Despite the appalling weather conditions a capacity crowd attended Hook Sports Club to witness the launch of a book commemorating the end of World War One. The publication has been produced by Hook History Society and highlights the role of a Pembrokeshire village during that period.
World War One was one of the, if not the, most horrific conflicts the world has ever had the misfortune to experience. Over 900,000 men died fighting under the British Flag and tens of thousands of others were wounded. These were the days of the Empire and at one time there were more Indians in the British army than Britons.!
The dragon topped memorial in Haverfordwest bears the names of 1,300 Pembrokeshire service men who were killed in action.
Although many miles from the carnage of Flanders Pembrokeshire villages had a significant role to play during the War. ……and the Society, naturally, focused its attention on the former mining village of Hook.
Hook lost two of its sons in the conflict. One on the Somme and the other on the catastrophic landing at Gallipoli. Many others served; were wounded but thankfully survived. One young Hook man although living in America rushed home to volunteer for the Navy.
On the home front Hook colliery was producing 10,000 tons of top quality anthracite each year. This was at a time when virtually all power was produced by burning coal. The colliery was no soft option as working conditions were dreadful and dangerous; wages minimal and the hours long. Often men worked in ankle deep water and in the narrow seams dug coal while kneeling or lying on their sides. At the outbreak of the War there were70 men working in the colliery.
During this period two men lost their lives when a torrent of water broke into the working area from a long-forgotten gallery.
Some village men cycled each day to Neyland and were rowed across to the Royal Naval Dockyard to build warships and submarines. The boatman charged sixpence a week.! ( two and a half pence n today’s money). During the War two warships and two submarines were launched at Pembroke Dock.
The German U-boat fleet did its utmost to starve an island nation into submission at a time when 60% of the nation’s food was imported as was 80% of the required wheat. They sank literally dozens of food carrying supply vessels; many off the Pembrokeshire coast.
This emphasised the important role of the cluster of comparatively small farms in and around the village which produced essential food under ever increasingly strict government control.
There are articles on the callous White Feather Campaign and other major events which impacted on the village at that time. There are many colour posters of the era featured ranging from campaigns urging women to persuade their menfolk to leave home and join the fighting to pleading with families to eat less bread.!
The book…….24 pages; A4; full colour….. is on sale at both Hook and Llangwm village shops and costs £5..or via e mail contact within these web pages.