As we approach 2017, when the National Eisteddfod will be commemorating the First World War, Hedd Wyn and those who lost their lives a century ago, organisers have launched an appeal searching for the families of a choir which competed at the festival over a hundred years ago.
The choir of the 17th Battalion (Royal Welsh Fusiliers) were placed second in the male voice choir competition at the 1915 Bangor National Eisteddfod, but their story remains a poignant reminder of the effect of the War on Wales. Two years later at the Eisteddfod in Birkenhead in 1917, a special ceremony was held to honour Lance-corporal Samuel Evans of Rhosllannerchrugog.
Soon after the Eisteddfod in Bangor, the 17th Battalion left Wales and landed in France in December 1915. Two years later, it appears that every member of the choir had been killed in action, and that Lance-corporal Samuel Evans, their conductor, was the only survivor. He had been badly wounded. There were up to twenty five young men in the choir.
Although the story was covered in the press at the time, the 1917 Eisteddfod is remembered for its Black Chair. Hedd Wyn, the winner of the Chair was killed in France before being honoured by his fellow countrymen. The Chairing was held hours after the Eisteddfod honoured Lance-corporal Samuel Evans on the Pavilion stage.
A century later, we want to hear from the families and descendants of the 17th Battalion’s Male Voice Choir. Many of the men would have been recruited in the Blaenau Ffestiniog, Llandudno and Wrexham areas, and we are confident that some of them will still have families living locally across north Wales.
If you have any information regarding the choir, contact Gwenllïan Carr at the National Eisteddfod, either by ringing 0845 4090 400, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by completing the information form on the Eisteddfod website, www.eisteddfod.wales/1915-choir. The aim is to publish more information about the Choir closer to the Eisteddfod, and to collect the names of the members so that they can be commemorated during the festival in Anglesey from 4-12 August.
Read more about the Lost Choir of the 1915 Eisteddfod here, www.eisteddfod.wales/lost-choir-1915-eisteddfod.