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  • Writer's pictureDavid Mathews


… hundreds of them, in front of a door at the old distillery at Frongoch, near Bala.

On 7 November my shortest of short stories tells of pharmacist H W Lloyd and the photographs he took in 1915-16 at Frongoch PoW Camp , nearly 200 images of soldiers and sailors individually and in groups. Read it here on the Imperial War Museums' website tomorrow.

If you want to see the images - the portraits and camp entertainments - they are in the care of the National Library of Wales. Here's the one that goes with Lloyd's story:

Casgliad H. W. Lloyd, trwy garedigrwydd Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru/ H. W. Lloyd Collection, courtesy The National Library of Wales

Do you find that when you research a topic, however slight at the start, it grows on you? It develops a pattern or some intrigue regardless of whether it is about airmail stamps or Jack the Ripper. H W Lloyd and his photos began as a minor puzzle, for me, but from it grew the man, his family and the life of the camp. Hugh’s wife, Kate, and their two boys, Hugh Tegid and ‘Llew’, are among the images too, which helped me validate that Lloyd really was the photographer of all these men.

The richness of the research did not make it any easier to meet the brief to tell the story in 100 words – a centena – for the Imperial War Museums’ commemoration of the last 100 days of the First World War. I’ve done okay, I think, but I am hugely admiring of, and moved by, so many of the other stories that have been told through this project. They are so worth reading, and you can see every one published so far here. We’re nearly done, of course, with 11 November coming up, so please read my story about Lloyd and the PoWs on 7 November and pass it on.

P.S. Trouble is, many questions remain, above all the prisoners themselves, H W Lloyd’s subjects. Who were they? I don’t have their names, and the camp register does not seem to have survived. There are, however, grandchildren who might recognise their Opa, and be pleased to see what he looked like in the circumstances that ensured his survival – and maybe their own existence as his descendants.

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