Amgueddfa Blog: First World War

A selection of emotive, thought-provoking images from the period of the First World War has been added to the National Museum Wales Commercial Picture Library and Museum Wales Prints service.

In 2014, National Museum Cardiff held an exhibition, The Great War: Britain’s Efforts and Ideals, which displayed a complete series of 66 lithographs of artistic propaganda prints commissioned by the Bureau of Propaganda (later renamed the Ministry of Information) in 1917. 

The aim of the series was to encourage a war-weary public and to raise support for the war effort. The lithographs were published under the two titles ‘Efforts’ and ‘Ideals’ and contain work contributed by 18 artists including Frank Brangwyn, Muirhead Bone, George Clausen and A. S. Hartrick.

Under the ‘Efforts’ section, nine of the artists were commissioned to produce six works under a heading, including Making Guns, Women’s Work and Wounded. Within the ‘Ideals’ portfolio, the 12 artists illustrated the ambitions and aims of the war. The artists were given subjects to work within and each of the images had to pass censorship regulations.  

Each image shows people going about their daily lives during the war. Like so many others, they were ordinary people living in extraordinary times, selflessly sacrificing for others and all of us today.

To read more about this collection, please open the following link by Rhodri Viney, Digital Content Assistant at Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales:

Blog by Rhodri Viney

To reflect upon the centenary of the end of the First World War, National Museum Cardiff is holding an exhibition entitled Poppies for Remembrance. This exhibition will explore how the poppy became the symbol for remembrance, provide an opportunity for contemplation and reflection on loss and recovery, as well as look at the science of poppy biodiversity, the many species of poppies worldwide and the threats to their existence.  The exhibition will run from 21 July 2018 to 3 March 2019. Details below:

Poppies for Remembrance Exhibition

 

Commercial Picture Library

Museum Wales Prints

April 1st 2018 marks the centenary of the formation of the Royal Air Force, and to coincide with this anniversary I’d like to share with you a remarkable story from the collection. Here at St Fagans, we have a collection of letters and telegrams sent to and from Eli Evans of Cardiff. They relate to the wartime experiences of his son, Arthur Wellesley Rees Evans, and it’s from these correspondence that I have managed to piece together their story.

Arthur Wellesley Rees Evans was born on 18 June 1898 in St Mellons, Cardiff. He lived with his parents – Eli and Laura Evans – at 204 Newport Road, Cardiff and was employed by Mr D. P. Barnett, a ship owner, based at the Baltic Buildings, Cardiff Docks.

In December 1916 Wellesley was accepted for the Officers Training Course, but was medically rejected at Whitehall due to Tuberculosis in both lungs. He was eventually accepted into the British Army and was passed fit for the Royal Flying Corps on 22 August 1917. A week later he was posted to the R.F.C. no 2 Cadet Wing in Winchester, before being transferred to no 25 Training Squadron in Thetford, Norfolk.

On 9 January 1918, Wellesley began his basic flying and fighter training at Old Sarum Training Base in Salisbury and graduated with the 103rd Squadron Royal Air Force on 5 April 1918, four days after the formation of the RAF. He was then transferred to No 1 School of Aerial Navigation and Bomb Dropping in Stonehenge, before leaving for London on 24 September to embark on his journey to France.

Wellesley arrived in Paris on 28 September 1918, and from there transferred to ‘somewhere in France’ where he joined up with the 110th Squadron RAF on 15 October. He took part in his first mission six days later on 21 October when his squadron flew to bomb Cologne, but Wellesley did not return. He and his observer, Lieutenant Thompson, had been shot down.

Eli and Laura Evans received official information from the Air Ministry that their son had been reported missing on 21 October. Eli sent letters and telegrams to the Air Ministry and the International Prisoner's Agency in Geneva requesting news of his son. To their relief, they finally received word that Wellesley was alive and well and being held as a prisoner of war in Limburg, Germany

Luckily for Wellesley his time as a prisoner of war was brief. The armistice signed on 11 November effectively brought the First World War to an end. He’d been a prisoner for less than a month. On 3 December, he left Germany for home via Switzerland and France and finally to Dover on 10 December. On 7 February 1919, Wellesley went to the Air Ministry to be demobilized, and a week later he resumed work with Mr D. P. Barnett in Cardiff Docks. A few months after his son returned from the war, Eli Evans passed away at the age of 52. Perhaps the stress and anxiety suffered by him during those weeks may have contributed to his early death.

