Tuesday, 21 June 2016


Battle of Vittoria, Spain, 1813

A retreating French army under Napoleon’s brother Joseph occupied a strong position at Vittoria. Wellington’s operations began in a thick mist. His columns gained position after position and by shortly after midday the enemy’s retreat was intercepted and the pursuit was kept up until after dark. Battalion losses were very light but, nevertheless, the Regiment gained the battle honour VITTORIA.


Battle of the Schellenberg, Germany, 1704

After the memorable march of Marlborough’s army he learnt that Bavarian troops were fortifying the formidable heights of the Schellenberg near the Danube. He decided on an immediate assault. The leading troops were repulsed but three battalions, including the 23rd, resolutely stood their ground and beat off the enemy counter-attack and saved the day. The RWF suffered nearly 250 casualties.

Sunday, 19 June 2016


Battle of Waterloo, Belgium

During the battle the RWF in Mitchell’s Brigade was moved into the first line which they anchored on its right flank and covered Hougoumont. This was to the immediate right of the main line of attack of the French cavalry. It was during one of these attacks that the commanding officer, Colonel Sir Henry Ellis, was fatally wounded. The Regiment suffered much from the French guns and suffered 100 casualties. WATERLOO was granted as a battle

Jenny Jones at Waterloo

Jenny Jones at Waterloo

Jenny Jones of Tal y Llyn, Meirionnydd was at Waterloo with her first husband, Pte Lewis Griffiths of the 23rd Regiment (Royal Welch Fusiliers). In 1876 an account of her life, as told by Jenny herself, was published in the “Cambrian News”. Although some of the things she related are difficult to reconcile with known facts, the account gives a vivid and honest picture of the life of a soldier’s wife in the early nineteenth century. The following is an attempt at reconstructing Jenny’s early life.
Jenny (or Jane) Jones was born in Ireland, probably in 1797, her maiden name being Drumble. Her home town was most likely Granard in County Longford.
Jenny met her first husband, Lewis Griffiths, in Ireland, where he was stationed with the Royal Merionethshire Militia. She was aged 14, the daughter of a farmer, and he was 19 (born in 1793). The couple were married, apparently against the wishes of Jenny’s family, and she never communicated with them again. No record of Jenny and Lewis’ marriage has so far been found (see Note 1).
Pte Lewis Griffiths
Lewis Griffiths was from Tal y Llyn, the son of Humphrey and Jane Griffiths of Pentre Dol y March, a group of small houses on the northern shore of the lake. Lewis was his mother’s maiden name. 
The Militia Acts required each County to raise a certain quota of men to serve in its Militia Regiment for defence of that County. In time of war the Militia regiments could be embodied to serve outside their County boundary. An Amendment Act of 1799 increased the Militia Quota for Merionethshire to 226 men.
Following the Declaration of War by Britain on Revolutionary France in May1803 the Merionethshire Militia (A Royal Regiment from April 1804) was embodied for garrison duty. It served in Southern England until June 1811 when it was transported from Devon to Ireland. It was stationed in Granard, County Longford. In August strength of the Regiment was 135 men, organised into two Companies. Lewis Griffiths appears on the 1811 Muster Roll of the Royal Merionethshire Militia preserved in the National Archives at Kew.
Many Militia men volunteered to serve with the “regular” Line Regiments. Among them was Lewis Griffiths who joined the 23rd Regiment (Royal Welch Fusiliers) in 1814. Griffiths entry on the Waterloo Medal Roll states that he was “with the Corps” from 5th April 1814. His attestation describes him as a labourer, aged 19. He was also a married man. Lewis Griffiths served with No. 7 Company of the 23rd, under Captain Thomas Farmer.
Lewis Griffiths was typical of the soldiers in the 23rd of 1815 in that he had come from an agricultural background. Only 30% of the men were Welsh however. Most of the English counties were represented in the ranks and 10% were Irish (as was usual in all the British Line Regiments). Lewis Griffiths was one of 76
private soldiers who had joined the 23rd since the Peace in 1814. The majority of the private soldiers were aged 20 or less. However, compared to other regiments at Waterloo the 23rd was an experienced unit as many had seen service in Spain or Southern France.
The 23rd Regiment was pulled in to Wellington’s army in Europe, marching against the reinstated Emperor Napoleon. It belatedly joined an extra Brigade, the 4th British Brigade under Lt Col H H Mitchell. It formed part of the 4th Division, commanded by Lieutenant General Sir Charles Colville.
The 23rd Regiment at Waterloo 18th June 1815
The 23rd Regiment left Gosport on the 23rd March 1815 and landed at Ostend on the 30th March. Jenny accompanied her husband on the Waterloo campaign, presumably on the strength of the Regiment, acting as nurse/cook/laundrymaid. She may by then have had a child - some accounts give her a daughter.
