Ysgol Brynhyfryd pupils praised for ‘going extra mile’ on war book


Josh Morris

Pupils from Ysgol Brynhyfryd in Ruthin have been presented with letters of thanks from the National Library and Blind Veterans UK Association after putting hours of work into a book on the First World War.

Pupils from the school worked alongside historian Geraint Owain to produce the book on Ruthin's involvement in the Great War.

As well as hours researching contemporary editions of the Denbighshire Free Press, pupils also contributed to a DVD produced by Ioan Davies and spent a day at the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum in Caernarfon as part of a living history project.

The school's drama group also produced an audio book for the blind telling the story of Mametz Wood.

Project manager Ron Bell said: “To say the school gave 100 per cent effort would be an understatement, more like 150 per cent from the head down to the caretakers and canteen staff, plus of course the numerous pupils involved with various aspects of the project.”

The book takes it's name from a poem written by 2nd Lieutenant John Elias Arthur Hughes, who lived in Well Street, Ruthin, but was killed in action in France aged 27.

It ends: “But my life is slowly ebbing; And with blood the ground I drench; As I'm lying under cover; In a damp and dirty trench.”

Mr Bell added: “Geraint picked the poem up; that poem is excellent, it really brings it home.

“We found hundreds of photos, but we want to get across the local part of the story. The book lists everyone from Ruthin who perished, what street they lived in and where they died.

“The school produced these hundred crosses. Each has the person's name, age and where they fell. It was a lovely idea

“The school and the art department did a fantastic job with the poppies as well. They worked their socks off."

Some 4,000 men died at Mametz Woods, including 20 men from Ruthin, which much of the project with the school covered.

“Geraint spent a few years on it and he needed a little push to get it over the line, so we asked about this part on Mametz Woods," Ron said.

"We got together with the pupils who went through the old editions of the Free Press to find out about it all. A lot of the credit should go to those reporters on the Free Press from back then as it would be difficult to find the information without them.

“Mametz was the first part of the Battle of the Somme; it was one of the typical First World War battles. They were there for days and days without going anywhere.

“The Germans were in the woods, and the Allied soldiers had to go down a hill and up the other side to get there and they were just getting picked off. It took days and days to capture the woods, it was a mass slaughter."

“But, what we were pleased to do, the school was so keen to get involved. The youngsters of today got involved with the living history project and experienced a taste of what it was like. 

“They're getting top grades at Brynhyfryd, but with this they've really gone the extra mile and made this project better.”

Clwyd West AM Darren Millar said: "I want to congratulate Ruthin Community Group for initiating this important project and to local historian Geraint Owen and Ysgol Brynhyfryd's Iwan Rees for their work.

“The book and the DVD really do bring history alive and I'm so pleased that the stories of those brave men from Ruthin who lost their lives during the Battle of Mametz Wood have been told and preserved in this way - long may they be remembered.”

See full story in the Free Press

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