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Category: Welsh History

passchendale welsh.jpg On July 31 st 2017 two large-scale ceremonies will take place to commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of one of the bloodiest battles of the First World War – the Battle of Passchendaele. Tyne Cot Cemetery in Belgium will be the venue for the international ceremony and a few hours later the Welsh National Memorial at Langemark will be the site of the Welsh national event.

The very word ‘Passchendaele’ has become a byword for the suffering of the Great War. A remorseless slog by Allied soldiers through mud and rain, by the time the battle ended on 10 November 1917 hundreds of thousands of men on both sides lay dead or had been wounded.

The Welsh at Passchendaele 1917 by Dr Jonathan Hicks is a significant new interpretation of the Great War battle for the Passchendaele Ridge, telling the story of the battle through the words of the soldiers and airmen who were actually there.

The author has trawled through regimental histories, war diaries, family histories and archives to compile this detailed account of the part played by Welsh men and women, and those who served in the Welsh regiments, in this enormous and historic conflict.

Beginning at 5.30 am on the morning of 31 July 1917, the British Army launched an enormous assault on the strongly-held German positions. Simultaneously, the Welsh battalions began their attack at Pilkem Ridge. Second Lieutenant Stephen Glynne Hughes described what he saw that morning;

‘At daylight we could see Pilkem Ridge literally heaving up and down – the whole ridge was boiling – we saw the Guards leave the trenches – walking slowly and laboriously over ‘no man’s land’ – one moment you would see a number of men – then a blanket of an exploding shell would hide them – clear away – and the stragglers marching on. The German prisoners could be seen struggling and splashing through the shell holes – some being hit by their own Batteries.’

The author’s own grandfather fought at Passchendaele, and using first-hand accounts and photographs gathered over a period of several years, he allows the men and women who were there to tell their stories.

Dr Jonathan Hicks is an award-winning military historian and novelist, and his meticulous research provides new insight into this famous battle. He has previously won the Victorian Military Society’s top award for his book on the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879 ‘A Solemn Mockery’, and was awarded the Western Front Association Shield for his book ‘Barry and the Great War’.

Dr Hicks is also a member of the Welsh Government’s First World War Centenary Programme Board and sits on a variety of other committees advising the government on the centenary of the Great War. He also writes crime fiction featuring the military policeman Thomas Oscendale, and both his novels ‘The Dead of Mametz’ and ‘Demons Walk Among Us’ have drawn widespread praise.

His 2016 number one bestselling work ‘ The Welsh at Mametz’ recieved critical acclaim including from the Western Front Association who described it as ‘excellent’.

Dr Hicks has dedicated The Welsh at Passchendaele 1917 to his grandfather Ernest Hicks, whom he never knew, and all the other men who fought ‘in that terrible battle’.

The Welsh at Passchendaele 1917 by Dr Jonathan Hicks (£14.99, Y Lolfa) is out now.

Welsh History - A Chronological Outline

By AmeriCymru, 2016-04-06

"A chronological and brief outline of Welsh history from prehistoric times (11,000 BC) to the present day. The book is intended for non-specialists who want an easily accessible and understandable overview of Welsh history. Illustrated including around 30 photographs.

Glyn German has drawn together the latest scholarship to present a highly informative chronological survey of Welsh history. Readers who turn to it as a handy work of reference will soon find themselves hooked by the fascinating story it has to tell. Covering all aspects of welsh life, including the many contributions which the people of Wales have made in the wider world, it is an excellent introduction to a long and rich history."

Professor Dafydd Johnston, University of Wales Center for Advanced, Welsh and Celtic Studies

Glyn German lived most of his life in Brittany. He received his secondary education at the Lycee Chaptal in Quimper, Finistere and obtained a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Western Brittany.

Buy Welsh History - A Chronological Outline Here

St John's Hospice Bridgend

By AmeriCymru, 2015-02-21

By FruitMonkey (Own work) [ CC BY-SA 3.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

From the Western Mail Online:

Mysteries of Bridgend's 500-year-old house set to be unlocked by restoration bid

Formerly owned by Walter Coffin who was related by marriage to Dr Richard Price. Richard Price was a Welsh philospher and political activist who supported the American Revolution.

