Ystalyfera Fallen

Articles of Remembrance


Over the last 14-15 years, researching the hundreds of families in my work of documenting the local cemeteries within Ystalyfera and District it is always a special moment when living relatives get in touch and can add their own memories to the files which I have created. Obviously my files can contain information on the deaths and burials because the local newspaper of Ystalyfera (The LLAIS) on many occasions documented the passing of a local inhabitant. However, many marriages were noted, as well as special anniversaries or honours when a person achieved something note worthy and I have collated these and added them on to the appropriate files.

Other resources give me information on the addresses and with the data I have managed to collect from numerous sources over the years, especially schools and places of worship when these buildings have closed their doors for the last time, it all helps to form a more rounded view of that person and how life was lived since 1868. [The date most of my research starts]

Holy Trinity Cemetery and its Church, still standing when I came to live in Pantteg but demolished in 1988, was the first Cemetery I photographed and it was on one of these occasions in 2004 that I arrived at the end of a funeral. I spoke with the lady and she told me other members of the family were buried in another part of the Cemetery but no one had been able to find the grave. Sadly neither the family nor I have found the last resting place for Elizabeth REES but I told her what I was endeavouring to do and we exchanged numbers.

I have 4,833 names of people buried just in Holy Trinity alone not counting the Memorial Gardens of Holy Trinity and St David's Church. Thankfully many are now cross referenced not only to other members in Holy Trinity but to family members who are buried in Pantteg Alltygrug and Godre'rgraig Cemeteries, the other Cemeteries I have and still am researching in depth.

Eventually many years later I entered Elizabeth Rees still unfortunately in an Unknown Grave Location as none of my headstones or markers I had photographed named her, but I had found her obituary. Letting Carol, the lady I met in 2004 know, she sent me a further email in 2016 and this year The Centenary of WWI, I know it is time a very small but very important part of the life of Elizabeth REES was shared.

ELIZABETH REES (Born Ystalyfera 1881-1956)
The daughter of Griffith and Margaret REES

Elizabeth died on 4th May 1956 and her obituary states: Miss Elizabeth Rees of 73 Graig Road Godre'rgraig died at Swansea Hospital, 2 days after admission. She was 75 years of age and a lifelong member of Holy Trinity Church. For most of her life she worked in local tin plate works and she took part in a radio programme dealing with the old Tin Plate Works. Burial took place at Holy Trinity Churchyard on 8th May.

Margaret, her mother, had resided near the Gate in Godre'rgraig for many years. She herself died on 4th April 1918 and was buried in Holy Trinity. In 1911, along with Margaret's children, Mary Ann, William and Elizabeth, a child was also registered at Gate Terrace, her name Margaret Ann REES being born in 1910.

Like many families before and since, life was difficult and circumstances were not always of our choosing.

But at this point I shall relate the story as it was told to me.

"Elizabeth Rees lived for many years at 73 Graig Road, Godre'rgraig, where she was an Opener in the Tinplate Works. My mother Margaret Ann Rees was born 29 August 1910 out of wedlock in Gate Terrace, Godre'rgraig. My Grand Mother Miss Elizabeth Rees was born in 1881 and was very good with fine cotton and a fine crotchet hook.

[She crocheted] an Altar Cloth: which was made to welcome and celebrate those coming back from WWI. However, it was never placed on the Holy Trinity Altar because, as you will see, the date on it is 1917: it also shows swastikas and War ships. My mother always said that locally it was understood that the war would be over by 1917. By working on the figures given, I presume she made the Altar Cloth when she was approximately aged 36yrs old.

I and my siblings tried to locate our Grandmothers gave but it was too overgrown and too dangerous to venture any further.

Luckily, I was given the Altar Cloth just before my Mother Margaret Ann Rees passed away in June 2004 at the age of almost 94 years of age. My mother's ashes are now in the Holy Trinity Garden of Remembrance in Ystalyfera where her heart was forever.

The name on my mother's grave stone shows her maiden name, this is because my father Haydn Ivor Thomas deserted her and my four siblings a few months before I was born in November 1952. My parents never divorced, but whenever my mother had her name on display, it had to be displayed as Margaret Ann Rees. Her first language was Welsh, her second English and she was very proud of being Welsh.

The reason I am writing to you is that I feel this is a piece of history that would not have been seen ever, if I didn't write to you. In addition, I have been researching my family tree for many years and feel very proud of all of them. The hard work and the hard times they lived in commands my respect.



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