“Heddwch yw’r ateb bob tro” – Disgyblion yn rhannu taith Heddwch yng nghynadledd flynyddol

Gan Bethan Marsh ac Emma Proux 


Ar ddydd Mercher 6 Tachwedd, daeth disgyblion o ysgolion cynradd ac uwchradd ledled Cymru ynghyd ym mhrif ddinas y wlad i rannu eu teithiau ar ddod yn Ysgol Heddwch.

Croesawodd Craig Owen, Pennaeth Cymru Dros Heddwch, y disgyblion i’r gynhadledd yn Nhŷ Hywel, a rhannu gwybodaeth gefndirol ar dreftadaeth heddwch yng Nghymru ac ar draws y byd.

Mae’r Cynllun Ysgolion Heddwch Cymru yn galluogi ysgolion i ddatblygu heddwch fel thema drawsgwricwlaidd a dull ysgol gyfan, gan gynhyrchu cyfleoedd a mentrau dysgu cyffrous.

Yn ystod sesiwn y bore, cafodd y disgyblion fynd ar daith ‘tu cefn i’r llen’ o amgylch adeilad y Senedd, cyn rhannu eu profiadau ar sut mae’r cynllun wedi effeithio’n gadarnhaol ar eu dysgu a’u profiadau.

Yna, roedd cyfle i’r disgyblion gwestiynu panel o Aelodau o’r Cynulliad yn cynnwys John Griffiths AC, Mark Isherwood AC, a Delyth Jewell AC, ar faterion cyfoes megis newid hinsawdd, cymunedau cynhwysol a ffoaduriaid.

Daeth Kirsty Williams AC ac Ysgrifennydd Addysg y Cabinet i gwrdd â’r disgyblion a dysgu mwy am y syniadau y tu cefn i’w harddangosfeydd Ysgol Heddwch.

Dywedodd: “Mae plant yn cael eu geni’n ddysgwyr ac rydym eisiau sicrhau bod yr awch i ddysgu yn parhau drwy gydol eu bywydau. Mae digwyddiadau fel hyn yn rhoi gobaith mawr i mi. Mae’n dangos pa mor bwysig yw addysg a beth mae’n gallu ei wneud. Rwyf eisiau gweld yr holl themâu sydd wedi eu trafod heddiw yn cael eu codi yn ein dosbarthiadau.”

Daeth y gynhadledd i ben gydag aelodau o Bwyllgor Heddwch Ysgol Bro Myrddin yn cyflwyno eu teithiau at gyflawni statws Ysgol Heddwch lefel 1.

Dywedodd un aelod o’r pwyllgor: “Mae mwy i heddwch na’r hyn rydym yn ei glywed yn ein gwersi hanes. Ar ddiwrnod Heddwch Rhyngwladol 2019, fe godon ni’r faner yng Nghaerfyrddin a sefyll fel pobl ifanc ynghyd â miliynau o bobl ifanc eraill ledled y byd yn enw heddwch. Heddwch yw’r ateb bob tro.”

Ariennir y cynllun drwy gefnogaeth hael Cronfa Goffa Sallie Davies, a hoffem ddiolch i’r gronfa am eu cyfraniadau.

Dywedodd Jane Harries, Cydlynydd Addysg Heddwch Canolfan Materion Rhyngwladol Cymru (WCIA), a drefnodd y digwyddiad: “Roedd yn wych gweld y bobl ifanc yn cymryd rhan, ac roedd yn wych gweld beth maent wedi ei gyflawni yn ystod eu taith at ddod yn Ysgol Heddwch.”

Man, Mission and Movement: The Welsh League of Nations Union and Gwilym Davies

Wales’ World Peace Campaigns of the 1920s and 30s

Excerpt from Welsh League of Nations Union Report, 1927 – now displayed as a linen hanging in the vestibule of Wales’ Temple of Peace & Health.


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In the entrance vestibule of Wales’ Temple of Peace, visitors pass two intriguing linen hangings proclaiming the achievements of ‘Welsh Efforts for World Peace’ in the years that followed WW1 – each of which sound almost too big to be possible; each of which beg the question “what’s the story?” And perhaps most of all… How, What and Why?


How could a nation as small as Wales seemingly mobilise what sounds like every household and institution, in the pursuit of something as big and broad and seemingly unattainable as world peace?

Why this Wales-wide profusion of activity… and where did it go? Why don’t we know about it today… How could something so big fade from history, from our collective memory? Has it become subsumed within national identity?

What would it take today, in a world riven with conflicting and divided views from Brexit to Trump to Refugees and Equalities, to unite people once more around a shared mission of building a better world for future generations?


The Mission that started Wales’ Temple of Peace

Visitors arriving at the North Door of Wales’ Temple of Peace – entrance to the ‘Peace Wing’ occupied today by WCIA (the Welsh Centre for International Affairs) and Wales’ leading internationalist organisations – are greeted by a seemingly out-of-date letterbox, in itself a treasured part of the buiding’s heritage, that begs to be opened and reveal its stories… Its messages from the past. Join us to look through the letterbox… to the incredible movement whose mission inspired creation of the Temple of Peace, and whose founder perhaps deserves to go down in history as one of Wales’ and world’s most dynamic yet understated peacemakers: Gwilym Davies.

WLoNU letterbox at the Temple of Peace today.

The Welsh League of Nations Union (WLoNU) was first proposed from the stage of the National Eisteddfod (Festival of Wales), in Neath in 1919, by David Davies of Llandinam – a soldier returned from the trenches horrified by war, and determined to support his fellow countrymen and women in the pursuit not just of a end to WW1 at the Armistice – but that ‘Never Again’ should be translated into action that ensured a Great War would literally happen ‘Never Again’. A peace that would endure for future generations, and protect their own children.

“In the silent moments of our remembrance, we confronted the great phantom host which included the dearest friends of our youth. They would have become restive at the thought of what we – who know now what war means – are now doing to save their dear ones from a similar fate… They say:
“What are you doing about it all? Is it to be nothing… but the laying of wreaths and blowing of last posts?”

David Davies, 1937 Reunion of his Royal Welsh Fusiliers Battalion, Llandinam

It was a rallying cry that struck to the heart of an anguished nation in which every household had lost loved ones; and 3,000 people signed up on the Maes (festival site). One of those who came forward was a preacher from Cwmrhymni, the Rev Gwilym Davies – who saw in the Welsh League the not just the prospect, but the urgent human need for an organisation that could establish Wales as a “Missionary Nation to the World in the Spreading of Peace”. 

Wales had a long history of peacemakers; the ‘Apostle of Peace’ Henry Richard of Tregaron , MP for neighbouring Merthyr Tydfil, was one of a line of Welshmen to coordinate the internationally ground-breaking London Peace Society, of which he was secretary for 40 years. Inspired by figures such as Peace Society founder Joseph Tregellis Price of Neath, American peace leader Elihu Burritt and many other figures, Gwilym Davies shared with many a strong sense that Welsh identity was – and should be – inherently rooted in peace through an internationalist outlook.

And if World War 1 had taught any lessons, for many of the population in Wales it was that ‘law over war’ was only way forward. The time was right. The story of the campaigning movement itself follows; But at the heart of the movement one man emerged, who was considered by many the ‘dynamo’ of Wales’ internationalist movements through the Interwar years: Gwilym Davies (1879-1955).

By the late 1920s, the Welsh League of Nation Union would become one of Wales’ biggest membership organisations, with over 1,000 local community branches and 61,000 members actively campaigning on international issues of the day.


The Man at the Heart of the Mission

Portrait and tribute to Gwilym Davies on the 1962 cover of the 40th Annual Youth Message of Peace & Goodwill – digitised for viewing on People’s Collection Wales.

Co-founder of the Welsh League of Nations Union (alongside David Davies) in 1920, Gwilym Davies is chiefly celebrated today as founder of Wales’ annual ‘Youth Message of Peace & Goodwill’, and Urdd Gobaith Cymru – the Welsh youth movement – in 1922. Biographies of Gwilym Davies have traditionally taken quite a broad perspective of his many life achievements, involvement in Welsh civil society organisations and communities, and internationally – but usually focus in on his involvement with the Peace & Goodwill Message, which is now being more extensively researched.

However, the Welsh League of Nations Union between 1922 and 1939 grew into one of Wales’ most dynamic and widespread campaigning movements under his leadership, and this story has been little told – let alone Gwilym Davies’s role within it.

This feature seeks to explore this remarkable period of post-WW1 Peace Activism – and its ultimate contribution to the post-WW2 creation of the United Nations, international cooperation and Welsh identity over the 75 years since.

