Sometimes things just fall into place.
During our visit to Wales we dropped into Dolgellau looking for a toilet. We found one without too much trouble but, as described, they were locked and barred lest villainous visitors from afar should try and use them after 6pm.
That left us with two choices, one of which was to stroll across the car park to a restaurant which offered steaks and, presumably, toilets. It also offered the sight of a man in chef’s whites standing outside smoking. We decided not to disturb him.
We therefore left Dolgellau and set off for Bangor with a sense of purpose. When the sign for Trawsfynydd cropped up, complete the WC on it, I was so surprised that I missed the first turn. My excuse is that the sun was in my eyes. The same happened in the village as I missed the turn for the cat park. After turning round we saw a statue in the Chapel grounds, with the name Hedd Wynn on it.
We’d seen several statues during the day and every time Julia had asked if I knew who the subject was. She didn’t ask this time. But I told her all the same.
Hedd Wynn was the bardic name of Ellis Evans, a shepherd. He won his first Eisteddfod at Bala in 1907 and ten years later after winning more local competitions he won the National Eisteddfod in 1917. Unfortunately the date, 1917, holds a clue as to why he won no more competitions.
I’ve only read one of his poems, though there are several transactions available on the net. I suppose that’s why he isn’t better known, and why I’ve never seen him an anthology.
He was killed during the 3rd Battle of Ypres, on the same day as Francis Ledwidge, an Irish war poet.
If you check the above links, you will find a fascinating story.
It’s tempting to suggest that if he’d been English, and an officer, people would have taken more notice of him. Of the 16 war poets listed on the plaque in Westminster Abbey, 12 are officers, and if memory serves, all 16 are English.