PHILIP VINCENT COOPER
Private, 11th Battalion, Welsh Regiment (Service Number: 14303)
Philip Vincent Cooper was born on 20 Jul 1891 in Cardiff to John Cooper, a master mariner, originally from County Durham and Jane Hannah Henderson Cooper née Cooper originally from Seaham Harbour, Durham. He was baptised on Aug 20 1891 when the family were living at 78 De Burgh Street, Riverside and he was still living there at the time of the 1911 census. He attended Severn Road school before going on to Howard Gardens. After leaving school he became a clerk at a coal exporter office in Cardiff Docks. He served with the 11th Battalion Welsh Regiment and died of wounds received on 14 Sep 1916 aged 26 in Salonika. He is buried at the Karasouli Military Cemetery (grave D.726). Commonwealth War Graves Commission record. His brother Joseph Herbert Cooper was also lost in WWI when serving in the Merchant Navy. They are both remembered on their parent’s grave at Cathays Cemetery.
CLIFFORD MARTYN DUNN
Captain, 17th Battalion, Welsh Regiment
Clifford Martyn Dunn was born in 1892 in Cardiff, when the Dunn family were living at 108 Newport Road. He was born to John Tregerthen Short Dunn, a Stock and Sharebroker in shipping, originally from St Ives, Cornwall and Anna Maria Cecilia Dunn née Stallybrass, originally from Cardiff. By 1901 the Dunn family had moved to Radyr and in 1911 they were living at 74 Cardiff Road, Llandaff. By this time 18 year old Clifford was working as a clerk in the shipping industry. In WWI he became a Captain in the 17th Battalion Welsh Regiment and was twice mentioned in dispatches. He died on 24 Nov 1917 aged 23 on the Western Front in France. He is buried at the Anneux British Cemetery (grave I.E.31.). He is remembered on the Coal Exchange War Memorial plaque where he probably worked and a plaque at Llandaff Cathedral. Commonwealth War Graves Commission record.
EDGAR VIVIAN EDWARDS
Private, 1st Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps (Service Number: 48282)
Edgar Vivian Edwards was born in Cardiff on 10 Apr 1894 to Edgar Edwards, a shipowner, originally from Llandaff and Mary Elizabeth Edwards nee Williams, originally from Llanelli. In 1901 the family lived at 7 Theobald Road, Canton. In 1911 they lived at Risoer House, Cowbridge Road, Cardiff. He was employed as a clerk. He enlisted on 5 Jan 1915 and is posted to Porthcawl. On 24 Mar 1915 he is discharged after just 76 days and deemed unlikely to become an effective soldier. We know he joined the Penarth Lodge of the Freemasons on Jun 1916. He died on 24 Feb 1919. The fact he does not have a Commonwealth War Graves Commission record points to his death not being related to his short war service.
Major, 4th Battalion, South Wales Borderers
Joseph Fairweather was born in Dundee, Scotland on 25 May 1878 to Joseph Fairweather, a monumental sculptor and Jane (Jessie) Fairweather née Macintyre. He and his brother Paul, a noted multi-linguist, had moved to Cardiff from Scotland and Joseph was a partner in his brother’s coal export firm in Bute Street. In 1911 Joseph was living in Colum Road before later moving to 91 Pentrebane Street (Grange Gardens) Grangetown. He had previous military service in South Africa and after joining up and being commissioned in 1915, had been wounded at Gallipoli and also suffered from fever before returning to action. He was killed at the siege of Kut al Amara, Iraq, aged 38, where he was second in command of his battalion. He and four other men were killed whilst digging trenches. He is buried at Amara cemetery and remembered on the Cardiff Coal Exchange war memorial plaque. Commonwealth War Graves Commission record. His brother Lt Col James Macyntyre Fairweather DSO, was killed in action just over a month later when serving in serving in South Africa .
JOHN ANGEL GIBBS
Major, 9th Battalion, Welsh Regiment
John Angel Gibbs was born in 1880 at 12 St Andrew’s Crescent, Cardiff to John Angel Gibbs, a ship broker, originally from Waterford, Ireland, and Elizabeth Gibbs née Scriven, originally from Portland, Dorset. His father died when he was just 4. In 1891, at the age of 10, he was attending Queen’s College, Taunton. By 1901 he was working as an accountant and living at Marine Parade, Penarth, with his siblings. He played rugby for Penarth RFC in a team that beat the Barbarians. In 1910 he married his cousin Susan Gladys Morel, daughter of Sir Thomas Morel, Mayor of Cardiff. They had a son together, John Morel Gibbs, born in Aug 1912. In the 1911 census John Angel Gibbs is living in Penarth with his wife and lists his profession as ship owner. He enlisted with the 13th Battalion Welch Regiment. He goes to France in 1916 by which time he has transferred to the 9th battalion. By the end of 1916 he has been promoted to Major and awarded a DSO. In early 1917 he was taken ill with appendicitis and came home for surgery. He returned to the Western Font and was killed on 20 Sep 1917, aged 37, at the Battle of the Menin Road. He is buried at the Kemmel Chateau Military Cemetery, Belgium (plot H25). In his Will he left money for an orphanage in Penarth for children whose fathers didn’t return from the war which was called the J.A.Gibbs Memorial Home. The school changed name and purpose over the years and is now run by the charity Action for Children and called Headlands School. He is remembered on the Coal Exchange memorial plaque and the war memorial plaque at Queen’s College, Taunton. Commonwealth War Graves Commission record. His grandson Simon Gibbs is currently writing a book about Major J.A.Gibbs.
