Ystalyfera Fallen

War Graves & Remembrance Graves

Thomas O'Connor

This is the memorial page for Thomas O'Connor, native of Ystalyfera, killed during the First World War.

The information on Thomas O'Connor comes principally from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, from the Labour Voice newspaper, and the Parish Burial Register (courtesy of the Swansea Archives).

NameThomas O'Connor
Date of Death28th June 1917
Place of DeathBelgium
Age at Death37
Unit and RegimentIrish Guards; 1st Bn.
Service Number5347
CemeteryFERME-OLIVIER CEMETERY - BELGIUM; Plot 3. Row F. Grave 24.
Remembrance Grave  Bethania Calvinistic Methodist Chapelyard, Lower Cwmtrwch
Grave inscription: Died in Belgium 
Local MemorialsYstalyfera War Memorial
Family Details Born Ireland 1878.
Husband of Catherine O'CONNOR nee BOWEN (Born 03/01/1880-1957) of New Inn Cottage Lower Cwmtwrch, South Wales.
In 1911 residing Near Bethel Church Lower Cwmtwrch with Wife's Parents Father David BOWEN (Born Carmarthenshire 1840) Mother Catherine BOWEN (Born Rhiwfawr 1846) her Brother David John BOWEN (Born Lower Cwmtwrch 1887) Colliery Haulier and their own son David Thomas O'CONNOR
Employed as a Bar Cutter at Tin Plate Works prior to war
Sons of Tom and Catherine David Thomas O'CONNOR (Born Lower Cwmtwrch 1911)
Michael J O'CONNOR (Born 10th Jan 1912) Colliery Canvasser Shifter
Donald James O'CONNOR* (Born c June 1913, died March 1914 aged 9 months)
Evan L O'CONNOR (Born 28th Dec 1914)

Thomas O'Connor
To the left is the remembrance grave in Bethania cemetery

From the Labour Voice newspaper, 21st August 1915 :-

Private Tom O'Connor, of the New Inn Cottage Cwmtwrch, who enlisted in the Irish Guards last November and has been at the front since Christmas, writes home this week to say that he hopes to be back in Wales on furlough for a few days very soon. He has had an exciting time in France but he has proved a capable soldier and has been promoted to the post of aide-de-camp to an officer. He has recently sent home a German bayonet, captured in a stiff bayonet charge.

From the Labour Voice newspaper, 23rd October 1915:-

News has been received from Private Thomas O'Connor of the Irish Guards, whose family resides at Lower Cwmtwrch that he now lies in Lincoln hospital, having been wounded in France. He states: "The second day I got into the trenches after been in hospital with my foot, I was hit by a piece of shell right on the trenching tool, which paralyzed me altogether for two days. They left me to the stretcher bearers, and I was brought to hospital the same night. I was unconscious, and did not know where I was until I woke up in the Canadian hospital. I was supposed to be operated upon, but the doctors say to-day that I am getting on splendidly and if I continued so I would be able to go about in two or three weeks."

Private O'Connor has been out in France since December, and got into the trenches on Christmas Day. He has been in several tight corners, and relates some thrilling experiences.

From the Labour Voice newspaper, 11th December 1915:-

A very interesting visitor to Cwmtwrch this week is Private Tom O'Connor, who is home from the front, after spending many months in the trenches, and was given a very hearty welcome. Private O'Connor is attached to the well known Irish Guards, who have taken part in some of the most important engagements in France. After a few days of well earned furlough, Private O'Connor returns to the front on Monday.

From the Labour Voice newspaper, 18th December 1915:-

An enthusiastic farewell concert was held at Beulah Chapel on Sunday evening, on the occasion of Private Tom O'Connor's departure to rejoin his regiment. Private O'Conner had been home on short leave from the trenches, where he had seen some very severe fighting, being a private in the renowned Irish Guards. Mr. Arthur Wm. Griffiths, Pentwyn, presided, and was supported by the Rev. W. T. Hughes (Beulah), Messrs Thomas R. Thomas (schoolmaster), and Ben Williams (Gilwen House). The following took part Recitation, Miss May Davies (Eithinferch) flute solo, Mr. Dd. Gregory (Ystalyfera), cornet solo, J. Waker Cwmtwrch (solo cornettist Ystalyfera Town Band), duett, baritone and soprano, Mr. Stanley Jones (Co-op), and Miss Ellen Moses; solo, Mr John Thomas (Ystalyfera), solo, Mr Rhys Rees (Abernant), and a solo by Miss Mary Thomas (near Bethel). The Cwmtwrch United Choir (under the conductorship of Mr. J. Dyfrig Owen), also took part.

