speaker reports 2014

Lunchtime meeting – Wil Troughton – Aberystwyth’s First World War – 11 November 2014
” Aberystwyth and the Great War ” was the title of a talk given by William Troughton at this week’s meeting. He is preparing a book on the subject to be published next year. In August 1914 some days before the declaration of war, a group of Aberystwyth naval reservists assembled for the journey to Devonport. Fourteen of them joined HMS Jupiter, an old battleship which was deployed as a guard ship before leaving for Archangel to act as an icebreaker allowing supply ships to enter the White Sea. They had to contend with a force 9 gale and -23 degrees C as well as being icebound for some time with food supplies low. After four months at sea, the Aber contingent were given a civic reception in May 1915. The Jupiter crew were allawarded silver medals by Emperor Nicholas 11. As early as 1908, the Territorial Army recruited over 140 men to establish the Cardiganshire Battery , a gunnery unit which saw war service in Egypt and the Suez Canal. RSM Fear initiated a Comforts Fund which purchased cigarettes and other items for the troops. Confirmation of receipt was encouraged so relatives were reassured that all was well. Mr Troughton touched on life in the trenches and the action of Lewis Pugh Evans who was awarded the VC for his exploits. At home there was the unsavoury episode of the German Professor, Hermann Ethe driven out of town by a large angry mob. Local householders were forced to take soldiers who trained on the Prom and Constitution Hill . The Theological College was closed to students and became a Red Cross hospital where local women acted nurses. In 1915 a blackout was declared to avoid the attention of German submarines in the Irish Sea. The town held the record in the UK for donations during War Weapons Week in 1918 The town became a refuge for many Belgian artists and musicians who became attached to the College and whose children attended local schools. Concluding his talk, William appealed for documents and photographs of the time of the Great War. President Hywel thanked him for his presentation which had involved much research.


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