(see Note 2). The Regiment was moved by canal boat to Ghent, via Bruges. It was reviewed by Wellington, with the rest of the Brigade, at Oudenarde, on 20th April. From there it marched to cantonments at Grammont on 24th April. It stayed there until 16th June. It then marched to Braine-le-Leud, arriving on the 17th and passed the night in torrential rain. 
Wellington placed the bulk of his strength, including Mitchell’s Brigade, to the right of his line. This was fortunate for the 23rd Regiment as it suffered less casualties than those in the centre and on the left. Even so it lost four officers and eleven men killed, and eight officers and seventy-eight men wounded.
Early on the morning of 18th June 1815 the 23rd took up its position, in the second line, to the left of the Nivelles Road. In front of it was a battalion of the Guards. It deployed into line and the men were told to lay down as they were quickly under fire from French artillery on the road. The cannon fire killed the Commanding Officer of Lewis Griffith’s Company, Captain Thomas Farmer, and may have given Lewis his wounds, which were in the shoulder and, according to the story, were from cannon shot.
The 23rd moved into the front line to replace the Guards battalion, withdrawn to give support at Hougoumont. It formed a square and remained in that formation all day, facing many attacks by French cavalry. The Commanding Officer of the 23rd, Colonel Sir Henry Ellis commanded that no man should break rank, even to help a wounded comrade. The Regiment did not falter, even though the artillery fire continued, and every attack upon it failed with heavy casualties. The square retired to its former position, then advanced again and the 23rd finished the day by advancing in line and finding nothing to oppose it.
During the afternoon, however, Colonel Ellis was struck in the chest by a musket ball. He remained in command until, faint from loss of blood, he was forced to ride to the rear. Weakened, he fell from his horse. He was found and taken to a farmhouse where his wound was dressed. He died the following day, aged 32. 
After Waterloo
After the battle Jenny searched for Lewis and eventually found him in a Brussels hospital – the Elizabeth. Presumably she was still with him when the 23rd marched to Paris and, on the 4th July, encamped in the Bois de Boulogne.
Lewis Griffiths was discharged from the Regiment on 6th April 1821. He received no pension and his Waterloo Medal was stolen. Lewis and Jenny returned to Tal y Llyn to live in a house named Cildydd. They had several children - possibly six. Lewis Griffiths worked in the slate quarries at Corris, to which he would walk over the hills from home. Lewis was killed in 1837 in Aberllefeni Quarry, aged 45 (his year of birth must have been 1792 or 1793). He was buried in an unmarked grave in Tal y Llyn churchyard.
Jenny began working in the laundry of one of the hotels on Tal y Llyn. For a time she may have been a school teacher at Maes y Pandy.
After a few years of widowhood, Jenny married John Jones of Y Powis, Tal y Llyn on June 1st 1853. Jones too was widowed. Both gave their address as Cildydd, and both signed the register with an X (strange if Jenny was a school teacher!). Jenny gave her maiden name as Drumble. It was not a happy union as Jones was a lazy man, and instead of easing it, the marriage increased Jenny’s poverty. After John Jones’ death Jenny went to live at Pant-y-dwr and later at Tyn yr Ywen, Tal y Llyn, where she died on April 11th 1884, aged 94. She was more likely 87 (see Note 3).
Jenny was buried in Tal y Llyn parish churchyard on April 15th 1884. Her final resting place is marked by a rather fine gravestone, far beyond what she could ever have aspired too. Its inscription forms the final mystery regarding Jenny Jones. It reads: 
“I will never leave you nor forsake thee
This cross was placed here by a friend.
Sacred to the memory of Jenny Jones
Born in Scotland 1784
She was with her husband of the 23rd Royal Welch Fusiliers at the battle of Waterloo and was on the field three days.”
Brian R Owen
RWF Museum
Note 1:
The Army distrusted the presence of women and always tried to discourage soldiers from marrying. From 1685 marriage was allowed only with the CO’s permission. The number of married soldiers was restricted to 6% of strength – usually six wives per company. This was the “official” number but the system was abused and there were many more unofficial wives and women in barracks. The situation of a wife on the strength was highly insecure particularly when the unit was sent abroad. 
Note 2:
Only 4 or 6 wives per Company were allowed on campaign, and were selected by ballot. Great distress was caused among the wives who were left and they often ended up in Parish poorhouses or on the street.
Note 3:
In both the 1841 and 1851 Census Jenny gave her birthplace as Ireland. In the 1851 Census she gave her age as 54 and this is most likely correct.


