Remembrance Day 2013

Remembrance Day is held on 11th November every year to mark the day that World War One ended in 1918. In the UK, there is a two minute silence to remember those who fell. This year three formal acts of remembrance were held in the University.

Poppies

This year three formal acts of remembrance were held in the University, on Monday 11th November at 10:50am, at Caerleon, Glyntaff and Treforest Campuses. There was a brief ceremony, silence was observed and a wreath of poppies was laid.

This year’s act of remembrance did, as in previous years, include the personal story of one of the University’s lost students. This year the story was told of Captain Thomas Glyn Llewellyn Phillips who was killed in action at the Battle of Gaza on 26th March 1917.

Captain Thomas Glyn Llewellyn Phillips, M.C.

Thomas Glyn Llewellyn Phillips was born on the 11th April 1894, the son of Richard and Annie Phillips who lived in Park Place, Cardiff, along with Thomas’s younger sisters Olive and Enid, and his younger brother, David. He had a comfortable family life; his father was a farmer but he also worked as an architect. Before enrolling at the School of Mines, Thomas had been a pupil at a public school, Malvern College, where he had been a member of the Officer Training Corps. Public schools had a strong tradition of pupil members of Officer Training Corps and it was from these groups that the majority of additional new, young officers were recruited in the First World War. But with the war still over the horizon, Thomas arrived at the School of Mines in October 1913 to continue his education and progress in his career as a mining engineer for David Davis and Sons Ltd. He was a student for just one academic year and during that time he studied Surveying, Geology, Colliery Practice, and Maths. His academic performance was generally quite strong, but he did manage to scrape a bare pass in Surveying! However, he also studied for and was awarded a certificate in First Aid by the St John’s Ambulance Brigade.

Since Britain declared war on Germany just after the end of term, Thomas didn’t return to his course but he volunteered for full service. As he’d already been trained through the Officer Training Corps at school, Thomas was very quickly appointed as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 5th Battalion of the Territorial Force of the Welsh Regiment – a battalion which was established here in Pontypridd on the first day of the war.
At the outbreak of the First World War, Palestine (modern day Israel) was part of the Turkish (or Ottoman) Empire – this empire was the Middle Eastern ally of Germany and, as such, it was believed to pose a threat to the British Empire in that part of the world. Thomas first saw active service in the area in November 1915, serving at Gallipoli, and in the disastrous landings of troops at Suvla Bay in Turkey – he was awarded the Military Cross for this service. Thomas was promoted to the rank of full Lieutenant on 1st February 1915, and rapidly promoted again to become an Acting Captain on 1st June 1915, and a full Captain on 3rd November 1916. For some time British forces seemed on the verge of removing Turkey from the war, and there were successes on several fronts. But, whether due to an under-estimation of the skills of the Ottoman forces, or bungled strategies from the senior British commanders in the area, the First Battle of Gaza was not a success – it failed in its objective to secure the city of Gaza (in modern day Israel). Among the disasters on the first day of the battle, the 26th March 1917, was Thomas – he was killed in action while leading his men. He was just 23 years of age.

Thomas has no known grave but he is commemorated on the Jerusalem Memorial along with others who have no known grave. He is also commemorated in a stained glass window in Eglwys Dewi Sant in Cardiff; a memorial erected by his family, and here on our memorial.
Today we remember Thomas Glyn Llewellyn Phillips of the South Wales and Monmouthshire School of Mines, and as a student of the University of South Wales.

For more information please contact University Chaplain Vaughan Rees (01443 654060/ vaughan.rees@southwales.ac.uk