Historic WW1 souvenirs found by Penarth woman

Penarth Times: WW1: Marion Avon with the souvenirs from her father-in-law that served in the First World War(6406630) WW1: Marion Avon with the souvenirs from her father-in-law that served in the First World War(6406630)

A PENARTH woman has found a treasure trove of 100-year-old souvenirs from her father-in-law that served in the First World War.

With the centenary of the outbreak of WW1 fast approaching Marion Avon presented her box of priceless memorabilia to Penarth Town Council’s World War 1 Commemorative Group on Tuesday, May 20.

She presented her findings, which included war medals, diaries, post cards and photographs, to the meeting of local groups, schools and historians.

Marion, of Holmesdale Place, first found the box of souvenirs from her father-in-law Ivanhoe Avon after they had been stored away for many decades.

The majority of the items are still in impressive condition, with ribbons still showing their bright colours and diaries still readable, thanks to their storage.

Marion, 83, said she hoped that the materials could be used as part of an exhibition to give local residents an insight into what conditions were like in the war.

After Penarth’s Armed Forces Day parade was recently cancelled for this year the deputy clerk of Penarth Town Council, Keri Hutchings, said that it was hoped that some sort of exhibition of war materials could be held in the town.

During the meeting Mrs Avon gave a presentation about her father-in-law Ivanhoe Avon and went through every item in the box.

Ivanhoe Avon, who died at the age of 90 in 1987, was part of the 11th Welsh Battalion and was one of only 36 soldiers that survived the conflict from his regiment.

His regiment was known as the ‘Cardiff Pals’ and was originally from the Maindy Barracks.

Ivanhoe, who was born and bred in Penarth, lived at Penarth Villa on the corner of Stanwell Road and Hickman Road.

Mrs Avon went through wallets that contained small medals that Ivanhoe was presented with, read through diary entries recounting the weather and what happened each day, and other personal items that had been stored away.

These included Ivanhoe’s will, which he kept on him throughout the whole of WWI, and a menu signed by all of the surviving ‘Cardiff Pals’ during their seventh reunion.

The box also contained a 100-year-old Kodak camera still containing its film, while there were several photos in the box thought to have been taken during the conflict.

Dr Jonathan Hicks, head teacher of St Cyres School and a keen historian, said that the diaries and camera were so small as soldiers weren’t supposed to carry them.

Marion showed the group medals that were presented to her father-in-law, who was both a signalman and a rifleman. He was also presented with colourful ribbons of all the battles he had fought in

The box also contained a Union Jack flag that Ivanhoe had kept with him throughout the war, as well as a copy of the Evening Express from November 11, 1918.

Newly elected Penarth Town Mayor Cllr Martin Turner, who was taking over the chairmanship of the meeting from Cllr Neil Thomas, said about Marion’s presentation.

“This gives us a wonderful insight into what the war was like.”

Cllr Thomas added that it would be good to have an exhibition to commemorate the start of the conflict, and that it could be held at either West House or the Paget Rooms.

Marion added that she would like to have the materials used in an exhibition as long as they were secure and were not damaged.

“The diaries are so interesting to read through and it’s amazing how it was written in such conditions,” she said.

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