History and Heritage

The Great War at Soar Chapel, Ystalyfera (Zoar)

Taken from YSTALYFERA YSTRADGYNLAIS And DISTRICT 1914 -1918. these extracts below give a taste of the involvement of the community of Soar (Zoar) Chapel in the First World War. Articles are from the Llais Llafur newspaper, the Labour Voice which would in later decades be renamed the South Wales Voice:-

7th AUGUST 1915
The Rev. W Jones, Zoar, has had an interesting letter this week from his son, Private W. A. Jones, of the 11th Division Headquarters Staffordshire, R.F.A., who is with the British Mediterranean Expeditionary Force in Egypt. Writing under date July 24th, Private Jones, (who before joining the colours was in a Porth grocery establishment), says he is "safe and sound, in good health and quite happy and contented. The weather is very hot but we are getting accustomed to it now.

30th OCTOBER 1915
Private W. A. Jones, son of the Rev. Wm. Jones (Zoar), is with the British Expeditionary Force in Egypt, and has recently sent home a very interesting letter detailing his experiences there. He says:
I have had the pleasure of seeing the Pyramids since I wrote home last. Although we are miles away from them, a cheap trip (costing 10s. 6d.) was made up in order to give us an opportunity of seeing them. I saw the Sphinx, the Pyramids, Temple of the Sphinx, Mosques, the place where Moses is supposed to have been found on the banks of the Nile in the bull rushes, and that ancient part of Cairo commonly called "The City of the Dead," or "The Tombs of the Khalifi." Inside the Pyramids are the tombs of the ancient Pharaohs of Egypt, there being a place for the queen, and a place for the king. Entrance to the Pyramids is effected at the side; the visit being made in stockinged feet otherwise there would be great danger of slipping whilst following the guides. There is nothing much to see inside except the large empty tombs. Ancient Cairo, or the City of the Dead, is comprised mostly of ruined houses, and what I suppose must have been an old burial ground. We had a ride on the camels, and I can assure you I thoroughly enjoyed it. Private Jones has got some very interesting souvenirs of his visit, which he hopes to send home shortly.

25th DECEMBER 1915
On Sunday last at Zoar Sunday School the Rev. William Jones presented Bibles to six young men who are leaving to join the colours. Messrs. John and Harry Daniel, Owen Robert Todd, Tom Gwyn Williams and Willie Evans were the recipients. This makes 21 Bibles which have been presented to boys from the Sunday school who have joined the army. The Zoar friends are also sending parcels of Christmas cheer this week to all their boys who are serving with the forces.

1st JULY 1916
An election of deacons took place at Zoar Chapel on Sunday last. Messrs David Evans, Penywern; E.J. Evans (bandmaster); E.T. Evans (stationmaster); Dan Thomas and Caleb Williams were elected.

21st OCTOBER 1916
Result of the Recent Flag Day

A meeting of the Ystalyfera Free Church Council took place at Jerusalem Vestry on Wednesday evening, when the Rev William Jones (Zoar) presided. It was reported that the sum of £65 had been collected by the young ladies and children of Ystalyfera and Cwmtwrch towards the Netley Hospital. This sum was £5 short of being sufficient to endow a bed and some local tradesmen made up the deficit between them and a bed to be called the Ystalyfera and Cwmtwrch Free Church Council Bed will consequently be endowed at the Netley Institution.
A vote of thanks was passed to the ladies who collected.