A Real Hero

For the next couple of weeks we will be indundated with news from the World Cup in South Africa. Men who’s only quality seems to be the ability to kick a rubber ball into a string net will be hailed as heroes, their deeds heralded around the world. This is something that irks a non-football fan like me. Footballers are not heroes, they’re just good atheletes, if that’s your sort of thing.

For this month’s post on the War Memorial Project I want to highlight a real hero. He is on a war memorial in a British church, and he isn’t even British. Edouard Nihoul was born in 1895 in Waremme in eastern Belgian, a short hop away from the area which, a little under fifty years later, would be the scene of some of the fiercest fighting during the Battle of the Bulge. He arrived in Cardiff with his parents following the German invasion of Belgium in August 1914 and moved to the quiet village of Llanishen. However, young Edouard evidently did not intend to remain a passive refugee. That November, having gone to London, he enlisted in the Belgian Army and began training to go to war.

Two years later, in June 1916, Edouard was an Adjutant in the 7th Regiment of the Line, 2nd Belgian Division. This Division was operating near Oostvleteren in Flanders, and was the scene of heavy fighting. On the 30th June, the 7th Regiment’s position came under heavy German bombardment. Edouard spotted a comarde lying grievously wounded, and rushed to his aid. As he struggled to help him, both men were caught in the bombardment and killed.

Initially, Edouard was buried in Oostvleteren, but once the war was over and Belgium was liberated, his body was reinterred in his hometown. Unlike the footballers who will recieve all the attention over the next few weeks, young Edouard was a true hero. Paid a pittance for a job he did not want, he went to fight despite the fact that he could have remained safely in Britain, and died trying to help a comrade and liberate his country. Never forget him, nor those like him.

A Belgian soldier waiting to go to the front.

 -JK

*Photo from Great War Primary Document Archive: Photos of the Great War

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Introduction

At the beginning of the year  Llanishen Local History Society started work on a project designed to uncover the service histories of the men from the village who fought and fell in the Two World Wars, as well as the brief “American invasion” of the village prior to D-Day. This had come about because a member had found a war grave in St Isan’s church in the village of which they were unaware. Although this was a Second World War casualty, we’ve begun by focusing on the Great War casualties that are commemorated on the two memorial plaques within the church – the bronze one inside the church itself is shown in the photo below:

This plaque records the names of 20 men, the majority of them officers. Over the coming months, we will be posting details of these men on or around the time they were killed in action, as well as any further discoveries we make. Interestingly, the plaque in the church hall has another two names not recorded on this memorial. We also believe there are men who were killed in WW1 who were not recorded at all!

Within the church there are also memorials to individuals and groups of men who fell in both World Wars, and in the churchyard outside there are several war graves, some of them beingCWGC headstones. The casualty shown in the photograph below, Pilot Officer Thomas Spencer Lewis of 79 Squadron Royal Air Force, was one of the village’s first casualties.  P/Off Lewis was killed in action while on patrol in his Hawker Hurricane over the South Coast of England on 2nd January 1940. When his coffin arrived at the village station, it was escorted down to the church for the funeral by RAF personnel and an RAF band.

We hope we can honour these men, and those who returned from the wars, by recording their stories for future generations of Llanishen residents.

On this blog we will be posting our discoveries and information about the men themselves. If anyone is interested in learning more about the project or has anything that would be of interest, please leave us a comment.

-JK

A Fresh Start

Readers to this blog may find that there are currently two “Llanishen’s Fallen” blogs on the internet. Both are created by Llanishen Local History Society, but unfortunately due a long lull in our online work we lost access to our old website. We’ve ported over most of our posts from the old blog and will continue to update you from here.