WITH just under a week to go until the nation comes together to commemorate the end of the First World War, Chepstow’s memorial centrepiece remains in a state of neglect and disrepair.
Gifted to the town by King George V to mark the outstanding bravery of a Chepstow man, the town gun stands rusted surrounded by weeds and grass, and it will take up to £50,000 to return it to its former glory.
Pictured at the end of the war, the large gun was taken from German UB-91, which surrendered to Britain on 21st November 1918 at Harwich. She toured the South Wales ports of Cardiff, Newport, Swansea, Port Talbot and was towed to Pembroke Dock, eventually being broken up at Briton Ferry in 1921.
The picture shows the gun being removed from the submarine at Newport Docks.
It stands in Chepstow in memory of William Charles Williams who was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously. For more on Able Seaman Williams, see Page 16.
Chepstow Town Council lists the preservation of the gun and neighbouring memorial on its website as a responsibility of the council to ‘undertake the regular cleaning of the town’s war memorial’. Despite this, it has delayed the opportunity to restore the gun, despite being offered a grant from the War Memorial Trust in 2016, which was later retracted due to administration errors.
The long process could even involve removing the gun to repair it out of town, as a survey reported that restoration on site could cost around £30,000, and off site would rack up to just under £50,000.
The adjacent memorial also needs to be cleaned, at a cost of £3,450, according to council documents.
The delay in repairing the gun could be linked to reported hostility from some Chepstow town councillors towards the gun, and its future in the town. Nevertheless, the town will gather at the special relic this Remembrance Sunday to lay wreaths before moving on to St Mary’s Church for a service.