War hero’s former home, Sychnant Pass
Pen Pyra Farm was once the home of Private John “Jack” Edwards, decorated by the French government for bravery in the First World War.
Born in Penmaenbach in 1884, he joined the army from school and served with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers in India. He was working for the London & North Western Railway at Abergele when the First World War began. As a reservist, he immediately re-joined his old regiment at Wrexham and was posted to France.
During the Allied retreat after the Battle of Mons in August 1914, soldiers realised at a roll call that a Lieutenant Thompson, of the Dorset Regiment, was lying wounded in a village which by then was in German hands. Jack Edwards told a newspaper in 1915 that he went out into the night and eluded the enemy sentries to reach the village, eventually found Lieut Thompson lying badly injured and carried the young officer on his shoulder to British lines.
Lieut Thompson died the next day. The French government awarded Jack the Médaille Militaire and he was Mentioned in Dispatches in the UK.
In February 1915, Jack had five days’ leave and arrived in Conwy direct from the trenches, still mud-caked and carrying his full kit. Some of the wood on his rifle had burnt away with the heat of the barrel, so intensively had it been fired.
This was to be his last time in Wales. He was killed in action in September 1915 and was buried at Cambrin Churchyard Extension, in the Pas de Calais region. He is commemorated on Dwygyfylchi war memorial.
About the farm’s name:
Pen Pyra (earlier written as Pen y Pyrau) means “head of the pear-trees”. Pen = head, top, above; y = the; pŷr = pear (plural pyrau = pears, pear-trees). Presumably the area was known for its wild pears.