Image: West Wales Maritime Heritage Society Logo  


News & Events






Monday 27th May 2019 - Fun Day at the Boatyard


10th February 2019

For his efforts in raising the funding to pay for the memorial to the victims of the Japanese merchant ship Hirano Maru, sunk in the last weeks of World War One, David James has received the prestigious Point of Light Award.  As a former serviceman, David spent time serving the British Army in Germany and Libya, where he noticed the graves of British soldiers had markers, inspiring him to commemorate the victims of war in his hometown. David hopes the memorial will commemorate the victims and keep the story alive among younger generations to help them understand the realities of war.

In a personal letter to David, Prime Minister Theresa May said:

“You should be enormously proud of your work fundraising for a new memorial to the crew and passengers of the Japanese merchant ship sunk in the final days of World War One. Your compassion and dedication to commemorating these victims is truly exceptional. I wish you every success with your continued work.”

David commented: 

“When I first thought of restoring the memorial over the grave of ten Japanese merchant seamen in Angle, Pembrokeshire I had no idea that it would touch so many people and succeed beyond my wildest expectations. Pembrokeshire people supported me, and so too did many Japanese people from ordinary citizens and dignitaries to HRH the Duke of Gloucester and His Excellency Koji Tsuruoka, Japanese Ambassador to the UK. During my searches I have made many Japanese friends, both in the UK and in Japan, all of whom feel that I have done them a great service, although I did not realise the enormity of it until they explained it to me at the unveiling ceremony. Thus to be awarded the Point of Light is the crowning moment of this whole project and I am humbled and honoured to be presented with it. May I thank those who have noticed my efforts and may I also express my sincere gratitude to all who have supported my nomination for the award.”

Friday 26th October 2018

Following the unveiling of the Japanese war memorial at Angle on the 4th October 2018 David and Margaret James  were invited to go to London where David would  speak to the Daiwa Anglo Japanese Foundation.

While there he was also invited to go to the Embassy of Japan to meet their Ambassador ,His Excellency Koji Tsuruoka.The meeting lasted half an hour , the Ambassador thanked David for the work of remembering the Japanese sailors and complimenting him on his tenacity and determination to get the job finished. The meeting also featured a tea ceremony ,again a great honour.

 Afterwards David and Margaret went to the palatial HQ of the Daiwa Anglo Japanese Foundation near Regents Park. After a successful talk by David, they attended a drinks reception and thence onto dinner at a nearby restaurant.A very eventful and exciting trip



Thursday 3rd October 2018

Photo - Drew Stiles

A memorial dedicated to the victims of a Japanese merchant ship Hirano Maru, which was sunk by the German navy during the First World War, was unveiled last week by the Duke of Gloucester in Angle Churchyard exactly 100 years after the sinking.

Only 30 of the 240 sailors and passengers on board the Hirano Maru survived when the ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat in the Irish Sea on October 4, 1918 - 10 of which were buried in the churchyard in Angle. A monument had been placed on the grave but that had disappeared over the years and David James, secretary of the West Wales Maritime Heritage Society had made it his mission to replace it.  Funds were raised for the memorial which was carved by a local stonemason.

Attending the service on Thursday, October 4th were HRH Duke of Gloucester, Lord Lieutenant of Dyfed, Sara Edwards alongside representatives from the Japanese Embassy and Nippon Yusen K.K, the company that owned the ship.  Descendants of the victims also attended the churchyard ceremony. At the service flowers were left by seventy-two-year-old Yoshiko Nakamura, whose grandfather Shintaro Yamamoto - an officer in the Imperial Japanese Navy was among the victims.

The event attracted media attention and was broadcast on the national news. In his interview, David James said“I was delighted to see so many Japanese people here. With so many people coming together in an act of remembrance and commemoration.”

The original memorial

Saturday 29th September 2018

David James (centre) with Mr Peter Hancock and ex employees at Hancocks Yard

Saturday 29th September afternoon saw the launch of our Secretary David James’ latest book ‘Hancock’s Shipbuilding Company in Pembroke Dock: the ships and the men who built them’.  Appropriately, the event took place in Hancock’s Yard, where we are based.  David is author of several maritime books and a popular speaker.  His popularity is such that the book launch, organised by Pembroke & Monkton Local History Society, drew large numbers.  The History Society has a publications’ arm and this is its third major local history book. 

P&M Chairman Linda Asman opened the event by thanking Mr Peter Hancock MBE for travelling back to Pembroke Dock to attend.  Mr Hancock spoke of the time he set up his company, returning to Pembrokeshire in 1962 wanting to live his dream of building ships like his grandfather had done – and for almost the next 20 years he did just that.  He thanked David for gathering together the stories and memories of the company, stating that it was a privilege to have worked as part of that wonderful community of men who displayed such pride in their work.  Together they built over 40 craft of one sort or another.

David James signs copies of his new book at Hancocks Yard David James and Mr Peter Hancock

 Many ex employees attended the event and enjoyed the opportunity to reminisce, wander around the boat yard and visit the maritime museum which the WWMHS has set up in one of the buildings.  The book proved popular too – 105 books were sold during the course of the afternoon!

 Thanks were extended to the committee of the History Society for supplying refreshments and also to Mr Keith Johnson for his much valued work in editing the book which was printed by Gomer Press. 

Click here for book review


Saturday August 29th 2018

Tenby Lugger's Maiden Voyage to Tenby

On Saturday, August 25th three WWMHS members – Skipper Rob Phillips with  Gareth John and Stuart Asman as crew – sailed our Tenby Lugger Heritage from Hancock’s Yard, Pembroke Dock to Tenby.  They were met by Nathan Spiller, Commodore of Tenby Sailing Club, off Caldey and escorted by Sailing Club members into the harbour.  After a blessing service by Canon Andrew Grace, a reception was held in the Sailing Club for the Crew and invited guests. Click here for more