RESEARCHING THE NAMES

The names of those from the county of Montgomeryshire, and who fell in both World Wars are written in a Book of Remembrance, kept at St Nicholas Church Montgomery. Hand written on vellum, this book lists the names of the fallen in alphabetical order, together with their town or village; and every Friday the case in which it held is opened, and a page is turned, so that, over a period of time, all the names of the fallen will be displayed. In addition, the names of the men who are connected to Montgomery, and who died in World War One are listed on a hand written notice (in the South transept of the church); those who fell in both wars are remembered on a brass plaque inside the church on the North wall, and also on a plaque in the Institute (Arthur Street, Montgomery), all are available to view during the daytime.

Each list of names is slightly different, with some names appearing in all three places, and some on only one. Each year, at the Remembrance Service, the names of the fallen from both World Wars are read out. Until 2013, twenty eight names were read out in total, eighteen from World War 1, and ten from World War 2. Apart from the names, very little, and in many cases, nothing at all was known about the men; - where they lived, their ages, where they worked, the regiment in which they served, and where and how they had died. The challenge, therefore, was to research these names in order to answer two key questions.....

Starting with the list of names, and cross checking them against the lists in the Church and Institute, it became clear that not all the names recorded in Montgomery were being read out each November. In addition, research revealed additional men, one of whom, Edmund Maurice Buckley, had his own dedicated plaque at St Nicholas Church, where his grandfather had been the Rector. It was decided therefore to use all available sources to try and discover more about the names on the lists, and in addition, if there should appear to be an omission, for example a report of a death of a Montgomery man in the newspapers of the time, then research would be done on those individuals to see if they also “belonged” to Montgomery.

A similar exercise was undertaken on the World War Two casualties, but this work was more straightforward as many had relatives and colleagues still living in the town, and surrounding areas. No additional names were added to the list of the casualties of World War Two, read out each year.

THE CHALLENGE

Although a number of names were already listed, almost nothing was known about the men who lost their lives. Two, Ernest Morris and Will Williams, were buried at Montgomery churchyard; so it was possible to find out their regiment (but no other information) fairly easily. Two other men, Isaac Morris and John Lloyd had living relatives in the town, and they were able to provide very helpful information, including photographs. However, some of the other men had very common surnames, for example, Jones, and Williams, which made searching quite a challenge. The starting point was the very helpful Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) website; however, there are 1,399 William Jones’ listed on the site, so it was clear that to find Montgomery’s own William Jones would be no small task. The relevant local newspapers, although digitised in part, are not available on line, and some copies are missing altogether. Census records were readily available via some of the more well-known genealogy sites, but of little help where an individual had not been living in Montgomery in either 1901 or 1911, especially where the name was a popular one; Thomas Jones and James Jones, who turned out to have been brothers, fell into this category. Different spelling of surnames, and re-ordering of Christian names could also divert the research down the wrong path. One such example was that of Will Bason. There is only one William Bason on the CWGC site, a Bombardier William Bason, buried at Kensal Green Cemetery in London. A search of census records soon found that this man had been born in London, to parents from Hackney; and was married and living in London prior to enlistment. Where was the Montgomery connection to this man? It was important to be confident that the record was linked to the correct individual, otherwise the wrong information would have been literally set in stone on the memorial. To add to the confusion, there was a William Bason, in fact a Francis William Bason, recorded as living in Montgomery in the 1901 census, but not in the 1911 census, so there was every indication that the “Bombadier “was not the Montgomery man. Further and dogged research, plus some creative thinking, found Private Francis W Bayson of the Welsh Regiment, on one of the genealogical sites, where it was discovered through cross-referencing, that this was indeed the person listed as Will Bason in Montgomery Church. He also appeared on the CWGC site. The 1911 census showed the same family that had appeared in the 1901 census, still living in Montgomery, but with their surname now spelt as Bayson, the name under which this man was enlisted. A number of people changed the order of their Christian names, between their birth records, and enlistment, which also caused confusion. Finally, the fact that many records from World War One which had been stored in London, were destroyed by fire during the blitz in World War Two, meant that significant amounts of information, especially army records have been permanently lost.

THE HISTORY OF THE MEN.

The links above provide details about all the men from Montgomery who are named on the War Memorial. They are not listed in the order they appear on the memorial, where they are listed in order of death. There are two sets of brothers who lost their lives, and so their details appear together. 2ND LIEUTENANT EDMUND MAURICE BUCKLEY 7th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Lieutenant Buckley was the only son of Sir Edmund Buckley Bart., and he was connected to Montgomery through his mother, Harriet, who was the daughter of the Rev Maurice Lloyd, Rector of Montgomery between 1831 and 1873. His mother had a plaque erected in his memory in Montgomery Church, which can be viewed when the church is open. It is located to the right of the aisle, immediately before the South Transept. The Buckley family was very wealthy when the first Baronetcy was created in 1868, owning 11,000 acres and much of the land between Mallwyd and Bala, in North Wales, together with substantial holdings in Lancashire and Yorkshire; having generated their wealth through mining and quarrying in Yorkshire, Lancashire and North Wales. Edmund’s father succeeded to the baronetcy in 1910, but in 1912, in line with the wishes of his late father, the estates were broken up and sold at auction in Manchester. Edmund was the 2nd Baron’s only son, and so when he died, and following the death of his father in 1919, the baronetcy died out.