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The Heroic Rhondda Valley Family - The Hardwidge's.

Mametz Wood, Flatiron Copse Cemetery, Welsh Dragon

Mametz Wood, Flatiron Copse Cemetery, Welsh Dragon - photo courtesy of Llinos Wyn Jones & Huw Davies of Miskin, Llantrisant.

These days when we walk past one of the many War Memorials we hardly take any notice, nor spare a thought for those young men who left the Rhondda Valleys in time of War never to return.

I would like to highlight one such family of young miners from Ferndale, as their story is so poignant - not least because 3 young men from the same family never returned home.

The brothers - named Hardwidge - were all miners, yet volunteered for war service, joining the Welch Regiment.

On July 11th 1916 Corporal Thomas Hardwidge and Lance Corporal Henry Hardwidge were fighting in a battle on the Somme at Mametz Wood. Thomas was wounded by a sniper, and Henry heroically raced to his rescue to take him water. Both men were then shot and killed by a sniper. The brothers were later laid in their final resting places in adjacent graves at Flatiron Copse Cemetery in Mametz.

Mametz Wood, Flatiron Copse Cemetery, the Hardwidge Brothers side by side forever

Mametz Wood, Flatiron Copse Cemetery, the Hardwidge Brothers side by side forever - photo courtesy of Llinos Wyn Jones & Huw Davies of Miskin, Llantrisant on a visit in May 2010.

Both of the brothers were married men with children, and the effect on their families would have been devastating. If enough grief had not been meted out to the Hardwidge family, on Christmas Day 1916 another brother - Morgan Hardwidge - was killed on the Somme and his name is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial - a memorial to those 72,000 young soldiers who have no known grave. Their names are also recorded on the Ferndale War Memorial.

Mametz Wood, Flatiron Copse Cemetery, Name, Memorial and Cross Mametz Wood, Flatiron Copse Cemetery, General View

Mametz Wood, Flatiron Copse Cemetery, General Views - pictures courtesy of Llinos Wyn Jones & Huw Davies of Miskin, Llantrisant on a visit in May 2010.

 

webmaster's footnote: In July of 2009 I was contacted by a gentleman named Edgar Lloyd, who was aged 85. He added the following to the story:-
The three Hardwidge boys killed in 1916 and honoured on your site, were brothers of my late father-in-law Ben Hardwidge, of Tylorstown. Tragedy had already struck the family on the 14th October 1913, when the sister of the Rhondda Heroes - Elizabeth Ann Ross (nee Hardwidge) lost her husband - William Ross aged 45, her young sons - Peter D. Ross aged 20, and William J. Ross aged 22, and also her brother-in-law Robert Ross aged 31, along with 435 other men and boys in the great Senghenydd colliery explosion. It was the costliest coal mining disaster the country had ever known.

Ben Hardwidge worked underground for 55 years, most of the time at Tylorstown No 9 pit and remembered being carried to work at the age of 12 on his father's shoulders. In his youth he was no mean boxer, having fought a 'no-result' contest with his friend and neighbour Jimmy Wilde at Tonypandy in 1913. Later, Ben became a well-known 'star' boxing referee. He officiated at many British and Empire championship fights in the 1930's and 1940's, which involved greats like Jack Petersen, Tommy Farr, Nel Tarleton and many more.

Ben Hardwidge and his wife Mary - (whose daughter Marion had married the author of this additional information) - had lost two little girls, either during the First World War or just after it. One of them (Phoebe I believe), from Spanish flu. Then, in 1936, another daughter, Frances (Rogers), died of what was spoken of as a hole in the heart. She was 28, a talented musician and married to the curate of Treorchy. She is buried at Penrhys cemetery next to my wife Marion.
In the words of a French friend on hearing of Marion's death, "Elle était une femme remarquable." Indeed she was, getting a degree in English, History and Music at Stirling University when she was 56 years old, besides being a formidable golfer and tennis player.

Thank you for your interesting site which brought back memories of my youth in the Rhondda
.
Edgar Lloyd

Rhondda Fmily Obituary

Obituary in the Rhondda Leader

Rhondda Leader Obituary

Rhondda Leader Obituary

Rhondda Leader Memorial

Rhondda Leader Memorial

Mametz Cemetery

Mametz Cemetery

\henry Hardwidge Memorial Stone

Henry Hardwidge Memorial Stone

 

 



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