Download Printable PDF Booklet View / Search the WW1 Book of Remembrance
Wales’ Temple of Peace and Health, home of the Welsh Centre for International Affairs and the HLF-funded ‘Wales for Peace’ project, was built as the nation’s memorial to the fallen of World War One – a memorial that would inspire future generations to learn from the conflicts of the past, to chart Wales’ role in the world, and to work towards peace.
100 years ago this weekend, the world said ‘Never Again’ to conflict, as the Armistice Bells tolled on 4 years that had wiped out a generation. A nation in agony of grief and mourning braced to rebuild, and to build a better world.
100 years later, the red poppies of military remembrance – as well as the white poppies for peace, black poppies for BME communities, and purple poppies for animals lost in war – all mark the minute’s silence at 11am on 11.11, poppies for people of all perspectives.
But on #WW100, our poppies of all colours also remember those who have fallen and been left behind by a century of conflicts since – WW2, Spain, Korea, Colonial Wars, the Cold War, Vietnam, Falklands, Gulf, Balkans, War on Terror, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria… What has the world really learned from Remembrance? To glorify war… or to prevent it?
The Davies Family of Llandinam
Differing attitudes to confronting conflict are not new. Through WW1, the Davies family of Llandinam in Powys would have had dinner table debates that represented the cross-section of society. Grandchildren of the Welsh industrialist David Davies:
Creation of the Book of Remembrance
In the early 1920s, as families grappled with the Aftermath of WW1 and their loss, memorials sprang up Wales-wide. A Welsh National War Memorial was proposed for Alexandra Gardens in Cathays Park. The 35-40,000 names of Wales’ fallen were to be inscribed in a beautiful Book – Wales’ WW1 Book of Remembrance – that would become a work of art, a national treasure and a place of pilgrimage.
The Book is the work of world-renowned calligrapher Graily Hewitt, working closely it is thought with the Davies sisters and their Gregynog Press artists. A great nationwide effort was made to gather the names of the fallen; and a team of women in Midhurst, Sussex worked over several years to complete the Book.
The Davies sisters and the Gregynog Press had a mission to create books of high art and beauty. Bound in Moroccan Leather, with Indian Ink and Gold Leaf on pages of Vellum, the fine illumination techniques were a revival of Mediaeval skills.
View Flickr Album of the Book of Remembrance in the Temple of Peace
The 1,205 pages of 35,000 names were completed in March 1928; and the Book was signed, on 12 June 1928, by Edward Prince of Wales – the future King Edward VIII – on a page emblazoned ‘Er Cof’ – In Memory. It was formally unveiled to the public on 11.11, 1928 – the 10th Anniversary of the Armistice – at the opening of Wales’ National War Memorial in Alexandra Gardens, Cardiff. For the first decade, the Book was held at the National Museum of Wales. But its creation had inspired a greater mission.
Wales’ Peacebuilding movements had been particularly active through the 1920s on the international stage. Lord David Davies had a vision that Wales should lead the world in the realisation of Peace, enshrined in bricks and mortar – by building the first in what was hoped would be a string of ‘Temple’s of Peace’ around the world.
A Temple of Peace
Leading architects were invited to design a building that would both hold the Book of Remembrance, and inspire future generations – and in 1929, Cardiff architect Percy Thomas was commissioned to design Wales’ Temple of Peace, on land given by Cardiff Corporation. After a slow start during the Great Depression, in 1934 Lord Davies gave £60,000 of his own money to get the project off the ground.
In April 1937, the Foundation Stone was laid to great ceremony in Cathays Park, Cardiff, by Lord Halifax – one of the leading ‘peace politicians’ of the time. But the late 1930s were troubled times; the post-WW1 ‘Peace Reparations’ that had crippled Germany, had led Hitler to power – and Lord Halifax, working hard to avoid war at all costs, would go down in history as an ‘appeaser’ (although this is a perhaps unfair and simplistic view of his peace building attempts). But even as the Temple was under construction, sandbags and bomb shelters were being constructed on the streets either side.
In Nov 1938, the Temple of Peace was opened by ‘Mother of Wales’ Minnie James from Dowlais, Merthyr Tydfil, who had lost 3 sons in WW1 – representing the bereaved mothers of Wales. She was accompanied by representatives of mothers from across Britain and the Empire, identified through the British Legion and local Press campaigns. The Temple sought to champion equality from the outset – although the opening ceremony was very much ‘of its time’, as the women were not able to write their own speeches.
The inclement weather of the opening day, and the umbrellas of the massive crowds assembled to watch, were a poignant reminder that storm clouds loomed over Europe. It would be only months later that WW2 finally broke out.
View Video of Press Cuttings from the 1938 Opening of Wales’ Temple of Peace
“We will Remember Them” by BBC’s Huw Edwards, Nov 2018, features 3 minutes on the Temple of Peace and Book of Remembrance (from 38.30)
Despite the outbreak of war, the Temple of Peace became a place of pilgrimage for people from all over Wales. In an era when travelling to France, Belgium or even further afield was beyond the reach of most working people, community groups and schools Wales-wide would organise ‘pilgrimages’ to visit the Book of Remembrance. These visits were often promoted extensively in local newspapers.
