Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by Dafydd, Jun 23, 2019.
Can anyone tell me what 'S.O.' in the title of this accident book means?
Thanks very much. I didn't realize it was as simple as that! Would you be able to help decipher an entry of fatalities in this accident book? Here's the entire entry and I only want the bold print deciphered:
4181 17/3/45 (entry number and date) then O.S./443 WDAH&F School Civilian WESTCO 2" Mortar HE (2 inch high explosive mortar) and the casualties were 3 boys who tampered with it and were killed on March 12th 1945.
Apologies if this is not the same incident or this is you on another forum, but I remembered seeing this incident somewhere online & the dates of death on CWGC are 12th March 1945:
Three boys were killed in Treflan, near Kyffin Square, Bangor when one of them was tampering with a 2" HE mortar found on a training range in Aber. I'd like to trace Major C L W Jones who was a witness at the coroner's inquiry and Col. Gordon Carter who represented the War Dep.
The Chronicle of March 1945 reported the sad case.
Bangor explosion accident kills 3 boys March 1945 (Caernarvonshire) - RootsChat.Com
Yes; this is me on another forum chasing up the same story. I've completed my research but I certainly didn't realise that the three boys would be commemorated as civilian war dead. Thank you very much indeed for giving me the links to the CWCG website.
Thanks for confirming.
Was the mortar bomb found at Trawsfyndd Range, near Bronaber camp of which there is much online, including the military byelaws, a fair distance to carry a mortar round on the bus to Bangor.
I ask this because the range was part of Western Command and this could be the WESTCO mentioned.
Maybe WDAH&F is War Department followed by the initials of a firing or training unit at Trawsfyndd, or just Army Headquarters ......
Thank you for your wonderful help.
The training range was in Abergwyngregyn or Aber for short which is between Bangor and Conwy on the N Wales Coast but it's not the riffle range that was near the coast; this was further up the valley and towards the Aber Falls. I can't find any record of its existence but I've seen the By-laws associated with Trawsfynydd and I assume they apply to Aber too.
I thought WESTCO was Western Command and I'm assuming Major Charles Llewellyn Wynne-Jones was the CO as he was a witness in the Coroner's inquiry. Thank you too for ideas as to what WDAH&F stand for; it's so difficult to decipher these, it could be anything such as Western Defence Aber...?
Have you any idea what happened to 'blinds' on a training range in 1945? Did the army have a bomb disposal squad or left them where they landed? The area was not secured against trespass. Bit of a shambles really.
Many thanks for your help.
I've found no more information on the artillery ranges at Abergwyngregyn/Aber, but if used only for mortar practice it could have been I suppose fairly temporary & no more that just a few fields with restricted access ?
I expect you already have this link to the rifle range (page 50):
An odd interesting thing was the WW1 Margarine Factory at Aber here (pages 21, 62 & plate 58)
Am afraid I can't help with when & how 'blinds" were cleared up. You could imagine inquisitive schoolboys being quicker than a clear up team several days later to any finds. The best I could find is references to clearing up the Trawsfyndd Range, which was more heavily used and selected after the war for disposal of unwanted ordanance by live firing.
The photo below shows ordanance being cleared at the Trawsfyndd Range for the Forestry Commission with an armoured Tractor in 1969, some ten years after the army left. I have also read that parts of the site may still be dangerous.
Thanks again for your help.
I have indeed see these to documents. Here's the gist of the story...
From witness testimony during the coroner's inquest, the boys said the range was on "Aber mountain" - near the famous Aber Falls and access was unimpeded: "over a broken down wall and there was no barbed wire". The boys found 2 'blind' 2" HE mortars and 4 hand grenades; 6 UXO. A Major Wynne-Jones testified that about 1 - 2% of the 1300 fired up there every month were blinds. There could be about 26 lying up there which he said the army did all it could to recover. A red flag was placed "in the vicinity" and the position plotted on a map which was sent to the police but "it was impossible to find them...on rough ground or in bracken…" I don't think security nor search and recovery there were thorough. Sense says that if you can plant a flag near the blind than a competent search would find it. Bracken doesn't grow back until late May or early June; the boys found 6 UXO in March during one Sunday afternoon stroll! If they were "impossible to find" then the security from trespass should have been total or a thorough search and recovery in the absence of the former.
The coroner also 'rigged' the jury by asking for 'criminal proof of negligence'; the jury had to be sure beyond a reasonable doubt there was a reckless disregard for safety. Had it been a civil burden of proof then it would be reasonable to expect the public to be prevented from entering the site if they couldn't find their blinds. After all, the area is a beauty spot. Only "accidental death" was recorded and nothing was recorded in the press about the findings of the jury in the case of criminal negligence. Truth is the first casualty of war.
Thanks for the photo too. I don't think they had a bomb disposal team there in 1945 but I'd love to know for sure. Any help would be valuable in my research.
Thank you for the extra detail of the tragic circumstances & seems not enough recovery efforts to put off even a casual souvenir hunter.
A fairly well used range or battle training ground if 1300 fired every month, but the lack of security may suggest a wartime only facility ?