ATHOL THOMAS GIBSON
Captain, 2nd Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment
Athol Thomas Gibson was born on 11 Mar 1878 at 6 Wordsworth Street, Roath, to Thomas Gibson, a ship’s store merchant, and Mary Gibson née Pye, both originally from originally from North Shields, Northumberland. In 1881 the family were living at 5 Marlborough Terrace, Newport Road, Cardiff (now 108 Newport Road). In 1891, at the age of 13, Thomas was away at school in Warminster. His mother died in 1893 and his father remarried his aunt, Alice Pye, in Jersey. The London Gazette of Dec 1899 records that Athol Thomas Gibson served as 2nd Lieutenant with the 2nd Glamorganshire Regiment (whether he ever served in South Africa is not clear). By 1901 the Gibson family had moved to Penarth and Athol was working as a clearing clerk in the firm S.D.Jenkins & Co. He married Elizabeth Pyman, daughter of another Cardiff shipping merchant, on 1 Jun 1907. In the 1911 census they have moved to Porthcawl with the Pyman family. Athol was a keen golfer and played in the Welsh team against Ireland in July 1914 at Royal Porthcawl Golf Club. He was gazetted as 2nd Lieutenant to the 3rd South Lancashire Regiment at the outbreak of war in Aug 1914 and was promoted the following month to Lieutenant. He served with the Expeditionary force in France. He was posted to France joining the ranks of the 2nd South Lancs at Neuve Chapelle in the rank of Captain and was killed in action on 21 Oct 1914 aged 41. His burial place is unknown but he is remembered on the Le Touret Memorial in France. He is also remembered on the Coal Exchange War Memorial plaque in Cardiff Bay and the Penarth War Memorial in Alexandra Park, St Augustine’s war memorial plaque, Penarth, and the Glamorganshire Golf Club memorial plaque plus the Royal Porthcawl Golf Club memorial plaque and a plaque to gold club members in All Saints church, Porthcawl. Commonwealth War Graves Commission record.
WALTER FRANCIS GRAVES
Lieutenant, 3rd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment
Walter Francis Graves was born on 19 Dec 1884 in Hornsey, Middlesex to Walter Graves, an architect, originally from St Pancras, London, and Fanny Graves née Francis, originally from Holborn, London.
The following is from the Bedfordshire Regiment website: Spending his younger years in Islington, education at Worthing College, then Haileybury College followed. Walter spent a 3 year apprenticeship at “a large London Engineering firm”, joining the Bedfordshire Regiment’s 3rd (Volunteer) Battalion. He was attached to the 1st Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry until the death of his father in June 1907, at which time he had to retire following family pressures.
In Jul 1908 he moved to Cardiff where he established himself as a partner in the coal and pit wood exporter Messrs Williams, Ambrose and Graves, based from at Cardiff Docks. He had a deep interest in social, educational and municipal matters and was asked to run for the Roath Conservative Ward which he won in November 1912. Walter was active in many committees including every mental health group he could help with. By this time, Walter had developed a reputation as a “Young man of great promise”.
When war broke out he relinquished his seat, announcing that he had to “rejoin the regiment” but did not wish to draw an income and leave his constituency without full time support. Walter was reinstated as a Second Lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion in August 1914, his promotion to Lieutenant following on 3 September 1914.
Lieutenant Graves was in a large draft which landed in France 15 September, finally arriving with the 1st Battalion on the front lines on 14 October, during the Battle of La Bassee. They were involved in the heavy fighting around Givenchy until the end of the month, being pulled from the line and rushed north to Ypres, to help hold the line against the latest German attacks. After going into the front line in the woods around Herentage Chateau, east of Ypres, on 6 Nov, Lieutenant Graves was killed during the heavy fighting as the British line held back the massed German assault of 7 Nov 1914.
Although his official date of death is recorded as the 9th Nov in some documents, eye witness sources refer to his death being on the 7th when the battalion were heavily engaged rather than the 9th when the fighting had died down considerably. Walter’s grave was initially unknown but a year after his death, a wounded 1st Bedfordshires’ Sergeant in hospital reported that it was “buried 600 yards south-east of the portion of ornamental water in the Herontage (sic) Chateau grounds”.
