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Brinley Edmunds – Barry’s Boy Soldier

Elen Phillips, 26 Chwefror 2015

On this day in 1917, Brinley Rhys Edmunds, an 18 year old groom from Barry, joined the army – one teenager among the 272,924 Welshmen who served during the First World War.

At the time, Brinley was living with his parents – Evan Edmunds and his Norwegian wife, Christine Sofia – at 7 Dunraven Street, a stone’s throw from the hustle and bustle of Barry Docks. On the 1911 census, his father’s occupation is listed as Railway Engine Driver. From the census, we also learn that he, along with two of his four siblings, was a Welsh speaker.  

Brinley’s Record of Service Paper – the form he completed at a Cardiff recruiting office on 26 February 1917 – shows that he was initially assigned to the 59th Training Reserve Battalion. As you can see, the recruiting officer mistakenly noted his name as Brindley, rather than Brinley – an error replicated in all subsequent military records. The Service Paper reveals an intriguing twist to Brinley’s story. It appears that he had enlisted once before, with the 18th Battalion The Welsh Regiment, but was discharged for being underage:

Have you ever served in any branch of His Majesty’s Forces, naval or military? If so, which?

Yes 18 Welch Discharged under age 16-11-15

By my calculations, Brinley was born in November 1898, therefore he would have been 17 years old, or thereabouts, when he was discharged from the 18th Battalion. He probably joined-up at the age of 16, but I have been unable to trace any online documents relating to his time as an underage teenage tommy.

Frustrations aside, we’re fortunate to have several objects in the collection which were donated to the Museum by Brinley’s family in the late 1970s and early 1980s. They are among the most powerful and poignant of all the First World War collections in our care. Although undated, the postcard shown here was almost certainly written by Brinley when he served with The Welsh Regiment. In July 1915, the 18th Battalion moved to Prees Heath training camp in Shropshire. This novelty postcard, addressed to Brinley’s parents, includes a set of pull-out images of the camp.

In addition to the postcard, we also have a beautiful pincushion made by Brinley as a gift for his mother. The centre features the insignia of The Welsh Regiment and the motto Gwell Angau na Chywilydd (Better Death than Dishonour). We don’t know where or why Brinley made this pincushion, but it’s possible that he was given the material and beads in kit format to alleviate boredom or to focus his mind.

We recently showed the pincushion and postcard to children whose parents are serving in the Armed Forces today. Both objects will be displayed in the redeveloped galleries here at St Fagans, alongside contemporary responses generated through partnership work with the Armed Forces Community Covenant Grant Scheme. When asked to consider why Brinley may have made this pincushion for his mother, one young girl suggested it was his way of saying ‘I’m alive, don’t worry.’

Brinley Rhys Edmunds died on 5 September 1918 while serving with the Durham Light Infantry, a matter of weeks before the armistice and his twentieth birthday. He is buried at the Berlin South-Western Cemetery in Germany. With no grave to visit at home, his family preserved and displayed the pincushion under a glass dome. Like all families who lost a relative in the line of duty, Brinley’s parents received a bronze memorial plaque in recognition of his service, inscribed HE DIED FOR FREEDOM AND HONOUR BRINDLEY RYHS EDMUNDS – the error made by the Cardiff recruiting officer compounded by the misspelling of his middle name, Rhys.

Remember, you can now access the Museum's First World War collections online. We'd love to hear from you if you have further information about Brinley Edmunds, or any other person or family represented in the collections.

merched y sied

Bernice Parker, 23 Ionawr 2015

Mae’r defaid beichiog yn dod mewn o’r caeau'n syth ar ôl y Nadolig er mwyn cael lloches, bwyd a gofal ychwanegol – sy’n bwysig ar gyfer datblygiad yr wyn. Wnaethon nhw gael eu sganio yn y flwyddyn newydd er mwyn eu gwahanu i ddau grwp: y rhai sydd yn disgwyl oen sengl, a’r lleill sydd yn disgwyl gefeilliad neu dripledi. Mae’r marciau glas ar eu cefnau nhw yn dangos i’r ffermwyr pwy sy’n mynd i gael beth.


Ar hyn o bryd mae gennym tua 100 o ddefaid magu felly dyn ni’n disgwyl 150+ o wyn. Mae ein defaid 2 blwydd oed yn wyna am y tro cyntaf. Mae dafad yn feichiog am 5 mis - mae’n dod i’w thymor ym mis Medi, wedyn mae’r hyrddod yn mynd mewn gyda'r merched ar y cyntaf o Hydref. Felly bydd wyna yn cychwyn dechrau mis Mawrth. Ni sy’n dewis y drefn yma er mwyn cael wyn i'w gweld yng nghaeau'r Amgueddfa dros y Pasg. Dros yr wythnosau nesaf mi fydden nhw’n cicio eu sodlau yn y sied, yn bwyta ac yn cysgu…

Yn torheulo ac yn cael eu maldodi.

Rhywle yn eu phlith nhw mae Poopsie, oen llywaeth o ddwy flynedd yn ol. Mi gafodd yr enw ar ol iddi wneud pw-pw drostai wrth i mi fwydo hi!