References on Gwilym Davies
Writings of Gwilym Davies

Welsh Outlook Magazine, October 1930 – carrying an article by Gwilym Davies entitled ‘Wales and the World’

Many important articles by him appeared in The Welsh Outlook, Yr Efrydydd, and Y Drysorfa; some of the Welsh ones were collected in Y Byd Ddoe a Heddiw (1938).

His article in Y Drysorfa, 1942, on the Welsh Nationalist Party (Plaid Cymru) aroused considerable controversy. Other publications include:

  • International Education in the Schools of Wales and Monmouthshire (1926),
  • The Ordeal of Geneva (1933),
  • Intellectual co-operation between the Wars (1943), and
  • The Gregynog Conferences on International Education 1922-37 (1952),
  • as well as the annual reports of the Welsh national council of the League of Nations Union, 1923-39, and of the United Nations Association, 1943-46.

Early Life, Ministry and the Welsh School of Social Service

Gwilym Davies was born in Bedlinog, Merthyr Tydfil, and followed in his father’s footsteps as a Baptist preacher from 1895 before gaining a scholarship to Jesus College, Oxford where he was editor of the Baptist Outlook magazine – a foretaste of the prolific writing he would generate through his life. However, from his student days onwards Gwilym Davies suffered from poor health throughout much of his life – which perhaps makes his life achievements all the more remarkable. 

Blue Plaque in Carmarthen Town, celebrating Gwilym Davies’ time there as a preacher and peace campaigner

From 1906, he was ordained a Minister in Broadhaven, Pembrokeshire, going on to serve in Carmarthen, Abergavenny and Llandrindod Wells over the following decade. He struck up a close friendship with the young David Davies of Llandinam, recently elected Liberal MP for Montgomeryshire – an avid internationalist and energetic social reformer – who saw in Gwilym Davies a dynamic organiser who could help him realise his visions for improving Welsh society. In 1911, they founded the Welsh School of Social Services.

Gwilym Davies was a proud pacifist, and following World War One, he sought to play an activist role as a ‘missionary for the cause of international peace’ – carrying on the tradition of the Welsh pioneers Richard Price, Robert Owen, and Henry Richard. In 1922, he retired from Ministry, to found some of Wales’ most enduring internationalist movements.

Biographer J. E. Meredith compared Gwilym Davies and ‘Apostle of Peace’ Henry Richard’s backgrounds quite directly:

“With the neighbouring parliamentary MP of Henry Richard… both were sons of ministers of religion, both themselves were ordained minsters of a nonconformist denomination and gave up ministers in order to devote time to their causes they were both intellectually and mutually engaged in.”

Founding of the Welsh League of Nations Union, 1920-22

Plas Dinam in Powys, where Gwilym and David Davies met in January 1922 to agree the founding of an independent Welsh League of Nations Union

David Davies had first proposed the idea a ‘Welsh League of Nations Union’ at the National Eisteddfod in Neath in August 1918 – 4 months before the end of WW1. Given broad unease at the terms of the Paris Peace Process / Treaty of Versailles, which imposed crippling reparations on the people of Germany, many Welsh men and women were supportive of an International League of Nations in principle. Although a (25 May) 1920 meeting in Llandrindod Wells had formed a Committee linking to the London-based League of Nations Union, it seems (from records of discussions in 1921-22) this had not yet been translated into an effective campaigning body in Wales.

In January 1922, David Davies and Gwilym Davies met in Llandinam to set about founding and properly funding a distinct, national organisation that would ‘mobilise the people of Gwalia’ – independent, though complementary, to the UK Union.

International Peace Campaigns, 1922-39

A June 1922 letter from Gwilym Davies, on the early successes of the first Youth Peace & Goodwill Message, broadcast by Marconi Telegraph and picked up by the Eiffel Tower

From 1922, Gwilym Davies threw himself into organising a Campaign for World Peace unlike any the world had seen before: to involve every man, woman and child in Wales in a ‘mission for internationalism’. An enthusiastic adopter of new communications technologies, mass media and community outreach, as ‘Honorary Director’ of the Welsh League of Nations Union Gwilym Davies, created and coordinated a number of nationwide peace campaigns:

  • Wales Youth Message of Peace and Goodwill, initially called the ‘Wales Wireless Peace Message’, first broadcast on 18 May 1922 – chosen to mark Wales’ “World Peace Day,” as the annual anniversary of the 1899 Hague Peace Conference.
  • Gwilym Davies became the first person in history to radio broadcast in Welsh, on St David’s Day 1923, when he broadcast the
  • The Welsh Women’s Peace Petition to America of 1923, signed by 390,296 women Wales-wide, calling for the USA to join and lead the League of Nations.
  • The world’s first Global Education / World Citizenship curriculum for teachers and schools, developed through establishing a Welsh Education Advisory Committee (WEAC). Annual Gregynog Conferences on International Education were hosted by the Davies Sisters of Llandinam, Gwendoline and Margaret, and facilitated by Gwilym Davies.
  • In 1926, Wales hosted the League of Nations International Peace Congress in Aberystwyth – the equivalent of a UN General Assembly today coming to mid-Wales.
  • From 1930, he supported Annie Hughes-Griffiths as Chair in developing the Women’s Advisory Committee, which after WW2 evolved into CEWC Cymru, the Council for Education in World Citizenship).
  • A Peace Campaign and Annual Offering across the Churches of Wales.
  • A 1925 Peace Memorial Petition of Wales’ Faith Leaders to the faith movements of America.
  • A 1929 general election manifesto for ‘Teachers and World Peace’
  • The 1935 Peace Ballot on the European Armaments Race.

The campaigning activities of the Welsh League of Nations Union can be explored through their Annual Reports 1922-45, digitised as part of WCIA’s ‘Wales for Peace’ project with support of volunteers. The original booklets can be viewed in the Temple of Peace Archives, and in the National Library of Wales – David Davies of Llandinam Papers – as well as digitised on People’s Collection Wales (below).

Welsh League of Nations Union (WLoNU) Annual Reports and Notable Events

Founding of Welsh League of Nations Union

Youth Message of Peace & Goodwill first broadcast

Women’s Peace Petition campaign

Gregynog Teachers Conferences on International Education founded

Women’s Peace Delegation to America

‘Welsh Churches and World Peace’ Campaign

Faith Leaders Petition to America League of Nations Int’l Congress held in Aberystwyth

N Wales Women’s Peace Pilgrimage for ‘Law not War’

WLoNU branches and membership reach their peak Temple of Peace proposed as Wales’ national memorial to fallen of WW1 David Davies commissions new WLoNU HQ – a ‘Temple of Peace’

‘Welsh Teachers and World Peace’ Manifesto published

Stock Market crash and onset of Great Depression WLoNU Women’s Advisory Committee (WAC) established – see records of meetings

Equity Tribunal Campaign Peace Ballot Campaign Festival of Youth

Foundation Stone laid and construction starts on Wales’ Temple of Peace Opening of Wales Temple of Peace Outbreak of WW2; suspension of WLoNU activities WLoNU / Gwilym Davies invited to develop proposals for UNESCO

Image result for Lord Davies Memorial Fund
WLoNU – UNA Wales combined Annual Report
for 1943-1946
UNESCO Death of Lord David Davies, founder and sponsor of WLoNU.

Lord Davies Memorial Fund

WLoNU becomes United Nations Assoc (UNA) Wales

Inaugural meeting of UNA Wales, Oct 1945

Start of International Youth Service (IYS) and CEWC, the Council for Education in World Citizenship
Welsh Churches and World Peace – Campaign Booklet, 1924 Teachers and World Peace, 1929 Manifesto Wales’ Peace Ballot Bulletins, 1935 (see more detail below) UNESCO Proposals, 1941-45 Gwilym Davies’ Memorial Service, 1955

Wales’ Global Movement: Branches, Membership and Participation in Internationalism

A typical ‘Plan of Campaign’ developed by Gwilym Davies with local branches – this being the 1922-23 programme for the Newport WLoNU.

Gwilym Davies placed a particularly strong emphasis on grassroots community participation in the Welsh League of Nations Union, with a comprehensive programme of activities led by local branches and activists, including initiatives such as:

Welsh Branches and Membership Figures

The table below emerges from analysis of the membership figures drawn from the Welsh League of Nations Union Report through the interwar years (with thanks to Rob Laker, Swansea University). Years of particularly high membership are spotlighted in bold, with a peak of 61,262 in 1930, just prior to the Great Depression; and despite a drop in paid memberships the following year, the highest number of branches in Wales – 1,014 – was recorded in 1931-2. The peak in junior branches, at over 302 across Wales, was to come in 1938. Further explanation of the figures is below.