As the family had nowhere to focus their mourning, the memorial plaque below was erected by his widowed mother (Mrs. Fanny Graves) in the church in Sandy, Bedfordshire. In June 1925, during the battlefield clearances, a mass grave containing mostly unidentifiable remains was uncovered near the remains of Herentage Chateau. Among them was an officer, later identified as Walter Graves from the numerals on his person, being his Long Service Number. The soldiers – mainly Bedfordshires who had fallen during the 7th Nov 1914 fighting – were interred together in the same section of Bedford House cemetery. What remains of his service record is held at the National Archives under reference WO339/19994.
Additional information to above: In the 1911 Census Walter Graves was living at 11 Hickman Road, Penarth and his profession stated as a Coal Exporter. It is not known whether he lived in Roath when he became a Roath councillor or continued to live in Penarth. He quickly gained responsibility on Cardiff Council and in 1914 was appointed Chair of the Coal Committee. He was 30 years old when killed. As well as the memorial at Sandy, he is remembered on a plaque in the City Hall, Cardiff (see picture). Commonwealth War Graves Commission Record.
WILLIAM HENRY SEAGER
Second Lieutenant, 10th Battalion, South Wales Borderers
William ‘Willie’ Henry Seager was born in Cardiff on 28 Jan 1893 to William Henry Seager, originally from Cardiff and Margaret Annie Seager née Elliot originally from South Shields, County Durham. His father was a prominent ship-owner and ship’s chandler who was knighted in 1918 who was also the Liberal MP for Cardiff East between 1918 and 1928. In 1901 the Seager family lived at Pitman Street, Riverside but moved to 203 Newport Road shortly afterwards. Willie spent three years at Cardiff High School from 15 Jan 1903 until 1906. He then completed his education at Queen’s College, Taunton. He was an active member of the Roath Road Wesleyan Chapel and was closely involved with the Sunday School there. He was first employed with the Cardiff ship-owners and coal exporters Lambert Brothers Ltd. After gaining experience in the shipping trade with them, when he was 21, he joined his father’s firm W.H. Seager and Co on 14 Feb 1914 and was later made a director while in the Army. At the outbreak of war, he attempted to enlist but was rejected twice as medically unfit. However, he persisted and was finally accepted at the third attempt. His address then was given as 60 Newport Rd. By Dec 1914.he was serving as a private in No. 2 Company 21st Battalion Royal Fusiliers (4th Public Schools) which was then in training at Ashstead, Surrey. That month, however, he applied for a commission in the Welsh Army Corps and he was eventually commissioned second lieutenant on 4 May 1915, joining the 10th Battalion (1st Gwent) South Wales Borderers who were at Colwyn Bay. After further training near Winchester at Hursley Park and Hazely Down, the 10th South Wales Borderers went out to France with the rest of the 38th (Welsh) Division in Dec 1915, landing at Le Havre on the 4th. The Welsh Division spent the next few weeks training and by mid-January they were deemed ready to take over part of the front line themselves near Neuve Chapelle. At this time, it was a fairly quiet area, apart from snipers and shellfire. Very shortly afterwards, however, while Willie was supervising the repair of a trench which had been damaged by shellfire, he was hit in the chest by sniper-fire. After only a few weeks in the front line, Second Lieutenant William Seager was killed in action at Neuve Chapelle on 7 Feb 1916. He was 23. His company commander wrote: “By his unbounded generosity, joviality and capability he has endeared himself to every officer and man of the company. The men have lost a brilliant leader, and I – well, I have lost a brother who was my right-hand man.” He was buried by his comrades nearby at what is now St. Vaast Post Military Cemetery, Richebourg L’Avoué, six miles north-east of Béthune (grave II. O. 11). Commonwealth War Graves Commission record. He is commemorated on the Cardiff High School memorial plaque, Queen’s College Taunton memorial, Roath Road Wesleyan Church war memorial and Cardiff Coal Exchange war memorial. Within months of his death, his parents donated funds in his name for a new operating theatre at the Cardiff Royal Infirmary and a special memorial plaque was placed there. A similar plaque existed in Whitchurch Hospital. They also endowed a bed in his memory at the Royal Hamadryad Seamen’s Hospital in the Docks. In addition, his parents dedicated two stained glass windows to his memory: one at Conway Road Methodist Church in Canton; and the other at Roath Road Wesleyan Chapel, which was located at the junction of City Road and Newport Road but destroyed by bombing during the Blitz. In 1939, the Willie Seager Memorial Trust was established to build and manage ten homes in Newport Road for retired seamen and their wives. In 1995, the Trustees replaced these with ten new homes in Westville Place, Penylan. Exactly a hundred years to the day after his death, in a special centenary service, the Willie Seager Trust dedicated a memorial stone at St. Edward’s Church in Roath to his memory, now outside the houses in Westville Place. Cardiff schoolchildren also used to compete annually for the Seager Baseball Cup. Finally, he is remembered on the Seager family grave at Cathays cemetery.