I am trying to compile a list of 'local' people in history with Garw valley connections. This is being done in an effort to boost the emerging tourist trade we are currently getting. So far I have written about . St Cein. Dr Richard Price of Llangeinor. Daniel James poet,author of Calon Lan, Pte Samuel Pitt. Rorkes drift survivor,buried in Bettws. Raymond Collishaw. Highly decorated WW1 air ace. Griffith Jenkins Griffiths. of Betws. Who emigrated to the U.S.A. and went on to become the richest man in San Quentin prison. Molly Parkin. Author,Fashion editor,Painter etc.
Further to the request for local hero's A couple of our members will be attending a workshop in Bettws on June 23rd. to record the stories of these people digitally. This will be then available on the Bridgends heritage website in the near future.
There is also Arthur Henry Coleman, born Brynmenyn, started at Pontycymer Railway Station as a 14 year old clerk in 1876 and went on to become the biggest civic dignitary in the history of Argentina. He designed and built the great Southern Railway, developed towns into cities and became a friend of the Peron's. The Western Mail reported his death back in about 1952 and even last year the business community of Bahia Blanca held a memorial dinner in his honour. He had two aunts living in Pantygog, one of which was my Great Grandmother.
Thank you for this one Ffaldau boy. I shall put Arthur Henry Coleman forward with the rest on future lists. There may be plans afoot to introduce 'Digital Signposting' in our area. This means being able to gather information about an area using the newer mobile phones and iPads etc. The G.V.H.S. have been asked to submit lists of places and names of interest to help in this project. Regards
AIR VICE MARSHALL RAYMOND COLLISHAW By David JK Jones
Raymond Collishaw was born in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada on 22nd November 1893. He was the eldest of six children although he had an elder half brother back in Pontyrhyl, the Garw Valley called Stanley Jones.
He was my “First cousin, twice removed”. – (My Great,Grandfather Alfred Jones was the brother of Sarah Jones, who was Raymond’s mother)
Ray’s parents were both Welsh. Jack Collishaw was born at the Race Horses Hotel, Ffrwd, Wrexham, the son of a Hotelier and despite being University educated yearned for adventure and decided to try his luck at prospecting for gold. This was funded by short spells as a coal miner…. and Jack was described as “restless”.
His wife was Sarah Jones, the family called her “Sadie”. Sadie was born in Victoria Avenue, Maindee in Newport before the Jones family moved to Pontyrhyl in the Garw Valley. Sadie worked as a Wet Nurse for both the Churchill and Vanderbilt families.
They met in Victoria, British Columbia and started a family soon after. Ray’s father would frequently be away from home prospecting for gold in California, the Klondike and even Western Australia and thus Ray became the head of the household and didn’t shirk any of his responsibilities.
Ray’s half brother, Stanley Jones quit his job as a miner in the Ffaldau Pit in Pontycymmer in 1902 and joined his mother, Sadie and his half siblings in British Columbia.
Stanley worked on the “Empress of Asia” ship between Vancouver and Japan and encouraged Raymond to go to sea.
Raymond joined the Canadian Fisheries Protection Fleet in 1908 aged 15 as a Cabin Boy and by 1915 had become “First Officer”.
His fisheries ship was the “Alcedo” which took him to the Arctic Circle on one occasion in search of the doomed Stefansson expedition but they were too late to help the ship “Karluk” which had been crushed by ice killing most of the crew.
His ship also took him as far as China on a few occasions.
Ray heard that the RNAS (Royal Naval Air Service) were recruiting for pilots to help the WW1 air effort and applied to join.
He even had to pay for his own training. Many of these pilots died in training but undeterred Raymond was taken on as a probationary pilot and sent to England in January 1916.
At first he was stationed in Redcar near Middlesbrough for seven months where he patrolled the North East coast from regular Zeppelin attacks.
Here he was trained by John Alcock of Alcock & Brown fame, the first men to fly non stop across the Atlantic.
At Redcar he flew Caudron G3’s & Avro 504c’s and despite having problems with his landings he soloed after only 8 and a half hours flying time.
This was typical of both sides in WW1.
