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54884: Photograph of patients at Pontywall Sanatorium, including Walter Powell

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posted on 2024-02-21, 10:19 authored by Great War Archive Project Team

Photo of patients at Pontywall sanatorium, including Walter Powell, seated third from right middle row. 'Bob' is marked fourth from the right standing in the rear row.

After the war Walter had tried to hold down work selling Pratt's petrol to ship owners in the London docks and then in South Wales, and had pursued his love for football - even to almost signing for Aston Villa before deciding he could not be parted from his family - who had lost two of their sons in the war - returning home permanently to Llandrindod (Mid-Wales) in the early 1920s. Walter's health deteriorated and from 1919 onwards he attended this sanatorium and other hospitals, probably for treatment for the effects of gas received during his service during the First World War. Walter rarely spoke of how he was gassed, however he did once say that in the terrible cold he and some mates were resting in a barn near his anti-aircraft battery lying under hay and as many blankets as could be found. Walter had burrowed down as deep as he could and having fallen asleep did not hear the gas alarm. When he finally woke he put on his gas-mask as fast as possible but it was faulty anyway. He did not talk about how it had felt to be gassed. In his father's diary there is no mention of Walter being gassed - until late November 1918 where he writes that Walter's last letter mentions he is "ill".

What Walter did often tell his family was that his father was told by Doctors during a particularly bad patch of illness that he [Walter] would die within a few months. Actually he recovered, after operations to his stomach and lungs, and lived to see old age into his late-90s. His football career was curtailed by his health, but he remained life-long supporter of Llandrindod Football Club, and club secretary for many years. He was active in later life - serving in World War Two in the Auxillary Fire Service, and marrying and being an active father and grand-father, although for example he could never eat very hot or very cold food - e.g. ice cream would be warmed up for a while in the oven!

Part of a collection relating to Walter H. Powell, Llandrindod Wells, (private / driver M2-267205 Mechanised Transport Army Service Corps). Born 1898, Walter tried to join up under-age on a number of occasions, finally succeeding in 1916. He served many months - (more than 2 years?) - in different army units in Britain, before going over to France. He served as a despatch rider for an anti-aircraft battery in 1918-1919. Walter was gassed "suffering the effects all his life". He was a founder member of Toc-H in Llandrindod, and a keen footballer - he died in 1994 aged 96. However Walter's older brothers (Cliff and Percy Powell) and his uncle (Humphrey Powell) died of wounds sustained during the war.



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Powell, Walter



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Richard Marshall | Alun Edwards | Bryan and Liz Edwards

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