Swansea Family History
Swansea Family History 

READER’S FEEDBACK

AT THE BEGINNING OF THIS NEW YEAR, 2017, I WOULD LIKE TO TAKE SOME TIME FOR REFLECTION ON THREE POIGNANT FAMILY HISTORY STORIES THAT I RECEIVED DURING NOVEMBER LAST YEAR. THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE THREE IS DANYGRAIG CEMETERY

October 2015, I wrote an article covering the topic of military records and the information they hold. The case histories I used for the piece were two men, David James Mitchell and Charles James Godfrey, both of whom are buried at Danygraig Cemetery, their graves weren’t marked with a mili-tary headstone.

At the time of writing the CWGC (Commonwealth War Grave Commission) were looking to find relatives. Moving forward to October 2016, to the article Exploring Swansea’s Grave-yards, when I photographed the two newly erected headstones of these men I received an email from Mr Derek Gibbs, who was interested in any information I had about Charles Godfrey. After a series of emails to and fro I found out that his father-in-law, Joseph Godfrey was the younger brother, 4 at the time of Charles’ death in 1919. Charles died at home at 28 Orchard Street, Swansea, 5 months after the Armistice, 1918. The family were aware of Charles, as his brother spoke of him often, but were unaware of his final resting place. They were flabbergasted to read of Charles in the Bay! I was delighted during November to meet with Peter and Jeanette Godfrey and Derek and Susan Gibbs at the graveside of Charles. When I wrote the piece, in October 2015, I thought Charles was the only one to be buried in the grave, but from information obtained from the Cemetery Department, Civic Centre, I learned that Charles’ parents and a sibling are also buried there.

A footnote to this story – whilst there we tried to locate the grave of Henry GodfreyCharles’ grandfather, but with no success. Henry belonged to a circus with his Indian wife. There is rumoured to be buried at St. Peter’s Church, Cockett, a lion tamer, who met his end at the jaws of his lion.

We go back to 1914, to the outbreak of the First World War, for the next poignant story. Mrs J. Bromfield contacted me regarding her husband Brian’s grand-father, William BromfieldWilliam died on the 14th October 1914, he was a Sergeant from the 6th Battalion, Welsh Regiment. His occupation be-fore the war, was an Engine Fitter, with the Harbour Trust. Taking up the story from, The Cambrian, which reported that “Sergeant Bloomfield

was in the military police, well known and highly respected in the town. On Wednesday, 7th October, Bloomfield left the house in the morning…. but very soon returned saying that he felt faint. Dr Anderson and Dr Isaac, we called and his complaint was diagnosed as being pneumonia. As a result, he was at the beginning of the week removed to the Hospital, where he passed away on Wednesday”, a slight mistake was made by the reporter in regards to his name!

What information is there about William Bromfield?

A death certificate was sourced and this established that William did die from pneumonia at Swansea Hospital, he was registered as Bloomfield. Further information revealed the father-in-law’s name as J. Lloyd, Rutland Place, whom the family didn’t know about. Unfortunately, the hospital records dating from 1914 have all but disappeared. Luckily some hospital records have survived and those interested need to apply to view the information from the West Glamorgan Archive Service.

Another good source of information, are the census’, dating from 1841 – 1911. For William, 1881, he is living with his parents at 10 Keniston Place, his father Thomas, is a Blacksmith. 1891 the family have moved to Rutland Place. 1901 and 1911 William is now the head of the family and is living at 20 Swan Street, and this is where he was taken ill in 1914.

A footnote to this story, 6th Battalion, Welsh Regi-ment, which was formed at Swansea on the 4th August 1914, didn’t have a good start to the conflict, with the death by drowning of one Owen Owen at Swansea Docks, and also a murder during Christmas 1914. Sergeant William Hooper, a Boer War veteran was charged and convicted of the murder of Private Enoch Dudley in Wind Street. The group of men were guarding the South Docks, and were given Christmas drinks, a bottle of whiskey went missing. Hooper accused Dudley, and fatally shot him. Hooper was sentenced to death, although the court of appeal reduced the sentence to four years’ imprisonment. Dudley is buried at Gorseinon. I wonder what happened to Hooper?

The final family history story dates back to the early days of the Second World War, Mrs. D. Lewis contacted me, with regard to her grandfather, Henry Lewis. She was interested to find out any information as all she had was his name, Henry Lewis, and that he was killed at Cardiff whilst defusing a bomb.

At the time of his death, he had a wife and four sons, one of whom was Bernard, who was 6 at the time of his father’s death. Bernard is Mrs. D. Lewis’ father. A further death certificate was sourced, revealing that Henry Lewis, 33 years, died on 12th Novem-ber 1940 at Scully Beach, receiving multiple injuries sustained from an explosion whilst laying land mines. An inquest was held and a verdict of misadventure was returned. Henry lived at Robert Owen Gardens, Port Tennant. The certificates didn’t mention what his occupation was before the war, thus causing some difficulties as there are no further records. He wasn’t registered on the 1939 register either. If you remember Henry I would be delighted to hear from you.I was limited as to how much information I could find on Henry. For those interested in obtaining Second World War records, apply to the Ministry, at a cost £30 with proof of identity. Records take up to 3 months to return.

William Bromfield, Charles Godfrey and Henry Lewis all received a full military funeral.

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© Charles Wilson-Watkins