In October he was stationed in the Isle of Sheppy and met a girl from Margate that he became quite smitten with. When he was told at very short notice that he would be transferred overseas the next day he decided to fly down to her terraced house and drop her a letter, quite literally, into her garden.
At 50 feet he identified the house and was about to drop the letter when the engine cut out and he crash landed into the back garden and demolished four outbuildings that were the family toilets.
He didn't deliver the letter as he was able to tell her himself!
He wasn't disciplined as he covered the purpose of his flight with a good excuse.
So it was off to France he went and the exploits were about to start……
He was first based in Luxeuil-les-Bains where he flew Sopwith Strutters as one seater bombers. They had been adapted with special fuel tanks enabling 7 & a half hours flying time.
He participated on the bombing of the Mauser Arms Works in Oberndorff, Germany.
Over 80 aircraft took part – a huge mission by 1916 standards, but some of the Nieuport’s didn't have the range and had to turn back exposing the rest of the flight to German attack.
As they passed the Rhine River they were attacked by German Albatross’s of the Grasshopper Jasta that included future ace, Ernst Udet who claimed his first victory that day.
Collishaw also claimed a kill that day too, shooting down ace Ludwig Hanstien. Immediately after he suffered engine failure and he barely made the 200 miles home.
Overall the mission was a failure with the loss of 9 Allied aircraft and very little damage done to the rifle works.
But the Naval 3 Wing had learned its lesson and the following week they destroyed the furnaces at the steel works by using a much smaller force and got in and out of Germany without being spotted.
A few weeks later, Collie was shot down again on yet another raid but he glided into France and crash landed near Nancy.
The early winter had halted operations until January 1917. On one supposedly easy flight Ray was ferrying a Sopwith Strutter to its new base at Ochey without a rear gunner.
He was jumped by 6 Albatross aircraft. The first he knew of it was when tracer bullets destroyed his instrument panels, one bullet smashing his goggles and glass partially blinding his eyes. In desperation he dived for the trees hoping to lose them. One Albatross followed him and crashed……and another appeared before him which he shot down…..the other 4 disappeared……Now he had to get home, nearly blinded and without instruments……He landed in a nearby airfield and as he came to a halt he saw a jeep full of servicemen racing towards him….which was to be expected…….but he then noticed a line of Fokker aircraft and realised that he had landed in a German Airbase!
He quickly shot up the jeep and its occupants and took off in a hurry…..clipping the tops of the trees as he did so.
Other German aircraft caught up with his slowed down plane and riddled it with bullets…..but he managed to lose them in the clouds. He managed to land at the French airfield of Verdun where he stayed for a week having his eyes fixed by a local doctor.
His actions so impressed the French that they awarded him the Croix de Guerre and the British then posted him to an all fighter Squadron.
Unfortunately for Ray it was February 1917 and the Allied Squadrons were being pulverized during the Arras offensive.
Several Naval Squadrons were sent to lend a hand but sadly the Royal Flying Corps saw little benefit in this as they perceived the Naval pilots as not being really combatant…….A huge under estimation.
Each pilot during this time flew four times a day with each flight guaranteeing a battle with the Hun……..Collishaw soon proved his worth with 3 quick kills…..one of which saw his goggles shot off again.
He attempted to un-jam his gun at 16,000 feet with his exposed face into the slipstream causing his face to freeze badly. This caused him to be hospitalized for a month.
He returned to action on April 26th 1917 (virtually immediately on hospital discharge) and was posted to Naval 10 who were equipped with the Sopwith Triplane.
The Sopwith Triplane was more agile than the Sopwith Pup…..It’s wings gave it an incredible rate of climb, better visibility and above all……a better turning radius.
It was slower than the German Albatross but in WW1 agility was everything…….It’s only drawback was having only one gun whereas the German Albatross had two.
The first day of flying it Collishaw down a German plane….the following week he downed 4 more !!!
Naval 10 were then moved to Drogladt near Belgium as preparations were under way for the Messines offensive and the Royal Flying Corps needed assistance against the cream of the German Air Service and they would see the thickest of the WW1 air fighting against Baron Von Richthofen’s flying circus.
Collie commanded “B Flight” comprised entirely of Canadians. A & C flights were coloured Red & Blue for easier recognition for maintenance upon landing.