After the war Wellesley remained in Cardiff working as a Marketing Officer for the National Coal Board. He married Gladys Gwendolyn Mitchell and they had a daughter. Arthur Wellesley Rees Evans died on the 5 January 1965 aged 66 in Cyncoed, Cardiff. He is buried alongside his wife at St Edeyrns Parish Church in Llanedeyrn, Cardiff.

Archibald H. Lee was the first Secretary appointed to National Museum Wales in 1909 and held the post for 44 years. His professional life began in 1899 when he entered the service of the Cardiff Corporation as a junior clerk in the old Town-hall on St Mary Street. During this time he would have worked on the City’s case for the establishment of a National Museum, so it must have been gratifying for him to join the fledgling staff of the new Museum.

After a few quietly productive years, the outbreak of WWI saw a large number of staff leave the museum for military service and Lee was no exception. He commanded a company of the 5th Welch Regiment and was awarded the Military Cross after the Battle of Gaza.

After the war, Lee resumed his position as Secretary and the Library holds a great number of photographs showing him at the forefront of important events and gatherings. In 1927 the new building at Cathays Park was officially opened by King George V and Queen Mary and Lee lead the Royal party up the steps to officially knock on the door with the ceremonial staff.

He established a life time bond with the Cardiff Naturalists’ Society when he joined in 1909, going on to hold the posts of Honourable Secretary, Council Member, President [1931-2] and finally Honorary Member in 1954. Some highlights during these years were helping to organize and celebrate the Society’s Diamond Jubilee, contributing an article titled Museums in Cardiff for the Society Transactions [1932] and being awarded the Honorary Degree of M.A. by the University of Wales [1937].

During WWII, he was an active member of the 16th Glamorgan Home Guard ‘National Museum Wales Section’. The Museum suffered some damage through enemy air raids on Cardiff and extensive precautions were implemented to protect the collections. These involved the transfer of important specimens to the basement strong room, sandbagging of sculptural and bulky exhibits, the protecting of all glass cases and windows with gummed strips, and night time ‘fire-watch’ duties, all of which  Lee would most likely have been involved in.

In 1953 Lee retired as Secretary with a civic luncheon held in his honour and the award of an O.B. E [Officer of the British Empire].

He passed away in 1970, aged 87 years.

 

The collection at St Fagans National Museum of History includes numerous archives relating to the Welsh experience of the First World War. While working with colleagues to produce a digital database to commemorate the centenary of the conflict, I found an intriguing bundle of documents associated with a young soldier with connections to Penarth who died, serving with the Grenadier Guards, exactly 100 years ago today. His name was Oscar Foote and in this blog I have pieced together his last 24 hours from the archives we hold at the Museum.

On the night of 6 July 1917 an exhausted Oscar Foote had just returned from fighting in the trenches of Ypres for some well-earned rest and recuperation in a nearby camp. This camp was well within range of German artillery and on occasions they would shell the area. The morning of 7 July had begun like any other morning for Oscar. He had just put away his shaving kit when shells suddenly started bursting in the vicinity. A shell landed close to Oscar’s hut, creating murderous splinters in its aftermath. One of these splinters caught Oscar in the head and neck. Although his comrades desperately went to his aid, their efforts were in vain. He had been killed instantly. That afternoon, Oscar was buried by his comrades in Canada Farm British Cemetery, near Elverdinghe. A card dated 3 January 1918 includes a photograph of a simple wooden cross marking his resting place. 

The Oscar Foote archives came into the national collection in 1946 – a donation from a Mrs Maillard of Penarth who had been corresponding with him during the War. It appears that Mrs Maillard also donated material to the Imperial War Museum (IWM), possibly in response to the Bond of Sacrifice initiative. More research is needed to unpick how letters addressed to Mrs Maillard from the IWM came into our possession in 1946, but both institutions were actively collecting war memorabilia from soldiers and their families during and immediately after the conflict. Another blog for another day.

The digitisation of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales’ First World War collection is supported by the Armed Forces Community Covenant Grant Scheme.

Os ydych yn un o ddilynwyr selog @DyddiadurKate, ’da chi’n siŵr o fod wedi sylwi nad oedd Mrs Rowlands mor gyson â’i chofnodion yn 1946. Pam? Gallwn ond ddyfalu. Gofynion teuluol, dim awydd … pwy a ŵyr. Gan fod mis o dawelwch o’n blaenau  — does dim cofnod tan 10 Hydref! — dyma gyfle i ni lenwi’r bwlch gyda rhagor o hanes Kate Rowlands y Sarnau.

