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November 2017
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Dates for your Diary

Ongoing – WW1 Exhibition in the Museum

Saturday 11th November – Coffee Morning – Remembering Remembrance Day

Wednesday 15th November – AGM 5pm

Tuesday 5th December – Christmas Fayre

October 100 Club

No. xx Mary Rogers £20
No. x Irene Morgan £10
No. 55 Sally Murphy £5

Fundraising September - £266

Annual General Meeting

Our AGM this year will take place on the afternoon of Wednesday 15th November at 5pm, in the office in the museum. Please come along. It is
usually over quite quickly but we have to have enough people to vote in the committee and discuss the future direction of the museum.

Ralph Robinson Memorial Lecture

Frank Holding

Frank Olding (above) was the guest speaker at the Ralph Robinson Memorial Lecture (27th September) – an annual lecture arranged by
Abertillery & District Museum. Mr Olding talked about the 3rd Battalion the
Monmouthshire Regiment – the 3rd Mons – and their movements and role in the First World War. It was sobering to realise the staggering number of men lost in battle and it was all the more poignant for hearing the
stories of some of the individual soldiers. The museum’s curator, Mr Don Bearcroft, gave a vote of thanks following a lively question time and said “We always enjoy Frank’s lectures and this was certainly one of the best. I am sure I speak for everyone when I say it was a very emotional experience, hearing of the sacrifice of so many men, men from our own locality”.
Report by Jen Price

Mein Kampf by Sally Murphy

Mein Kampf bookIn March 2015 my sister and I donated a copy of Hitler’s, ‘Mein Kampf’ to the museum and it is now on display in one of the glass cabinets. This
story was written about ‘Roving Reporter’, the late Enid Dean, in the April 2015 edition of the newsletter but I thought I would write the story again from my perspective as the donor of the book especially given that I
have several unseen photos which I took before handing the book over to the museum…

HitlerThe book, written in German of course, has a picture of Hitler on the inside cover and was found by my father, Tom Wayne (now deceased),
at 47 Penybont Road, Abertillery. This deceptively large house had been bought by my great-grandfather, Thomas William Wayne, for my grandparents, George and Florence Wayne and they moved in around 1947. My grandparents ran a dairy from this house and my father also used one of the rooms as a storeroom for his business as a plumbing and heating engineer.

When my last surviving grandparent died in 1981, the house passed to my father who continued to use it for many years until he
retired. After retiring, he decided to sell the house and it was when he was emptying the house that he came across the book which had a rather interesting insert written, of course, in German. During Hitler’s regime, German couples were given a copy of Mein Kampf as a wedding gift and this particular book was one such gift. As luck would have it, my sister worked with someone who was German and she very kindly translated it for us. She told us that as she read it, it had made her spine tingle!

The book’s insert (see below) translates as:-

mein Kampf 2



To the newly wed couple hölscher & kohn with best wishes for a happy and blessed marriage Soltau 16th November 1940 The Mayor




Soltau is a mid-sized town in Lower Saxony, Germany and we know the book was there on 16th November 1940 and sometime between then and 1947 the book found its way to 47 Penybont Road, Abertillery. My father told me he believed the dairy at 47 Penybont Road had been a drinking club prior to my grandparents moving in, so it’s possible it was left there by a drinker at the club but was it hölscher or kohn? And, if so, what were they doing in Abertillery? Did they have their ‘happy ever after’? Or did they both perish in the war and the book was found and brought back
from Germany by a British soldier as a sort of morbid souvenir? Alas, we shall never know…!

As I get older I realize:

• I talk to myself because sometimes I need expert advice.
• Sometimes I roll my eyes out loud.
• My people skills are just fine; it’s my tolerance of idiots that needs work.
• The biggest lie I tell myself is “I don’t need to write that down, I’ll remember it.”
• When I was a child I thought nap-time was punishment, now it’s like a mini-vacation.
• The day the world runs out of wine is just too terrible to contemplate.
• Even duct tape can’t fix stupid, but it can muffle the sound.
• Wouldn’t it be great if we could put ourselves in the dryer and come out
wrinkle-free and three sizes smaller?
• “Getting lucky” means walking into a room and remembering why I’m there!

Local Voices

Ghost booThe Ghost in the Attic By Alison Williams

Some of you may know of my late father, Tom Wayne ‘the plumber’, he was well known in Abertillery. Back in the 1970’s he came home one day laughing so much he couldn’t speak! When he eventually managed to get his words out he related the following….

He had been working in the attic of a terraced house in Ebbw Vale. The adjoining house next-door was undergoing extensive work, so much so that a bedroom ceiling had been removed which allowed my father, from his vantage point in the attic, to see into a bedroom of the house next-door.

While my father was working in the attic, two people, a man and young lad, entered the adjoining house and came up the stairs to the bedroom with no ceiling. The older man picked up a broom, gave it to the lad and told him to sweep up. The older chap then left the house, leaving the young lad alone in the house.