Maybe Major Wynne-Jones was OC & responsible for several ranges or training areas in that part of Wales.
I knew of someone who as a boy in the 1970's collected WW2 ordanance from the South Downs training areas in Sussex, and eventually had a visit from the bomb squad to his home to remove a large quantity.
I will keep a look out for any further references to the information you seek.
You are very kind, thank you.
Is it normal then for training ranges used only as a wartime facility not to be secured? Was Trawsfynydd secured by barbed wire and signs?
Maj. Charles Llewellyn Wynne-Jones (17th Lancers; JP, DL and High Sheriff of Merionethshire) was the son of the Dean of St Asaph and was 50 when he was recalled from the Officer Reserve when WWII started. He might have been given command of the training ranges in N Wales. He's in Penmaenucha Hall, Dolgellau in the 1939 Register. Two of his sons died in N Africa in WWII and he gave evidence as a bereaved father himself. I wonder if anybody else here knows more about him?
There were signs at Trawsfyndd (see the site below), but it was active 1905-1950's so no idea when they would have been put up. It was a large (8403 acres) open area so maybe never had barbed wire. It was a well known and busy area with military around all the time in the war & other times, so maybe they felt less need to put up wire. Certainly none shown in any of the photos.
Gwynedd Archaeological Trust - Ymddiriedolaeth Archaeolegol Gwynedd
Trawsfynydd Artillery Range and Camp - Old Photos by Keith O'Brien
Trawsfynydd Artillery Range and Camp by Keith O'Brien
This chap who posted on the above site in 2014 may be able to help & is interested about Trawsfyndd.
i work for Maritime & Land EOD, we are the company that assists the Forestry Commission with the Unexploded Ordnance issue on this range, i would be really interested to hear from anyone that may have served here at one time or another.
or in fact anyone that has an interest in the ordnance on this range
Re the South Downs, again a large battle ground area between Brighton & Lewes, I believe the Army just declared it closed, evacuated civilians & closed all the roads, so nothing really to stop schoolboys, except fear of being caught. I used to work with a man who tested the first of the Churchill Tanks up there.
Re Major Wynne-Jones
His entry in Who Was Who gives a little more info about WW2:
Wynne-Jones, Major Charles Llewellyn
Born 3 Oct. 1890; s of late Very Rev. Llewelyn Wynne-Jones, MA, Dean of St Asaph; m1915, Sybil, o c of late Lieut-Colonel G. F. Scott, DL, JP; one d (two s killed in action); died 21 Aug. 1974
JP; Vice-Lieutenant of Merioneth, since 1957
Education: Eton; RMC
Career: Commissioned in 17th Lancers, 1910; served in France, 1914–18; Captain, N. Somerset Yeomanry, 1928–35; retired as Major. Re-employed, 1940–45; DAQMG War Office, 1940; DAAG London District, 1943. JP for Merioneth, 1919; High Sheriff, 1928; DL 1930
Recreations: Fishing, shooting
Address: Penmaenucha, Dolgellau, Gwynedd
Tel: Dolgellau, 625
Deaths of his sons, 2nd Lt Ronald (died 13.1.42) Royal Dragoons/RAC, & Lt Charles Alexander KRRC in action is mentioned in four newspaper articles in the British Newspaper Archive, but I dont have a membership there to view the whole articles. Both died intestate, but for both the index of probates just gives the father as a Major HM Army.
There is no full obituary in the Times newspaper in the week immediatly following his death, but his probate is mentioned on 15th January 1975.
This is fantastic; I can't thank you enough.
How might I contact Keith; I've tried his email from the links you sent but it doesn't work.
Keith, who seems to be an amateur photographer may be contactable if you go to the link in post no 12, select his profile, then select Guest Book, where you can leave a message including your email. I noticed he had posted a photo on the site in May 2019 so you should get a reply. If no luck that way it seems it would be free for a temp membership of Pbase to leave a message on their forum or email the sites administrator.
Keith is also on the Flickr website, where you may also be able to contact him (you may have to join to do this).
Major Charles Wynne-Jones
Have had a little luck on Fold3 website with the Army lists confirming his WW2 postings:
October 1940: Department of the Quarter-Master Gereral to the Forces: Staff Captains: Capt. C.L. Wynne-Jones (res. of Officers) posted to role. 3.3.40
October 1941: Department of the Quarter-Master Gereral to the Forces: Dep. Asst. Qtr. Mstr. Gen: Maj (temp 3/3/41) C L Wynne-Jones Res of Officers. posted to role 3.12.40
October 1945: Commands (United Kingdom) London District, Staff, Adjutant Generals Branch, Deputy Asst Adj General (Welfare) Wynne-Jones, Major, (temp 3/3/41) C.L. Res of Officers. posted to role 7.5.43
October 1945: page 1300 Regular Army Reserve of Officers, RAC, 17th/21st Lancers, Class II, Captain, WYNNE-JONES C.L. (temp Major 3/3/41) (emplyd) RARO from 8.6.20
In your rootschat post you give Col Carter's forename as both Gordon & Douglas, can you confirm which one and I will look him up.