Adult Membership 18,110 26,345 31,299 34,999 36,689 39,223 41,822
Junior Membership 2,686 4,247 6,080 9,801 10,653 11,727 14,784
Total Membership 20,796 30,592 37,379 44,800 47,342 50,950 56,606
Community Branches 280 415 571 652 700 770
764 770
Junior Branches 20 39 77 133 149 176 202 233 244
Total Branches 300 454 648 785 849 946 996 997











Adult Membership 15,146 13,630 13,537 15,675 18,255 12,745 13,018 7,828 4,635
Junior Membership 9,264 9.026 9,290 6,780 9,216 3,881 2,342
Total Membership 24,410 13,630 13,537 24,701
19,525 22,234 11,709 6,977
Community Branches 621 479 533 538 498
Junior Branches 279 298 200
Total Branches 900 777 733 840 725

Whilst proving impressive participation figures from any analysis, they also highlight some changes, and reflections of the changing world environment within which the League of Nations Union was operating.

  • In 1930-31, the ‘apparent dip’ in membership was actually a change in presentation. Due to falling income, the Welsh League Council decided to measure paid memberships. It will be noted that the highest number of active local branches is the same year – suggesting voluntary and campaigner activity remained high.
  • However, as the Great Depression of 1930-31 took effect, this had 2 impacts: a sharp decrease in paid memberships, reflecting the unemployment and austerity situation; and some loss of faith in the League of Nations itself following the Manchuria Crisis.
  • Further reorganisation in 1934, and some presentational variations, result in some gaps in figures.
  • The highest paid members ever was marked in 1937, as Wales’ Temple of Peace was under construction – and as concerns escalated towards WW2.
  • With the outbreak of WW2, the Welsh League partially suspended work, although some figures are offered – though these may not represent similar measures of activity.
  • A general question / point of interest on Junior Membership Branches, is whether these were the predecessors, parallel organisations or the same local bodies as the Urdd Youth movements local Aelwyd’s or youth branches / chapters. Given the overlap in mission between the WLoNU, Peace Message and the Urdd, it seems quite possibly these local groups may be one and the same.
‘Daffodil Days’ and Funding of the Welsh League’s Peace Work

The funds of the League were generated through widespread Fundraising by Branches, through organising annual Daffodil Days for Peace (explored in depth by Swansea University History student Rob Laker. In 1927, branches Wales-wide contributed £1,507 12s 11d – approx. £93,000 today – towards the general running costs of the Welsh League, as well as funding their own local campaigns and activities.


View Google Map of Communities who organised Daffodil Days between 1925-39, collated by Swansea History student Rob Laker (zoom, or click on pins, to find specific communities).

As early as 1925, the Welsh League’s campaigning activities considerably outstripped their financial resources – which sometimes generated anxiety and frustration within the movement. However, David Davies regularly ‘bailed out’ the Welsh Council with donations to pay off the debts of increasingly ambitious campaigns that he believed essential to the preservation of peace, such as the Peace Ballot of 1935 (below).

However, this philanthropy-dependent model was not sustainable, and the post-WW2 United Nations Association (UNA) Wales were never able to replicate the levels of engagement – or indeed, campaign spending – of the Welsh League, particularly after the death in 1944 of Lord Davies.


The World’s First ‘Global Education’ Curriculum for Schools

League of Nations Headquarters in Geneva, 1920 (Wikimedia Commons)

Gwilym Davies travelled extensively in a role sometimes described as Welsh civil society’s ‘peace ambassador to the world’ – spending considerable time at the Headquarters of the League of Nations in Geneva, the ‘Palace of Nations’. He wrote regular updates on international affairs and current issues of peace and conflict for the bulletins of the Welsh League of Nations Union, as well as columns for the Welsh Outlook magazine, Headway (the journal of the UK League) Western Mail and many newspapers. His opinion pieces marked him out as one of Wales’ foremost influencers on international issues.

During the 1920s-30s, the work of the Welsh Education Advisory Committee (WEAC) in developing a ‘curriculum for schools that teaches the values and principles of the League of Nations’ drew worldwide acclaim – the world’s first Global Education, Global Citizenship or Peace Education curriculum programme, became a ‘model of best practice’ for educationalists worldwide. Starting in 1922, Annual ‘Gregynog Conferences on International Education’ were hosted by the Davies Sisters of Llandinam, Gwendoline and Margaret, and facilitated by Gwilym Davies.

Examples of Global Citizenship Education initiatives by the Welsh League that have survived ‘in the archives’ include:

From 1931, the Women’s Advisory Committee under the leadership of Annie-Jane Hughes Griffiths, who had led the 1924 Welsh Women’s Peace Petition Delegation to America, played an increasingly lead role in coordinating the educational activities of the League in Wales. Beyond WW2, the 2 bodies (WAC and WEAC) came together under the auspices of CEWC Cymru – the Welsh Council for Education in World Citizenship – which has continued to support schools with global education to the present day, having as recently as 2015 merged into the Welsh Centre for International Affairs as the ‘Global Learning’ arm of WCIA’s work. A long and strong heritage indeed.


The Wales Peace Ballot of 1935

A high point of Welsh League of Nations campaigning work was the Peace Ballot of 1935 – a UK-wide initiative by the League of Nations Union, in which Wales sought to ‘lead the way’ – or to ‘Top the Polls’ as Gwilym Davies put it.

The aim of the Peace Ballot was to canvass – and influence – public opinion on the escalating European Arms Race, and the role of the League of Nations (and responsibilities of its member governments) to lead international efforts to maintain the fragile post-WW1 peace. The Ballot posed 5 questions to every man and woman over the age of 18, ascertaining the balance of views:

  1. For / against the League of Nations
  2. For / against all round Disarmament
  3. For / against abolition of naval and military Aircraft
  4. For / against abolition of private manufacture of Arms
  5. A – For / against Economic Action against Aggressor Nations
  6. B – For / against Military Action against Aggressor Nations

Welsh League of Nations Union branches and campaigners led canvassing efforts in every county of Wales, succeeding in securing 5 of the 10 highest constituency returns in the UK – including Anglesey, Aberdare, Swansea, Rhondda and Merthyr Tydfil.

“In total, 1,025,040 people in Wales voted in the Peace Ballot – 62.3% of eligible registered voters”

Digitised Peace Ballot Records

1935 Peace Ballot – Briefing for Households 1935 Peace Ballot – Canvassers’ Briefing ‘Peace Calls for Plain Answers to Simple Questions’ – 1935 Media Article Bulletin 2, Jan 22 1935 Bulletin 3, Feb 6 1935
Bulletin 4, Mar 9 1935 Bulletin 5, Apr 9 1935 Bulletin 6, June 7 1935 Bulletin 7, Oct 1935: ONWARD YMLAEN / ONWARD Bulletin, May 1936

View the 1935 Peace Ballot Archive on People’s Collection Wales

Whilst the Peace Ballot, and Wales’ leading role in it, was respected by many UK parliamentarians as an exceptional expression of democratic sentiment, in the fragile and fraught international political climate of the mid-1930s it was largely taken to justify an uneasy line of appeasement against the rise of Hitler, Mussolini and other aggressors. The 1936 Geneva Conference of the League of Nations, which followed the Abyssinia Crisis – the invasion of Ethiopia by Italy – was seen as a terminal failure of the League. But, as Gwilym Davies stated:

“No ‘Covenant’ can be made to work, if the nations will not work it.

It is not the League that has failed the nations; it is the nations that have failed the league.”

The dejection felt among Wales’ Peace campaigners was undoubtedly strong; however, the following passage gives a fascinating insight into the mind of this incredible man who managed to sustain the leadership and enthusiasm of a whole movement:

We who have worked for the League, who have served to the utmost of our strength, how are we to act now that we see our hopes dimmed and our plans frustrated?

The other day, I met a secretary of a branch who had done excellent work. He said that he was so disgusted with happenings in Geneva, he would do no more. The League had failed, the British Government had failed. Everything had failed. And he was giving up.

I felt sorry for him. He had not just that quality which makes a man stick to it in bitter weather, the teeth of the east wind. The conditions that prevail in Europe today are inifintely trying .. if we lack nerve to hold on grimly to our hopes, and struggle harder than ever for their realisation. Still that is the temper our fathers had for us, in winning the freedom of liberty that we enjoy. And that is the faith we must possess if we are to reap what we sow in the depressing days of disappointment.

“The League has proved itself useless.” VERY WELL! Let us here – and now – resolve that the League shall be made not only useful, but indispensable. Let us see present defeat a starting point for future victories. It is the challenge which face all of us, the “IF” with which we must wrestle… Wales accepts the Challenge.


Crowds gathered in the rain on 23 Nov 1938, to witness the historic opening of Wales’ Temple of Peace – by war-bereaved mother Minnie James from Dowlais, Merthyr.