Battle of Bunker Hill, Massachusetts, North America, 1775

British forces were blockaded in Boston by the rebel militia, which greatly outnumbered the garrison. The enemy also occupied the peninsula from where heavy guns on Bunker Hill, which commanded the harbour, could stop supplies and reinforcements reaching Boston. A successful attack was launched on the hill by troops including the flank companies of the 23rd. The Grenadier Company had only five unwounded out of 49 men.

Thursday, 16 June 2016


Gen Sir Hugh Stockwell GCB KBE DSO born, 1903

Commissioned into the RWF in 1923. In 1940 he led an independent company (later commandos) in Norway. He commanded 2 RWF at Madagascar in 1942. He commanded a brigade and a division in Burma, rising from major to major-general in only five years. After the war he was Commandant of Sandhurst, Commander 1 (BR) Corps, Land Force commander during Suez (1956), and Military Secretary. His last appointment was Deputy Supreme Commander Allied Powers Europe. He was Colonel of the Regiment 1952-64. He died in 1986.


The Royal Welch Fusiliers were granted the Freedom of Wrexham.

On the wettest day of a very wet summer the Regiment was granted the Freedom of the Borough of Wrexham. Major General G. F. Watson CB, DSO, OBE represented the Colonel of The Regiment General Maitland Wilson C.B. D.S.O, O.B.E who was indisposed.
Troops taking part in the ceremony were a mixed band of R.W.F. and South Wales Borderers, a Guard of Honour of the 1st Batlalion under Captain Glyn Evans, detachments representing every Battalion which served during the war, including the Home Guard and Cadets, and a body of old Comrades, conspicuous amongst whom was Pensioner Scattergood. from the Royal Hospital, Chelsea. Lieutenant Colonel Gwydyr Jones, D.S.O. O,B.E,, commanded the parade.

Monday, 13 June 2016

In Parenthesis

In Parenthesis is an epic poem of the First World War by David Jones first published in England in 1937. Although Jones had been known solely as an engraver and painter prior to its publication, the poem won the Hawthornden Prize and the admiration of writers such as W. B. Yeats and T. S. Eliot. Based on Jones's own experience as an infantryman, In Parenthesis narrates the experiences of English Private John Ball in a mixed English-Welsh regiment starting with embarcation from England and ending seven months later with the assault on Mametz Wood during the Battle of the Somme. The work employs a mixture of lyrical verse and prose, is highly allusive, and ranges in tone from formal to Cockney colloquial and military slang.

As we mark 70 years of Welsh National Opera,  it is a time to look forward. What better way to do this than with a world première of a major new opera? In Parenthesis is young British composer Iain Bell’s adaptation of the epic poem by Welsh poet, writer and artist David Jones. In Parenthesis is commissioned by the Nicholas John Trust with 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War Centenary.
Private John Ball and his comrades in the Royal Welch Fusiliers are posted to the Somme. In Mametz Wood they enter a strange realm – outside of time, dream-like but deadly. Rather than simply reporting the horrors of the Somme, In Parenthesis dares to offer hope. Even here amongst the destruction, a fragile flowering of regeneration and re-birth can be found. Bell’s beautiful score combines traditional Welsh song with moments of other-worldliness, terror, humour and transcendence. David Pountney’s period production is both an evocation and a commemoration of the events of the Somme.

Field is an immersive artwork and memorial for 923 Royal Welch Fusiliers who died at the Battle of the Somme during the First World War and have no known grave.
Field has been created by award-winning international art and design collective Squidsoup, commissioned by Welsh National Opera to accompany our major new opera, In Parenthesis by Iain Bell.

