West Wales Maritime Heritage
1113. David James
David James, from Pembrokeshire, is the Secretary of the West Wales Maritime Heritage Society and has coordinated a number of local history and restoration projects.
Most recently, he helped drive fundraising in his local community to pay for a new memorial to the crew and passengers of a Japanese merchant ship sunk in the last weeks of World War One. 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. David also runs the society’s restoration projects out of Pembroke Dock, preserving the unique marine heritage of Pembrokeshire for future generations.
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.”
“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.”