During the proceedings a collection was made which realised £5, and this was handed to Private O'Connor with all good wishes for a speedy and safe return. Another presentation was also made at the meeting, when Mr. David Roberts, of Bryneithin, presented O'Conner on behalf of his fellow-workmen employed at the Phoenix Tinplate Works, with a beautiful wrist watch. We have received the following for publication:

Gwaith hawdd llongyfarch gwron
A fu yn chwifio'r cledd
Yn mrwydr fawr ofnadwy Mons,
Mae heno'n iach ei wedd.
Tra bo Twrch yn canu
Ei hodlau ar ei thaith,
Bydd son am Tom O'Connor
Fel milwr wrth ei waith.
Yr oriawr hon ga heno
0 barch calonau lu,
Gobeithio, Tom O'Connor ddewr,
Y gwnai ei derbyn hi.
A chofia pan y byddi
Yn brwydro yn y gad,
Fod genyt ti gyfeillion fyrdd
Ar ol yn Nghymru fad
Rhwydd hynt i ti, fy nghyfaill,
I fynd yn groes i'r don,
Bydd Hapus, os mai called yw
Yn yr ymdrechfa hon.
Dy oreu gwna dros Bryndain
A chofia Gymru fad,
Daw'r fuddugoliaeth cyn bo hir,
Daw'r heddwch 'nol i'n gwlad.

From the Labour Voice newspaper, 8th January 1916 :-

Private Tom O'Connor who lives near the New Inn has been invalided out of France. Staying on leave for three weeks then goes back to the Front Line.
Tom returned on 22nd January in the Regiment of the Irish Guards.

From the Labour Voice newspaper, 8th June 1916:-

Private Tom O'Connor of the Irish Guards is home on short leave from Seaford in the South of England, where he has been recuperating. Private O'Connor, who resides near the New Inn Lower Cwmtwrch, was invalided home after the battle of Loos, and is now quite well after his rest. He expects to rejoin his regiment in a few days.

From the Labour Voice newspaper, 7th July 1917 :-

The sad news reached Mrs O'Connor New Inn Cottage Lower Cwmtwrch on Thursday morning that her husband, Private Ton O'Connor, of the Irish Guards, had been killed in action in France. The deceased soldier was well known in the Swansea Valley and the news of his death will be received with keen regret by his many friends. Standing over 6 ft high Private O'Connor was a fine specimen of manhood and soon after the outbreak of war, he joined the Irish Guards and was drafted to France in 1915. He took part in many fights until he was wounded in 1916. He was at one time a member of Glamorganshire Constabulary and was stationed at Ystalyfera under Sergeant Brown but latterly had been employed at the Phoenix Tin Plate Works, and when home on leave from hospital, was presented by his fellow workmen with a wrist watch. He leaves a widow and three children with whom the deepest sympathy is felt.

Thomas O'Connor was one of 14 men of Cwmtwrch remembered at a memorial service held in February 1919. The write-up in the Llais described his service thus:-

Private Thomas O'Connor, Irish Guards. Enlisted September, 1914 wounded, and killed on the way to dressing station in Belgium, June 18th 1917

Thomas O'Connor is remembered on the family grave in Bethania chapelyard, Ystradgynlais

SON OF MR AND MRS O'CONNOR - Donald James O'Connor died 1st March 1914 aged 9 months
WIFE OF THOMAS O'CONNOR [Catherine O'CONNOR nee BEVAN Sister of Mrs Elizabeth OWEN]

The Labour Voice newspaper of 7th March 1914 had reported the death of Donald James O'Connor, the baby boy of Mr and Mrs Tom O'Connor:-

Sympathy is expressed with Mr and Mrs Tom O'Connor Lower Cwmtwrch, whose baby boy passed away on Sunday morning, after ailing for some time.
The internment took place on Wednesday at the Bethania Burial Ground.

The South Wales Voice newspaper of Friday 29th November 1957 reported the death of Catherine O'Connor, widow of Tom O'Connor:-

The funeral of Mrs Catherine O'Connor of New Inn Cottage Lower Cwmtwrch who died on 14th November aged 77, took place on Monday 18th November. Mrs O'Connor was a faithful member of Bethel Chapel Glantwrch and was the treasurer of the Lower Cwmtwrch Old Age Pensioners. A service was held at Bethel Chapel and burial was at Bethania Cemetery.
Mourners: David and Dorothy, Michael and Margaret, Evan sons and daughters in law; Anna Ray David Elgar, Michael Rory grandchildren; Jeanette, Katie, Bob, Verona and Lizzie Mary Owen, Dafydd Bowen, D O James and O R Howells nephews and nieces; Evan, Lewis and Lizzie Kinsey, Lewis, Kate and Diana Williams, David Jones cousins.
At the house were: Mesdames Prichard, Owen, Collins, Hutchings, Thomas, Williams and Stoneman.

It can be noted that the Parents of Catherine O'CONNOR nee BEVAN: -
Father David BOWEN died 1914 aged 76 years
Mother Catherine BOWEN died 1919 aged 75 years Buried Cwmllynfell Cemetery

Ystalyfera - South Wales

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