A.M. Thomas

THOMAS - Arthur Meyrick
Gunner 54168
Royal Garrison Artillery

Born - 15th August, 1894 at Caerphilly
Died - 22nd January 1922 at 39, High Street, Nelson

Buried on 25th January in Bethania Chapel, Ystrad Mynach

Arthur Meyrick Thomas

NOTE: A family member, Catherine Scoot, who has provided me with information about Arthur Thomas has informed me that as far as she is aware, Arthur’s rank was that of Sgt Major in the South Wales Borderers. With her kindness, I have been allowed to access original letters sent to family, by Arthur, from the theatres of war where he served. In each letter, he has identified himself as 54168 Gunner A.M. Thomas. Some transcripts are included lower down this page.

Catherine made contact with me after seeing my appeals for information. This page is the result of her kindness in providing the information.

Arthur was born on 15th August 1894 at Big Hill, Caerphilly, which I believe to be in the area of Nantgarw, near Caerphilly. I believe that his mother may have been Jane Meyrick, an unmarried mother who was born in 1869.

[I have obtained the birth certificate for Arthur which does not clarify the matter. The certificate confirms the date that Arthur was born, and that he was born at Big Hill, Nantgarw. The certificate confirms that Mary Meyrick was Arthur’s grandmother and that she was present at his birth. There is no father or mother shown on the certificate, but the name William Meyrick - domestic servant, appears under the ‘mother’ column. Perhaps there was an error on the register and William is Arthur’s father. If so, why does he not live with William, his wife Martha and their five daughters, Mary (b.1886), Elizabeth (b.1887), Margaret (b.1888), Catherine (b.1893) and Blodwen (b.1895). This is still a ‘grey issue’.]
[Catherine is aware that there is some grey area around Arthur’s parentage.]

Either way, Jane was one of at least six children that were born to Edward and Mary Meyrick. Edward was born at Castell Llwyd Farm, Ystrad Mynach in 1841. His wife Mary was from the Machen area of South Wales and was born there in about 1840. Edward came from a family that would probably have been considered well-off at the time, being farmers and owning a fairly substantial portion of land. Edward was not the eldest among his siblings. He had an older brother, Joseph who inherited the farm property. This meant that Edward may have been forced to find his own living. In 1871, Edward is shown as a railway labourer who was living at Bargoed in the Rhymney Valley. He had married Mary, and they had a family:

William had been born in about 1862,
Mary had been born in about 1864, and,
Jane had been born in about 1869

In 1881, the family had moved to Big Hill, Caerphilly where there is information that shows that Edward was still employed in the railway industry. [I believe that Big Hill was in the vicinity of what is now Nantgarw, Caerphilly.] By the time the family had moved to Big Hill, there were more children:

Thomas had been born in 1871,
Miriam in 1874, and
Ann in 1879

A Family Bible entry that Catherine Scoot showed me indicated that Edward Meyrick was killed at Big Hill. I have found that this was in April/May/June of 1882. In the 1901 census report, Arthur Meyrick (born 1894) appears at Big Hill, along with Jane Meyrick (born 1869) and Mary Meyrick (born 1840). There is also one lodger listed.

Miriam Meyrick (sister of Jane) - married Evan James Thomas in April/May/June of 1899 in Sardis Chapel, Pontypridd. Between them, they had four children that are recorded:

Sydney Meyrick Thomas was born in 1899,
Lena Miriam Thomas,
Gwilym Iorwerth Thomas was born in 1906, and,
Taliesin Thomas (who died less that one year old)

The family bible held by Catherine Scoot suggests that Arthur Meyrick may have been adopted by his Aunt Miriam, and his name changed thereafter to Arthur Meyrick Thomas.

Letters sent by Arthur from his place of posting give some idea of his whereabouts during the war years. From the letters, a change in attitude towards the war can also be perceived. Below, I have included some information from a few of those letters.

1915, MAY 23rd - Arthur writes from his posting at Hong Kong. All is well in Arthur’s life. There is little mention of the war itself, but Arthur shows clear excitement at being in a far away place, and him experiencing many new species of wildlife. He tells of his current training to become a signaller in the Royal Artillery where his salary will increase. He also believes that the war will come to an end soon and that looks forward to a return to “civil life”.

1917, SEPTEMBER 9th - Arthur has returned from Hong Kong to Catterick Bridge, Yorkshire. His journey home to the U.K. has taken him via South Africa to the port of Plymouth. Off Plymouth he had sight of a German U-boat which disappeared without incident. He is awaiting orders, but is expecting to be sent to France quite soon.

1917, OCTOBER 25th - Arthur is somewhere in France and writes a short letter home with an update of his postal address. The apparent contentment of 1915 has gone. Arthur is up to his eyes in mud and there is hope that the war will soon be over, because everyone is “fed up”. Arthur has been upset at bad news concerning ‘Ivor’ who has been mentioned in previous letters.

1918, FEBRUARY 18th - Arthur is returning into action. He reports that he has been injured by a piece of a German shell that hit him in the neck. He says he received a slight wound, but went down with ‘trench fever’. He had been out of action for three months. The hopes of the 1917 letters for the war to end have gone.

[Adobe PDF Reader required]

View a transcript of the letter in PDF format.

View a transcript of the letter in PDF format.

View a transcript of the letter in PDF format.

View a transcript of the letter in PDF format.

The family believe that sometime thereafter, Arthur was wounded during a gas attack. He was brought back home in order to recover. He had been taken to King Edward VII Hospital in Cardiff where many other soldier victims of gas were being treated.

Arthur eventually came home to 39 High Street, Nelson where on 22nd January, 1922 the wounds he received during the war finally overcame him.

News:

28th January 1922.

Death.

We deeply regret to have to record the death on Sunday morning at the King Edward VII Hospital, Cardiff of Mr Arthur Meyrick Thomas, 39 High Street, Nelson. Deceased who was only 27 years old was taken seriously ill with double pneumonia about 7 weeks ago, and his condition ever since was regarded as very critical.
On Saturday week he was taken to King Edward VII Hospital where an operation was immediately performed. Another operation followed at the end of last week, but in spite of this and all that loving care could accomplish, he gradually sank and the end came on Sunday morning. Of a bright and lovable disposition, Arthur was highly regarded by all who knew him. During the wars he served in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and saw considerable service in China and later France where he was gassed. His health had given cause for anxiety ever since. At one time he was a prominent playing member of the Nelson A.F.C.

[Source: Merthyr Express]

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