“If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken,
twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools;
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop to build them up with worn-out tools;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew,
To serve your turn long after you are gone;
and so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the will which says to them – “HOLD ON!”


Following the opening of Wales’ Temple of Peace in November 1938, Gwilym Davies’s expressed the hope that despite clouds of conflict on the horizon, this new headquarters for the Welsh League of Nations Union – and the Welsh people – would realise the hopes and dreams of generations

“…for a world free from the scourge of war, free from the scourge of disease. Free to foster friendship with our fellow human kind; to Unite the Nations of our world as one, and to shape our shared futures – together. And to never… never again forget the human cost of waging war before law; of ignoring internationalism… our common humanity.”  

Uniting Nations: World War 2, UNESCO and UNA

Palace of Nations, Geneva – UN Headquarters

During World War 2, the Welsh Education Committee under his direction was asked to draft a model constitution for an international education organisation. The draft submitted by Gwilym Davies greatly influenced the creation of UNESCO, the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. Copies of a series of policy papers and drafts by Gwilym Davies between 1941-45, remain in the Temple of Peace collections, demonstrating how he fed in the ideas and experiences of Welsh educationalists as the concept developed prior to UNESCOs launch and 1st conference in Paris in Nov 1946.

Programme for the 1st Session of the UN General Assembly in London, at which Wales Temple of Peace Choir performed the opening service.

Following the end of World War 2, the Welsh League of Nations Union – whose work had been largely suspended through hostilities – regrouped under Gwilym Davies’ Chairmanship, and seamlessly transitioned to become UNA Wales – the United National Association Welsh National Council.

An executive committee meeting, and the last meeting of WLoNU / first conference of UNA Wales, were held over October 27-28 1946 at the Temple of Peace and Health in Cardiff – then just 8 years old. Finally, the Temple was to become the ‘peacebuilding headquarters’ that it had been intended as – although sadly, Lord Davies of Llandinam had passed away just months before his dream, shattered by WW2, finally started to reach fruition.

UNA Wales Quarterly Bulletin, 1949 – with the Temple of Peace on cover.

The first Annual General Meeting of UNA Wales was held in Wrexham over May 30-31 1947, and Gwilym Davies was returned as the first President of UNA Wales – with William (Bill) Arnold becoming the first Secretary of UNA Wales (and de facto ‘Director’ of the Temple of Peace).

It was decided to establish CEWC Cymru, the Council for Education in World Citizenship, as a separate but complementary body to UNA Wales, also operating from the Temple of Peace – so as to make a clearer distinction between educational and campaigning work (which had sometimes proven problematic prior to the outbreak of WW2).

The Temple of Peace and Health, meanwhile was going through similarly major revolutions in its South Wing – as the former Wales National Memorial Association for the eradication of Tuberculosis, established by David Davies in 1910, became one of the founding bodies of the new NHS National Health Service – for which the transitional authority through 1946-47 tasked with amalgamating all of Wales’ health bodies into the new service was headquartered in the Temple of Peace & Health. Following the NHS organisation, the Temple became the headquarters for the South Glamorgan Health Authority.

Passing and Legacy of Gwilym Davies (1955)

As late as 1942, in the midst of WW2, Gwilym Davies had married Mary Elizabeth Ellis, the second woman to be appointed an inspector of schools in Wales (she was granted permission to marry and to retain her post till 1943). They lived in 8 Marine Terrace, Aberystwyth.

He was awarded the CBE (Commander of the British Empire) in the 1948 Honours list by Prime Minister Clement Attlee, for his services to peacebuilding and the people of Wales.

Leaflet for Gwilym Davies’ Memorial Service, held at the Temple of Peace on 11 Feb 1955

For a man of such lifelong drive and dynamism, he suffered from poor health throughout much of his life; and on 29 January 1955, he passed away peacefully – and passed on his legacy of peace.

His memorial service was fittingly held in the Temple of Peace and Health in Cardiff, the building he was instrumental not only in creating – but in framing for a mission, to build a better world for generations to come. His ashes were scattered at Lavernock Point, Penarth, where the first Marconi radio message had been exchanged across water.

His peacebuilding work was to be carried forward by the United Nations Association (UNA) Wales, and CEWC (Council for Education in World Citizenship) at the Temple of Peace, both of which continue as the Welsh Centre for International Affairs today.

He ‘bequeathed’ the Youth Peace and Goodwill Message to be continued by the Urdd from 1956 onwards. It continues to be broadcast every year on May 18th, with participation from young people Wales-wide every year – as well as translations into many languages of the world, and responses from youth movements overseas.

The ‘Neges’ will be marking its centenary in 2022 – continuing a mission started by a modest man from Cwmrhymni, for a world of peace for future generations.

On May 18th, 2018, the Peace and Goodwill message of the young people of Wales was shared by Urdd Gobaith Cymru, from the young people of Mid Glamorgan. The message gives thanks for the opportunities available to young people and the hope that those opportunities are available to all young people – emphasising the need to listen to the voices of young people, and for young people to feel able to discuss and overcome problems.

View the 2019 Peace and Goodwill Message, Voice.

Author and Contributors

This article has been drawn together by Craig Owen, Peace Heritage Coordinator at WCIA from many volunteer and community contributors over the life of the Wales for Peace project 2014-19. Particular thanks are added for academic research by:

    • Stuart Booker, Swansea University History doctoral student, who completed digitisation and tagging of the Welsh League of Nations Union reports over Summer 2019.
    • Rob Laker, Swansea University History student, who researched the Welsh League of Nations Union branch activities and daffodil days as part of a summer 2019 heritage and archives placement with WCIA.
    • Dr Emma West, University of Birmingham, who drew together research and materials for the Temple of Peace’s 80th Anniversary programme and Gala Performance / reinterpretation, ‘A New Mecca’

United Nations Day 24 Oct 2019 – WCIA unveils ‘UN75’ Peace Heritage Programme for Wales for 2020 and Beyond


24 October every year marks United Nations Day internationally – the day on which the UN Charter came into being, beginning the great process of healing, reconciliation and rebuilding that followed World War Two. WCIA are marking this year’s UN Day by unveiling our plans to develop a new Wales-wide Peace Heritage programme for 2020-24, ‘UN75’ – and invite prospective partners, communities, volunteers and funders to join us in shaping a vision for marking Wales’ considerable contributions to internationalism and health post-WW2. This will link in to the United Nation’s own UN75: 2020 and Beyond campaign.


Our series of regular ‘Temple Tours’ open day has begun – where visitors are welcome to join us for a tour of the Temple of Peace and Health and its stories, from 10.30am or over lunchtime. You can register here or turn up on the day.

WCIA supported Thursday 24th Oct evening event to mark UN Day by UNA Wales, now in the Sir John Percival Building, where Cymru’n Cofio Coordinator Sir Deian Hopkin will give his inspiring and insightful talk on ‘The Impact of WW1 on Wales’:

“United Nations Day highlights the enduring ideals of the UN Charter, which entered into force on this date 74 years ago. Amid stormy global seas, the Charter remains our shared moral anchor.” — UN Secretary-General António Guterres

UN Mosaic in the centre of Wales’ National Garden of Peace, created by UNA Exchange International Youth Service Volunteers in 1993

Wales’ Temple of Peace

Wales’ Temple of Peace and Health was opened in November 1938 – just months before the outbreak of World War 2 shattered the hopes and dreams of many, as the world was once more engulfed in conflict a mere 20 years after “Never Again” had become the annual refrain of Remembrance. It seemed the Peace Heritage of the 1920s-30s movements for Welsh internationalism – much of which was explored through WCIA’s WW100 ‘Wales for Peace’ programme over 2014-19 – had been cast aside.

Remembering a Social Revolution

However, the end of hostilities swept in an era of enormous social change – with the founding of the United Nations, the National Health Service in the UK, establishment of Universal Charters of Human Rights, and the ‘beginning of the end’ for colonialism as many nations of world began the journey towards independence.  Many Welsh men and women played an instrumental role in these movements, with Wales’ Temple of Peace and Health at the Heart of activism and social change through the 1940s and 50s.

Out of the Ashes of Conflict – Building a Better World

As the UK prepares to mark the 75th and 80th anniversaries of many major WW2 events (between 2019 and 2025), WCIA will be focusing on what followed WW2: the desire to build a better world through the founding of the United Nations and universal charters of human rights, that have underpinned peaceful co-existence and global development to this day.

Welsh people have played a profound role in the story of the United Nations over the last 75 years. Between 2019 and 2024, WCIA will mark the anniversaries of a number of major UN events by exploring Wales’ heritage of action on human rights, community stories, local to global responses, and attitudes towards human rights and international cooperation now and looking to the future.

