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Letters of three jailed for burning bombing school – and igniting Welsh nationalism – published for the first time

12 Aug 2022 2 minute read
Saunders Lewis, D.J. Williams and Lewis Valentine

The correspondence of three men who set fire to an RAF bombing school – and in doing so ignited a century of Welsh nationalism – has been published for the first time.

On the 85th anniversary of the imprisonment of Saunders Lewis, Lewis Valentine and DJ Williams for burning Penyberth, the personal letters of the three to each other have been revealed.

The new book Annwyl Val includes letters from the end of the 1920s to the 1980s, and show that they did not see eye to eye about Welsh nationalism.

One of the main themes in the letters is the discontent on the part of Saunders Lewis with the direction of Plaid Cymru – a party he himself co-founded and was the leader of for almost 15 years.

He became disillusioned as he believed that the party had turned its back on its original vision, and by 1960s said that “it is now some socialist party with a tail of Welsh policy… and seriously believes that self-government will come to Wales through Westminster…”

In another letter, he says that “Plaid Cymru is going from bad to worse… putting respectability and popularity without cost and without sacrifice before everything…”.

The book

The letters were collected together by Emyr Hywel – a writer and researcher who died in 2018, shortly after completing the work for this volume. He was headmaster of Ysgol Tregroes and wrote the biography of D.J. Williams as well as being the editor of another volume of letters, Annwyl D.J.

Published y Lolfa said: “In these letters, there are all kinds of political and personal comments that give an exceptionally interesting view of the history of the national movement from three of its most prominent heroes.

“The sacrifice and passion of the three men for their country is highlighted, and also the effect that the experience of being imprisoned had on them, and they are in constant correspondence regarding the burning of the bombed school and the court cases that followed.”

Annwyl Val will be published on 15 August.

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1 year ago

Meeting our hero(s) is rewarding but also can be disapointing…and i only ever met one of these three – who changed our history, perception of ourselves. We owe them so much..:peaceful protest, taking responsibility and accepting the cost…all laudable and effective. My aunt Norah Issac and a distant uncle Waldo Williams were both open in praise of their service to Wales but the direction SL wished the national conversation to go offered great challenge and allowed others hostile to Wales to use SLs less well thought out racial and religious comments in the pre war years aa an excuse to… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by Richard

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