The 923 lights represent the many fallen fusiliers whose names are inscribed on the Thiepval Memorial in France. Some of these men would have served with ‘In Parenthesis’ author, David Jones, during the battle at Mametz Wood July 1916.
This work seeks to create an environment for remembrance and contemplation; one that connects the spiritual and elemental with the physical, the unseen with the seen, our past with our present.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

That Astonishing Infantry

The History of The Royal Welch Fusiliers
1689 – 2006
Michael Glover and Jonathon Riley
The original 1998 edition of this acclaimed history of the Regiment has been out of print for many years, yet is still in demand.
In this new edition, based on the late Michael Glover’s work, the story of the Regiment is brought up to March 2006 when the Royal Welch Fusiliers ceased to exist as an independent entity. Lieutenant General J P Riley has edited the work and added a new chapter covering the end of the Cold War to the amalgamation in 2006. This turbulent period includes the Regiment’s service in the Balkans and Iraq. Annexes have been revised and expanded, and the text is enhanced by photographs, many in colour, line drawings, maps and sketches by Kyffin Williams.
PRICE: £16 Postage: UK £2.99 (other destinations at cost)


Thursday, 9 June 2016

Remembering Mametz Wood Centenary Commemoration July 2016


Battle of Messines, Belgium, 1917

At 3.10 a.m. the start of the battle was signalled by the explosion of nineteen huge mines, the largest containing 96,000 lbs of amonal, under the ridge which had been pounded by 3.5 million shells. 9 RWF reached its objective towards the eastern end of the ridge and took eighty prisoners. Subsequent shellfire cost it 121 casualties


RWF rejected appeal to join Nore naval mutineers, 1797

The Regiment was based nearby when a naval mutiny broke out at the Nore, at the mouth of the Thames estuary. On being asked to join the mutiny members of 23rd responded with an address expressing their loyalty which was sent immediately to the King.


1st and 2nd Battalions on expedition to St Malo, 1758

The expedition was sent to destroy the French arsenal and shipping at St Malo. They succeeded in setting fire to three warships, over 100 merchant ships and several naval storehouses. On the following day preparations were made to besiege St Malo itself, but fearing the threat from an approaching large French force, the troops were ordered to re-embark for England.
Sergeant John Porter of the Grenadier Company of the Royal Welch wrote an account of his part in the operation.

2nd JUNE 1960 – ON THIS DAY IN RWF HISTORY Our Museum opened

Regimental Museum opened at Caernarfon Castle, 1960

With the closure of the Regimental Depot at Wrexham in March 1960 the museum was moved to the Queen’s Tower at Caernarfon Castle. The museum was opened by the Colonel of the Regiment, General Sir Hugh Stockwell. The first Curator of the Museum was Major Peter Kirby MC TD FMA DL who build the oak staircases and original display cabinets himself. The staircases are still in excellent working order today!

Come by and see us!


The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II as monarch of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Union of South Africa, Pakistan and Ceylon took place on 2 June 1953. HM the Queen inherited the position of Colonel-in-Chief of The Royal Welch Fusiliers from her father. A detachment from The Royal Welch Fusiliers was on parade for Her Majesty’s Coronation. The detachment is pictured below.

1st June 1953 – ON THIS DAY IN RWF HISTORY Queen Elizabeth II became Colonel-in-Chief

Queen Elizabeth II became Colonel-in-Chief, 1953

On the day before her coronation Her Majesty became the third royal Colonel-in-Chief of the Regiment when she succeeded her late father, King George VI. Traditionally, the Monarch has always been the Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Welch Fusiliers and Her Majesty is now the Colonel-in-Chief of The Royal Welsh.

1st June 1891 – ON THIS DAY IN RWF HISTORY Conclusion of Black Mountain expedition

Conclusion of Black Mountain expedition to Hazara, North-West Frontier, India, 1891

The Hazara Field Force of two columns left for Hazara on 12 March to enforce on two tribes recognition and compliance with Government demands. There was little fighting except for repelling raids. By 1 June the mission was complete and on the 11th the main body of the of the Field Force left for India. 1 RWF remained behind and returned to Peshawar on 9 October.


Rank of ‘Fusilier’ authorised, 1923

The Regiment had been designated a fusilier Regiment as early as 1702. However, it was not until this date that the rank of ‘Fusilier’ replaced that of ‘Private’ in the royal Welch Fusiliers and it has been used ever since. The rank of Fusilier is still used in the 1st and 3rd Battalions of The Royal Welsh, the antecedent Regiment of The Royal Welch Fusiliers.