“By marking these anniversaries, we will continue to inspire the next generation of internationalists and hope to encourage more positive attitudes across Wales about the vital protections of human rights we have enjoyed for the last 75 years.”

Susie Ventris-Field, WCIA Chief Executive

Treasure Huns among the Archives

Through Wales for Peace, many thousands of items from the Temple Archives and Collections have been made publicly accessible on People’s Collection Wales, as well as on Flickr. A small selection of examples of these relevant to UN75 can be viewed via the links below:

Over Summer 2019, students from Swansea and Cardiff Universities began the challenge of cataloguing the Temple of Peace’s as-yet-unexplored archives from the post-WW2 era, and it is hoped many of these will also become available on People’s Collection over coming months.

WCIA Heritage Project Proposed Activities

Building on the HLF-funded Wales for Peace programme from 2014-19 – which marked the centenary of WW1 and uncovered hidden histories form Wales’ peace movements of the interwar years (1918-39) – WCIA will be seeking funding, project partners and developing work with community groups and volunteers to explore this next era of Wales’ internationalist peace heritage: the ‘United Nations’ era. Project activities we hope will include opportunities to:

  • Explore, catalogue, digitise, interpret and make publicly accessible the Temple of Peace Archives post-WW2, and related collections held in the National Library of Wales and elsewhere.
  • Where possible, gather oral histories from veterans and social activists of the 1950s-70s, with a focus on ‘building a better world’ and social change.
  • Develop academic networks and student research placements exploring post-WW2 peacebuilding and social change, and drawing lessons for today.
  • Develop creative digital storytelling, citizen journalism and creative writing projects that bring hidden histories to life, inspire activists and changemakers today, and inform policymaking.
  • Develop community arts and creative responses, and offer a platforms for display / sharing with public audiences in a way that inspires conversations about challenging contemporary world issues such as Brexit, Climate Change, social inclusion and equalities, and Human Rights.
  • Develop Touring Exhibitions that stimulate hidden histories projects, community conversations and critical thinking around Wales’ role in the World, from the perspective of specific communities (geographic and communities of interest).
  • Build a Digital Legacy of all heritage materials, stories and project activities, that is easily accessible and inspiring to current and future generations.
  • Develop Learning Materials and Classroom / School projects that support teachers to deliver the new Welsh curriculum by drawing on Welsh internationalism;
  • Facilitate Young Peacemakers Awards and Youth / Schools Conferences that enable shared learning between networks of young people, teachers and policy makers.
  • Ground the development and delivery of Wales’ International Strategy, in a deepened knowledge and understanding of Wales’ Internationalist heritage.

Marking Anniversaries

The table below draws together just some of the significant dates from the post-WW2 ‘peace building era’, that WCIA hope to mark over 2019-24 – and to draw inspiration from for work with communities and civil society groups to explore how these issues remain relevant, and how people can take action today.

WW2 Anniversaries / Significant Dates

80th Anniversary of outbreak of WW2 Sept 3rd 1939 Sept 3rd 2019 (80th)
“D-Day” 6th June 1944 6th June 2019 (75th)

6th Jun 2024 (80th)

Liberation of Auschwitz – Birkenau (marked by Holocaust Memorial Day) 27th Jan 1945 27th Jan 2020 (75th)
VE Day / end of WW2 in UK & Europe 8th May 1945 (VE Day) 8th May 2020 (75th)
Hiroshima Day – this is usually marked with an annual event at the National Eisteddfod. In 2020 this will be Tregaron, Ceredigion – also the birthplace of Welsh Peacemaker Henry Richard, whose statue in the town square is a place of pilgrimage for many peace activists. 6th August 1945 6th Aug 2020 (75th)
End of WW2 worldwide (Japan Day) August 15th 1945

Sept 2nd in USA

Aug 15th 2020 (75th)

United Nations Anniversaries / Significant Dates

Declaration of St James: the Inter-Allied Charter 12th June 1941 12th June 2021 (80th)
Atlantic Charter for World Organisation, Peace, Justice Labour, Economic & Social Security 14th August 1941 14th Aug 2019 (78th)

14th Aug 2021 (80th)

First ‘Declaration of United Nations’ 1st January 1942 1st Jan 2020 (78th)
Dumbarton Oaks Conference – UN structure agreed

Yalta Conference – UN Security agreed

7th October 1944

7th February 1945

7th Oct 2019 (75th)

7th Feb 2020 (75th)

Formation of UN in San Francisco (and United Nations Day annually) 24th October 1945 24th Oct 2020 (75th)
1st Session of UN General Assembly, London (organised by Welshmen Gladwyn Jebb and opened with a ‘peace performance’ by the Choir of Wales’ Temple of Peace) 10th January 1946 10th January 2021 (75th)
Founding of WHO World Health Organisation 7th April 1948 7th April 2020 (72nd)
UN Charter / Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Paris 10th Dec 1948 10th Dec 2023 (75th)
World Peace Day

(NB 2019 UN theme is Climate Action for Peace)

21st September 1981 21st September 2021 (40th)
UN Convention on the Rights of the Child – see also UNICEF and SCF resources 20th November 1989 (signed)

2nd Sept 1990 (implemented)

20th Nov 2019 (30th)

2nd Sept 2020 (30th)

Welsh Civil Society & Communities – Significant post-WW2 Dates for Peace, Health & Internationalist Movements 

Temple of Peace opening (1938)


Wales’ National Garden of Peace opening (1988)

23rd November 1938 23rd Nov 2019 = 81st

23rd Nov 2020 = 82nd


David Davies – Anniversary of passing of DD, founder of the Temple of Peace (was marked by WCIA + Gregynog Festival Lecture) 16th June 1944 16th June 2019 (75th)
Welsh League of Nations Union formally becomes UNA Wales 1945 (TBC)
Post-WW2 reopening of Temple of Peace 1945 (TBC)
Post-WW2 General election returns Clement Attlee / Labour Government, whose manifesto instituted sweeping social reforms including creation of NHS 5th July 1945 (GE)

26th July (results of GE)

26th July 2020 (75th)
NHS Transitional Authority set up in Temple of Peace, to oversee creation of NHS in Wales 1946 2021 (75th)
Founding of the Llangollen International Eisteddfod and the June 1947 June 2019 (72nd)

June 2022 (75th)

Unveiling of post-WW2 Temple of Peace plaque marking 1939 Empire Gold Medal for Architecture from RIBA, by David Davies’ widow Lady Henrietta Davies 1948 (TBC)
Founding of NHS and NHS Wales 5th July 1948 5th July 2020 (72nd)
First Germany – Wales people’s peace exchange, with Lubeck Choir coming to Llangollen July 1949 July 2019 (70th)
First Llangollen Children’s Peace Message 5th July 1952 5th July 2022 (70th)
Gwilym Davies’ memorial – passing of GD in 1955, and transfer of Youth Peace & Goodwill Message from former Welsh League of Nations Union to the Urdd. 26th January 1955 26th January 2020 (65th)
Founding of first of many post-WW2 Wales – Germany Town Twinning Associations founded with a Swansea Mannheim Exchange (Coventry-Dresden having originated in 1946) 9th August 1957 9th August 2022 (65th )

Get Involved / Further Information

To express interest in getting involved in the research, design and development of UN75, or for further information contact WCIA on 02920228549 or email walesforpeace@wcia.org.uk.

Diwrnod Heddwch y Byd yn cael eu ddathlu yn y Deml Heddwch

Agorodd y Deml Heddwch ei drysau i ffrindiau newydd ar ddydd Sadwrn i nodi Diwrnod Heddwch y Byd.

Y thema eleni oedd newid yn yr hinsawdd ar gyfer heddwch a dathlwyd y diwrnod gyda chyngherddau, gorymdeithiau a digwyddiadau cymunedol ledled y byd.

Mae cyfaill WCIA ffi Fenton yn arwain dau grŵp ar deithiau Deml a archwiliodd Neuadd y Cenhedloedd, y Crypt (sy ‘ n dal y llyfr coffa), yr arddangosfa menywod mewn rhyfel, y wal o negeseuon ieuenctid a ‘ r ardd heddwch.

Trodd y gwirfoddolwr Charlotte Morgan dudalen yn y llyfr coffa am 11Am gan ddarllen allan enwau’r dynion a ‘ r merched a roddodd eu bywydau yn ystod y rhyfel byd cyntaf.

It’s World Peace Day ☮️As part of our Open Day, our brilliant volunteer Charlotte, welcomed our first tour to the Temple of Peace and Health**Mae hi’n Diwrnod Heddwch y Byd 🕊Bob dydd am 11yb, trown dudalen yn y Llyfr Coffa ac heddiw, mae ein gwirfoddolwr gwych, Charlotte, yn croesawu ein taith gyntaf i ' r Deml

Posted by Welsh Centre for International Affairs on Saturday, 21 September 2019

Dechreuodd y prynhawn gyda pherfformiad gan Cor Cochion, oedd yn canu yn Siambr y cyngor a thalu teyrnged i ‘w ffrind, Barbara Foxworthy.

