David Edwards, Rhyl, 1896-1978.

Mr Rufus Adams, Rhyl History Club member, has written about the late Mr David Edwards of Rhyl and it is an honour to share his account on the club’s website.

“Throughout Britain, indeed Europe, there are memorials to commemorate the members of the armed forces who fell in the wars that ravaged the 20th century, in particular, the two world wars, 1914-18 and 1939-45.  There is, however, in Rhyl, a memorial which I have not seen anywhere else.  It not only commemorates the 11 chapel members who were killed but also names the 31 men who returned safely.  It’s on the inside walls of what was Warren Road Welsh Methodist Chapel, Rhyl, and is now a community centre*.

One of the named men I knew well.  David Edwards was a member of my WEA Wednesday morning group in the 1970’s.  One month we were studying Robert Graves’ classic of the 1914-18 war “Goodbye to all That”.  David’s wife phoned to say that he would not return to the group until we were studying another book.  Reading Graves, and class discussions, had triggered nightmares of those years.  He had been a non-combatant stretcher bearer and for four years had ventured into no-man’s land to collect the wounded and dead.  Miraculously, he had survived, hence his name on Warren Road’s tablet.

He was loath to talk of the war but one story says so much.  He was at the Battle of the Somme and after 10 days the unit was given 7 days respite.  At the nearest Salvation Army rest-room he had free tea and edible biscuits.  He wanted to write home to tell his parents – in his words – “I am safe” (“That is all I would say, since I was not o.k.  How could anyone be o.k. at the Somme?”).  He had no money and was given paper, ink and a stamp by the Salvation Army.  In the 1970’s the Salvation Army, Rhyl, were extending their premises in Windsor Street.  David’s unmarried sister, Winifred, had died recently and left the family home to him.  The house and contents, valued at over £12,000, he gave to the Salvation Army for their care and generosity at the Somme in 1916.

It’s worth mentioning the importance of the chapels in Rhyl, indeed in Wales, in the early 20th century.  One Welsh nonconformist chapel, Warren Road, had over 40 members of military age in 1914-18.  Add to Warren Road,” Bethel”, Vale Road and Clwyd Street – and all other denominations – the strength of the chapel in Welsh society a century ago is evident.

David Edwards died in 1978 and his widow Barbara invited me to be her executor.  At her death in 1989 I sorted the family papers and realised anew how very generous they were.  They had donated thousands of pounds to charities, both local and national – and always anonymously.

I also came across a letter David had written to his mother in the late 1940’s.

“Dearest Mother,

Yesterday you said that you were preparing your will and dividing everything between Winifred and me.  Please leave everything to Winifred.  You gave me life, you gave me a wonderful start.  All I ask now is for your blessing.

Your loving son, David.”

In 1988, to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the publication of Bishop William Morgan’s Bible, the WEA published a bi-lingual book of lengthy articles by Professor Glanmor Williams and Mr T. M. Bassett. “Beibl William Morgan 1599-1988.  William Morgan’s Bible 1588-1988”.  It was with much pleasure that I dedicated it to the “cherished memory of David Edwards, Rhyl, 1896-1978.  A gentle and wise friend who enriched the lives of many”.

*Warren Road Chapel/Salem Christian Centre has closed and the plaque is now at Clwyd Street Chapel.

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5 Comments

Filed under Church/Chapel/Religion, Military, People

5 responses to “David Edwards, Rhyl, 1896-1978.

  1. I read this again today on the anniversary of the beginning of the war. 2 of my great uncles are on the plaque – H. Hope Davies who was killed in France and his brother F. Hope Davies who returned. Harry was killed in October 1916 aged 34. He was working in London. He was a Draper, not an ideal occupation for someone going into action. Frank was a manager at a furniture shop -again not an ideal occupation. As far as I know the only other family members involved in WW1 were my Mum and Dad’s fathers. They were both at the front and both returned uninjured (as far as I know). Dad’s father was a Gardener, but worked on a big estate so may have had some knowledge of guns. Mum’s Dad was a farmer’s son and won shooting competitions and went poaching so those skills would have been useful I’m sure. Having just visited the amazing WW1 museum in Prestatyn and been into the trench has made me want to review all the members of my family tree who may have been involved in the Great War.

  2. Evan Edwards was killed in Belgium and is remembered on this plaque. The Edwards family were staunch members of Warren Road Chapel.
    See the link below:

    http://historypoints.org/index.php?page=in-memory-of-evan-henry-edwards

  3. Hello,
    I am researching the names on the Rhyl War Memorial with a view too writing a book. If anyone has information and/or photos of the men they would be gratefully received. Many thanks.
    Kind Regards
    Darryl
    dporrino@btinternet.com

  4. connor

    My name is connor we are currently researching ww1 soldiers for a art project, I am researching henry hope davies. If you could possibly email me as much information on his as possible it would be greatly appreciated, we are making box’s that is going to represent our soldier for a exhibition in a gallery
    many thanks
    Connor
    contruck@live.co.uk

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