The Crypt in 1938
At 11am every morning, a page of the Book would be turned – the names announced in the press the week beforehand, so that relatives could come to witness the ceremony as their loved ones were spotlighted. Visitors would take part in a beautiful, solemn yet forward looking Service of Remembrance, compiled by the Davies Sisters of Gregynog – and would sign a visitors book pledging their allegiance to pursuit of peace.
After WW2 another generation of Welsh men and women had fallen; and a WW2 Book of Remembrance was commissioned. Though intended to reside alongside the WW1 Book, for reasons lost to history it has remained hidden from view and access within the archives of the National Museum of Wales. As recent as 1993, architectural plans were drawn up to adapt the Hall of the Temple of Peace to display both books side by side. But to date, they have never been united, and this remains an aspiration of the Welsh Centre for International Affairs (WCIA) to this day.
As the survivors of the WW1 generation grew older – and as overseas travel has become easier – visitors to the Book of Remembrance grew lesser over the years. The Book, and the Temple, has been visited by such luminaries as Peres de Cuellar, Secretary General of the United Nations, in 1984; and Desmond Tutu in 2012. But by 2014, it seemed the Book of Remembrance had been largely… forgotten?
In 2014, WCIA alongside 10 national partners developed the ‘Wales for Peace’ project, funded by HLF and supported by Cymru’s Cofio / Wales Remembers, which aimed to mark the centenary of WW1 by exploring one big question:
As guardians of the Temple of Peace, WCIA’s project started with making the Book of Remembrance accessible again to the public. The aim was to create a travelling exhibition – uniting the Book for the first time with the communities Wales-wide from whom its 35,000 names originated; and to digitise the book, so it could be accessible online to future generations.
Transcription of the book was launched on Remembrance Day 2015 with an event at the Senedd, Cardiff Bay, where Assembly Members were invited to view the book and transcribe the first names. A nationwide call was launched for volunteers, schools and community groups to participate in a ‘Digital act of Remembrance’.
Local workshops, from Snowdonia to Swansea, enabled people to be part of ‘making history’. Schools developed ‘hidden histories’ projects discovering the stories behind the names, an experience that proved deeply moving for many as they connected to people long forgotten.
The Remembering for Peace Exhibition was launched in the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth in January 2016. It has travelled onwards to:
At each exhibition venue, local partners have worked with community groups to draw out diverse local stories, so every exhibition has been different. A Schools Curriculum Pack, ‘Remembering for Peace’ is available on Hwb, and a Hidden Histories Guide for Volunteer Groups has been widely used beyond the Wales for Peace project.
The Book of Remembrance Online
For Remembrance Day 2017, WCIA and the National Library of Wales were delighted to unveil the completed digital Book of Remembrance and search functionality online at www.BookofRemembrance.Wales / www.LlyfryCofio.cymru.
This is not only a hugely symbolic act of remembrance in itself, but a great credit to over 350 volunteers who contributed towards transcribing the Book to make it accessible for future generations. Their outstanding contribution was recognised when the National Library was bestowed the prestigious Archives Volunteering Award for 2016.
A curious discovery from the digitising process has been the question of ‘how many died’? Most history references – including about the creation of the Book of Remembrance – quote 35,000 as being the number of men and women of Wales who fell in WW1. But just under 40,000 names (39,917) emerged from the transcription data – which suggests Wales’ losses may have been even greater than previously thought.
The undoubted power of the Book of Remembrance is that behind every beautifully illuminated, gilded name, lies a life story – from the famous, to the ordinary, to the comparatively unknown.
Hedd Wyn (Ellis Humphrey Evans), Welsh poet and peace icon, who died in Passchendaele just days before attaining the crown of the National Eisteddfod. His prize, forever known as the ‘Black Chair’ and his home farm, Yr Ysgwrn, now a place of pilgrimage in Snowdonia for people learning about WW1, Welsh culture and Peace building. His nephew, Gerald Williams, has kept the doors open and Hedd Wyn’s memory alive, and planted the last poppy at Caernarfon Castle for the opening of the 14-18NOW Weeping Window art work in October 2016.
Alfred Thomas from St David’s was serving in the Merchant Navy when his ship, the S S Memnon, was torpedoed. 100 years later, his granddaughter, Gwenno Watkin, was one of the National Library volunteers transcribing the Book of Remembrance when she suddenly came face to face with his name – and went on to discover more about his loss in WW1.
Jean Roberts, Eva Davies, Margaret Evans and Jennie Williams were all nurses with the Queen Mary’s Auxiliary Corps, who died serving in the field hospitals of France and Belgium. The story of women, war and peace has traditionally been overlooked among ranks of male soldiers – but their stories inspired creation of the Women, War and Peace exhibition, and Women’s Archive Wales’ ‘Women of WW1’ project.