Dilynwyd y côr gan actifydd heddwch Jane Harries, sy ‘n arwain sgwrs i dorf fawr, ar heddwch heddiw a gofyn “ble ydym ni ‘ n sefyll fel heddychwyr heddiw yng Nghymru? ”

Dywedodd cyn athrawes Sian Williams: “Roeddwn i wedi clywed am y Deml Heddwch ac wedi cerdded heibio, ond erioed wedi bod i mewn o’r blaen. Mae’n adeilad hynod ddiddorol, iawn yng nghanol Caerdydd ac roedd yn ddiddorol clywed mwy amdano ar y daith. ”

Aethoch chi i ymweld â ni ar ddiwrnod heddwch y byd? Os na, hoffech chi ymweld a’r Deml yn y dyfodol?

Rhowch wybod i ni beth oedd eich barn yn y sylwadau isod neu cadwch cip olwg ar ein tudalennau Facebook  Twitter  ac Instagram am ein newyddion diweddara

Fighting for Foreign Aid

By former WCIA volunteer, Geena Whiteman 



The UK is one of the worlds biggest foreign aid donors, having the third largest aid budget in the world and being one of only a few countries consistently achieving the UN’s target of spending 0.7% of the annual budget (the countries gross national income) on foreign aid.

However, with the recent election of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister of the UK, the UK’s position as a ‘development superpower’ is at great risk. In the running of, and since the announcement of his election, there have been numerous whispers and rumours about the ways in which the UK’s foreign aid spending will be reformed.

Currently, approximately 70% of the UK’s £14 billion a year (0.7% of national income) foreign aid budget is spent by the Department for International Development (DfID), with the rest spent by various other departments, most prominently, the Department for International Trade (DIT) and the Foreign Office. On the 22nd July 2019, the now former Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox stated that the DIT will use increasing amounts of the aid budget to “help promote investment in developing countries and promote British interests”.

So, what comes of the countries who are in dire need of foreign aid, but can’t offer as desirable a return on investment as British interests would seek? What becomes of foreign aid to low-income countries such as Nepal, Tajikistan and Rwanda, who are both land-locked and resource scarce?


Nepal is an excellent example of the threat that shifting foreign aid to be more trade-focused rather than poverty focused poses.



Out of the 33 active projects funded by the UK aid budget in Nepal, only one of them has the Department of Trade (BEIS) funding it – and the project has one of the smallest budgets out of all aid-funded projects in Nepal.


For a country with little now to offer us, what hope is there for UK aid to Nepal once the new aid reforms come in, especially considering our history of scarcely rewarding the Nepalese Ghurkha for all their loyalty and support in our armed forces. Following the proposed reforms of the Department of Trade controlling even more of the aid budget, how hard will Nepal now have to fight for aid when we’ve taken all the resources we could get?


Historically, the UK’s commitment to aid has been justified on two grounds – from a moral perspective, demonstrating the UK’s commitment to help alleviate world poverty, and from a policy perspective, helping support the achievement of development milestones such as the SDG’s. However, numerous charities and agencies have warned that aid is no longer as effective and efficient as before, and taxpayers are no longer getting maximum value for money.

In a letter to the then Chancellor, Phillip Hammond, 23 agencies suggested that aid spending is now diverted from the worlds poor in order to promote commercial and political interests, or as the Prime Minister calls it, British interests. With the UK’s legal obligation to commit 0.7% of GDP on aid, many of those working in the humanitarian sector have raised concerns that ministers are using aid as a form of bribery, by classing politically convenient projects as aid, and ensuring the strings attached lead to increased cooperation with British industry.


The ONE Campaigns UK Real Aid Index has shown that DfID’s expenditure of the aid budget was rated highly for its focus on poverty, its effectiveness and its transparency, but the same couldn’t be said for other departments, such as the Foreign Office and the Department of Trade.


Of the aid spent outside of DfID, over 1/3 is spent in upper middle-income countries, who have very little need for UK aid.


For context, examples of upper middle-income countries are China, Azerbaijan and Russia, who all appear to be thriving off their own industries. A key example of this diversion would be the concerns raised by a committee of MPs over aid delivered under the Prosperity Fund, managed by the Foreign Office. Projects supported by this fund include extensive investment to China, including projects development the film industry and improving museum infrastructure.


Considering that the Prosperity Fund “aims to remove the barriers to economic growth and promote the economic reform and development needed to reduce poverty in partner countries”, its an interesting to choice to invest in the film industry in a upper-middle income country rather than invest in projects working with youth, health, education and disaster management in low-income countries.


In a time in which the Conservative government austerity measures, essential government departments and public services must fight furiously against budget cuts, the commitment of 0.7% of national income may be infuriating to them.


Do I think that we should maintain our 0.7% commitment, in a time where the NHS and the state education system are fighting for every penny? Absolutely. However, should we commit money to a foreign aid budget that serves those most in need, rather than for countries which would “serve the political and commercial interests of the UK”? Absolutely.


The foreign aid budget needs reform, but as one of the strongest economies in the world with a bloody history of exploiting and colonising others, we need to own up to that past and make reparations through investing in projects which offer long-term sustainability, rather than serving political interests or offering short-term solutions to ongoing issues. With the UK already facing a turbulent time ahead with a no-deal Brexit on the cards, losing its status as a ‘world leader’ in development aid threatens to weaken the UK’s standing and power on global issues.


Inarguably, we need to reform the way we do aid. Aid-scepticism is rising, and before long, we’ll be fighting about sending across 10p to a humanitarian crisis because of a distrust in where it will end up. On leaving his role as Foreign Secretary, the now Prime Minister told the Financial Times that if ‘Global Britain’ wants to achieve its full potential, then DfID must be brought back in-house to the Foreign Office, rather than operating independently.

The proposed expansion of the definition of aid from poverty reduction to include the “nations overall strategic goals” runs the risk of perpetuating the existing idea that the aid budget is used to bribe countries to be our friend. Under our current government with a Brexiteer leader and cabinet, the expansion of aid and in-housing of the budget could mean a total reduction in aid effectiveness and transparency, and an even further decline in it reaching those who need it the most.


If we want to maintain our position as a development superpower, we need to seriously reconsider the reforms currently being delivered by our government. If we’re not investing our ODA in bottoms-up approaches to poverty reduction, we aren’t using the taxpayer’s money in the most effective or impactful ways.


Views expressed in this blog are those of the writer and not WCIA  





  • Full Fact, 2018. UK Spending on Foreign Aid. [Online]
    Available at: https://fullfact.org/economy/uk-spending-foreign-aid/
    [Accessed 30 07 2019].
  • Hutton, J., 2018. £14 Billion and Counting: What’s the Problem with Britain’s Burgeoning Foreign Aid Budget?. Taxpayers Alliance, 22 12.
  • Islam, F., 2019. Aid Budget To Be Used by International Trade Department. BBC News, 22 07.
  • Mance, H., 2018. UK Seeks Reforms on Overseas Aid Spending. The Financial Times, 9 10.
  • Morris, C., 2017. Reality Check: How Much Does The UK Spend on Overseas Aid?. BBC News, 20 04.
  • Savage, M., 2019. UK Aid Budget ‘Goes to the Wrong Projects’, Leaked Letter Warns. The Observer, 23 02.
  • Wilkinson, P., 2019. Reports Criticise UK’s £14 Billion Foreign-Aid Spending. Church Times, 28 06.
  • Wintour, P., 2019. Boris Johnson Backs Call for Multibillion Cut to UK Aid Budget. The Guardian, 11 02.



Daffodil Days of the 1920s-30s: Celebrating Wales-wide Community Activism on #WorldPeaceDay

Rob Laker, WCIA Archives Intern

Blog and research by WCIA Archives Intern Rob Laker, on placement with Wales for Peace from Swansea University History Dept over Summer 2019. Drawing on materials from the National Library of Wales and Temple of Peace Archives; and Annual Reports of the Welsh League of Nations Union 1922-45 on People’s Collection Wales, digitised by WCIA (with support of Swansea doctoral student Stuart Booker) for future open access and research. Final edit by Craig Owen, Wales for Peace.

This article is published as WCIA’s #Peacemakers #FridayFeature to mark World Peace Day 2019, celebrating Welsh global activism past, present and future.




The Story of Wales’ ‘Daffodil Days for Peace’

Daffodil beds in Wales’ National Garden of Peace, outside the National Temple of Peace and Health opened in Cardiff in 1938.

