James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants

24th Regiment of Foot colours

SWB Chapel, Brecon Cathedral

The South Wales Borderers' Chapel in Brecon Cathedral as it looked a few years ago. Recently an anonymous benefactor provided the funds to restore the regimental colours and they are now preserved for posterity in hermetically sealed cases.

On the wall of this chapel there are memorial plaques commemorating Gethin and his brother Gurth.

In 1881, the 24th (2nd Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot became the South Wales Borderers. During the battle of Chillianwallah in the Punjab in 1849, a soldier called Perry had rescued the Colours and from 1868 they were kept at the home of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment's memorial chapel in St, Mary’s Church Warwick, where Perry is buried.

For some years there had been a dispute as to whether the Colours should stay there or be transferred to the South Wales Borderers' regimental memorial chapel in Brecon Cathedral. The local vicar had refused to allow them to be moved and a stalemate seemed to have been reached until Gethin took up the case. He presented it to the Bishop of Coventry in May 1935 and in November that year the petition was put before the Diocesan Chancellor. Feelings ran high – there were heated exchanges of letters in newspapers, strong arguments being presented on both sides. Eventually Gethin’s thorough research and gritty determination won the day; his evidence convinced the Chancellor and judgement was found in favour of the regiment on 4 June 1936. The case involved protracted correspondence, evidence being put to the Diocesan Chancellor of Coventry, Warwick Assize Court (6 May 1936), the hearing being adjourned to London and finally arguments being put in the Niblett Hall, Inner Temple (19 May). According to an article in the Stratford Herald (August 1999) recalling the episode under the headline 'A battle royal over the trophies of war', Gethin was as formidable a man as Warwick's crusty old cleric had been cantankerously awkward. The Colours were restored by the Royal School of Needlework and returned to the regiment on 23 August 1936.