The forgotten soldiers of Cowbridge

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

By Contributed Item
in Local People

In time for this Remembrance Day, 100 years after they lost their lives in World War One, the names of five local men have recently been added to the Cowbridge War Memorial.

They are Frank Lewis, William Howell, Edmund Thomas, Thomas Thomas and Rowland Parry Thomas.

Why the names of these forgotten men were not included when the memorial was erected is a mystery, and will remain so as no documentary evidence exists.

Recent research has clearly established that they should have been included and Cowbridge (with Llanblethian) Council took steps to inscribe their names on the memorial in time for Remembrance Sunday.

This week we feature the brothers Edmund and Thomas Thomas.

Edmund Thomas, born 1869 died July 10, 1915.

Thomas Thomas, born 1878 died February 11, 1917.

Edmund and Thomas were brothers. They were two of the sons of Morgan John Thomas of St Mary Church and Margaret Thomas (nee Williams) of Red Farm, Penlline.

Both men were born in the Cowbridge Arms inn at 48 High Street, next door to the Duke of Wellington. The children of the family were six sons and one daughter.

Father Morgan travelled to the USA with the aim of making his fortune from land deals. Sadly, he was attacked, killed and robbed of the gold he was carrying near Little Rock, Arkansas in 1881.

The family, including Edmund and Thomas and sister Catherine, were still living in the Cowbridge Arms in 1881 and Maggie was running the pub. It was later taken over by two of her other sons and remained in the family until after the turn of the century.

Edmund left home in the 1880s and married a Lizzie Tilling in Bristol in 1890. They were living in Bristol in 189.

By 1901 Edmund and Lizzie had emigrated to Canada and in 1901 can be found in the Canadian census. Lizzie died in 1902 and by the time of the 1911 census Edmund had found a new wife, Louise Riley.

Edmund enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force early July 1915, and would seem to have lied about his age to be accepted. He did not even complete his training and died, aged 46, at the Valcartier training establishment in Canada on July 10, 1915. He is buried in Montreal Mount Royal Cemetery.

Thomas was still living with his mother and other siblings at the Cowbridge Arms in 1891. It has not been possible to locate him in the 1901 census but he may well have been in the army.

Thomas enlisted on August 6, 1915, his attestation (enlistment document) shows his place of birth as Cowbridge and his next of kin as Mrs C Howell of Cardiff.

The 1911 census revealed that Mrs Howell was at the same address and had been married 26 years. Her marriage record was located and she turned out to be the Catherine Thomas, daughter of Morgan and Margaret and sister of Thomas who lived at the Cowbridge Arms back in 1881.

Thomas fought in France but died in service in northern France on February 11, 1917 aged 38, just a few days short of his 39th birthday. He is at rest at the Maroc British Cemetery.

David Howell.

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