Brecon Remembers Home

Search the site


Regimental Museum (Brecon)

British Library






The Men Who Died



275                276                             

John Douglas Phelan was born in Brecon 4th May 1899, the son of John and Nellie Phelan (nee Chant). When he was born, John had an older brother Christopher and a sister, Kathleen. Christopher was born in 1897 and Kathleen in 1898; both were born in Brecon and baptised in St Mary’s Church, Brecon; John was baptised there June 2nd 1899.

His father was born in Kilkenny, Ireland but at the time of young John’s birth he was a sergeant major in the South Wales Borderers. He had enlisted in Ireland in 1884 and subsequently retired from service in 1909. He enlisted again in October 1914 at the age of 49. He then served with the Portsmouth Battalion of the Hampshire Company as a colour sergeant until he was discharged on health grounds in 1916.

In 1901 the family were living in Abersychan, near Blaenavon. John had a new sister then, Violet, who eventually married and emigrated to Australia.

In 1911 the family had moved to Gosport, near Portsmouth, hence John’s father later enlisting in the Portsmouth regiment and probably leading to John Douglas joining the Royal Marines. John now had another sister, Gladys and another brother Cyril. His parents were

Bugler John Douglas Phelan

Royal Marine Light Infantry, HMS Invincible, Service no.


Died in action at sea on May 31st, 1916, aged 17

Remembered on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial

on May 17th, but was admitted to hospital on June 4th and subsequently transferred to hospital in Malta on June 14th before embarking on the SS Euripedes for England on June 20th.

The above indicates he was with the 2nd Battalion, South Wales Borderers at this time as they had left England in March 1915, arriving in Gallipoli in late April.

After his return, it is presumed Thomas spent some time in Brecon and met local girl, Elizabeth Davies, whose family lived in Charles Street. They were married in the summer of 1915.

His only son, Baden Thomas William Perry, was born on December 1st, 1916, but sadly died of heart failure in February 1918.

Thomas transferred to 2nd Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers on 26th October 1915 and was sent to Egypt. He embarked on the RMT Minnewaska from Devonport on March 6th, 1916, disembarking at Alexandria on March 16th. Thomas was promoted to Lance Corporal on May 25, 1916.

A telegram was sent from Alexandria to Charles Street, Brecon on November 1st, 1918 advising that Thomas was dangerously ill with influenza. Just three days later another telegram was sent to Walnut Square, Brecon saying he had died of pneumonia. Elizabeth was living at 40, Walnut Square, Llanfaes, Brecon at the time.