Page last updated at 17:49 GMT, Sunday, 25 October 2009

Tribute to WWII munitions workers

Thomas Bevan was killed in a blast while destroying defective munitions; Olive Bugler was one of three women killed in an explosion in the detonators assembly workshop
Thomas Bevan, 49, and Olive Bugler, 20, died in separate blasts in 1941

A plaque has been unveiled to workers who were killed or maimed at a wartime munitions factory in south Wales.

At its height in World War II, 32,000 people, three-quarters of them women, worked with high explosives and detonators at Bridgend, with 27 killed.

Elsewhere, Health Minister Edwina Hart marked 65 years since Welsh troops liberated a Dutch city.

And the South Korean ambassador laid a wreath in Caernarfon as British Korean War veterans reunite.

Charles Thorp, honorary secretary of Bridgend Civic Trust, said the arsenal dated back to a government decision in 1935 to switch armament production away from the Woolwich Arsenal in London to locations away from possible enemy air attack.

The Bridgend munitions factory site, known as ROF 53, was established in the years just before the war and had 1,000 buildings.

During the construction and operation of the factory inevitably a number of workers lost their lives - there were a lot of high explosives about
Charles Thorp, Bridgend Civic Trust

A ceremony in Bridgend commemorated the tens of thousands of the people from south Wales who worked in the arsenal, and the plaque lists the 27 killed. It was on a huge complex where the headquarters of South Wales Police now stand.

Mr Thorp said: "During the construction and operation of the factory inevitably a number of workers lost their lives - there were a lot of high explosives about.

"Until now these people have not been commemorated. Bridgend Civic Trust has decided that these vital workers should be recognised."

Interest in the site was rekindled in 2007 when local author Michael Clubb published The Welsh Arsenal, detailing its history from 1939-1945.

By maintaining these links we can help to ensure that our young children are brought up to fully understand the hardships and sacrifices our forefathers endured
Health Minister Edwina Hart

Relatives of those killed, and representatives of the British Legion and associated local authorities across south Wales attended the unveiling and dedication in Dunraven Place.

Meanwhile, Edwina Hart was attending a parade and commemoration service in the Dutch city of 's-Hertogenbosch, which was liberated by troops of the 53rd (Welsh) Division.

'Bravery'

Her duties on Sunday and Monday included laying a wreath at the city's Resistance Monument on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government. She was also addressing a reception in the city hall.

Ms Hart, whose ministerial role includes responsibility for veterans, said beforehand: "This will be a very moving and proud occasion for the Welsh veterans and for the people of 's-Hertogenbosch.

"It is important that we remember the bravery of the soldiers, who risked - and in some cases sacrificed - their lives to liberate the town.

"By maintaining these links we can help to ensure that our young children are brought up to fully understand the hardships and sacrifices our forefathers endured."

The weekend also saw the British Korean War Veterans Association holding their annual reunion in Caernarfon.

Events included wreath laying at the Cenotaph by the Korean ambassador, as well as a march in the Maes.

Caernarfon mayor Hywel Roberts said he was delighted the association had chosen the town for its annual meeting and reunion.

He said: "Caernarfon is a very suitable location for such an event as the town has a long military history.

"The Romans had their Segontium fort here for nearly 400 years and established Caernarfon as a military and administrative centre."



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