On 26 October 2019, local Member of Parliament for Torfaen, Nick Thomas-Symonds MP, launched this year’s annual Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal in Cwmbran Town Centre.
In attendance this year, alongside Nick Thomas-Symonds MP, were local representatives of Pontnewydd Branch of the Royal British Legion and a number of local Councillors, including Cwmbran Community Council Chair, Councillor Anthony Bird. It was presided over by the Rev Canon Harald Thomas.
A hundred years ago, the 2nd. Battalion the Monmouthshire Regiment returned to Pontypool in June 1919 having served as part of the army of occupation after the First World War had ended.
Mr Thomas-Symonds MP said:
“Every year I have the honour, and privilege, to launch the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal. This year was poignant as it marked a hundred years since the 2nd. Battalion the Monmouthshire Regiment returned to Pontypool Train Station in June 1919. The soldiers were chosen for this task because of their extraordinary commitment and dedication to duty. We remember them, and all those who were not on the Train Station that day a century ago who did not make it home. We remember all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we enjoy today.
During Black History Month, it is also appropriate to remember the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion. A regiment of African-American GIs in the then-segregated American Army, the unit arrived in Britain in February 1944, staying in the area around Pontypool, including in Abersychan. The soldiers played a vital role in the D-Day Landings on 6 June 1944 at Omaha and Utah Beaches in Normandy. I’m proud of the welcome the soldiers were given in the valley – they are a valued part of our history. Today, I pay tribute to their extraordinary heroism and dedication to duty.”