Wanting to be friendly, my father called down a greeting to the lad. Believing himself to be alone, the young lad looked around startled.‘I’m up here’ dad called out trying to reassure the boy. The young lad peered upwards but as he was in the light and dad was in a darkened attic, he was unable to see where the voice was coming from! Dad watched on as the lad crept towards the nearest wall, quietly placed his broom against the wall and then slowly backed out towards the bedroom door. Once
there he flung it open and ran down the stairs as fast as his legs would carry him. Dad heard the front door slam shut behind him and he never saw the older man or the young lad again!

Ghost DadMy father related this story to me many times over the passing years and he could never do so without tears of laughter rolling down his cheeks!

So if you are reading this and you recognise yourself as the young lad in this tale, you can finally rest assured that you didn’t encounter a ghost that
day; it was just my dear old dad!

If you have a story to tell, don’t keep it to yourself! Email it to me at, or drop a line to the museum and see your story in print here!

Rocket Launch: October 11, 2017

SpaceX Falcon 9
EchoStar 105/SES-11

Rocket LaunchOn Wednesday 11th October at 6:53pm Florida time, (23:53 BST), a rocket was launched from Kennedy Space Centre at Cape Canaveral and my daughter, Sarah, was lucky enough to be there to witness it. Its mission was to launch a communications satellite into orbit for SES and Echostar.

The launch was notable because the company, SpaceX, re-used a previously flown Falcon 9 first stage rocket. This first stage rocket has once again been successfully landed back on Earth to be reused again in the future. This sets it apart from the rockets used in the Apollo missions that took men to the moon back in the 60’s and 70’s and could only be used once. By re-using rockets like this, costs can be significantly reduced and shows what a long way we have come in the last fifty years.

Sarah videoed the launch and you can watch the video on the museum’s Facebook page.
Report by Sally Murph

Museum Matters

Soldiers and sailors of the 18th century

In our museum collection are military items of the British forces such as: powder flasks, sabres, iron, stone musket balls and a 12 lb cannon ball. During Napoleonic Wars the iron works of South Wales were kept busy producing iron for cannons and also cannon balls. This work was so essential that Admiral Horatio Nelson made a surprise visit to Cyfarthfa Iron Works in recognition of its critical role in the war effort. Owner Richard Crawshay is said to have cried for joy and announced to the workmen "This is Nelson, shout you Beggars!"

The end of a war is always a test of the condition of any country, and when Britain and France made peace in 1763, 100,000 men returned to find work in their own country. Yet there was little trouble. These men again took up their occupations, and things went on much as before. This was a contrast to conditions existing after the Napoleonic War at the beginning of the following century and after the Great War of our own time.

William and MaryThe real history of the British Army begins with the reign of William and Mary. Before this time soldiers were looked upon as personal retainers of the King, but, by the Mutiny Act of 1689, a standing army was recognised. The army was in constant use during the reigns of William and Anne, and recruiting was carried on in strange ways. "All idle, loose, and vagabond persons who have not wife or children" were to be seized and enlisted, also "young,  fencible  i.e. men who were capable of defending themselves and their countrymen, not having wife or children, who earn their living by daily wages or teemly i.e., profitable hire." The Mutiny Act of 1702 says that "All able-bodied men who had no lawful calling or occupation, or visible means of subsis­tence," were to be compelled to serve in the army.

When recruits were won in this manner, when criminals, tramps, and debtors from prison were forced to serve, it was to be expected that there would be many deserters. At one time no fewer than 1500 deserters from Marlborough's army were found hiding in Dutch towns. It is not to be wondered at that volunteers for the army were scarce. At this time service with the colours was v intensely unpopular for several reasons. The officials in England cheated the officers, and the officers in their turn cheated the men. Pay was often months and even years in arrears, though it was only 8d. a day. Soldiers could not march for want of shoes; they were starved for want of food and often died for want of medicine. There were no pensions, and only the Chelsea Hospital existed for those with more than twenty years' service, and for those who had lost a limb.

When William had to face the rebellion raised against him in Ireland by James II in 1689, his best troops were in Holland with Marlborough, and new recruits were rushed to Ireland. Many were without uniform ; some were without muskets; and others could not fire those they had. There were practically no horses or harness for the artillery. No arrangements were made for supplying food and on the march from Dundalk all ranks nearly starved. Everything in the Dundalk camp was bad, and, as a result, fever broke out. Of an army of 14,000 men, 6300 died.


Marlborough, like every great general, did everything he could for his men, and under him the army was greatly improved. But he seems to have been powerless to get proper pay for his soldiers. We read that in 1691 : "Six battalions in Ghent had orders to march out and join the main body, but as we were about to march out of the city, the city gates were shut against us by the people of the place, because we had no money to pay our quarters. Our pay­master-general had gone to Holland to get money on credit". To one regiment Queen Mary sent £1000 out of her own money. This regiment received in five years £3000 instead of £18,000 which was due to it. Marlborough wrote: “it must needs be a very great hardship to have so great an arrear, and that it would much contribute to the service if some part of it were paid, to enable the Colonel the better to clothe his regiment and the officers to support themselves in the Army”.

Bear logoThe weapons of the soldiers were flint-lock muskets, socket bayonets, and swords; pikes and matchlocks were disappearing.   The pictures of Marlborough's soldiers show us men wearing long scarlet coats, gaiters, shoes, cocked hats, and long pigtails tied with bows of ribbon.
Don Bearcroft Curator


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