A former Wales for Peace Volunteer developed a survey on Attitudes towards Peace survey
In 2017, Trystan Cullinan, created this survey, for people across Wales and beyond to complete.
Peace is an ideal that is almost universally aspired to, but achieving peace is another matter. Here, Trystan, our WCIA and Wales for Peace volunteer, is conducting peace research in Wales through a short and accessible survey.
He said: “To fully achieve peace we must first understand what it means and what it entails; how does it arise and how can we sustain it? The purpose of this survey is to see what people in Wales, and people further afield, think about peace. What do people value when thinking about peace? I hope it gets you thinking!”
The survey is informed by the Institute of Economics and Peace’s (IEP) Positive Peace reports; their data is empirically derived using the Positive Peace Index. Their eight pillars of peace have had an influential impact on how the survey is structured.
Trystan added: “The scale of our project however is small in comparison therefore there is an emphasis on qualitative data collection; unique individual opinion is what’s important. The value of this survey rest on its ability to balance both qualitative and quantitative aspects.”
‘Digital Act of Remembrance’ links past and future generations’
The Welsh Book of Remembrance from the First World War, a national treasure housed in Wales’ Temple of Peace in Cardiff, has been digitised and is now publicly searchable online at BookofRemembrance.Wales, following a 2 year project involving over 150 volunteers from communities across Wales, working with the Welsh Centre for International Affairs and National Library of Wales and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The Book of Remembrance
The beautiful, leather bound Book of Remembrance contains on velum parchment – illuminated in gold leaf, fine ink and calligraphy – the names of over 40,000 “men and women of Welsh birth and parentage, and of all those belonging to the regiments of Wales, who gave their lives in the war 1914-1918.”
Researched and compiled by hand through the 1920s by a women working with renowned calligrapher Graily Hewitt of Lincoln’s Inn and the Gregynog Press, the book is the Roll of Honour to accompany the WW1 War Memorial in Cathays Park, opened by King Edward VII in 1928. Opposite Wales’ War Memorial, the Temple of Peace – opened in 1938 – was built to house the book, and in memory of those who had lost their lives, to ‘become a symbol of Wales’ determination to strive for justice and peace for future generations’. These words were spoken in 1938 by Minnie James, a mother from Merthyr Tydfil who had lost 3 sons in WW1, and who was asked to open the Temple of Peace on behalf of the war-bereaved mothers and widows of the world.
Finding Individuals in the Book of Remembrance
For Remembrance Day 2017, WCIA and the National Library are delighted to launch the digitised Book of Remembrance online, at:
Functionality enabling users and the public for the first time to search and view the inscriptions honouring individual soldiers, nurses, relatives and community members who died in WW1, by typing names of individuals, home towns or regiments in to the ‘search’ box at the bottom. Users can then view the inscriptions individually.
Sir Emyr Jones Parry, WCIA President, said: “It is right that we remember the sacrifices made by so many Welsh men and women during the First World War. The echo is constant and now the Welsh National Book of Remembrance is available online so that descendants, historians and those interested can access details of those who died for a peaceful future.”
Transcription of the 40,000 names was undertaken over the course of 2 years by volunteers in Aberystwyth, Cardiff, Caernarfon and Bangor, along with young people from a number of schools, colleges and community groups, as a ‘digital act of remembrance’. WCIA and NLW would like to pay tribute to volunteers whose efforts have enabled this national treasure to be accessible online for future generations.
The Book at Bodelwyddan Castle, Denbighshire; volunteer Mared transcribes at the Eisteddfod in Anglesey; school children in Wrexham participate in a ‘transcribathon’
“My grandfather was an engineer in the Merchant Navy and his ship, the S.S. Memnon was torpedoed. As a family we always mentioned him as having died in the war, but nothing more. Looking through old boxes, I found some of his medals, and taking part in the transcription prompted me to do some more research into his story”.
Gwenno Watkin, Aberystwyth – whose grandfather’s story was featured in WCIA’s exhibition in the National Library of Wales:
Open Source Data
The records are also being made available as an open source data set with the invitation – and challenge – for organisations, students and programmers to develop web-based resources that enable people to find out more about those who lost their lives. The data set will be accessible within coming weeks from the National Library’s online Research tools (NLW data):
One organisation picking up the data challenge is the UK’s Imperial War Museum, who will be integrating the WCIA project into their IWM War Memorials Register, which seeks to record every war memorial, both extant and lost, in the United Kingdom, with the names of the men and women that are commemorated on them. The completion of the Welsh Book of Remembrance enables IWM to reach their long-held target of a million memorials, which they have been working towards since 1989.
