Huw Llywelyn Rees


Recently Rated:


Blogs: 366

18th November

user image 2013-11-18
By: Huw Llywelyn Rees
Posted in:


Tasker Watkins (18 November 1918- 9 September 2007) was a soldier,  judge and President of the Welsh Rugby Union.

Watkins won the Victoria Cross for extraordinary bravery in Normandy during WW2, in an attack on an enemy position where his actions as commanding officer saved the lives of at least half of his men. Such was his modesty that he disliked speaking of his heroism, but Graham Henry, the Wales rugby coach, displayed Watkins' citation in the Welsh changing room before international matches to inspire the team, and WRU chairman David Pickering said of Sir Tasker: "He was one of the greatest ever Welshman, who will be remembered as one of our nation's heroes; a man who was an inspiration to so many people" 

After the war, Tasker Watkins studied law, rising to become Presiding Judge of the Wales and Chester Circuit, Lord Justice of Appeal,1983-93, and Deputy Chief Justice of England and Wales from 1988 until he retired in 1993.

He received a knighthood in 1971, with other honours including GBE and Knight of Saint John.

In 2006, he was made a Freeman of the City and County of Cardiff, joining a select group that includes Pope John Paul II, Winston Churchill, David Lloyd George and Nelson Mandela. 

Sir Tasker was an avid supporter of Welsh rugby, becoming president of the WRU to popular acclaim in 1993 and remained an iconic figure at international games until he retired in September 2004.   


David Rees was born in Trelech, Carmarthenshire on the 18th November 1801. He was a great orator and social reformer who campaigned tirelessly against child slavery in the copper works and collieries in the Llanelli area. He was a Congregationalist who was ordained in Llanelli's Capel Als in 1829 and remained a minister until his retirement in 1867. He was also an editor and publisher, striving to improve the education of working class people in Wales. He established schools in the area, notably on Market Street and at Five Roads. 


On 18th November 1840, the paddle steamer 'The City of Bristol' was shipwrecked off the Gower Peninsula. She was washed on to Llangennith sands, where her engines can still be seen at low tide. Twenty seven crew and passengers were drowned, although three bullocks and seventy five pigs managed to swim ashore.

Because of its treacherous tides, 250 ships have been wrecked along this coastline over the centuries, prompting the Whiteford Lighthouse to be built in 1865 in an attempt to protect shipping in the seas around Swansea, Llanelli and Burry Port.

  William tell

On 18th November 1307, William Tell shot an arrow through an apple on his son's head and launched the struggle for Swiss independence. However, there is a similar legend in Wales that pre-dates this famous tale.

Sometime between 1191 and 1208, Madog ap Gruffydd Maelor, Prince of Powys Fadog, who had been dispossessed of his lands in Breconshire by William de Braose, shot an apple from the head of his youngest son, also called Madog, on the orders of Maud de Braose. 

*  Madog ap Gruffydd Maelor

1191 - Madog succeeded his father as Prince of Powys jointly with his brother Owain and adopted a neutral position between Gwynedd and England.

1197 - On Owain's death, he became sole ruler of the area of Powys between the Afon Rhaeadr and the Afon Tana. This area was named after him, Powys Fadog

1212 - Madog had been close to his cousin Llywelyn ap Iorwerth (Llywelyn the Great), but gradually distanced himself and became an official ally of the English King John.

1215 - Madog settled his differences with Llywelyn ap Iorwerth and allied with him.  

 *  William, of the Norman de Braose dynasty, governed the border counties of Wales under King John, along with his indomitable wife, Maud, who supported his ambitions.

In 1175, William de Braose carried out the Abergavenny Massacre, butchering three Welsh princes and other Welsh leaders to at a Christmas feast at Abergavenny Castle. Unsurprisingly, this act earned him the nickname the "Ogre of Abergavenny".

In 1208, William de Braose quarrelled with King John, making incriminatory comments regarding the murder of King John's nephew Arthur of Brittany. The King confiscated the de Braose holdings, forcing them to flee to Ireland.

1210 de Braose  returned to Wales and allied himself with Llywelyn ap Iorwerth in his rebellion against King John. Maud and her son were captured and starved to death at Corfe Castle in Dorset.

1211 William de Braose died in France, after fleeing there from Walesdisguised as a beggar.  

*  William de Braose was a favourite of King John and at the peak of his power in Wales, was Lord of Gower, Abergavenny, Brecknock, Builth, Radnor, Kington and Glamorgan.  His wife Maud supported his military ambitions and was put her in charge of Hay Castle and is often referred to as the Lady of Hay.

In 1175, William de Braose carried out the Abergavenny Massacre, luring three Welsh princes and other Welsh leaders to their deaths at a Christmas feast at Abergavenny Castle. This resulted in great hostility against him among the Welsh, who named him the "Ogre of Abergavenny".

In 1198, Maud defended Painscastle against a massive Welsh attack led by Gwenwynwyn, Prince of Powys Wenwynwen, until English reinforcements arrived.  Over three thousand Welsh were killed.

In 1208, William de Braose quarrelled with King John and Maud made indiscreet comments regarding the murder of King John's nephew Arthur of Brittany.  The King seized all of their castles and the de Braose's fled to Ireland, 

1210 De Braose returned to Wales and allied himself with Llywelyn ap Iorwerth in his rebellion against King John. Maud and her son were apprehended and imprisoned at Corfe Castle in Dorset, where they both starved to death.

1211, William de Braose died in France, after fleeing there from Wales the previous year, disguised as a beggar.