Saturday, January 27, 2007

Book of the Month

Ivor Wynne Jones, the author of this book, is a former Liverpool Daily Post journalist who clearly doesn't like Welsh nationalists much or Saunders Lewis at all. The occasional pro-unionist prejudices do nothing to diminish the value of the book, however, which is full of interesting facts and original research about the activities of the security services in wartime Wales and the stories of Welsh born collaborators in Germany and elsewhere. There are some minor factual lapses, the Welsh Republican Movement of the 1950s and the Welsh Socialist Republicans of the 1980s were not the same organization, for example.

The book lists the names and addresses of all 156 individuals who appeared on the Home Office's Welsh Suspect List, a list of individuals under secret MI5 surveillance at various times during the war. Nearly two thirds of the names are foreign born; Italian cafe owners, the German wives of British subjects, Franco supporting Spaniards etc. There are a number of bar room bores and others reported by members of the public for expressing pro-Hitler sentiments. Only four leading Welsh Nationalists appear together with a handful of members of the British Union of Fascists. All in all a pretty unimpressive effort by the security services.

One name on the list has Radnorshire connections, Philip Huddleston Wharton of Llandudno was born in Llanddewi, Radnorshire in 1897. His English born father had a deck chair hiring business, although the family had moved to North Wales by 1901. Wharton was denounced by neighbours for listening to the German radio and praising Hitler and Mussolini, his mother, by the way, was born in Nantmel parish.

Much of the rest of the book consists of interesting research into Germany's Welsh National Radio station and Welsh speaking collaborators such as Guardsman Bill Griffiths and the mysterious RAF sergeant Raymond Davies Hughes. The double agent Arthur Owens and Hess's Welsh connections are also covered. All in all a book that covers some little known aspects of Welsh history and well worth reading, if you can find a copy.

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