In memory of Arthur Evan Preece

Portrait of Arthur Evan PreeceArthur Evan Preece was born on October 19 1879 in Knighton, Radnorshire, to Thomas and Harriet Preece. He married Alice Davies in October 1907, and the couple settled in Llanwrtyd Wells. They lived at Cross House. The couple had three children. Alice also had a son, William Williams, from a previous marriage.

Arthur was a committed member of St James’ Church, where he taught in the Sunday School. He also volunteered as a sidesman (assistant to the churchwarden).

He worked as a platelayer (track maintenance worker) for the London & North Western Railway, which owned the route through Llanwrtyd which is now known as the Heart of Wales line. He enlisted in the 115th Railway Construction Company of the Royal Engineers in June 1915, when he was 35 years old. He was sent to the Longmoor Military Railway in Hampshire where he received basic military training and learnt about railway construction and operations during wartime. Railways were vital in transporting munitions, equipment and men to the front line.

By December 1915, Arthur’s regiment had left Britain for Egypt and was tasked with building and laying new tracks as well as maintaining existing lines. However an accident on 4 December 1916 cost Sapper Preece his life and he was buried at Kantara War Cemetery, north-east of Cairo.

In the same week that Alice Preece received news that her husband had died in Egypt, she was also informed that her eldest son, Billy (William Williams), was missing, presumed dead. Billy was later found alive. Earlier in the war he had been awarded the Military Medal for gallantry during one of the first tank battles but was invalided back to Britain after being gassed and wounded with shrapnel. After the war Billy was unable to find work in Britain so he and a friend sought employment in the United States. Billy settled in New York where he married and had two children.

With thanks to Margaret Birch, Arthur Preece’s grand-daughter, and Adrian Hughes

Return to Llanwrtyd Wells war memorial page

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