Bereavement


Up until then [Friday, 7 p.m.] I had hoped that the chapel was a hospital, but as I went into Bethania people were coming out who had been told their children had gone. Until I went in I still had hope that they were just lost. When I went all the pews were covered with little blankets and under them lay the little children. They picked up the blankets and showed me every girl until I came to [her] and said she was mine. There wasn’t a mark on her except a little scratch over her mouth, even her clothes were clean.

What I missed most was the noise and fun around the house. [My daughter] was boisterous and full of fun. Our house was as quiet as a mouse after she’d gone.
Bereaved mother

As soon as the word swept around Aberfan that the bodies were being taken to Bethania chapel, parents and relatives arrived at the front door. They waited in a long patient line to be permitted in, to try and identify the daughter, son, wife, husband, mother or father. Because of the cramped conditions in which we were operating we could only deal with two sets of relatives at a time.

When we established the age and sex of the person they were seeking they were shown all the bodies that matched. The task was not made easier by the fact that most of the boys wore grey short trousers and the girls a standard dress and cardigan.
Policeman working at the mortuary

In the night we had to go to see if we could identify her in this chapel. I’ve never forgotten that. It comes back to me everyday. There’s some part of the day that that picture comes back to me and I can never forget that. … All these little bodies wrapped in blankets.
Bereaved father

So they went back, my daughter Angela, and my husband and her husband as he is now, to look and search for the child. Someone had said that the child was taken down to Church Village. So they went down to the hospitals there but no they couldn’t see the child. I knew that when Emlyn came in the early hours of the morning that [she] was not going to be found. His face was grey and Angela was terrible, we knew then that the little one was gone.
Bereaved mother

The streets were silent but for the sound of shuffling feet. Some mourners wept while others pent up their emotions until they reached the cemetery.

As the funeral singing began, hymn singing drifted down to the village below where everyone shared in the sorrow. All shops were closed; the doors of the public houses were bolted and normal life ceased.
At the graveside above, three thousand people gathered to pay their last respects.

The burial took place in the shadow of the now depleted tip.
Merthyr Express

… all those little coffins in the grave. It was terrible, terrible. There was hundreds of people up there. Some screaming, some crying …
Bereaved father

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