William Edwards, a talented cricketer from Swansea, was another young, homegrown player who played Minor County cricket for Glamorgan during 1913. Sadly, he never got a chance to add further to his tally as, in early November 1917 in Palestine, he was amongst a group of Welsh soldiers to be killed whilst assaulting the western flank of Beersheba.
Born in May 1892 in Sketty, he was the son of William Henry Edwards, a local JP who lived at The Hill. His sporting talents were nurtured initially at Harrow where he went on to win a place in the school’s rugby XV and appeared against Eton in 1909. The Harrovian was also a talented cricketer, having been coached as a youngster by Billy Bancroft and his father at the St. Helen’s ground.
William failed to win a place in the Harrow XI, but the youngster won a place in the Swansea side before going up to Cambridge. He subsequently represented Trinity Hall at both rugby and cricket, but did not make the University teams besides leaving Cambridge without completing his degree. After returning to South Wales, William switched his allegiance to Neath, largely because Swansea already had two other talented keepers in Jack Bancroft and Ernie Billings.
With greater opportunities at the Neath club, he was able to display his talents with the gloves and in May 1913 when others were unavailable, Edwards was called up by the Glamorgan selectors to keep wicket against Surrey 2nd XI. He didn’t let anyone down and in the Glamorgan second innings the youngster top-scored with 37 as Glamorgan hung on for a draw on 93-9. The following month, he was chosen as the wicket-keeper in the Gentlemen of Glamorgan side which played the Players at Neath – confirmation of his standing as one of the best amateur keepers in South Wales.
Later that summer, he was also chosen to play for the Welsh county in the return match with Surrey 2nd XI at the Arms Park, and again he kept very capably. 1914 was a bitter-sweet year for William. On a happy note, it was the year when he married his childhood sweetheart, Miss Aerona Sails, the younger daughter of a JP from Glan-yr-Onen in the Mumbles, a prominent figure in local politics in the Swansea area, and an influential supporter of the Suffragette Movement.
In mid-July, William was chosen once again to keep wicket for the Gentlemen of Glamorgan against their counterparts from Carmarthenshire at Swansea. The two teams met the following week at Stradey Park in Llanelli but this time he was chosen solely as a batsman and therefore had an opportunity to display his occasional seam bowling. He duly claimed a couple of wickets but,, tragically it proved to be the final major game in which he appeared.
Following the outbreak of War, William joined up and became a 2nd Lieutenant in the Glamorganshire Yeomanry. After completing his basic training as a rifleman, He and his colleagues briefly saw action in August 1915 at Suvla Bay in Gallipoli, before being withdrawn from the Dardanelles. After time back in the UK and briefly in France as part of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, he was redeployed again into the Egyptian Expeditionary Force and departed in October 1916 to serve in the Middle East.
He subsequently became a member of the 4th Dismounted Bridge of riflemen in the European Expeditionary Force, combining with comrades from Shropshire, Denbighshire, Cheshire, Pembrokeshire and Montgomeryshire. After a year in Palestine, William and his colleagues were involved on the assault on Beersheba, with Edwards leading a platoon in an attack on the western flank on October 31st. Tragically, William suffered a major shrapnel wound as his platoon approached the outskirts of the town where well-placed Ottoman artillery were positioned. He failed to recover and died in the early hours of the next day.
His brother John Bryn Edwards (later Sir John) was a well-known ironmaster and philanthropist who lived at Hendrefoilan House in Swansea. John also played cricket for Swansea and in 1914. appeared alongside William for the county’s Club and Ground side, besides being a Welsh hockey international.
EDWARDS, William Armine.
Born – Sketty, Swansea, 3 May 1892.
Died – Beersheba, Palestine, 1 November 1917.
Batting and Fielding Record
Minor County Championship – 37 v Surrey 2nd XI at The Oval, 1913.