This C.L. Wynne-Jones was London based 1943-45 specalising in welfare, and I wonder if it was either this speciality, or his connection with the Bangor/North Wales area as a land owner, Justice of the Peace, Deputy Lieut & High Sheriff, that lead to him giving evidence.
He may also be listed in Burkes Landed Gentry, which last published in 1972, although I would not expect more info than Who's Who.
Although I could not find a Times obituary, maybe there was one in either the local Bangor or Dolgellau papers when he died in 1974.
Some info on the history of Penmaenucha is here:
Penmaenuchaf Hall Hotel North Wales - CADW Listed gardens in Snowdonia, Wales - Sites of historical interest in Wales
This is very interesting information about Maj. Jones - especially his posting during WWII; this I didn't know. I knew he lost two sons but not their rank. The other officer was Gordon Carter and I think he was Gordon Lloyd Carter and his father was a solicitor in Carter & Vincent, Caernarfon. A company that represented Lord Penrhyn.
Thank you again for you help.
Thanks for the extra on Col Carter. I struggled with him until, I found he was Henry Gordon Lloyd Carter (1893-1966).
Theres a lot on ancestry about the family, including a comprehensive public member tree, which had his photo as below. This confirms him as a solicitor & living in Carnarvon in 1939 register.
In WW1 he won the MC at Gallipoli, and reached the rank of Major in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. But in WW2 the Army Lists show him in the Home Guard:
October 1942 to October 1945: Territorial Association Carnarvon, Military Member: Lt Col H G Carter M.C. H.G. (maj. late T.A. Res) (Chairman)
So it looks like those giving evidence for the army at the inquest into the boys deaths were a Lt Col in the Home Guard/Maj TA Reserve, who was a local solicitor, and a staff Major DAAG (welfare) London Command, who was/had been the High Sherriff, a JP, and a local estate owner.
This is for interest only, but two of his brothers also served with distinction in both world wars:
Capt William Hamilton Carter MC. Denbigh Yeo. & Welsh Guards in WW1. Captured in defence of Bolougne with 2nd Bn Welsh Guards. Awarded MC in 1944.
Air Commodore Guy Lloyd Carter DSO AFC (1900-1944) A career RAF officer who joined RNAS in WW1 & was a pow. Helped set up the Iraqui airforce in the 1930's. Died 1944 at Bari, Italy, of injuries sustained on active service. He was a passenger on Dakota KG472, which over shot the runway at a landing strip in Yugoslavia. A survivor of this crash was Major Randolph Churchill.
One of Henry Carters nephews was Brian Trubshaw, the Concorde test pilot.
oops this is the photo of Henry Gordon Lloyd Carter.
This is quite jaw-dropping what you have been able to find and help me out. I feel very humbled; thank you so much.
With a Colonel who was a decorated veteran and a prominent solicitor to Lord Penrhyn on the one hand, a staff Major who was the High Sheriff of Merionethshire, and a sitting JP on the other and a coroner who skewed the inquiry by directing the jury to the highest burden of proof of 'criminal negligence' is it a wonder the inquiry found that the 3 boys died 'accidentally' and that the army's responsibility surrounding their deaths not mentioned? There was talk in Bangor later of a court martial but I have no evidence. Are court martials published?
I have had permission by the Coroner's Office to access the inquiry's file which is in Caernarfon Archives and this should give me some evidence as to what the coroner concluded which was not reported in the press (possibly due to wartime censorship). Every coroner has a legal duty to write a PFD report; the Prevention of Further Deaths which might have recommended the army to secure the bomb training area in Aber. It's likely with the war months from ending, the army simply ceased using the site?
I have an account for Ancestry so I'll look at the Carter family tree. Your help is invaluable to my writing an article about the inquiry and I'll give you due credit.
Sorry, I forgot to mention Trubshaw…
Lord Penrhyn (Hugh Napier Douglas Pennant) had a chauffeur named Arthur Edward Trubshaw (died 53 years) who is buried in Glanadda Cemetery, Bangor with his wife Margaret Elizabeth (d. Aug. 24th 1981 aged 84. Their grave is a few feet away from one of the boys who died in the explosion, my cousin Ronnie Ivor Edwards (9) 1945. I wonder if this Trubshaw is related? You can't make this up!!! The 1939 Register has the Trubshaws in Penrhyn Castle (see attachment).
I looked again at the tree on ancestry & this shows that (Ernest) Brian Trubshaw's paternal family are from LLanelly, Carmathenshire, South Wales & he was born there. They were/had been manufactures of Tin Plate in that town, but originaly from Staffordshire.
Will be great to have sight of the original inquest papers & this is the key. Maybe a verdict of misadventure (if it existed then) was also a possibility.
You may well be correct that some local training grounds/ranges were out of use by March 1945, especialy as the Home Guard had been stood down in November 1944. Hopefully the inquest papers will give a better idea of the size/status of the range at Aber.
Separate names with a comma.