Sunday, September 08, 2013

Welsh Slackers

Head out of Crossgates on the Aberystwyth road and you can't fail to notice a rather pretty building in the mock Tudor style.  Originally called Glanclywedog, it was rebuilt by a Wolverhampton industrialist - one Luther Greenway  - and imaginatively renamed Greenway Manor.

In June 1915 Mr Greenway threw open the doors of his Welsh pile to the general public.  A problem had been identified and the great and the good wanted to do something about it - the youth of Radnorshire were failing to rally to the colours in sufficient numbers.  Parents were said to be encouraging their sons to stay at home, indeed married men were more likely to come forward than the single - what does this tell us about Radnorshire wives.  Many young men were echoing a popular local refrain "they would not go, until they were fetched."

After the public meeting had been entertained by the bands of the Shropshire Light Infantry and the Montgomeryshire Yeomanry, Radnor's Lord Lieutenant and former Tory MP Sir Powlett Milbank reassured the mothers present that it was "better to be the parent of a dead hero than a living coward."

Not to be outdone the prospective Liberal candidate for the county, a Liverpool based shipowner, William Lewis launched into a fierce attack on his potential constituents.  Young men who needed to be fetched "were not worth fetching", they would only "soil a soldier's uniform" and were "cowardly and unworthy of the traditions of their race."

The star speaker of the evening was Mrs Lloyd George herself and there is a familiar ring to her comments.  She had been reading the Bryce Report - a government concoction of alleged German rapes and child murders in Belgium.  There were some who were reluctant to believe such tales, the good lady admitted, but the report proved that a "wild beast had been let loose in Europe" and "such deeds of cruelty had been wrought, that had not been seen for 300 years."  The Germans had, Maggie Owen declared, "gone back to the dark ages."

At the end of the meeting "several" new recruits came forward to the colours.  It seems small reward for the expenditure of so much hot air.


Anonymous said...

I hate to come over all academic, but what's the source of this? Newspaper report?

radnorian said...

Yep, Llais Llafur

and a bit of background research on some of those involved