Llanfyllin’s bellringers are commemorating, on the centenaries of their deaths, every soldier from the town who died during the First World War. On Tuesday May 17th 2016 at 3 pm, they tolled nine strikes from the bell tower at St Myllin’s to indicate that a man has died, followed by 28 strikes to record his age. This man was Edward Edwards, killed in France on May 17th 1916.
Edward Edwards was born in Llanfyllin and lived in Bridge Street. If you’ve got a copy of Llanfyllin Civic Society’s Llanfyllin – Portrait of an Age, on the cover is a photo c1900 of Edward Edwards ‘Boot and Shoemaker (Master)’ and his four young sons standing outside their shop in the High Street. Young Edward is the boy on the right. He enlisted in 1915 and on his last leave in 2016 he married Emily Dyas, from Newport in Shropshire. In May she wrote a joyful letter to tell him she was pregnant. We can’t know if he got the letter because he was killed soon after – probably by a stray shell or a sniper.
Emily’s child – also called Emily – therefore grew up without her father, and on her eleventh birthday she decided that in future she wanted to be called Givenchy – the name of the small town in Northern France where her father had been killed. Givenchy died in 1997 and her son, Richard, interred her ashes in her father’s grave at Cambrin Military Cemetery in France.
All the generations
On May 17th Richard was at Cambrin for the centenary of his grandfather’s death. Richard’s son was also with him. Richard’s daughter and her family were on Llanfyllin town square where they set up an audio link to France – so that the chimes in memory of Edward Edwards – and of Givenchy – could ring out over the cemetery at Cambrin. These are the chimes that Edward Edwards would have heard during his life in Llanfyllin – from Bridge Street and the shoeshop on the High Street – and a poignant reminder of Llanfyllin’s part in the First World War.
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