In the aftermath of the First World War, huge changes occurred in the way people in Britain perceived international issues. An iron resolve had been instilled across the United Kingdom: ‘never again’ was not just to be an ideal, but a tangible determination that everyone must actively work towards the preservation of world peace.

It was this desire which quickly led to a heightened interest in international engagement, and ultimately prompted everyday people across Wales to begin to hold ‘Daffodil Days’ in aid of the Welsh League of Nations Union. A uniquely Welsh response, these events embodied a form of outward looking patriotism – a pride in projecting Wales’s international credentials.

In the fifteen years which they occurred, League supporters organised at least one Daffodil Day in over 600 Welsh towns and villages, transforming the event into a cultural practice which pervaded every corner of the nation, up until the outbreak of World War Two.

View Google Map of Communities who organised Daffodil Days between 1925-39, collated by Swansea History student Rob Laker (zoom, or click on pins, to find communities near you. Further info on local activism can be gleaned from Welsh League of Nations Union reports, digitised by WCIA on People’s Collection Wales).

Origins, Development and Successes in the 1920s

The practice of selling daffodils for an international cause began as early as 1922, when volunteers from the Welsh League of Nations Union took to the streets of Cardiff to raise money to relieve the famine afflicting great swathes of Russia following the recent civil war.

By 1924, the sale of daffodils throughout the summer to raise money for the work of the WLNU had become a thriving tradition. Daffodil Days would frequently continue to occur until late September (despite the efforts of the executive committee to set a uniform national date in mid-May – tying in to the ‘Peace Day’ for the newly established Welsh Youth Message of Peace & Goodwill), and the event quickly cemented itself as an integral part of interwar Welsh culture.

1925 Map of Great Western Railway in Wales, National Library of Wales Blog

Transported by train across Wales, thousands of boxes of flowers – of both the cardboard and real variety – would arrive in each village in time to be distributed among the local volunteers involved with the Daffodil Day. Equipped with a wicker basket, a wooden tray, or sometimes even a cardboard box donated by a local confectionary shop, helpers would set out from nearby coordination centres, ready to spend their Saturday selling neatly packed daffodils.

School children in particular – despite being officially ‘barred’ from participating! – were a key component of Daffodil Days. Most organisers relished the chance to bolster their numbers with such a surplus of enthusiastic volunteers. Their cause was made clear by the labels across the front of each of their box – ‘for world peace’ – and their dedication plain for all to see by their presence on even the rainiest of weekends during the Welsh summer.

The choice of using a Welsh national symbol to promote an internationalist body was no accident. It conveyed a very deliberate and potent message: a declaration of Wales’ identity as a modern nation, committed, at its very core, to the pursuit of peace and international cooperation. It was a statement of Welsh public pride in their role at the forefront of internationalism.

As one newspaper report (1) on the 1925 Cardiff Daffodil Day put it:

“the national flower of Wales had become the international flower of peace. The purchase and wearing of a daffodil in this way expresses both pride in the nation’s past, and hope for its future.”

Communities Wales-wide who organised ‘Daffodil Days for Peace’ in 1926, from the Annual Report of the Welsh League of Nations Union

This outward looking patriotism was not confined to major centres such as Cardiff. In 1924 twenty-six Welsh towns held a Daffodil Day in aid of the Welsh League of Nations Union, yet this number had multiplied almost tenfold by 1927, with 249 Daffodil Days taking place all over Wales.

In just a few years, Daffodil Days had not only ‘blossomed’ into a recognised cultural event, but quickly become vital to financing the Welsh League of Nations Union, contributing over half the Council’s income for most of the interwar period. In 1927 alone, £1,877 16s 11d worth of daffodils were bought by the people of Wales in aid of the Union – equivalent to around 450,000 cardboard daffodils (2). A particularly impressive figure, given that the population of Wales was recorded to be 2,656,000 at the last census in 1921.

Despite the importance of their work, local Daffodil Days were certainly not the only manifestation of this tradition. Each year the Welsh League of Nations Union would set up a stall selling the flowers at the National Eisteddfod (3), as well as appearing at other national events such as the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show right up to 1939.

Rugby matches, furthermore, provided an opportunity for a truly national display of internationalism. This is highlighted in one report of the atmosphere in the national stadium on 9 April 1927 – the day of Wales’ first home game since the Five Nations tournament earlier that year:

‘Maybe it was because of the enthusiasm with which so good a Welsh Nationalist as Mr David Davies, M.P. has espoused the cause of the League of Nations Union – but whatever the cause, Wales has distinguished itself in its enthusiasm for the cause of world peace. That is why on Saturday in Cardiff everyone wore a daffodil as the insignia of the League of Nations’.

By the late 1920s, Daffodil Days had become a ubiquitous symbol in Welsh society – an established part of interwar culture. They were an emblem of internationalism which, far from conflicting with national identity, had become something to be worn as a display of patriotism – very much at home at a Saturday rugby match.

Women as Peacemakers and Leaders

Annie-Jane Hughes Griffiths, Chair of the Welsh League of Nations Union, holding the Welsh Women’s Peace Memorial outside the White House in Washington, 1924, alongside Mrs Ruth Morgan, Miss Eluned Prys and Mrs. Mary Ellis. TI Ellis Collections, National Library of Wales

As well as their practical and cultural significance, Daffodil Days are also notable for the prominent role which women played in their organisation. From the work of Annie Hughes Griffiths and the success of the women’s peace petition to America, to the pioneering efforts of Winifred Coombe Tennant at the League of Nations Assembly, the women of Wales quickly became associated with peace activism. The Daffodil Days were no exception.

Local women often took the lead in organising events in their own area, coordinating volunteers and acting as the village representative in correspondence with the Cardiff headquarters. In this role, women would often chair local committees responsible for organising the event, affording them a remarkable level of influence in their local community.

The role of women was certainly not confined to local communities. During the 1920s, Daffodil Days were organised by the Women’s National Daffodil Day Committee, who were responsible for coordinating local organisers and solving the logistical challenges that came with sending boxes of daffodils to remote communities across Wales.

As time went by, and the contribution of Welsh women to the League of Nations became more formally recognised, the responsibility of Daffodil Days was taken over by the Women’s Advisory Committee. Founded in 1933, the Women’s Advisory Committee to the Welsh League of Nations Union was an official organising body which took over the work of a variety of less formally recognised women’s groups, including the National Daffodil Day committee. Under the aegis of Annie Hughes Griffiths, the Daffodil Day tradition would enjoy some of its most popular years but would also face its most disruptive challenges.

Trials, Resilience and Dogged Optimism in the 1930s

Cardiff Daffodil Day volunteers, pictured in ‘Young Workers for Peace’, Western Mail, 22 May 1933.

The end of the ‘roaring twenties’, and the onset of the Great Depression, ushered in profound changes to daily life throughout Wales and the world. Disposable incomes dried up as unemployment rose, squeezing the pockets of previously generous League supporters.

The economic downturn was accompanied not only by a noticeable fall in the average income generated by each daffodil day, but also saw a sharp decline in the number of towns which held one at all – particularly in industrial areas of Glamorganshire. The determination of the people of Wales to support the work of the Welsh League of Nations Union, however, remained undiminished. Even amid the economic turmoil engulfing the nation, local branches of the Union were still able to successfully coordinate 211 Daffodil Days across Wales.

In northern areas such as Anglesey, the number of daffodil days organised actually increased in 1930 in an attempt to counteract losses elsewhere, while many countryside towns – for example Crickhowell – held their first ever Daffodil Day in this year. Clearly then, the activities of the League were seen as more than simply a charitable cause to be supported in times of affluence. The fact that even in 1930, in the midst of economic crisis, the Welsh League of Nations Union was still able to sell £1707 17s 11d worth of stock – equivalent to almost 410,000 penny daffodils – is a testament to the commitment of interwar Wales to the internationalism of the League.

Over the next few years the Welsh League of Nations Union found ways to raise the profile of the Daffodil Days. In some areas sellers began to dress in the traditional national costumes of League members (4), highlighting the prevalence of grassroots activism in other member nations and providing daffodil wearers with a visual manifestation of the international community they were supporting. In Cardiff, plans were put in place (5) for a ‘Field of Hope’ – a field of daffodils planted on the green surrounding the castle – as a symbol of the future to compliment the monument to the past provided by the ‘Field of Remembrance’. As a result, the income from Daffodil Days began to steadily rise.

The Abyssinnia Crisis

Abyssinia Crisis, 1935 – Medical supplies at the front in Addis Ababa. Wikimedia Commons

The optimism inspired by such innovations was, however, badly shaken by the Abyssinia crisis of 1935. The failure of the League to act decisively during the crisis is often considered the beginning of the end for the organisation, resulting in a world-wide crisis of confidence in its authority over a community of nations increasingly turning their attention inwards in pursuit of individual national interest.

