Cartwright, R N

Roger Norman Cartwright, born in 1887, was the son of Charles Cartwright and Martha Davies. There were three children: Marianne, Charles William (Chas) and Roger Norman. Their father was a veterinary surgeon and the family lived in Glan Aber, Llanasa. Martha must have died young because the 1891 census describes Charles senior as a widower aged 43. His children were 7, 6 and 4 respectively. No wonder his unmarried sister in law – Harriet Davies – kept house for them. The family spoke both Welsh and English.

Charles junior followed in his father’s footsteps and also became a vet. He established a practice in Dyserth. In 1911 he was living with his sister Marianne and Aunt Harriet in the shadow of the limestone quarry in a house called Llyswern. Mr Cartwright played an important part in the history of the war memorial in Dyserth as it was he and his sister who donated part of their garden for this purpose. You can read the full story under “Dyserth War Memorial”

On the night of the census in 1911 Roger was in Ty Ucha, a boarding house in Llanfachreth, Dolgellau, and working as a land agent.

I am grateful to Alison Lawrence for enlightening me on what happened next. Alison’s late husband Malcom was editor of the Dyserth Times and, following an appeal in the newsletter for information regarding R N Cartwright, Malcom wrote:

“At the outbreak of the First World War it was realised that there would be a great need for horses, both as pack animals, cavalry and officers’ mounts etc. Mr Cartwright was appointed one of the Army’s Horse Buyers and travelled to America where he set up his office in Texas. He was accompanied by his family, one of whom R N Cartwright, we believe his brother, enlisted in the US infantry and was sent to France where, like so many others, he sadly paid the ultimate sacrifice.”

Alison goes on to say:

“Malcolm knew quite a bit about the horse recruitment programme during WWI because his own grandfather had been involved in it.  Apparently, the US government offered the UK the horses which ran wild in the southern and mid-American states.  All we had to do was catch them, transport them and train them.  Malcolm’s grandfather was a Boer War cavalry veteran.  He went out to the States a couple of times in 1914/15 to accompany the horses back to the UK on ships.  Once here, they went to a training camp in the New Forest where the biggest horses were trained to pull the big guns and the fastest were trained to carry officers.  He then accompanied them to France to hand over to the regiments, returning to repeat the process.  The need for the horses was insatiable as so many were killed in action.

From the Medal Roll documents on Ancestry we know that Charles Cartwright served in WW1 as a Captain in the Royal Army Veterinary Corps. The Theatre of War in which he served was “USA” and he entered in 1917.

According to Wikipedia the British Army deployed more than a million horses and mules. There weren’t enough horses in Britain to meet demand, so over 1,000 horses a week were shipped from North America where there was a plentiful supply of half-wild horses on the open plains. Between 1914 and 1918, the US sent almost one million horses overseas, and another 182,000 were taken overseas with American troops. Britain also imported horses from Australia, Canada and Argentina as well as requisitioning them from British civilians.

Whilst in Montana Roger Cartwright enlisted in the US Army and served as a Private First Class with the 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Division.

The United States entered World War 1 in April 1917. In September 1917 the 23rd Infantry was assigned to the newly formed US Second Division in France. (The regiment went on to distinguish itself in six WW1 campaigns including Aisne-Marne, St. Mihiel and the Meuse-Argonne.)

In May 1918 the French called upon the American Expeditionary Forces to support them as the Germans had reached Belleau Wood and the River Marne. In early June the US 2nd Division replaced French units in the Belleau area. The Marines led the 2nd Division into Belleau Wood to clear out the German units. The ensuing battle lasted 20 days at the end of which the American forces had proved themselves, raising hopes amongst the Allies of winning the war.

On the 15th of July the 3rd Division successfully blocked an advance by the Germans to again penetrate Allied lines. They had managed to cross the River Marne east of Chateau-Thierry.

Thus on the 18th of July the Allies began the Aisne-Marne Offensive. This was the day that Roger Cartwright died. By the 6th of August the German salient was eliminated and Allied forces reached the banks of the River Vesle. Not only had a serious threat to Paris been removed but important railroads were freed once again for Allied use. In all 310,000 Americans had taken part in this offensive.

Roger Cartwright is commemorated on the tablets of the missing in the chapel in the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, Belleau. The cemetery lies at the foot of the hill on which Belleau Wood stands and where many buried in the cemetery lost their lives.

His brother Charles, known as Mr Cartwright the vet, remained in Dyserth for the rest of his life. A well known and respected member of the community. On the 4th of November 1950 he was invited to take part in the Dedication of the Garden of Remembrance and the unveiling of the Memorial Stone.

Roger Cartwright is also commemorated on the Llanasa War Memorial in the village where he spent his formative years.


Back to top