The First World War
1. Richard Thomas: Policeman, Sportsman, Soldier
Having previously worked as a collier, Richard 'Dick' Thomas joined the Glamorgan Constabulary in 1904, aged twenty-three. In his early years as a police constable he served in the Aberdare, Ystrad Mynach and Bridgend Divisions of the force.
It was during these years that he also made a name for himself as a rugby player. Between 1906 and 1909, Dick made four appearances for Wales, playing a role in two Grand Slam-winning teams in 1908 and 1909.
Alongside his international honours, Dick also represented the Glamorgan County and played club rugby for Penygraig, Bridgend, Mountain Ash, the Glamorgan Police and his home village of Ferndale.
While still serving as a police officer, Dick was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in August 1913 and was stationed at Bridgend at the commencement of the First World War.
Like so many young men of his generation, Dick made the ultimate sacrifice by enlisting to fight in the War. Along with many other police officers of Glamorgan, Dick joined the 16th Cardiff City Battalion of the Welsh Regiment.
Dick was sadly killed in action at Mametz Wood in 1916. He has no known grave, but is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing on the Somme. He is also commemorated on the Glamorgan Police War Memorial outside the Headquarters of South Wales Police.
During the years of the Great War Centenary, Dick’s remarkable story was told in detail in a booklet produced by the Heritage Centre. Using original sources and photographs, the booklet gives an account of his life, police career and sad death at the front.
The booklet can be found below.