WWI Exhibition at Victoria Gardens
Report by Mike Davies
Photo showcase of WWI at Victoria Gardens
I went to see the exhibition and my attention was drawn to this photograph on its own in the corner of the room. it showed two Frenchmen dressed in French uniform they were father and son,
The son standing by a table, and the father standing on Resolven railway station, they were off to France after being called up - it sent shivers down my spine
William and Gabriel Funning were French nationals who had moved with the rest of their family to Resolven, to find work in the collieries.
At the outbreak of war both became eligible for military service in the French army, Gabriel served in the 125th Infantry Regiment, and was killed on 13th June 1918 - just 22 yrs old, during the German Oise-Aisne offensive. His father William survived the war, and returned to Resolven, he passed away in 1939.
The reason I tell you this is because my Grandmother Laura fell in love with this young Frenchman who moved in next door in Cross Street, Resolven.
They courted and were going to be married on his return, this was never to be.
On the 12th June 1918 Gabriel was due to come home on leave, when he met a British Soldier, who also came from Resolven, and they agreed to come home together a few days later.
Sadly on the 13th June 1918 Gabriel was killed in action. For his bravery he was posthumously awarded the Croix de Guerre with a silver star as the citation says for "leading an attack on enemy positions".
To this day I have a silver bullet which Gabriel sent to my grandmother with the inscription
“To Lol with love Gabe” and a few photos of Gabriel addressed to my grandmother one which reads
“What a hope we have got with this job"
View the exhibition: