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Twyn y Garth Gun

A Grade II Listed Building in Painscastle, Powys

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.0845 / 52°5'4"N

Longitude: -3.3044 / 3°18'15"W

OS Eastings: 310715

OS Northings: 243709

OS Grid: SO107437

Mapcode National: GBR YS.BYST

Mapcode Global: VH6B7.NVYW

Entry Name: Twyn y Garth Gun

Listing Date: 9 November 2018

Grade: II

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 87784

Building Class: Commemorative

Location: On Twyn y Garth, to the immediate SW of the scheduled round barrows.

County: Powys

Community: Painscastle (Castell-paen)

Community: Painscastle

Traditional County: Radnorshire

History

The Twyn y Garth Gun is a German First World War Artillery piece placed on its dramatic hillside spot in 1920 in memory of Christopher Williams-Vaughan and other local men who were killed during the war. Williams-Vaughan was an officer in the South Wales Borderers attached to 100th Company Machine Gun Corps (infantry) who was killed aged 25 on 15 July 1916 at the Battle of The Somme.

2 weeks into the Battle of The Somme the 33rd Division, of which the 100th MG Coy was part, was ordered to attack the German held strongpoint of High Wood nr. Longueval. On the morning of the 15 July the 98th Brigade with its machine gun support attacked the wood but were met with heavy resistance with the 1st Battalion of the Queens Regiment and the 9th Battalion Highland Light Infantry practically wiped out. At this point part of the 98th Brigade reserve, 2 companies of the 16th Battalion Kings Royal Rifle Corps supported by two further machine gun sections, one commanded by Williams-Vaughan were moved forward under heavy fire to within 150m of the wood. This is recorded as causing heavy casualties on the German forces in the woods and of breaking a strong counter-attack. It was during this action that Williams-Vaughan was killed. He has no known grave. His name is recorded on the Hay & Cussop war memorial in Hay and at the Thiepval Memorial.

It is thought that the gun had been acquired as a trophy gun by Nessa Williams-Vaughan (later Mrs Lionel Trafford) sister of Williams-Vaughan and daughter of John and Elizabeth Williams-Vaughan of the Skreen, Llandeilo Graban. According to a plaque attached to the gun she had obtained the gun to commemorate the end of the war and the memory of her brother. Unfortunately she was killed in a car accident before the gun could be installed.

Guns captured in conflict and displayed at home as symbols of victory and military achievement have been common practice for centuries. By April 1920 some 3,595 trophy guns, or the heavy guns, howitzers and field guns taken from the German forces under the terms of the Armistice, had been distributed across the UK, and yet more to the countries of the Empire. Individual military units could claim a trophy gun or else the Lords Lieutenants would recommended an allocation to their own county by writing to the head of local government who would then seek the views of local council committees for the adoption of a trophy gun. The distribution of trophy guns was concentrated in the early years of post-war enthusiasm and celebration but even then there was resistance to the visible signs of conflict in communities struggling to come to terms with widespread loss. As the 1920s passed the peace movement grew in strength and most trophy guns were removed from their positions of celebration. As WWII neared and the scrappage schemes came into force most remaining guns were taken away. Very few now remain.

The Twyn y Garth gun was delivered to Erwood station in 1920 on the now defunct Mid-Wales section of the Cambrian Railways. It was then transported up the steep slopes of Twyn Y Garth by the local communities of Erwood and Llandeilo Graban.

By 1999 the condition of the gun had deteriorated due to its exposed location. It was restored by Painscastle Community Council as a millennium project with the gun transported to Tidworth Camp, Wiltshire to be renovated by the 6th Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. The wheels were remade locally by C &S Woodworking of Hereford and N Kerner of Whitney. The gun was reinstalled in October 2000.

Exterior

A First World War 105mm leichte Feldhaubitzer (light field Howitzer) set on a concrete plinth. Plate on front reading ‘The Gun. Twyn y Garth. This First World War German field howitzer was obtained by Mrs Lionel Trafford from the War Office in 1920 and placed on Twyn y Garth as a Memorial to her brother and other local men who died in that War. By 1999 the gun was severely weathered but thanks to 6 Battalion A&GREME refurbished with the wheels being restored locally. It was replaced here on 7th October 2000 supported by a large happy crowd.’

Reasons for Listing

Included for its special architectural interest as a rare and very unusual example of a war memorial. Of special historic interest as a continuation of the tradition of trophy guns captured in conflict and also a personal and poignant reminder of the loss felt across Wales and the world during and after WWI.

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  • II Pleasant View
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