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1913-1925 AD

1913: "A WELSH GRAMMAR, HISTORICAL AND COMPARATIVE" PUBLISHED
John Morris-Jones was determined to set studies of the Welsh language and literature on a firm foundation, and his "Grammar" gives him a solid place as one of the great grammarians of the Welsh language. It was Morris-Jones who concluded that the elaborate ceremonies of the Gorsedd had been invented in London by Iolo Morgannwg and others (the discovery did nothing to lessen their popularity).



1913: THE EXPLOSION AT SENGHENYDD (14 OCTOBER)
At the Lancaster Pit, owned by the Universal Colliery in Senghenydd, near Caerphilly, an explosion killed 439 men. The Welsh-speaking community was totally devastated by the tragedy; laid bare and stripped of a generation of its workers, many of whom were young boys. A contemporary poem reads: "The collier's wife had four tall sons Brought from the pit's mouth dead, And crushed from foot to head; When others brought her husband home, Had five dead bodies in her room." The coal owners had ignored warnings of the dangers in the mine only a short time before.



1914: A WELSH HOME RULE BILL INTRODUCED
The introduction of the Welsh Home Rule Bill at Parliament was more or less a one man affair, and its presenter, E.T. John (born at Pontypridd but MP for East Denbigh) was practically ignored by the House of Commons. Yet his arguments in favor of the economic benefits of a separate Wales were to resurface in the 1997 referendum.



1914: WORLD WAR I BEGINS
In and following the Great War of 1914 to 1918, Wales was once again to undergo a metamorphosis. Like the Irish volunteers, the young men of Wales responded to give their lives in the service of another country. It certainly helped the cause that Lloyd George, their favorite son, had a meteoric career during the course of the conflict, becoming Minister of Munitions, Secretary for War, and Prime Minister. Propaganda from the Government and the pulpit ensured that war hysteria and patriotic fervor were well-fuelled. Germany was portrayed as a great evil that no Christian could tolerate, and Socialists and Nonconformists in Wales marched happily to the colors (and to their deaths) singing their stirring hymns.

Welsh regiments were proud of their part in this great Crusade. Over 280,000 Welshmen shared experiences with soldiers from all parts of Britain and the Empire; it was inevitable that much of their provincial outlook would be broken down. It was hard to think of independence for Wales when its soldiers were sharing trenches with Irish, Scots, English soldiers all united in a common cause. The continuance of that Anglo-Welsh identity begun in the Valleys that came to dominate Welsh life in the twentieth century certainly found an ideal breeding ground in the mud of Flanders and the slaughter on the Somme.



1915: LORD RHONDDA SURVIVES THE SINKING OF THE LUSITANIA
One of the survivors of the Lusitania disaster was the 1st Viscount Rhondda who introduced food rationing to Britain during the war and who directed the supply of munitions from the United States to Britain.



1916: LLOYD GEORGE BECOMES PRIME MINISTER OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND
Former lawyer, David Lloyd George, born in Manchester of Welsh parents and raised in the little village of Llanystumdwy, Gwynedd, became the first Welshman in British history to achieve the position of Prime Minister.



1917: THE BIRKENHEAD EISTEDDFOD
During Word War I, the large Welsh community on Merseyside staged the National Eisteddfod at Birkenhead, England, where there was a large Welsh population. The winner of the Chair was Ellis Humphrey Evans, (Hedd Wynn) who had been killed on 31 July in France fighting with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Thus the winning chair was draped in black. A collection of the dead poet's work, "Cerddi'r Bugail" (Poems of the Shepherd) was published in 1918.



1920: UNIVERSITY COLLEGE SWANSEA ESTABLISHED
The new college at Singleton Park, Swansea joined the others at Bangor, Aberystwyth and Cardiff as part of the University of Wales.



1920: THE CHURCH OF WALES DISESTABLISHED
The Parliamentary Bill that would deprive the Anglican Church of its status in Wales as the State Church was passed in 1914, but its implementation was delayed because of World War One. A Society for Liberating the Church from the State had begun in Britain in 1853, following an earlier Anti-State-Church Association and much bitter debate over Church Establishment. The Church in Ireland was disestablished in 1869 by Gladstone, but it was not until 1920 when a disestablished province of the Anglican Communion was finally created in Wales.



1921: SAUNDERS LEWIS' "THE EVE OF ST. JOHN" PUBLISHED
This play was the first of 19 published by Lewis (the last was "Excelsior", 1980). His influence as dramatist, poet, literary historian and critic is unparalleled in Welsh literary history. For over a decade he was president of Plaid Cymru, which he helped found. His writings show his great concern that Wales was losing its sense of vision and moral integrity.



1922: URDD GOBAITH CYMRU FOUNDED
Though almost a million people spoke the Welsh language in 1921, signs about its disappearance in many areas were already becoming increasingly ominous. It was his concern that the young children of Wales were increasingly turning to English that led Ifan ab Owen Edwards to found Urdd Gobaith Cymru (The Welsh League of Youth) in 1922. The movement took over many of the activities of Urdd y Delyn (Order of the Harp) which had been founded in 1896 for Welsh children by Owen M. Edwards, Ifan's father. The Movement attracted thousands of children to its ranks, where they spoke and sang Welsh at summer camps, weekly and monthly meetings, and at school activities. The Urdd has retained its popularity.



1925: PLAID CYMRU (the Party of Wales) FOUNDED
After World War I, with its massive loss of life that affected whole Welsh-speaking communities, the language began a precipitous decline, and with it, a distinct way of life. In an attempt to stop the rot, Plaid Genedlaethol Cymru (The National Party of Wales) came into being, the brainchild of a handful of visionaries who saw that political action was necessary to preserve what was left of the unique culture and to further the aims of self-government for Wales. Saunders Lewis became president of the party in 1926, but it took over 40 years for Plaid to gain its first seat in Parliament.

  

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