Gordon James recalls ’23rd November – a Day to Remember’

The Story of Gordon James: ’23rd November – A Day to Remember’

Revisiting the Temple after 81 years, Gordon shares his memories of the Opening Ceremony – experienced through the eyes of a 14-year old schoolboy from Carmarthen.

View ’23rd November, a Day to Remember’ on YouTube. Filmed by Tracy Pallant and Amy Peckham of Valley & Vale Community Arts, with #Temple80 music soundtrack by Jon Berry. Interviewed by Craig Owen, WCIA and Dr Emma West, University of Birmingham / WCIA Trustee.

Gordon James (standing) in 1938, Carmarthenshire prior to WW2

Gordon James revisiting Temple of Peace, Summer 2019

In early 2019, Gordon James attended the inauguration of the High Sherriff of South Glamorgan Dr Isabel Graham at the Temple of Peace, and casually remarked to one WCIA’s venue team that “The last time I was here, was for the opening…!” Gordon had been a 14-year old school boy at Queen Elizabeth High School in Carmarthen, when in November 1938 he was 1 of 4 young people from Carmarthenshire selected to ‘represent the future generation’ among the ‘Great and the Good’ at the prestigious opening of Wales’ Temple of Peace.

In Summer 2019, at the age of 95, Gordon retraced his footsteps into the Temple’s ‘Hall of Nations’ – and shared his remarkable first hand memories of the Opening Ceremony through the eyes of a child, on the eve of the outbreak of World War Two just months later. Interviewed by Valley & Vale filmmakers Tracy Pallant and Amy Peckham, with WCIA Heritage Trustee Dr Emma West and Head of Wales for Peace Craig Owen, Gordon’s oral history shed completely new light on the opening ceremony. For one, WCIA previously had no inkling that children had been included in the audience. So we had no idea that anybody present would be alive today, let alone with such an incredible first hand account of the Temple’s opening ceremony – and having personally met figures such as David Davies and Minnie James who are legendary links to the past for us today! But more than anything, we were astonished by the clarity with which Gordon recollects the day… ’23rd November, a Day to Remember’.

I do remember there was this little old lady (Minnie James) who made a lot of fuss of… she was frail in comparison to all these ‘big men’ that were around her, important Archbishops and Mayors… But she had a composure about her, she coped very well I thought… I remember we were told why she was chosen.. she’d lost 3 sons in the war. If you can even imagine that… so, so awful. She was so composed in the presence of all those bigwigs! It was truly wonderful to be part of it.”

Gordon James, age 95 (Summer 2019) recollecting events of November 1938.