Huw Llywelyn Rees


 

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31st July

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By: Huw Llywelyn Rees
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On this day 1588, The Spanish Armada was spotted off the coast of England and beacon fires were lit across Wales and England as a warning.

Some Welsh connections to the Spanish Armada

* John Nash of Carmarthen was master of a merchant ship named the Margaret and John, which participated in the sea battle against the Spanish Armada.

* Penguin is given as an example of an English word of Welsh origin and is attributed to Welsh crew members of Sir Francis Drake's ship the Golden Hind in 1577, and is likely to have been constructed from the Welsh words pen and gywn, meaning white head.  The first citation of the word is noted in the log of Sir Francis Drake's reading: "Infinite were the Numbers of the foule, the Welsh men name Pengwin.

* In England the victory was greeted as a sign of divine approval for the Protestant cause. In Wales, however, Protestantism was regarded with suspicion, with the feeling that it was a new and heretical English faith. The Latin services of the Catholic faith were more familiar than English, which was an alien tongue to most Welsh worshippers. Elizabeth I, concerned that England’s enemies could attack England through Wales, if Wales remained Catholic, passed the Act for the Translating of the Bible and the Divine Service into the Welsh Tongue, and ordered the translation of the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer into Welsh. It was an attempt to affiliate the Welsh people to the English crown.

* The provision of The Bible in Welsh, a language which was not the official state language, was unique in Europe during  the Protestant Reformation. Thomas Jones, the translator, had previosly written a hymn of thanksgivingfor deliverance from the Armada.



On 31st July 1917, James Llewellyn Davies from Ogmore Vale, Glamorgan was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. Davies, of the 13th Battalion,The Royal Welch Fusiliers, was involved in action at Polygon Wood, Pilkem in Belgium.  

His citation reads;

"For most conspicuous bravery during an attack on the enemy's line, this non-commissioned officer pushed through our own barrage and single-handed attacked a machine gun emplacement, after several men had been killed in attempting to take it. He bayoneted one of the machine gun crew and brought in another man, together with the captured gun. Cpl. Davies, although wounded, then led a bombing party to the assault of a defended house, and killed a sniper who was harassing his platoon. This gallant non-commissioned officer has since died of wounds received during the attack"



On 31st July 1917, Ivor Rees from Felinfoel near Llanelli was awarded the Victoria Cross. Rees, of the 11th, South Wales Borderers, supported the capture of a fortified German defensive line during the Battle of Passchendaele.

 His citation reads;

"At Pilckem, Belgium, on 31st July 1917, an enemy machine gun inflicted many casualties when it opened fire at close range. Sergeant Rees, leading his platoon, gradually worked his way round the right flank, by making short rushes, to the rear of the gun position. At 20 yards from the machine gun, Sergeant Rees rushed forward towards it, shooting one of the crew, and bayoneting the other. He bombed a large concrete emplacement, killing five of the enemy and taking 30 prisoners, including two officers and capturing a machine gun, undamaged."




On 31st July 1917, Robert James Bye from Pontypridd was awarded the Victoria Cross. Bye, of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, was involved in the defence of the Yser Canal in Belgium during the Third Battle of Ypres.

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Born this day 1894 in Cardiff

Fred Keenor  - former Wales soccer international,  best known for captaining the Cardiff City team to success in the 1927 FA Cup Final.

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The first section of the Great Orme Tramway at Llandudno was opened on 31stJuly 1902 , the longest funicular railway (the ascending and descending vehicles are fixed to a cable and counterbalance each other) in the British Isles. 

It is also Britain's only remaining cable operated street tramway and one of few surviving in the world. It operates between Llandudno Victoria Station to the summit of the Great Orme headland. 

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On 31st July 1957  The Tryweryn Bill became law, despite the fervent opposition of Welsh MPs. It gave Liverpool City Council permission to build a reservoir which would drown the Welsh speaking village of Capel Celyn near Bala.   This led to increased support in the late 1950s for the Welsh nationalist party, Plaid Cymru, and gave impetus to the demand for Welsh devolution. The official opening of the reservoir in 1965 was disrupted by protesters who had cut microphone wires, and the chanting protesters drowned out the speeches.  In October 2005, Liverpool City Council published a public apology for the incident. 


The full statement reads;- 

"The Council acknowledges its debt to the many thousands of Welsh people who have made their homes in the City. They have, in so many ways, enriched the life of the City. 

We know that Liverpool, especially in the fields of medicine and education, has been of real service to the people of Wales. 

We realise the hurt of forty years ago when the Tryweryn Valley was transformed into a reservoir to help meet the water needs of Liverpool. 

For any insensitivity by our predecessor Council at that time, we apologise and hope that the historic and sound relationship between Liverpool and Wales can be completely restored."


  

On July 31st 1998, The Government of Wales Act 1998 was given Royal Assent. This led to The National Assembly for Wales being established in 1999. 

The Act followed the affirmative devolution referendum in September 1997 and facilitated the transfer of the powers of the Secretary of State for Wales to the new Assembly.

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