‘Breconshire Men’ a poem by Mary Bailey

In 1914, Mary Bailey wrote this evocative and poignant poem.


Harry of Monmouth at Agincourt fought,

His was the life that the enemy sought;

But, in the thick of the fighting, a ring

Of Breconshire soldiers defending the King.

“Over our bodies your way lies” they said

“You cannot touch him until we are dead”

David Gam, Roger Vaughan, Watkin Lloyd

These were then The Breconshire Men.


Now once again, does our army advance

The flower of our manhood is fighting in France:

Again, in the midst of the battle’s fierce din,

Breconshire soldiers have died for their King.

More men are wanted – our work is not done,

From Brecon, Crickhowell and Cefn they come;

From Talgarth, Tretower, Ystradgynlais, Brynmawr,

Breconshire men are all ready for war.


Gladly they do it – to answer the call

Of their King and their Fatherland – Patriots all.

King George shall find now as Harry did then,

No soldiers more willing than Breconshire men.

Not for one moment in valour they yield,

To those who fell fighting on Agincourt’s field.

Loyal and gallant, and faithful as then are Breconshire men

GWLADYS MARY BAILEY, author of ‘Breconshire Men’

Some background details

Gwladys Mary also known as Mary was the tenth (and fifth surviving) daughter of Sir Joseph Bailey and Mary (Lord & Lady Glanusk).

1875 – Born 29th March 1875 at Glanusk Park, Crickhowell.

1897-99 – Studied at the Westminster School of Art, as it was said that she was fond of Brush and Pencil.

1903 – Studied in Paris at the studio of Mons de L’Ecluse.

1906 – She left her home at Glanusk on her father’s death and lived with her mother and elder sister Mabel at Hay Castle, where she devoted herself to charitable organisations and in particular, during WWI, when she wrote the poem ‘Breconshire Men’ as many of her close relatives served and some killed.  Her youngest nephew being just sixteen years old.

1935 – After the death of her mother, she returned to the much loved area of her old home and settled at Tretower House with her brother, William Bailey, (d.1942).  After he died she remained at Tretower House, looked after by her devoted housekeeper, Muriel Compton.

She was the beloved friend and confidant of all her nephews and nieces, who turned to her for comfort and advice, in their joys and sorrows. Likewise she was a constant visitor of every cottage and farm on the Estate, no help was ever refused.

Gwladys Mary Bailey died at Tretower House in 1960 and is buried at Penmyarth Church, Glanusk Park.

The information was provided by The Hon. Dame Shân Legge-Bourke DCVO (nee Bailey)