Welsh opposition to World War I

This video says about itself:

8 August 2014

Anti-NATO protesters begin 192-mile march on NATO SUMMIT to WALES, UK.

“Peace activists have set out on a three-week ‘Long March on Newport’ to protest against September’s NATO Summit. Police say they have drafted in 9,000 officers to face the protesters in one of the UK’s biggest ever police operations. More than 20,000 activists from around the world are expected to take part in demonstrations during the summit, where a week-long peace camp and a counter summit are among some of the events planned in what has been billed as Wales’ largest protest in a generation.

Sixty world leaders from the 28-nation military bloc will meet at the Celtic Manor in Newport for the NATO summit on September 4 and 5. Previous NATO summits in Chicago and Strasbourg saw thousands protest war, austerity and global inequality.”

By Phil Broadhurst in Britain:

Timely tribute to Welsh heroes who resisted war

Monday 11th January 2016

Not in our Name: War Dissent in a Welsh Town
by Philip Adams
(Briton Ferry Books, £15)

PHILIP ADAMS’S book is not only an important addition to local history in the area of south Wales it covers, it’s also an appeal to people in towns and cities across Britain to dig deep into their own local history and bring alive the long-lost stories of opposition to the first world war.

It was inspired by two simple family heirlooms, autograph books filled with signatures, quotes, sketches and sayings, given to the author’s aunt at Christmas 1914 and to his father at Christmas 1918.

These small pieces of contemporary personal history, in a family which included two conscientious objectors, provided a hidden history of vibrant peace activism in a small town in Wales during and after the first world war.

Briton Ferry, one of several towns across south Wales to earn the label “Little Moscow,” had 33 conscientious objectors and many more anti-war campaigners, who came from both political and religious backgrounds.

This was a time when, particularly in south Wales, lines between politics and religion were blurring and preachers and politicians were standing next to each other declaring their shared belief in socialism.

By researching the names in the autograph books, Adams has produced a roll of honour recognising and remembering the work for peace and justice of both the famous and the forgotten.

The autographs belong not only to locals but also to many national leaders, speakers and campaigners who came to speak in Briton Ferry at the time.

But it is not the pages on the likes of Bertrand Russell, Fenner Brockway, Sylvia Pankhurst or any of the other well documented signatories which are the most interesting or most important.

Names like dockworker Ernest Gething, railway shunter William Meyrick Davies, tinplate worker Ivor Johns and student teacher Brynley Griffiths will mean nothing to most people outside their families.

But now, thanks to Adams, their actions in resisting war are finally documented in a way their courage merits.

3 thoughts on “Welsh opposition to World War I

  1. Pingback: World War I and poetry | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Monday 4th April 2016

    posted by Morning Star in Arts

    Pilgrim of Peace: A Life of George Maitland Lloyd Davies
    by Jen Llywelyn
    (Y Lolfa, £12.99)

    GEORGE Maitland Lloyd Davies (1880-1949) was one of the outstanding pacifists of the 20th century.

    Complex and determined, he was an able and influential conciliator.

    Born into a middle-class Liverpool-Welsh family, he spent holidays with relatives in north Wales, which helped him get to know the classless Welsh-speaking society of the Llyn peninsula.

    He became a bank manager in Wrexham and had a commission in the territorial army.

    After leaving the bank to work for housing associations, he went on to work unpaid for the newly founded Fellowship of Reconciliation, a proactive Christian anti-war and pro-reconciliation movement, set up in 191Though he resigned his commission with the territorials, he was still technically a private. He got his call-up papers and faced a tribunal in May 1916, where he was initially exempted from military service and ordered to undertake “alternative service.”

    This included working on farms and as a shepherd in north Wales, the happiest times of his life. But he was continually breaking the terms of the exemption by going around the small towns and villages advocating pacifism.

    The authorities considered this to be undermining morale and the result was prison.

    For a man with a history of mental illness, the dehumanising and degrading conditions was a bad experience.

    Later, he and other conscientious objectors wrote of their experiences and initiated much-needed post-war reform to the prison service.

    Yet Davies was held in regard by people of influence. His case was discussed in the Cabinet and, though he was defended by the Boer war veteran Lord Milner, Lloyd George was unforgiving.

    But Thomas Jones, assistant secretary to the Cabinet, was a friend and admirer of Davies and made use of his negotiating skills. It is widely accepted that his intervention was a major contribution to the Irish settlement in 1921.

    Davies risked his life that year by going to Dublin, where he met Eamon de Valera, Erskine Childers and IRA leaders. He would later arrange a meeting between Ghandi and Lloyd George.

    He was briefly MP for the University of Wales in 1923-4. This was followed by a series of jobs, notably with Quaker-sponsored projects in south and north Wales during the depression, during which he was warden of two centres for unemployed miners in south Wales.

    Jen Llywelyn has gathered a wealth of information about Davies, much of it from primary sources, and the result is an excellent biography which does not shy away from Davies’s marriage and troubled private life.

    He was probably homosexual and eventually took his own life while at Denbigh Hospital, where he was being treated for depression.

    Review by Gwyn Griffiths



  3. Pingback: Refusal to wage wars takes courage | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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