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Private Ellis Humphrey Evans


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Known as ‘Hedd Wyn’, 15th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, 113th Infantry Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division. He died at a nearby aid post on Pilkem Ridge on 31 July 1917, age 30. Grave II.F.11.

 

Ellis Evans was the oldest son of Evan and Mary Evans who lived on a hill farm near the village of Trawsfynydd, North Wales. He won the first of his six bardic chairs at Bala in 1907 and was given his bardic name ‘Hedd Wyn’ at a concert held in Merionethshire in August 1910. Early in the war he wrote four lines that mourned the death of a man from a neighbouring village:

 

His sacrifice will not pass, and his

Dear name will not be forgotten

Though Germany has stained

Its iron fist in his blood


 


In October 1916, he started work on his awdl ‘Yr Arwr’ (The Hero) , a long eisteddfodic poem, for the 1917 Eisteddfod to be held in Birkenhead. Before he could complete this he was called up in January 1917 and enlisted in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and was sent to Litherland Camp near Liverpool for his training. He was granted seven weeks leave in the Spring of 1917 to return home and work as a ploughman on the farm. During this time he continued his work on ‘The Hero’ and returning to his battalion he completed it in mid-July in France as the Battalion moved to the Ypres Salient for the Third Ypres offensive.

 

The Battalion arrived in the Canal Bank area on 20 July and crossed the canal in the early hours of the 31 July to take up their positions for the attack. The 38th Division quickly took their objectives however, they encountered fierce German resistance at Battery Copse with every officer either killed or wounded and the Regimental Sergeant Major taking command of the battalion. Having reached Iron Cross Ridge, some 200 yards short of the Green Line and one mile from the village of Langemark, Hedd Wyn was wounded in the chest by a piece of trench mortar shell and later died at the aid post.


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