Collishaw painted his 5 planes black this the legendary BLACK FLIGHT was formed.
Collie was:- BLACK MARIA (possibly named after his aunt Maria Jones) back in Pantygog in the Garw Valley.
Ellis Reid was:- BLACK ROGER
John Sharman was:- BLACK DEATH
Mel Alexander was:- BLACK PRINCE
….and Gerry Nash was BLACK SHEEP
Within weeks they were the terror of the German Air Service.
June 6th was their greatest day……Collie led the patrol and while they were flying over Polygon Wood they encountered 16 Albatrosses and Halberstadts.
The 5 attacked the 16 and in the dogfight that followed Collie shot down 3 Albatrosses, Nash downed 2, Reid, Alexander and Nash one each. They agreed to share another 3 kills taking the total for the day to 10 kills and no losses.
Two days later Ray Collishaw was shot down again!
He had been in a tight circling fight with an Albatross when bullets from another German aircraft behind him entered into his cockpit.
His aircraft fell out of control from 16,000 feet and began a series od spins, cartwheels, swoops and dives. Just before he hit the ground the Triplane pulled nose up and slammed belly down on the ground. British Tommies ran to his aid and pulled him from the wreckage…..remarkably he was able to walk away dazed but unhurt.
For his combats in June 1917, Raymond was awarded the DISTINGUISHED SERVICE CROSS.
On July 2nd 1917 he was involved in a dogfight that nearly killed the RED BARON…..Manfred Von Richthofen…..6 Allied planes had been set upon by 30 Albatross’s, some of which were from Von Richthofen’s Jasta 11…...Von Richthofen was grazed across the skull by a bullet which momentarily made him lose control. However he managed to regain his wits and crash landed his aircraft.
Four days later, on the 6th July Raymond wrote himself into the history books by becoming the first pilot ever to shoot down SIX aircraft in one day…… 5 above Menin & 1 above Deulemont. For this he received the DISTINGUISHED SERVICE ORDER.
Later in July…..he was shot down yet again……This time a powerful burst of bullets from a German aircraft broke the wires that kept the metal cowling on the aircraft. One side piece flipped off and jammed into his wing struts causing an immediate and rapid spin.
His Triplane tumbled out of the sky end over and with the added stress his seat belt snapped and he was thrown out of the cockpit….
…..frantically he grabbed the centre section strut and hung on for dear life on the wildly gyrating aircraft……..In one of its swoops he was thrown part ways back into the cockpit and he managed to get his boot around the control column and pushed it forward enough that he could get further into the cockpit…..With an immense effort he clambered back into the cockpit and pulled back on the stick……the plane leveled out somewhat before slamming into the ground and was destroyed……He walked away with only his pride hurt.
He was sent back into action the very next day. There was no recognition of battle fatigue or stress syndrome in WW1.
Towards the end of July the Black Flight suffered its first loss.
The number 2 to Baron Von Richthofen was Karl Almenroder. Almenroder was only 21 years old but had 30 kills to his name. Almenroder shot down Gerry Nash but unbeknown to Collie and his comrades he survived the crash landing and became a prisoner of war.
Two days later above Zillebeke, Belgium Collishaw blasted Almenroder out of the sky from long range and didn't even bother to submit a report claiming the kill. It is however commemorated on a First Day Stamp Cover and a Painting by Aviation artist Merv Corning.
Almenroder crashed into a makeshift military cemetery full of decomposing bodies and it took two hours for the Germans to identify & retrieve his body which was returned to his home in Wald for a state funeral.
On the evening of Almenroder’s death the church bell was constantly tolling in Zillebeke and keeping Gerry Nash awake. He asked the guard “why” and the guard replied that the “Black Flight leader “Maria” had killed Karl Almenroder. Nash wrote about this moment after the war.
Black Flight finished this particular campaign with 87 kills and only 2 losses. Nash (prisoner) & Sharman who was killed.
In August he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (2nd highest to VC)
The Glamorgan Gazette of Friday 27th September 1918 printed:-
“Mr & Mrs F Jones of 30 Pant Street, Pontycymmer have reason to be proud of their nephew Major Collishaw, one of our star airmen who has just been awarded the bar to his DSO Medal. It is stated that the Major has destroyed 51 enemy machines. He was attached to the Naval Air Service and has won in addition to the DSO, the DSC and DFC. He is described as a brilliant squadron leader of exceptional daring.”
