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54928: Remembering all the men from Llandrindod Wells who served

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posted on 2024-02-21, 10:20 authored by Great War Archive Project Team

Walter Powell made this note when asked by the local priest in the 1980s about the Llandrindod Wells war memorial as he "appeared to be the oldest boy left": "I knew 72 of the 93 boys of 1914/18... on the memorial... For a small town our's is a good record. When checking the names on the War Memorial I counted the total of 12 boys who were excellent footballers in our town team."

In Walter Powell's other notes he also writes about the men from the area who he met actually in the army in France: Jim Watkins; Frank Price, Tregonwell; Major Gordon Lewis, from the Lion and Castle Hotel Rhayader; Jim Morris, Fron Farm, Llanyre; Charlie Brunt, Bach-y-Graig; and Mathew Baker, "a carpenter who worked for Father". And "just missed Percy Bufton", a close friend from Llandrindod who was in the RFC.

Walter writes in his notes that "We were under canvas on Salisbury Plain, it was a mobilisation centre, we were put on a draft to German West Africa - the 3rd time we had been dished out with pith helmets. They gave us 48 hours overseas draft leave. It took me 26 hours to get home [Llandrindod Wells] - I arranged with a Yorkshire pal who like me couldn't make the time limit to meet at Waterloo Station under the clock, and [?] then to a train for camp. As soon as we got to the station exit in the dark, an M.P. [military police] Corporal checked our passes, put us under arrest and under guard marched us back. On the way, the corporal was swinging a shaded Gordon lantern, I got a look at his face and said after a while 'Corporal, how would you like to be back at Roundfield Farm, Llanyre?' (He was Harold Lewis, brother of Maggie Lewis - Gas Co. - married Percy Jones The Llanerch). He was pleased to have a chat to me, and brought us drink and food in the guard room. Fortunately we learned that the draft had gone with only officers and NCOs, but we were up on a charge next morning and had 14 days in the shafts of a horse roller, making a tennis court for officers." Walter's wife, Gwyn, (they married in the 1940s) was always indignant about that story - "Why only give 48 hours embarkation leave if you know that some soldiers cannot get home and back!?" and "A tennis court! For officers!"

One episode records how it was that Walter Powell managed to leave the pedal cycle corps which he was forced into when joined-up. When he volunteered Walter wanted to join his brother's infantry regiment but he was not allowed to. He recalled that he hung around the barracks making numerous requests, and was eventually put in to the pedal cycle corps. His family never really knew the reason, but Walter did not like that life. But in childhood he had had an emergency operation to remove both big toes. He recovered to become an accomplished footballer, however the army M.O.s always classed his fitness as "C", and he was repeatedly refused a transfer out of the bicycle corps either into his brother's unit or another infantry regiment because he would never have managed all the marching. But... "We were on parade one day at Kelsey Manor and I saw a sergeant and felt sure I knew him. He used to drive what we called the old box Daimler car past the playground at Llanbadarn [where Walter went to primary school], with Mrs Phillips from The Hall at Abbey-Cwm-Hir. I had also seen him at the Happy Union when we were having a ride on the 4-in-hand charabancs. He was Sam Bevan - of the Happy Union and was the chauffeur/handyman at the Hall. He knew my Father[W.J. Powell, ironmonger, Llandrindod Wells] - I soon told him I was fed up with the pedal cycle corps - he asked could I ride a motor bicycle - yes - he said he would have a chat to someone. After a few weeks my name was called out and I saw an officer who said - you will have a motor cycle test and I was soon a despatch rider."

In another note Walter explains that: "When checking and changing gas masks one day I heard a chap talking and went over and asked what part of Wales he came from. He replied you would not know - only a small place - shoot a line I said and he said Llanyre - I asked what you think Mr Potts is doing at the Llanyre School. I told him who I was and he said 'my sister bought a cycle from your shop [W.J. Powell and Sons, ironmongers]. He was Jim Moores from Fron Farm, Llanyre - I saw him several times afterwards and fortunately with him later met Jim Watkins of Careless's."

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


1914 - 1918

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Text: Memoir




Richard Marshall | Alun Edwards | Bryan and Liz Edwards

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