3 May 1917 saw the loss of what the Co-operative News described as an ‘ardent co-operator.’ Lieutenant W C Beynon was a Professor of Economics at Swansea University, where he also lectured on co-operation. He had previously worked as an assistant manager at Brynmill before becoming a professor. He is also described as having been ‘a pioneer’ in the musical life of the co-operative movement.
Beynon had joined the army as a member of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, and was sent to fight on the Western Front, where he rose to the rank of Lieutenant. Due to the timeframe and the vicinity to where he was buried, it is likely that Beynon was killed during the latter stages of the Second Battle of Arras. This took place from April to May in 1917 and although Commonwealth forces made strategic gains, pushing back the German lines and taking the high ground at Vimy Ridge, this was at a cost of around 160,000 casualties.
Beynon was 29 when he was killed. His gravestone in the Duisans Cemetery in the Northern French town of Etrun further suggests that he was a man of principle. It reads ‘His life right through to the end was a noble one.’
Co-operative News, 19 May 1917, page 472.
WWI co-operative voices
This post is part of ‘WWI co-operative voices’ which shares the stories of co-operative workers and members during the conflict. In order to mark the centenary of the WWI, the Rochdale Pioneers Museum is staging an exhibition entitled ‘From shop floor to front line’ and the accounts of these soldiers, shop workers and conscientious objectors will run alongside it. They are tales of death, duty and of those who chose not to fight.
Through ‘WWI co-operative voices’ we will be releasing new posts about these individuals throughout the duration of the exhibition (due to open mid-May 2015 and run until May 2016). Read about the co-operative movement’s involvement in a war that shook the world by selecting a name from the column on the left. You can also follow us on social media for regular updates.
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We wish to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for supporting the ‘From shop floor to front line’ exhibition and project.