A moving letter from an evacuee who survived the bombing of Cwmparc during the Second World War was read out as part of the annual memorial event of the horrific and unexplained tragedy. Picture special of the event.
Rhondda Cynon Taf Mayor Cllr John Watts was among the special guests who joined Parc Primary pupils and staff – as well as parents and the wider community – for the event last week.
Margaret Perry sent the three-page account to the school just a few months after she travelled to Cwmparc from her home in the Midlands, in order to revisit the tiny valleys community to which she was evacuated during the war, in order to protect her from the German bombs that were raining down on the country’s cities. Read her letter here
Ironically, she was to witness the horror as, for no known reason, a German bomber rained explosives down on the village of Cwmparc on the evening of April 30, 1941, killing 27 people, including six children, four of whom were evacuees sent to the safety of the valleys from inner cities.
Read more of her story below
Massive damage was caused to the village and many of the terraces that were virtually destroyed were never rebuilt following the tragedy.
Nearly 10 years ago, Parc Primary School created a memorial garden and remembrance area as a mark of respect for the tragedy and also hosted what has become an annual service.
Since then, pupils, parents, staff at the school and members of the wider community have come together to pay their respects every year. In some years, they have been joined by evacuees who have travelled from their homes back to the village where they stayed all those years ago.
This year’s event began with an opening speech by Headteacher David Williams, who read out the fascinating and touching letter from the lady. She had returned to Cwmparc at Easter this year as she had heard about the memorial garden and wanted to see it for herself.
The school was closed during the visit, so she later wrote a letter to share her account of the tragic evening.
Following the moving opening, Pupils from Year 6 performed their very own play, called We Will Remember Them, which included footage and memories from the war and concluded with prayers led by pupil Ffion Jones.
The service then moved outside to the memorial garden, where Father Haydn welcomed the guests before Treorchy Male Voice Choir gave a rousing performance. Deputy Headteacher Rob Taylor and pupil Megan Gillard played the Last Post and the congregation, including members of the Royal British Legion, stood for a minute’s silence.
Megan Gillard then accompanied the laying of a wreath by pupils with her performance of The Rouse, before Father Haydn closed the event with a prayer.
Cllr John Watts, Mayor of Rhondda Cynon Taf, said: “This was one of my first engagements as the new Mayor of Rhondda Cynon Taf and it was such an honour.
“We will never know what really happened on that fateful evening that led to the horrific bombing of our community of Cwmparc, but we will never forget what happened.
“The pupils and staff of Parc Primary are to be commended for not only putting on, once again, a fitting and moving memorial event to this tragedy, but for their ongoing efforts to ensure we will never forget what happened that evening.”
Headteacher David Williams added: “We were so pleased to receive the letter from the lady who was evacuated here. Her account of what happened that evening was truly haunting and we chose to use it to open the memorial event last week because of that. It showed why it is is so important we never forget what happened.
“Once again, pupils and staff worked hard to put on a fitting tribute and we were pleased to be joined by dignitaries such as Mayor Cllr Watts. The support we receive from the community is also appreciated and we welcome their ongoing support in the remembrance effort.”
Obituaries of those who died (from the original memorial)
David Middleton Jones: A Deacon of Salem, elderly and deeply religious. He was of a simple and trustful nature, with the innocent heart of a child. “Of such is the kingdom of heaven”.
George Watkins: A revered grandfather, whose earthly pilgrimage was nearing its end. His years had been unhurried and pacific. Violence overtook him almost in sight of the promised land.
Annie Mary Williams (his daughter): A widow, serene in her daily comings and goings. She died standing erect and knee-deep in debris, holding a dead evacuee child in her arms and smiling like a guardian angel.
Sadie Jones: A charming maiden with the sweetest of dispositions, the graces of womanhood beckoned her a little way off, and wedding bells should have pealed for her at Whitsuntide. Instead, she passed through the horrors of hell to find the gates of heaven wide open.
Cissie Williams (two years before she was Cissie Pearce). Young, married and radiantly happy. Her buoyant step, her sprightly carriage, her glowing countenance, made sunshine in the streets. And she had arrived proudly, for the second time, at the portals of a woman’s sacred temple of motherhood.
Tom Williams: Typical middle-aged collier, always bluff, hearty and jocular. A little worldly of outlook, but with a heart of gold.
WD Evans: Another miner, quiet and reserved of manner, but observant and of a philosophical bent of mind. He will for a long time be affectionately remembered as Will Dai.
Charlie Hawkins: Pit-messenger and the Mark Tapley of the village. A creature of quip and jest, puckish in his activities and known and loved by all. He died as he had lived, giving service to others.
Stanley Higgs: in the prime of life – manly and upstanding. A special constable, he made the grand sacrifice saving his loved ones.
David T Pearce: A miner with a whimsical sense of humour, whose drolleries made him always a good companion. Served in the last Great War and survived its perils. He died like a true soldier, cheerful, encouraging his comrades under fire.
Margaret Coughlin: A woman evacuee from Cardiff, but Cwmparc born and bred. Paying a social visit to her aunt, she was enjoying an evening’s hospitality. But death struck cruelly from the skies and her place will know her no more.
Tom Hughes: Elderly and a considerable roamer in his time. Not long since returned to his native village. “Twm” had a quaint nickname, but it was used in a sense that was more affectionate than disparaging.
David J Jones: A bachelor of staid and sober habits. Inoffensive and very unassuming in his character. He was the first victim of the night of terror.
Annie Pearce: A widow comparatively young in her years, but a fond mother who valiantly overrode circumstances to rear proudly sons and daughters. Motherhood to her was a sacred shrine.
Robert Pearce (her elder son, Bobby to his friends): Virile and youthful, with the years lying ahead in a glowing prospect. His last thought was for his mother.
Maude Stuckey: A widow very domesticated and happy keeping house for her bachelor son. She was of gracious presence and her warm nature radiated sympathy.
Margaret Ferguson: Housewife, industrious and thrifty and absorbed in the cares of bringing up a family. Her husband, Mr Charlie Ferguson, hard working miner is a tragic figure in these heavy days. (two of their children were seriously injured).
Laura Pearce Jones: Fragile as a flower, for many years happily married to Mr Dicky Jones. (Dicky in happy years that seemed long ago was a famous footballer and the idol of the village football fans.) Cruel fate that so ruthlessly parted a devoted twain!
Nurse Elizabeth A Jones from Treorchy. In her role as an angel of mercy she braved unknown terrors and joined the noble army of martyrs who have suffered death gladly for humanity’s sake.
George Davies, a police reserve from Llwynypia. He recked not of danger but inspired by the call of duty, laid down his life, seeking to succour others.
Ivor Wright: Home guard from Treorchy. First local fatal casualty in the ranks of our glorious “new” army. He challenged the menace from the skies with an impetuous gesture that was grandly defiant and his is the first name on the illustrious roll of dead yet to be.
Gethin Williams: Schoolboy son of Tom Williams.
John D Williams: Baby son of Cissie. Arthur the father was seriously injured but is now out of hospital.
John Derek Bonner: Evacuee. Sunny dispositioned small boy staying with Mrs Stuckey.
Joan Jameson: A winsome maid from London town who died in Mrs Williams’ arms.
Arthur and George Jameson: Brothers of Joan who had been “adopted” for the duration by Tom Williams.
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