Centenary of the Armistice

Part of Assessment and Treatment Units: Vulnerable People – in the House of Commons at 7:29 pm on 6th November 2018.

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Photo of Kevin Brennan Kevin Brennan Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) (Arts and Heritage) 7:29 pm, 6th November 2018

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right, and I acknowledge the work he has done with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, including with me in Wales; we did some work a few years ago on restoring some of the graves in my Cardiff West constituency.

Members will know that the legacy of the first world war resonates in all our communities. Most cities, towns and villages in the UK have a war memorial, and we will all be visiting those war memorials this weekend to lay wreathes and pay tribute to those who left our communities more than 100 years ago and did not return. I will attend the Welsh national wreath-laying ceremony in Cardiff, and a special service of commemoration at Llandaff cathedral in my constituency. Baroness Finlay of Llandaff and I will both lay wreathes at the war memorial in Llandaff city on Friday.

Every community has its own first world war story, and as many others have done, I will briefly pay tribute to those from my Cardiff West constituency whose courage has become part of our collective memory. On 7 July 1916, the 16th Battalion of the Welsh Regiment, known as the Cardiff City Battalion, fought at Mametz wood alongside other Welsh units as part of the 38th Division, which was devised by Prime Minister David Lloyd George and included the Welsh Regiment, the South Wales Borderers and the Royal Welch Fusiliers.

The Cardiff City Battalion was exposed to heavy machine-gun fire, and more than 150 men died, with many more injured. Welsh rugby internationals Dick Thomas and John Williams were among the dead. A survivor, William Joshua, recalled:

“On the Somme, the Cardiff City Battalion died.”

It might be of interest to you, Mr Speaker, that Fred Keenor, who subsequently captained Cardiff City football club when they defeated Arsenal in the 1927 FA cup final, was injured at the battle of the Somme, and it very nearly ended his football career.