Remembering for Peace: The Exhibition Tour
To mark the WW1 centenary period, the Book has been touring Wales as the centrepiece of WCIA’s ‘Remembering for Peace’ exhibition, complementing the Poppies: Weeping Window sculptures in Caernarfon Castle through Autumn 2016, and Cardiff Bay in Autumn 2017 as well as appearances at Bodelwyddan Castle, Denbighshire, Narberth Museum, Pembrokeshire, and Oriel Ynys Mon, Anglesey.
Throughout the 1920s – with an absence of dependable and centralised records – a nationwide drive was launched across Wales, with significant support of women’s movements, to try to capture the names of all those who perished. However, some families held mixed and raw emotions on the nature of remembrance. Many felt their loved ones had been ‘cannon fodder’ for governments in a needless and wasteful war – and refused for their names to be used on institutional memorials that they perceived to glorify war, or justify further military recruitment. Out of such debates emerged the powerful symbols of the red and white poppies (see below), favoured by the military and peace movements for remembrance respectively. The symbolic significance of the book is often seen to be as important as its role as a record of the fallen:
“The collection of the names.. was a work of considerable magnitude… and although the list can scarcely be claimed to be absolutely accurate and complete, the greatest care has been taken to make it so.” Excerpt from the Programme of the Unveiling Ceremony for the Welsh National Memorial.
Sharing Soldiers Stories
For relatives seeking to remember a loved one, or schools seeking to undertake projects that connect with the people behind the names in the book, WCIA and NLW continue to appeal for stories that can be contributed to soldiers records on Wales at War.
On November the 10th and 11th, members of Cymdeithas y Cymod, the Fellowship of Reconciliation in Wales will be meeting in Caernarfon to remember. As well as remembering their forefathers and grandfathers who were killed during wars, they will be recalling the depth of the loss suffered by their grandmothers. As a result these women deeply desired to create a world without war.
In 1923, 390,296 women from Wales signed a petition calling for countries to resolve their differences without resorting to violence and war. This amounted to sixty per cent of the women living in Wales at that time. The women went to every farm and house in Wales and Monmouthshire collecting names. In presenting the petition to the American President, Calvin Coolidge in 1924, this is what the women said:
“Our constant hope and prayer is that our message may contribute something towards the realisation of the proud heritage of a warless world.”
The Cymdeithas y Cymod meetings in the Galeri will have this spirit of rememberence.
At 1 o’clock on Friday the 10th, Aled Eirug will give a talk about the concientious objectors that were imprisoned in Caernarfon during the First World War. Between 2.30 and 3.30 there will be an opportunity to visit the Caernarfon prison cells with Emrys Llywelyn.
Remember like Nain On November 10th and 11th, members of the Cymdeithas y Cymod with the support of Wales for Peace met in Caernarfon, to remember the women peace builders of Wales. There were 70 people together over the two days. As well as remembering their relatives lost in the war, they remembered the depth of the loss to their grandmothers.
There was an opportunity to learn about the peace petition by Lowri Ifor who had researched the history.
In 1923, 390,296 Welsh women signed a petition calling on countries to resolve any disagreement without turning to violence and war. The women went to house and farm in Wales and Monmouth collecting names. When presenting the petition to the American President, Calvin Coolidge in 1924, the women said
“Our hope and our constant prayer is that our message will be a contribution to the realization of the proud legacy of the world of war.”
This was the spirit of recall at the Galeri meetings.
Between 1923-24, over 390,000 Welsh women signed a petition to the women of America asking them to influence the country in becoming a key part of the League of Nations – and to play its part in achieving a world without war. Later, in 1926, over 2,000 women from North Wales marched to demonstrate their opposition to the atrocities of the First World War as part of the Women’s Peace Pilgrimage to London’s Hyde Park.
These extraordinary acts of peace came to light through the work of Wales for Peace, a Heritage Lottery funded project that is part of the Welsh Centre on International Affairs. Now, a group of Gwynedd women – Ifanwy Williams from Porthmadog, Iona Price from Tanygrisiau, Anna Jane from Caernarfon and Awel Irene from Llanfrothen – have come together to form Heddwch Nain/Mam-gu, a 7 year long campaign with its main aim to continue the efforts of the women who worked hard in the name of peace. They have already created a brand new Peace Petition and gathered 1,000 signatures from all over Wales. The campaign will be officially launched at the beginning of March in the village of Croesor, alongside the opening of the celebrated ‘Women War & Peace’ exhibition.
Heddwch Nain/Mam-gu organiser, Iona Price says: “My initial reaction to hearing about this amazing petition was that of shock and disbelief that I had never heard about it before – that is the reaction of most people. So a group of us have come together to make sure that we will never forget the voices of these women and that the plea for peace and a world without war would never be silenced.”