From the Wikipedia: "The support Price gave to the colonies of British North America in the American War of Independence made him famous. In early 1776 he published Observations on the Nature of Civil Liberty, the Principles of Government, and the Justice and Policy of the War with America. Sixty thousand copies of this pamphlet were sold within days; and a cheap edition was issued which sold twice as many copies. It commended Shelburne's proposals for the colonies, and attacked the Declaratory Act. Amongst its critics were Adam Ferguson, William Markham, John Wesley, and Edmund Burke; and Price rapidly became one of the best known men in England. He was presented with the freedom of the city of London, and it is said that his pamphlet had a part in determining the Americans to declare their independence. A second pamphlet on the war with America and the debts of Great Britain, followed in the spring of 1777.".... read more here (Dr Richard Price)

NAFOW 2014 - The Dragon And The Eagle

By AmeriCymru, 2014-07-09

A Message From Colin Thomas

A bi-lingual website for the Wales and America project is now up and running -

The English language version will be launched at the  North American Festival of Wales on August 30th and the plan is to launch the Welsh language version in Cardiff on Thanksgiving Day.



Within These Walls by Patric Morgan

caerwent forum and basilica.jpeg

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Photos: 33

It was Julius Caesar who made the first moves to invade Britain, when in 55BC, he sent out a small expedition to explore the possibility of trade and wealth in this distant and legendary island. It wasnt until nearly one hundred years later however, in 43AD, that the Romans really well and truly got a grip on the island. Claudius sent 40,000 men to the UK, which provided the foundation for Roman rule for the following four centuries. The UK was never to be the same again. Roads criss-crossed the island, cutting through forests and linking habitable places together for the first time.

Towns and cities were also constructed, some of which can still be seen today. This can perhaps, best be demonstrated in the sleepy Welsh village of Caerwent, about 25 miles east of the Welsh capital, Cardiff.

Under its subtle and genteel meadows lie some of the best kept Roman ruins in Europe. Founded in 75, this was once a market town known as Venta Silurum. The Romans had reached the site in 47, by which time they had most of southern and central England under their control. But the Welsh proved a tougher nut to crack, the area being mountainous and ruled by four tribes. South East Wales was ruled over by the Silures tribe, described as having swarthy faces and curly hair. The Silures inflicted the greatest ever defeat on the Romans in the UK in 52, when they took apart a Roman legion and the scalp of the Roman general and statesman Scapula. In fact, it took the Romans over thirty years to bring the unruly Welsh to heed when Romanisation could begin to take place. The Romans had for years been using a clever trick of turning enemies into friends, usually by befriending the local tribe chief and bribing them with carnal pleasures. The Welsh it appears, were a little wiser to them.

By 200, the city had acquired a network of streets, with some twenty blocks and main public buildings. The population of the 44 acre site is thought to have been around 3,000 at its height. By 115, a Basilica Forum had been created, suggesting some form of self-government. Despite being one of the smallest Roman settlements in the UK, local legionary veterans were attracted to settle here thanks to its wealth.

Today, the village is a peaceful and unassuming place. Its layers of history can be found in the largely unexcavated fields that are encased in stone. The foundations of the city that once sat here lie largely untouched and guarded by grimacing stone walls, some of which rise over 5 meters. Small flowers now bud from them while farm animals chew at the cud, seemingly unaware of the history beneath their hooves.

The town itself is a simple affair. A main street houses a smattering of public buildings a church, a Post Office and the Coach and Horses Inn. Locals now gather here for their feasts at midday. Scribed on the blackboards are Todays Specials: Chicken Curry, Pie and Mashed Potato with gravy.

Two more fish and chips please. says the lady waiting at the bar. Its obvious from the casual slacks that shes wearing that shes expecting a hearty meal.

The other pub around the corner, the Northgate Inn, makes the most of its historic gardens. Excavations at Caerwent have revealed remains and everyday objects from the post-Roman period. Metalwork, including elaborate penannular brooches and fastening pins, have been dated to the 5th-7th centuries. These days, a blackboard shows sign of competition. First to 13 it reads. Game and winner unknown.

Down at the Post Office, a small red post box sits squat in the wall. Its GR emblem reminding us that Elizabeth has not been reigning forever. Lambs with their mothers now frolic and graze in the grounds of the Basilica Forum.

Despite the thousands of feet that have once marched upon Caerwent, the Romans havent entirely left yet. Their legacy is reflected in the names of streets and buildings that make up this small but uniquely historic village.

Getting there:

By Rail: Nearby railway stations: Chepstow, Severn Tunnel Junction (bus connection to Caerwent)

By Car: Take the A48 eastwards from Newport or the A48 westwards from Chepstow.

Nearest Airport: Cardiff Wales (35 miles away)


Coach and Horses Inn

Nearby Attractions:

Historic Roman town of Caerleon

Celtic Manor, host to the 2010 Ryder Cup

Article and Photos by Patric Morgan