The First Glamorgan Bantams - 17thwelsh.ukf.net
The War Diary    The Bantams

France    June 1916 to February 1918
 

Short Notes
There is much published on this topic with S. Allinson's "The Bantams" an important work.

Bryn Owen, one time curator of the Welch Regiment Museum, Cardiff, kindly started me off on my quest for information on my father's uncle, Arthur John Davies M.M. and the Regiment. The result is this website based on the 17th (Service) Battalion The Welsh Regiment - The First Glamorgan Bantams. I have also taken the opportunity to include some other relations of myself and my wife's who fought in many wars and gained disctinction thereby. As yet I have not included my father in law, George Russell Wheeler BSc OBE MM, a commando who took part in the raid on St. Nazaire in March 1942. He evaded capture and with Corporal Sim, a Canadian, made his way home via Gibraltar. He and Corporal Sim received a Military Medal for these exploits. He also later received an OBE for work in Malaya, leaving as it was Malaysianised around 1966.

Bryn Owen also introduced me to the well told story of  The Bantam Battalions by S. Allinson published as a paperback by Howard Baker, London 1981 ISBN 0 7030 0201 5. Sadly now out of print! There are however many second hand copies still available and searching such sites as abebooks.com will produce examples of the work both paperback and hardback, worldwide.

Following my request for help in obtaining a copy of the book "The Bantams; S. Allinson, Howard Baker, London 1981, ISBN 0 7030 0201 5", I am now pleased to report that I have acquired same using the abebooks.com website. So thanks to all of you who were so kind to tell me about websites that had copies for sale. Mr. Allinson kindly sent me, from Canada in 2005, a signed copy of the then latest edition of his book. I now have two editions of the work. Thank you Sidney Allinson.

There were two Bantam Battalions raised for the Welsh Regiment. They were the 17th (First Glamorgan) and 18th (Second Glamorgan) (Service) Battalions.

Bryn Owen told me that the 17th was raised in Cardiff in early 1915 and was composed mainly of miners.

Because "Other Ranks" were generally not acknowledged by name, it is not possible at this point to determine the names and origins of the Other Ranks. Whilst the core of the Battalion consisted of South Wales men, it is also clear from the Casualty lists that many were from much further afield. Indeed, a recent Irish visitor to the site requested information on Capt Austin Joyce Elmitt who was Irish and was killed at Bourlon Wood. Earlier a resident of North East Lancashire requested information on his grandfather who received an award for gallantry during the Battle for Bourlon Wood. His grandfather, because of the award of the DCM, was named on a diary page. I was able to provide the gentleman with an image of the page as an attachment to an email.

Sidney Allinson on page 135 of his book indicates that training of the Battalions took place in Porthcawl and in Rhyl. The burial of

                     Private Gwylim John Thomas:

in the Colwyn Bay Cemetery, according to the CWGC, would indicate that it was the 17th Battalion that did the training in North Wales. Gwylim Thomas appears to have been the first casualty of the 17th Battalion. Gwylim was from South Wales.

The perception is that because of the enormous losses at the front, the army was running out of recruits of normal height. Someone then had the bright idea of reducing the minimum height for entry to the army from 5ft 3inches to 4ft 8inch.

The name Bantam - a small fighting cock or gamecock - referred to the reduced height of the recruits. Their fighting qualities were not diminished by their smaller stature.

There were many other Bantam Battalions raised not only in Wales but throughout the United Kindom and Commonwealth.

Recently, in the press, there have been some disturbing reports as to how some Bantam Battalions were treated by the High Command. This does not appear to have been the fate of either the 17th or 18th Battalions of the Welsh Regiment.

[I am delighted to report that Mr Sidney Allinson has been in touch and that his name, inadvertently spelled as Allison twice on this page has now been corrected. The writer is always pleased to be told of any such errors and will make every effort to correct those errors as soon they become known. Mr Allinson has informed me that a new edition of his book is in course of preparation. - GGD].