The Heritage Lottery Fund have awarded the Society funds to study the impact of the First World War on Merioneth. A workshop was held at Plas Tan-y-bwlch to discuss the War’s impact on women, recruitment, the experience of a conscientious objector and reports and letters in the local press from local men from the battle fields.
This was followed with an interesting discussion with members retelling family anecdotes.
Short workshops will be held at the Record Office in Dolgellau this year to gather stories and photographs and to scan them. The collection will be placed on the People’s Collection website with relevant parts being put onto the Wales for Peace national project.
The dates of the workshops can be seen in the programme and here on our website.
First World War Resources
During our workshops we have learnt a great deal about resources available to anyone who wishes to research the history of those affected by the First World War.
Welsh Newspapers Online
For local stories you cannot find a better source than http://papuraunewydd.llyfrgell.cymru/ . The site is easy to search for place-names, whether individual farms or whole areas. You can also search for personal names, but, of course, try to avoid searching for ‘John Jones’ as the hits will be too numerous to work through. It is useful to know that you can combine two elements simply by adding the & symbol, and therefore searching for Jane&Owen would mean avoiding every reference to any Jane and then any Owen! You can also confine your search to a particular area, to specific years or even to a specific newspaper. Much can be learnt about every aspect of the War from the viewpoint of those at home to the shocking reports of the Local Tribunals which decided who had to go to war.
This is a unique opportunity to gain a glimpse at the War through the eyes of those who had to experience it.
The people of Merioneth have built a great number of memorials to the service men and women lost during the War. They vary as to the details inscribed on them but they are an excellent starting point for any research. Mr J.W. Nuttal from Llandderfel has compiled excellent volumes recording the story of most of those commemorated on the memorials. These volumes are available at the Record Office in Dolgellau.
Absent Voters Lists
These lists are kept at the Record Office in Dolgellau for 1918 and 1919. Their main value is as a record of how many local inhabitants were involved with the armed forces. There are some annotations also recording any change in the voter’s situation. Of course, it must be borne in mind that only those with a vote are listed, and that those who had died in action during the early years of the war are not recorded.
War Graves Commission Website
If you do know of a soldier killed during the War, this site: http://www.cwgc.org/ is the starting point for any information regarding the cemetery where he was buried or the memorial where his name is recorded. Because of the vast numbers of very similar names care is needed to check that all the known facts correspond. If you have the age of the soldier, an idea of the date of death and a rough ideal of the area where he died, you can get precise information regarding the relevant location.
Fee paying websites
If you are willing to pay there are a number of websites offering more information, but, of course, there is no certainty that the information has survived as a great deal was lost during the Second World War. But if you wish to try your luck Ancestry at ancestry.co.uk have indexed many of the surviving records as have Forces War Records https://www.forces-war-records.co.uk/ . But tread carefully in case you have to pay monthly for many months! Remember also that you can have free access to Ancestry at the Record Office!
On 7 February 2016, one of our members, Catherine James, described her father’s experiences as a conscientious objector during the First World War on Dei Tomos’ Welsh Language programme on Radio Cymru.