On Sunday 17th August 2014, the Forum’s first WW1 1914-18 Commemoration Day was held at Tredegar’s Bedwellty House & Park with Heritage Lottery and Armed Forces Covenant support.
Following a service at St. George’s Church, Tredegar Town Band led a parade to the War Memorial. Organisations participating included the Royal British Legion, Salvation Army, Western Front Association, Air Force Cadets, Friends of Bedwellty Park and others, with help and support provided by House and Park staff. This successful and well-attended event ended with a ‘Sunset’ ceremony, and sounding of the ‘Last Post’.
WW1 Centenary Commemoration – August 2015
On Sunday 16th August 2015, again with Heritage Lottery Support and assisted by local organisations, the Forum’s second 1914-18 Commemoration Day was held at Tredegar’s Bedwellty House & Park. This event was in Remembrance of the locally recruited 3rd Monmouthshire Battalion, disbanded in 1915 after suffering heavy casualties.
The day began with a service at Saron Chapel, followed by a parade and wreath laying at Bedwellty Park’s War Memorial, before being officially opened by Capt. Haydn Davies whose father, Richard was one of the few ‘3rd Mons’ survivors.
Oakdale Silver Band, Tredegar’s Orpheus Choir together with the Patrick Sheen Singers and Ebbw Vale Choir helped make the day a success. The day closed with open air ‘Sunset’ and ‘Last Post’ ceremonies.
The Third Battalion Monmouthshire Regiment – ‘3rd Mons’
The Third Battalion Monmouthshire Regiment – ‘3rd Mons’ – was recruited largely from what is now Blaenau Gwent Borough with the exception of Brynmawr, then in Breconshire. Called to active service in 1914 when WW1 broke out, the regiment was posted to France early the following year, where its Third Battalion would hold Frezenburg Ridge on the Ypres Salient.
In April 1915 the 2nd Battle of Ypres commenced with a German attempt to seize that town. Poison gas was employed for the first time but, even though forced back, the British line did not break. The 3rd Mons began the battle with 1020 men, of whom only 134 survived unscathed.
In 1916, brought back up to strength, the battalion was despatched to the Somme sector where it served both as infantry and tunnellers in preparation for the planned ‘Big Push’. The Battle of the Somme began on 1st July 1916, when the British Army suffered 60,000 first-day casualties, of whom nearly 20,000 were killed. By August heavy 3rd Mons losses and lack of replacements caused its disbandment, with survivors posted to other Welsh units.
Memorial Plaque in the Gardens of Bedwellty House
On Wednesday 21st September 2016, a ceremony was held to dedicate a new memorial plaque placed in the grounds of Bedwellty Park in Tredegar, which honours the locally recruited men of the ‘3rd Mons’ Battalion who gave their lives during their the 1914-18 ‘Great War’.
The memorial and ceremony was arranged by Blaenau Gwent Heritage Forum to mark the centenary of the destruction of the ‘3rd Mons’, and featured readings from Volunteer Chaplain Pierre Cornlouer, Mike Pescod who represented the British Legion and Steve Liversage BEM who represented the Welsh Guards.