"I suppose you want to know how the boys
are getting on here."
"I suppose you want to know how the boys are getting on here."
|Recruits in Rhondda 1914. |
Frank Wrentmore is assigned to
the Somerset Light Infantry
|The Wallabies, who played Penygraig a week later, |
also performed a questionable version of the haka.
But the spectacle is soon forgotten as the game kicks off.
|Herbert Henry "Dally" Messenger|
|Ton Pentre AFC 1906|
|Cross Keys Hotel, Tonypandy|
This is a grievous blow for Frank Wrentmore who has committed his future to the newly established and now defunct club. He suddenly finds himself stranded in the sporting wilderness. The die is cast, but the best laid of schemes do not always go to plan. Events beyond the control of Mr. Griffiths and the Mid- Rhondda Northern Union Committee are poised to engulf Mid Rhondda. Although an amateur side is established the following season, the vision of a professional football team based in Tonypandy is suspended as, for the next two years, industrial unrest consumes Mid-Rhondda.
|Naval Colliery, Penygraig|
|Men waiting to enter a cage at the Naval Colliery.|
|The Ely Pit head wheel |
showing shattered sheaves.
|Albert Watkins Deceased.|
His wife Margaret brought
writs against the owners
of the Cambrian Combine
Six men are killed. The following Sunday the total of fatalities rises to seven when Harry Marshall of Williamstown succumbs to his injuries. One of the dead, Gideon Chapman, had only started work in the Ely Pit the day before. Tom Morris, who took Frank Wrentmore's place is taken to hospital. Several of the men's injuries are so severe that amputation of the affected limbs is unavoidable. One can only imagine the thoughts that pass through Frank's mind as he attends the funerals of his stricken comrades on the Tuesday of the same week. Almost a year later the management post 'lock-out' notices on the Ely Pit. All the men employed there are now without work and without pay. In a show of solidarity the men who work the Nantgwyn and Pandy Pits join their workmates and the Naval Colliery is effectively on strike. Soon the other Cambrian Combine Collieries follow suit.
"It is very cold and freezing hard."
|Women scouring for coal among the slag tips.|
"Throughout the homes of Mid-Rhondda the season of Yuletide festivities comes this year upon a land of fasting , for the wage-earners are on strike. Of all those who will feel the pinch of poverty the children will suffer most. There are some thousands of hungry children waiting to be fed . . . Empty larders may be counted by the score, and although every effort is made to cope with the distress, many of the most deserving cases are difficult to get at because people are reluctant to- make their necessity known, preferring to suffer in silence. The absence of coal adds very materially to their sufferings in the cold and bitter weather. All the surrounding rubbish tips have been so thoroughly cleared of any scraps of coal that might be left about, that the strikers, armed with picks, hammers and other implements, have been digging in the vicinity of tipping screens to relieve their distress."
|Miners assemble of the Empire Hill|
following a mass meeting
on the Mid-Rhondda Athletic Fields
|Strikers tear down fencing around|
the Glamorgan Colliery
|Stipendiary Magistrate Lleufer |
Thomas speaking to the
C.O of the Hussars.
|Merthyr M.P. Keir Hardy|
who called for a public
inquiry into allegations
of police brutality.
|Imported stokers from Cardiff inside the |
Glamorgan Power House, Llwynypia.
|A show of force by the police.|
Amos Hill Penygraig.
Bank Street, where the assault took place,
is one of its side streets.
policeman then entered the back kitchen. David Griffiths was unable to identify him. Griffiths was then struck on the back of the head and became unconscious. From his vantage point under the table James Francis witnessed a policeman enter with a club in his hand but could not say who the officer was. However Lizzie Morgan and Frank Wrentmore both confirmed it was P.C. Thomas. Morgan testified that only P.C. Thomas had entered the back kitchen and she recognised him 'from before' stating, "That's the man who hit David William on the head with a club." In court Lizzie's mother stated "I think that's the man who raised the club to me." Neighbours testified they saw police enter the Griffiths' house. Elizabeth Evans of 1 Bank Street, said she was on the doorstep when she saw police burst open the door of number 41 but only one entered the house. Esther Porter, 43 Bank Street, said at around 12.00 that night she was in the parlour frightened to go to bed because of the disturbance outside. She witnessed police go into the house of the Griffithses shouting, "Out with them."The broken truncheon found on the kitchen floor was produced in court as evidence. Both men were examined by Dr. C. J. Weichert the following morning. Dr. Weichert stated that David William Griffiths had a scalp wound half an inch long. Henry Griffiths had been hit on the head and forearm.
Pandy Pit showing Cambrian Combine
General ManagerLeonard Llewellyn assist
Mrs D.A. Thomas in cutting the first sod.
It was here Captain Lindsay made his base
of command on the night of the riots in Penygraig.
|Penygraig Square. The Butchers Arms is at the bottom of Amos Hill.|
|Stipendiary Magistrate D. Lleufer Thomas|
|The 18th Hussars arriving in Mid-Rhondda. |
Franks challenged Corporal Randall to an eight round contest at the
Assault-at-Arms held at the Porth Skating Rink
"We have had a lot of rain, so it has been very rough in the trenches. We have been up to our knees in water."
|Soldiers billeted in the Glamorgan Colliery Yard|
|Pontypridd Police Station and Court.|
The Police Court is the large building to the right.
|Rhondda Leader headline 13th May 1911|
Benjamin Kelly, 40s. and costs;
Griffith Davies, 40s. and costs.
For throwing stones and assaulting the police, Francis Wrentmore was sentenced to three months imprisonment; Edmund Davies, two months: and Evan Evans, one month.
Mr. Bowen undertook to see that the fines were paid within three weeks.
|Mr Cable of the Glandwr Hotel, Ystrad|
distributing food to hungry children.
|Extract from The Rhondda Leader 27th July 1912|
|Rhondda recruits at the outset of the Great War|
"We had a good skirmish on December 19, when we were successful in taking the trenches of the Germans opposed to us. We, however, had to retire from them because they were full of water so I suppose they were glad to leave them. We lost a lot of men in the skirmish - roughly speaking about six officers and 127 men killed."
Yet in the middle of this carnage it seems Frank at last found a measure of peace. If only for a time.
"The Germans acted very well on Christmas Day. They helped us to bring in our dead, and we did the same for them. Some of theirs had been there two months. But under the circumstances we did well. The Germans and ourselves climbed out of the trenches and we shook hands with each other. We stopped firing from five o'clock until midnight, and we visited each other's trenches."
No further mention is made of Frank and so he passes into Rhondda's history as the rugby warrior who went to war and found peace.
"I think he was my great uncle... my family tree shows a Francis Wrentmore, born November 1st 1884. He was the eldest of five (youngest was my grandmother, Annie). He died in 1954, but I don’t have the date. He had five children and some grandchildren some of whom I imagine could be findable."
The second from Alun's father, David Lloyd:
"Alun is exactly correct and I am Alun's father so Frank was my Uncle whom I never met as he moved early 40's with his family from Penygraig to Priory St, Carmarthen where for many years he kept a pub. Probably none of his five children are no longer alive, as the youngest would now be 100, but you would be able to trace the grandchildren if they are still living in Carmarthen with such an unusual surname."
I was delighted to learn that the young Frank Wrentmore had not only survived the war but returned home and raised a family of his own.