A small glimpse into Llanishen during the Great War

Sitting in a recent service at St Isan’s Church in Llanishen brought sharply into focus the men of Llanishen who sat in those same pews 100 years ago. They had no idea what the coming years would bring where so many would fight and some give their lives for their country.

The Parish Magazines held at Glamorgan Archives provide an insight into the families and attitudes towards the war on the home front. The first issue in the collection, June 1915, reports that:

‘No official news of Norman Ayliffe has been received; we deeply sympathise with Mr and Mrs Ayliffe’.

We know that he had in fact been killed on May 9th at the 2nd battle of Ypres. He was 21.

Collections were made for the Belgian Soldiers’ Fund, Field Kitchens and Water Carriers. Llanishen collected £177 14s 3d which paid for three water carriers.

The July issue listed 85 men in the armed forces, although only 16 were serving abroad and Private W.J.Harp was already a prisoner of war. Further online research revealed that he was a gardener, living in Wyndham Terrace, with a wife and four children, had joined the Royal Irish Regiment and been captured at the Battle of La Bassée on 20th October 1914. He was interned at Hameln Prisoner of War camp where he remained until repatriated in October 1918.

Those at home were exhorted to follow the appeal from the Insurance Commissioners to:

Eat less meat

An appeal for subscribers to the National Egg Collection Fund, which supplied eggs to wounded soldiers and sailors, was a continual occurrence. They were initially sent to the main collecting depot at Harrods in London. As well as eggs, sums from as little as a penny a week were requested and by the beginning of 1916 six dozen eggs were being sent to the Welsh Hospital at Netley. A letter of thanks was later received from the War Office:

‘for the very excellent eggs that have been received in Bolougne… they have been the greatest possible boon to the sick and wounded.’

Later that year there was an ‘Egg service’ where children were invited to bring eggs; 234 were collected, and the 1917 service collected 304. Some time later the following letter was received by one of the egg senders:

Egg letter part 1

Egg letter part 2

The Girls Friendly Society attended their Annual Festival, held in 1916 at St Fagan’s:

our party journeyed thither by motor bus…. The Preacher appealed earnestly to us women and girls to guard well the shield of our faith that we might be a help to others in this time of trial. Tea was most kindly given to the whole party in the Castle grounds by Lady Plymouth….The gardens and grounds were most beautiful and, after strolling about them, sports were indulged in until it was time for us to start our return journey at 8’o clock and it was a very contented party that returned home.’

 A small glimpse into Llanishen during the Great War.

Ann Konsbruck, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

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