Weithiau mae wyn llywaeth yn aros yn ddof ond mae Poopsie wedi ail ymuno a’r ddiadell erbyn hyn. Ond jyst weithiau mae na rhyw edrychiad sy’n dal fy sylw a dwi’n tybio ‘A ti di Poopsie…..?

cyfri defaid

Bernice Parker, 15 Ionawr 2015


Rhwng y Nadolig a’r Flwyddyn Newydd ddaeth ein genod ni mewn o’r caeau er mwyn cael eu sganio

Diadell Sain Ffagan


A dyma’r canlyniadau…

canlyniadau scanio ar gyfer defaid Sain Ffagan


Mae gennym 3 frid o ddefaid yn Sain Ffagan ac maen nhw i gyd ar y rhestr o fridiau prin

Dafad Hill Radnor

Hill Radnor

Hwrdd Llanwenog

Llanwenog

grwp oddefaid cymysg ar bore rhewllyd

defaid yn Sain Ffagan


a Mynydd Duon Cymreig.


Bydd ein babis yn dechrau cyrraedd Mis Mawrth,
felly cadwch lygaid ar y wefan am fwy o fanylion yn agosach at yr amser.

Make an Aria

Sioned Williams, 27 Hydref 2014

What is an aria? That was the question posed by Music Theatre Wales Director, Michael McCarthy to kick-off this very exciting collaborative project. The Make an Aria scheme is a partnership between Music Theatre Wales (MTW) and the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama (RWCMD) giving young composers an opportunity to have-a-go at opera. This time, they are using St Fagans Castle and the Museum’s collections as their inspiration. A group of composers from RWCMD teamed with creative writers will ‘make an aria’ from scratch.

So where do you start? A speed-dating session was a good way to establish the best creative match for composer and writer. When everyone was paired-up, curator Elen Phillips gave an introduction to the material for the arias – the story of St Fagans Castle during the Great War.

The Windsor-Clive family of St Fagans Castle were at the centre of events during these turbulent years; Lord Windsor as chairman of the Welsh Army Corps and Lady Windsor as President of the Red Cross Society in Glamorgan. Grief-stricken by the loss of their youngest son, Archer, who was killed in action, they opened the Castle grounds to set-up a hospital run by volunteer nurses or VADs.

The stories were brought alive by looking at objects from the Museum’s collections; a nurses’ uniform from the hospital, a delicate necklace made by one of the wounded soldiers and a field-communion set used on the battlefield. At this point we were joined by members of the Armed Forces community, the 203 Welsh Field Hospital Medics who gave us a completely new take on some of these objects and stories. It just proves that working collaboratively can bring some unexpected and rewarding results. We will continue to work with the Armed Forces in co-curating some of the exhibits in the new galleries at St Fagans but that’s another blog for another day.

We then led the composers and writers on a tour of the Castle and grounds; the old site of the WW1 hospital, the Italian garden where the soldiers recuperated and the greenhouses where the land girls may have worked. Any of these locations could be the setting to perform the arias in the summer of 2015. I think that everyone left with their heads bubbling with ideas. All we can do now is wait.

Arddangosiadau Tîm Adeiladau Hanesyddol

Gareth Bonello, 17 Medi 2014

Ffermdy Hendre'r Ywydd Uchaf

Mae Elan yn gwirfoddoli gyda fforwm ieuenctid Sain Ffagan. Yn ddiweddar, treuliodd Elen amser gydag ein Uned Adeiladau Hanesyddol ac mae wedi ysgrifennu am ei phrofiad isod;

Arddangosiadau Tîm Adeiladau Hanesyddol

Fel rhan o’r arddangosiadau Tîm Adeiladau Hanesyddol yn Sain Ffagan, es i i Hendre’r Ywydd Uchag i weld saer coed wrth ei waith. Pan gyrhaeddais roedd yn brysur yn gweithio ar ffrâm ddrws ar gyfer y Pentref Oes Haearn newydd gyda phren a oedd o’r safle ac wedi cael ei dorri y bore hwnnw. Roedd rhaid i’r gwaith gael ei wneud gyda llaw heb unrhyw gymorth oddi wrth beiriannau. Roedd e’n fwy na hapus i siarad â ni ynglŷn â’i waith ac i ateb ein cwestiynau. Soniodd ynglŷn â’i hanes proffesiynol, ei fod wedi gwneud NVQ mewn gwaith saer hanesyddol a’i fod newydd orffen ei brentisiaeth ar ôl gweithio yn yr amgueddfa am bum mlynedd. Roedd ei edmygedd tuag at wybodaeth y crefftwyr mwy profiadol yn glir ac roedd yn ymwybodol fod y wybodaeth hon yn dod o brofiad ac nid ar sail cymwysterau.

Esboniodd wedyn sut daethant â’r adeiladau i’r amgueddfa gan ddisgrifio’r cynnyrch terfynol fel ‘flatpack buildings’ wrth iddynt rifo’r holl friciau o amgylch ochrau’r adeilad cyn ei dynnu i lawr a’i ailadeiladu. Defnyddiodd Dŷ Hwlffordd a Gorsaf Drenau Raglan fel esiamplau. Roedd pwysigrwydd cadwraeth yn y broses hon yn eglur wrth iddo sôn mai dim ond tynnu’r hyn sydd angen ei dynnu ffwrdd roedd rhaid gwneud wrth atgyweirio adeiladau. Esboniodd sut byddai datblygiadau newydd sydd ar droed yn Sain Ffagan yn arwain at waith newydd e.e. Palas y Tywysog o Ynys Môn lle bydd rhaid iddynt drin 480kg o bren! Dyma oedd amser gwerth ei dreulio er mwyn deall sut roedd yr adeiladu’n digwydd yn Sain Ffagan.

by Elan Llwyd