Yn gynharach eleni, daeth pecyn drwy’r post i ni yma yn Sain Ffagan gan Eilir Rowlands, un o wyrion Kate. Ynddo roedd toriadau papur newydd, hen luniau, coeden deulu a llythyr yn llawn atgofion amdani. Felly, dyma i chi grynodeb o'r llythyr arbennig hwnnw yng ngeiriau Eilir Rowlands: 

Fy ofynwyd be fyddai fy nain yn feddwl o hyn i gyd – syndod mawr mi dybiaf, gyda’r ebychiad lleol ‘brenshiach y bratie!’ Ond dw i’n siwr y byddai yn hynod falch bod ardal cefn gwlad y Sarnau a Chefnddwysarn yn cael gymaint o sylw yn genedlaethol ac yn fyd eang, a bod y pwyslais ar gymdogaeth glos gyda gwaith dyddiol yn cael y sylw haeddiannol.

Fe sonir am y dyddiadur mewn sgyrsiau yn yr ardal a mae’r enw KATE yn ddiarth i bawb. Fel KITTY TY HÊN y byddai pawb yn ei chyfarch a'i hadnabod… Ni wyddwn fy hun tan yn ddiweddar ei bod yn cael ei galw yn KATE pan yn ifanc!! KITTY ROWLANDS sydd ar ei charreg fedd yng Nghefnddwysarn gyda’r cwpled:

’Rhoes i eraill drysori

Ei chyngor a’i hiwmor hi

Mae'n amlwg oddi wrth dyddiadur 1946 fod cymaint o fynd a dod ag yn 1915 a'r gymdogaeth yr un mor glos. Y gwahaniaeth mwyaf mi dybiaf oedd fod ceir a bwsiau a'r ffordd o drafeilio wedi datblygu oedd yn golygu fod pobl yn mynd ymhellach i ymweld â'i gilydd. Hefyd roedd tripiau wedi dod yn ffasiynol yng nghefn gwlad.

Ganwyd fi yn 1950 felly cof plentyn sydd gennyf am nain a taid yn byw yn Ty Hên, ond yn cofio’n dda am ddiwrnod dyrnu, cneifio a hel gwair. Ty hynod fach oedd Ty Hên, ond clud a chysurus. Bob tro yr oeddwn yn cerdded y milltir o’r Hendre i Ty Hên roedd nain bron yn ddieithriad yn crosio sgwariau ar gyfer gwneud cwilt i hwn a llall. Llygaid eitha gwantan oedd gan nain erioed ond roedd pob sgwar bach yn berffaith. Wrth roi proc i'r tân glo hen ffasiwn ei dywediad fydde 'fyddai'n mynd â hwn efo fi sdi' gan chwerthin!

Roedd safle Ty Hên mewn lle hynod o brydferth. Mae'n edrych dros bentre Sarnau a mynydd y Berwyn yn y pellter. Mae'n cael haul peth cynta yn y bore. Ffordd ddifrifol o wael oedd i Ty Hên ers talwm, rhan ohoni ar hyd ffos lydan a elwid yn 'ffordd ddŵr' ac yn arwain i allt serth a chreigiog. Mi glywais nain yn dweud sawl tro am yr adegau y byddai fy nhaid wedi mynd i nôl nwyddau gyda cheffyl a throl ac yn dod adre i fyny'r allt byddai'n gweiddi ar fy nain (a oedd yn disgwyl amdano ac yn ei wylio wrth ddrws y tŷ) 'SGOTSHEN'. Beth oedd hyn yn ei feddwl oedd os oedd fy nhaid wedi gor-lwytho'r drol ac yn rhy drwm i'r ceffyl ei thynnu fyny'r allt a'r drol yn cychwyn ar yn ôl, byddai'n rhaid cael 'sgotshen' (wejen o bren) tu ôl i'r olwyn i arbed damwain a thamchwa. Byddai nain yn disgwyl am y waedd ac yn gorfod rhedeg yn syth gyda'r 'sgotshen' yn ei llaw a'i gosod tu ôl yr olwyn.

Mae Ty Hên erbyn heddiw yn hollol wahanol o ran edrychiad oherwydd fe unwyd y tŷ gyda’r beudy a’r stabl ac mae yn awr yn un tŷ hir. Perchnogion y tŷ yw par ifanc o Loegr sydd â chysylltiadau Cymreig ac maent wedi dysgu Cymraeg. Maent wedi addasu yr adeilad allanol ar gyfer beicwyr sy’n dod ar wyliau. Medraf glywed fy nain yn dweud ‘brenshach y bratie’ pe byddai yn gweld Ty Hên heddiw ac eto yn falch bod bwrlwm a bywyd yn dal yn yr hen gartre.

Gyda diolch i Eilir Rowlands, Cefnddwysarn.