On the evening before the launch, Wednesday, the 7th of March at 7.30pm, ‘Heddwch Nain/Mam-gu’ will be hosting a presentation by international photojournalist Lee Karen Stow, who will be discussing her experience of travelling the world photographing women who have been affected by war and their efforts for peace.
On the 8th of March, Lee Karen Stow will run a workshop for young people in the area. At 2.30p, ‘Heddwch Nain/Mam-gu’ will be officially launched. In the evening, the women will be gathering at CellB, Blaenau Ffestiniog where an open discussion is held to celebrate International Women’s Day, as well as a screening of the film, ‘Dolores’ – everybody welcome!
7th March, 7.30 pm, Caffi Croesor Gallery – Presentation by the photographer, Lee Karen Stow
8th March, 2.30pm, Caffi Croesor Gallery – Official Launch of ‘Heddwch Nain-Mam-gu’
8th March, 6pm, CellB, Blaenau Ffestiniog – An open discussion about Women’s International Day by Shan Jamil Ashton before showing the film ‘Dolores’.
Ysgol Maesydderwen in Ystradgynlais – working with the Welsh Centre for International Affairs (WCIA) towards becoming one of Wales’ first ‘Peace Schools’, as a legacy of the WW1 centenary from 2014-18 – are hosting the ‘Belief and Action’ exhibition from May 14-31st 2018 – open to the local community between 4-5pm on school days. The Swansea Valley was one of the UK’s ‘hotspots’ of opposition to WW1 a century ago – and WCIA’s exhibition, supported by Cymru’n Cofio / Wales Remembers 1914-18, draws on this ‘Peace Heritage’ to explore questions around how people stood up for what they believed to be right, and how this remains relevant today.
Putting in the Footwork! Setting up ‘Belief and Action’ in Ystradgynlais
International Conscientious Objectors Day is marked on 15 May each year in remembrance of men and women who have refused to fight on grounds of conscience: for religious or political beliefs, or as a point of principle. From WW1 and WW2 to conflicts of today such as Iraq and Syria, objectors have often been imprisoned or shamed for taking a stand against their government, and often by wider society. Nearly 900 men were sentenced for opposing military conscription in Wales during the First World War – marked on a slate memorial stone in Wales’ National Garden of Peace at the Temple of Peace, Cardiff.
On learning that objectors were sometimes posted ‘white feathers’ as a symbol of cowardice, Maesydderwen students commented: “If you’re told you’ve got to go to war… When the government, and a lot of society are bullying you to go to war; to refuse to fight is perhapsthe most courageous thing you could do.”
The students discussed parallel issues of conflict in the world today, from the war in Syria, to suspected Russian cyberwarfare, to the importance of being critical about media balance and propaganda on social media. “Everyone should have their own opinion – and the choice to make their own decisions as to what is right and wrong.
‘Objection then and now’ is a new Learning Resource for Key Stages 3 and 4, developed by the Welsh Centre for International Affairs as part of the Heritage Lottery Funded ‘Wales for Peace’ programme, which supports critical thinking and questioning around issues of conflict, resistance and expressing views. Although cross-curricular, it is likely to be of particular interest to teachers delivering History, Geography, Religious Studies, Politics and Global Citizenship; and contains a range of ideas for student projects that may suit the Welsh Baccalaureate, as well as GCSE coursework.
WCIA would like to pay a special thanks to Learning Volunteer, Jeffrey Mansfield, for his work in researching and drafting the ‘Objection Then & Now’.
Screenshot from WCIA’s Wales Peace Map
Pearce Register of Conscientious Objectors (NB – select fullscreen version)
The Conscientious Objectors Memorial Stone in Tavistock Square, London
Credit: Peace Pledge Union
Becoming a Peace School?
Ysgol Maesydderwen are working towards becoming one of Wales’ first Peace Schools. They recently participated in a major project around Jewish WW2 refugee and world famous artist Josef Herman, who fled Poland in 1938 and was welcomed and settled in Ystradgynlais. Teacher Melissa Davies highlighted the enthusiasm their students have shown for projects on ethical citizenship, and offering sanctuary to refugees with a particular focus on those fleeing the Syria conflict today. To find out more about the Peace Schools scheme, contact WCIA / Jane Harries on 029 2022 8549 or email Walesforpeace@wcia.org.uk.
Visiting the ‘Belief and Action’ Exhibition in Ystradgynlais
Visitors can view the ‘Belief and Action’ exhibition between 5-6pm on school days in Ysgol Maesydderwen, Ystradgynlais until 31st May; following which it will be displayed at Bridgend Quakers Meeting House from mid-June.
Visit the Flickr Gallery of Maesydderwen’s ‘Belief and Action’ Exhibition