The War Graves of Ystradgynlais

John James Lewis

John James Lewis served in the Welch Regiment and was killed during the Battle for Crete in May 1941.

The information on John James Lewis has been compiled from a number of sources, including the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, from the South Wales Voice newspaper, and the Parish Burial Register (courtesy of the Swansea Archives).

NameJohn James Lewis
Date of Deathbetween 27th-28th May 1941
Place of DeathCanes, Crete
Age at Death24
Unit and RegimentWelch Regiment; 1st Bn.
Service Number3967429
Remembrance Graves  Bethania Calvinistic Methodist Chapelyard, Lower Cwmtrwch.  
In Loving Memory of our dear sons
Decimus Lewis Died 27th Dec 1920 2y 3m
Kenneth Jonathan Died 3rd Apr 1929 10m
William Died in infancy
Also John James LEWIS Killed in Action 1941

Gorof Public Cemetery, Ystradgynlais
John Lewis Fe Laddwyd yn Crete May 1941 -yn 24 Mlwydd Oed
  and in full for the grave:-
Annie Lewis died 3/11/1964 aged 75
Jonathan Lewis died 7/10/1971 aged 87

Nancy May Lewis died 26/07/2001 aged 78
Eurwen died 7/06/1979 aged 66
Ethel Annie died 8/04/1988 aged 73

John James fell at Crete May 1941 24 years old
Decimus, Kenneth Jonathan and
William died in infancy
Local Memorials Ystradgynlais War Memorial
Gurnos Chapel War Memorial, Ystalyfera; Plaque and Clock
Memorial Window & Brass Plaque St Cynog's Church, Ystradgynlais, given by Ystradgynlais branch of the British Legion
Personal InformationBorn 28th August 1916
Son of Jonathan Lewis (Born 29th March 1884, died 7th October 1971) Railway Engine Driver and Annie Lewis (Born 11th September 1889, died 3rd November 1964) of 2 Tudor Street Ystradgynlais
Prior to the war working in Tin Plate Works
Brothers Decimus Lewis (died 27th Dec 1920, 2 years 3 months)
Kenneth Jonathan (died 3rd April 1929, aged 10 months)
William (died in infancy)
SistersEurwen Lewis (Born 9th March 1913, died 7th June 1979) Music Teacher
Ethel A Lewis (Born 26th January 1915, died 8th April 1988)
Nancy W Lewis (Born 5th February 1923, died 26th July 2001)
Bronwen Lewis

John James Lewis is remembered on the Athens Memorial, photograph courtesy of the CWGC

From the South Wales Voice newspaper, 7th August 1944 :-

Mr. and Mrs. J. Lewis of 2, Tudor Street, Glanrhyd, have now been officially informed by the War Office that their son, Private John J. Lewis of the Welch Regiment, who was posted missing in the battle of Crete, May 1941, was killed in action at Canes and was buried there May 27th, 1941.
Previous to being called to the Forces he was employed in the tin house department at the Phoenix tin plate works, Lower Cwmtwrch. He was greatly interested in fly-fishing and was a member of the Tawe Angling Association.

This article from the 26th May 1941 gives an impression of the fighting going on in Crete that claimed the life of John James Lewis - Big Battle in Crete (26th May 1941)


The Bethania Chapelyard Remembrance Grave

The Lewis grave in Bethania Chapelyard, Ystradgynlais


Yeargroup had found the grave in Bethania Chapelyard but realised it was also a 'Remembrance Grave'
The inscription mentioned three sons Decimus, Kenneth Jonathan and William Lewis all dying very young but another son John James Lewis had been killed in action.
This year Yeargroup was contacted by a friend of a lady.
Ms Bronwen Lewis is the remaining sister of the eight children of Jonathan and Annie Lewis. She kindly agreed to see me, and Jon and I are very grateful for the information which now can update the family file. As well as photographs and memorabilia of her beloved brother she lent me paper work which was used in a special remembrance article in the magazine LLAIS Papur Bro Cwmtawe published in November 2016, but the main reason she wished to speak with me was the fact that because of her age and distance from the original grave, she has now been able to have inscribed on her parents and sisters grave the names of the brothers, who can now be remembered and visited often in Gorof Cemetery.

  LLAIS Papur Bro Cwmtawe Nov 2016
"Remembering the Life of Private John James Lewis"

"At this time of year, we remember with great pride, all those gallant men and women who gave their all, in the hope that their sacrifice would rid the world of the terrible sound of war. One such person was John James Lewis, the third oldest of eight children born to Jonathan and Anne Lewis of Prospect Place Ystalyfera.
His youngest sister Bronwen Lewis is the sole survivor of this large family.
Whilst living in Ystalyfera the family worshipped at Pantteg Chapel but on moving to Glanrhyd, Gurnos Chapel became their spiritual abode.
John was educated locally at both the Wern and Gurnos Schools and then he started working at the Phoenix Tin Works. His two main interests at this time were fishing and studying at the Bennet College in order to fulfil his ambition of joining the London Metropolitan Police. He was successful in his studies but his dream of joining the Met was never realised. War broke out in 1939, he was among the first to volunteer and joined the First Battalion Welch Regiment.
During his time in the Army, John served in Cairo as a member of General Montgomery's personal bodyguard. When his tour of duty came to an end John was sent from Cairo to Crete. It was during his time in Crete, in a place called Canea on May 27/28 much to the grief of his family, friends and battalion, John paid the ultimate price whilst serving his country.
John along with the many others, who had also sacrificed their all, was buried in a cemetery in Canea in Crete, but his name is also engraved in the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in Phaleror Athens - a memorial to those who lost their lives defending Greece, Crete, The Dodecanese and Yugoslavia.
John was decorated with the Military Medal, The War Medal and the Star of Africa Medal.
John's name is recorded in the annals of history and will never be forgotten."
Plus 2 Photographs and the certificate and three shots of Grave


The Llais Papur Bro Cwmtawe November 2016, including the article in remembrance of John James Lewis

The Gorof Cemetery Remembrance Grave

As mentioned above, Ms Bronwen Lewis has had engraved on the family grave in Gorof Public Cemetery, the names of the rest of her family, from the Bethania grave. This includes John Lewis, her brother, who was killed in action in Crete in 1941.


The inscription on the right reads:-
John Lewis Fe Laddwyd yn Crete May 1941 -yn 24 Mlwydd Oed

Translated this reads:-
John James fell at Crete May 1941 24 years old

The Fallen of World War Two

Contact Ystradgynlais History
Telephone : Available on Request

Email Yeargroup:
Email Grey Wolf Web Design:
Ystradgynlais History
Wolfian Design
Stepping Out Into Showbusiness

Click the cover to purchase the paperback

Simone dreamed of becoming a showbusiness star during her nights in the air raid shelter in the garden of her home in Southall, during World War Two. After joining the A.T.S. in the war, she became part of the concert party entertaining the troops, eventually joining the Windmill Theatre.

How To Write Alternate History

Click the cover to purchase the paperback

How To Write Alternate History is a series of articles by Grey Wolf, examining subjects such as the identity of man, whether man makes the weather, how the everyday in an alternate world is going to be changed and what names for music, vehicles, weapons etc would be different.


Thank you to Ms Bronwen Lewis for this photograph of her brother John's certificate in raising funds for the London Missionary Society when he was 13.



Thank you to Ms Bronwen Lewis for this photograph of her brother John Lewis in uniform, and also for the one used at the top right hand side of this page, which was taken 22nd March 1941.


Cofion Cynnes, newsagent and bookshop, Ystradgynlais

Complete Cleaning company, Ystradgynlais

Penybont Sports Bar and Lounge