The proud couple were unaware at the time that their own son, John Peter Jones (Ray’s 1st cousin) had died on the Somme on the 19th August but the news had yet to reach them.
After Black Flight, Ray continued to shoot down enemy planes with regularity.
Ray finished the war with 60 official kills, 21 unofficial kills and 8 Observation balloons destroyed. Observation balloons were particularly difficult to attack because they were always guarded by about five fighter planes.
He then went off to South Russia in 1919 to fight the Bolsheviks where he claimed another 29 kills and sank a gunboat with a hand dropped bomb.
In WW2 he commanded the entire North African Air campaign.
In total his honours were:-
The Distinguished Service Order with BAR, Distinguished Flying Cross, Distinguished Service Cross OBE (civilian 1920), Croix de Guerre, Order of St Stanislaus, Order of St Anne, Order of St Vladimir, OBE (military 1946), Most Honourable Military Order of the Bath, Inducted into the Canadian Aviation Hall of fame … and Nanaimo Airport was renamed Collishaw Airport. ______________________________________________________
He spent his retirement prospecting for gold and corresponding with airmen and schoolboys about aviation.
He personally answered every letter.
Unlike his father Jack, Ray struck it lucky with Gold, Copper and other minerals and founded two hugely successful companies, Craigmont Copper & Copper Mountain.
He visited his family at 30 Pant Street in the Garw Valley on at least two occasions in the 1930's.
Raymond Collishaw died on the 29th September 1976 aged 82.
He was buried on the 4th October with full Military honours in Capilano View Cemetery, West Vancouver.
The schools were closed and thousands of people lined the route. There was a Double Voodoo flypast over the cemetery.
There was also a single Voodoo flypast over Buckingham Palace, London the same day.
Raymond Collishaw, the son of two Welsh parents made a huge contribution to both World Wars.
Last Edit: Jan 26, 2014 19:01:06 GMT by ffaldauboy
Arthur Henry Coleman was born in Fairfield House at Brynmenyn Train Station on 13th January 1868 into a Railway family. His father, Peter Coleman was the first ever Station Master there. Virtually all of the large family worked on the Railways in some capacity or other. He even had a brother named Gustavus Wilmot Rufus Coleman (Initials "GWR" !!!). It was no surprize, therefore, to see Arthur join the Railways as a junior clerk at Pontycymer on the 14th January 1882, just one day after his 14th birthday. He became a Senior Clerk at Nantymoel train station and eventually left after five and a half years to seek a new life in Argentina.
He arrived in Buenos Aries on 7th November 1887 after 29 days in a coal boat with 70 other passengers, and started work with the Southern Railway immediately as a Night Porter at the Main Station while he learned Spanish. By 1895 he was the Night Station Master, but spent his last 47 years in Bahia Blanca, becoming Chief Superintendent of all the Municipal works.
It is said that he created great cities where there was just desert and even prevented a war between Chile and Argentina by extending the railway in record time to a point where troops could be sent. He only retired on 15th January 1949 (2 days after his 81st birthday) and saw his 750 page autobiography: “Mi vida de ferroviario Inglés en la Argentina” published on 16th May of that year. He was also a friend of the Peron's.
His passing, on the 7th November 1952 was commemorated by the Western Mail.
On 3rd March 2011 a Bill was passed to honour him posthumously with (Google translation:-) “Declaration as Illustrious Citizen of Buenos Aires Province: Don Arturo H. Coleman”. It is a glowing citation of his “iconic personality” and “development of the city of Bahía Blanca and the region, who served the Southern Railway for 61 years.”.
In 2012 the business community in Bahia Blanca held a memorial dinner in his honour on the 60th anniversary of his death.
Elizabeth (Betty) Davies Drummond was born in Pontycymmer the eldest daughter of Edward and Ann Davies nee Davies. Betty was a speech instructor and drama teacher in Fresno City, California. Through her help with children the Mayor of Fresno had a Memorial Day in her honour. I hope to fill in details including the Formal Announcement from the Mayors Office shortly.