South West Africa with the Rhodesian Regiment before enlisting in the King's Rifle Corps. He was the son of Captain James and Eliza Rees and died on the very first day of the battle, aged forty-one. His mother, by then widowed, was living at 11, Langland Road, Mumbles.

Part of the Somme battle took place at Mametz Wood, between the seventh and twelfth of July. Among the losses were three from Mumbles, serving with the 14th Swansea Service Battalion of the Welsh Regiment, who all died on the same day - the tenth of July 1916.

They were Samuel Gammon, who was killed aged twenty-nine and who had lived at George Bank. He was the husband of Gladys, father of three boys, Tom, Dick and Fred and the son of Samuel and Maria Gammon; John Charles Thomas, who died aged twenty-two, was the son of John and Francesca Thomas of Mill Lane, Blackpill, and the other was G. Walters of whom we know very little as yet.

Samual Thomas GAMMON and Gladys Gammon, with Tom Dick and baby Fred


August saw two more local men killed in the battle. One was Arthur Kibblewhite, the son of Henry and Elizabeth of Spring Gardens, West Cross who was killed in Action on the twelfth of the month and on the eighteenth, Harold Stammers, the husband of Flora Annie of the Southend Post Office and father of a small son. died aged twenty-seven.

Harold William STAMMERS with his wife Flora on their wedding day, 1915

Richard Beynon who had been a local postman prior to the war, was the husband of Minnie of 4, Stanley Terrace and son of Philip and Elizabeth of Clifton Terrace, died on the seventh of October aged thirty-three.


Thomas Green, husband of Kate Green of Great Yarmouth and son of Thomas Green of 'Claremont', The Mayals, Blackpill, was killed later that month on the twenty-eighth October aged twenty-nine. He had been awarded the DCM while serving as a Sergeant Major and had been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant just three days before his death.

William Gladstone BOWDEN and his Memorial Plaque

On the seventeenth of November only a day before the end of that battle, William Gladstone Bowden, the son of Mr and Mrs James Bowden of Rock Terrace, who had been a railway locomotive cleaner at the L.& N.W Engineering Department at Swansea, was killed aged only eighteen.

Today, they are among those one hundred and thirteen local men commemorated by name at home on the All Saints' Church Rood screen; on the Parade Gardens memorial at Southend, the Swansea Cenotaph; on the website MUMBLES WAR MEMORIALS, as well as in various French cemeteries and on the Thiepval memorial to the Missing in France.

Southend and All Saints' Church Rood Screen Memorials

Fred Gammon visits Swansea Cenotaph carrying flowers, in 1995


We thank all those families who contributed information and memorabilia to this project

Victoria Hall Red Cross Hospital, Mumbles

Nurses Lucy Wood (nee Bellingham) and Margaret Wood

served at Victoria Hall Red Cross Hospital, Mumbles

and their photos, taken in May 1918 and donated by their decendant,

Penny Hehir, have been added to the article

Red Cross Hospitals in Mumbles during The Great War by Carol Powell M.A.

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