As the folders of frantic correspondence between the WLNU and local daffodil day organisers attest, Wales was not impervious to this pattern of disillusionment. Typical of such letters was that sent by the coordinator in Brynmafonwyd, who wrote to the Cardiff headquarters in 1936 (6) to inform them that the ‘definitely unfavourable’ public opinion of the League had forced him to postpone the Daffodil Day that year, as there was a lack of practical interest.’ Another organiser from Llangynwyd lamented (7) that previously enthusiastic local daffodil sellers now ‘absolutely refuse to have anything to do [with] selling for the League which had failed to help when help was needed’, forcing her to cancel the town’s Daffodil Day that year. Even in towns such as Wrexham, which did hold a Daffodil Day in 1936, organisers were forced to apologise for the meagre sums they raised (8), as

‘the people blame the League for the fate of the Abyssinians’.

The disenchantment of volunteers was not the only repercussion which the Abyssinia Crisis had on the Daffodil Day tradition. In September 1935 the Glamorganshire Chief Constable denied New Tredegar a permit to hold a Daffodil Day (9), on the grounds that it could not be considered a ‘charitable cause’; a first in the history of the tradition. As an internal Welsh League of Nations Union report noted, there had been ‘absolutely no difficulty in obtaining consent’ for Daffodil Days until the autumn of 1935, but suddenly the cause was deemed too controversial to raise money for. Barry, Tonypandy, Aberdare, and others quickly joined the list of towns which were denied permits by local authorities on these grounds (10), as the institution of the League of Nations and the ideal of world peace drifted further apart in the perceptions of ordinary people across Wales.

These problems encountered by Daffodil Day organisers in Wales clearly demonstrate a process of politicisation of the League issue taking place in 1935. To be in favour of peaceful international cooperation was no longer, necessarily, synonymous with being in favour of the League of Nations, transforming a once universal cause into a controversial issue.

“The Geneva disappointment”, as one Llandudno organiser termed it, had “shaken confidence in internationalism to its very core.”

Daffodil Days Appeal Leaflet for 1937, from the Welsh League of Nations Union to local organisers.

Yet, despite all the problems faced by the Welsh League of Nations Union, 1936 turned out to be one of the most successful years for Daffodil Days in the entire interwar period. The Union’s 1936-7 annual report lists over 300 days were held in towns across Wales, while many areas which were unable to hold an official event still managed to raise money through private lobbying of League supporters.Llanharan does care’ was the message of one organiser (11) – for while many people in Wales had become disenchanted with the League, there were also many for whom the crisis had only invigorated their desire to see the League succeed: ‘it rained almost all the day’ at the Llanharan Daffodil Day, but the organiser was still able to proudly report that ‘the sellers were splendid to stick it out’. Letters of encouragement, such as that from Pencader (12) signed ‘with best wishes for the success of the League’, continued to flood into Cardiff, many containing promises that their next Daffodil Day would be conducted with an even greater vigour in support of the Welsh League of Nations Union.

In 1938, the opening of Wales Temple of Peace & Health as the new headquarters for the Welsh League of Nations Union and ‘spiritual home’ for internationalists Wales-wide, offered a much needed moment of celebration, and reflection among challenging times. Over £12,000 was contributed from public subscriptions towards the construction of this forward looking monument to the fallen of WW1; and whilst WCIA have not yet found any records on how these subscriptions were gathered, it seems highly likely that Daffodil Days, and the Wales-wide internationalist movement they facilitated, were a huge part of creating this legacy.

On 23 Nov 1938, Mrs Minnie James from Dowlais turned a symbolic golden key to open the Temple of Peace, on behalf of bereaved mothers of Wales and the world. She expressed her hopes that it would continue to inspire future generations to action on peace, and to build a better world as the ultimate ‘act of remembrance’.

The Welsh sentiment of internationalism was still very much in bloom – determined to weather whatever storms the coming years would bring. The Welsh League of Nations Union continued to strive for the maintenance of peace right up until the outbreak of WW2 hostilities. Despite the war clouds gathering on the horizon, 206 towns and villages still organised Daffodil Days in the summer of 1939, raising over £820 for the Union in the hope that the fighting could still be prevented.

Yet as peace finally slipped from the grasp of those who strove to maintain it, so the Daffodil Days disappeared into history. Although one isolated event was still held in 1940, the Second World War effectively marked the end of “the Daffodil Day”; the wilting of a Welsh cultural tradition that for 15 years had bound nationality and internationalism into one electric identity.

Daffodil Days were a symbol of hope for the future; an affirmation of Wales’s place at the forefront of nations striving for conciliation; a statement that its people were amongst the vanguard in the quest for international harmony. Wales was a nation which refused to a give up on peace; a heritage to which the story of the Daffodil Days stands as testament.

World Peace Day and Climate Action Today

Wales Climate Strike Sept 2019 outside the Senedd

This weekend, as the world marks the UN International Day of Peace on Sept 21, WCIA carry forward this flame of internationalist community activism in joining the nationwide #ClimateStrike, in solidarity with #ExtinctionRebellion, children and Youth groups from all over Wales. The current Climate Crisis is the cause of our ‘future generations’ no less so than rebuilding world peace was the cause of the post-WW2 ‘United Nations generation‘ – all of whom grew up with daffodil days as a deep part of Welsh internationalist tradition and identity.

As Wales faces the challenge of shaping its post-Brexit role in the world, among deep community divisions and a changing UK, European and international scene, the for #Peacemakers to champion the needs of future generations – and to learn from and indeed be inspired by our past – remains as great today as ever.


[1] ‘International Emblem’ Western Mail, 3 August 1925, 9.

[2] This number is based on the sale of cardboard daffodils at one penny each, however the real figure is likely marginally lower, as a minority of daffodils sold were real flowers, which sold for three pence each.

[3] For correspondence regarding the League’s presence at the Eisteddfod see related documents in ‘League of Nations Union and United Nations Association Records: Women’s National Daffodil day Committee, general correspondence, Feb. – Aug. 1928 [228]’, Aberystwyth, National Library of Wales, B1/33.

[4] ‘Cardiff and the League of Nations’, Western Mail, 11 April 1927, 9.

[5] ‘Costumes of Many Lands’, Western Mail, 24 July 1930, 11.

[6] ‘League of Nations Union Daffodil Day Suggestion’, Western Mail, 13 December 1932, 9.

[7] Letter from Beryl M. Griffiths (Brynmafonwyd) to David Samways, 12 May 1936, found in ‘League of Nations Union and United Nations Association Records: Daffodil Days-letters, flag days, carnivals, stalls, etc., 1935-9, 1946-7 [88]’, Aberystwyth, National Library of Wales, B1/54(1).

[8] Letter from Miss Olwen Evans (Llangynwyd) to David Samways, 8 May 1936, found in ‘League of Nations Union and United Nations Association Records: Daffodil Days-letters, flag days, carnivals, stalls, etc., 1935-9, 1946-7 [88]’, Aberystwyth, National Library of Wales, B1/54(2).

[9] Letter from Robert Jones (Wrexham) to David Samways, 9 September 1936, found in ‘League of Nations Union and United Nations Association Records: Daffodil Days-letters, flag days, carnivals, stalls, etc., 1935-9, 1946-7 [88]’, Aberystwyth, National Library of Wales, B1/54(2).

[10] Correspondence with Chief Constable of Glamorganshire, 30 September 1935, found in ‘League of Nations Union and United Nations Association Records: Daffodil Days-letters, flag days, carnivals, stalls, etc., 1935-9, 1946-7 [88]’, Aberystwyth, National Library of Wales, B1/54(1).

‘Glamorgan Daffodil Days’ report (1935), found in ‘League of Nations Union and United Nations Association Records: Daffodil Days-letters, flag days, carnivals, stalls, etc., 1935-9, 1946-7 [88]’, Aberystwyth, National Library of Wales, B1/54(1).

[12] Letter from James Brown (Llanharran) to David Samways, 24 September 1935, found in ‘League of Nations Union and United Nations Association Records: Daffodil Days-letters, flag days, carnivals, stalls, etc., 1935-9, 1946-7 [88]’, Aberystwyth, National Library of Wales, B1/54(1).

[13] For example, Letter from Bryn Davies (Pencader) to David Samways, 23 June 1936, found in ‘League of Nations Union and United Nations Association Records: Daffodil Days-letters, flag days, carnivals, stalls, etc., 1935-9, 1946-7 [88]’, Aberystwyth, National Library of Wales, B1/54(4).