The Beersheba Graves. Eli Lichtenstein is a volunteer in North Wales who grew up in Israel. He was astonished to realise that he recognised many names in the Book of Remembrance from growing up as a child, and discovered that many of the men who fell in the Battle of Beersheba, in former British Palestine, were Royal Welsh Fusiliers from the Llandudno & Bangor area. Read Eli’s Blog Story.
David Louis Clemetson served with the Pembroke Yeomanry, and is one of many Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Welsh people, as well as those across Britain’s former empire, who lost their lives in WW1. In 2018, for WW100 the Temple of Peace hosted a BME Remembrance Service where the Welsh Government for the first time recognised the sacrifices and losses of Wales’ BME communities in successive British wars.
Everyone has a personal story; and Head of Wales for Peace Craig Owen was moved both to discover his own great grandfather, Ally Price’s story, and following a visit to his memorial in Tyne Cot, Belgium, created a short film for his family as he found out more about the ‘man behind the name’ from Radnor, Tredegar and Herefordshire.
David James from Merthyr Tydfil, who worked in the drawing office at Dowlais Colliery, served with the Welsh Guards until he was killed in action in October 1916. His two brothers also died from WW1 war injuries, as well as two sisters from cholera. Their mother, Minnie James, was chosen to open Wales’ Temple of Peace & Health in Cardiff in 1938 in their memory.
Video – Minnie James opens the Temple of Peace in 1938.
For the WW100 Armistice weekend, the Temple of Peace remembers all those who fell in the ‘war that was to end war’ – and all those who survived, and gave their all to build peace in the years that followed. Their mission remains as relevant today as ever.
Explore the Book of Remembrance for yourself:
Reflecting our shared roots at Wales’ Temple of Peace, the WCIA and UNA Exchange are merging from February 2020.
Founded alongside each other in 1973 – to mark the United Nations‘ 25th, and Temple of Peace’s 35th Anniversaries – WCIA and UNA Exchange have always had a close working relationship, a strong shared heritage, and a shared commitment to international peace building – with a particular focus on inspiring future generations, of every generation.
Heritage of International Volunteering - UNA Exchange
Future of International Volunteering: HAVE YOUR SAY - TAKE THE SURVEY
UNA Exchange in summer 2016 renovated Wales’ National Garden of Peace (itself created by International Volunteers in 1988), as part of WCIA’s ‘Wales for Peace’ project.
As we approach our shared ‘half century’ in 2023, the challenges and opportunities of the world around us have evolved considerably over the last decade. The post-austerity funding environment for charities, coupled with more recent uncertainties surrounding Brexit, mean we have to think and work differently to ensure that the opportunities of international volunteering remain available to future generations.
We believe we can achieve more together, by pooling resources and energies. There are opportunities to make links between UNA Exchange’s life changing volunteering opportunities, and the WCIA’s work – for example:
As an organisation largely funded from European sources, Brexit (depending on its form) creates an extremely challenging funding environment for international volunteering. Although not easy for any charity in this sector, the WCIA has a wider base of funding sources, with greater resilience to changes in the European landscape; and there are opportunities for cross-funding between projects. There are of course challenges for WCIA’s funding in the future as well – which may affect the scale of what we can do. But WCIA are confident we will be able to continue the core work of international volunteering long into the future, and that a merged entity will safeguard UNA Exchange’s future work.
Story of Wales' Temple of Peace & Health
Short History of UNA Exchange (1973-2005)
International Volunteers and Wales' National Garden of Peace
'Robert Davies' Memoir: 1960s Peace Volunteering
‘Growing Peace Stories’ was a joint UNA Exchange / WCIA heritage ‘Peace Camp’ project in Summer 2017, involving BME Women from Riverside working alongside international youth volunteers to explore intergenerational and intercultural views on peace today – whilst working together to build a community garden for future generations.
The form of the merger is that UNA Exchange will ‘close down’ as an independent charity, which is being done by the current UNA Exchange trustees. The staff will immediately transfer over to WCIA when the legalities of the merger are complete; and the WCIA are already taking on responsibility for UNA Exchange projects and programmes. Two of the current UNA Exchange trustees will join the WCIA Board in the new financial year, to ensure there is a clear voice among the WCIA trustees for UNA Exchange’s continuing work, and for international volunteering as an equal programme alongside WCIA’s other areas of work.
This won’t interrupt any of UNA Exchange’s current projects and, in the short term, things will continue largely as they are – for example, email addresses, the website and phone numbers will stay the same. From now until the end of this financial year (March 31 2020), we will be working with staff, volunteers, alumni and partners to make the transfer as smooth as possible, while also gathering ideas for the future.
A Note on Data Protection and Privacy
As this transition period gets under way, we would love to speak with you – the people who have been involved in and care about the work of UNA Exchange over the years – about hopes for the future, practical ideas about how you would like to be involved, reflections on priorities. Our review will be exploring:
Craig Owen, who has been heading up the Wales for Peace project for the last 5 years, will be in contact with key UNA Exchange contacts from late January, and would welcome inputs from all supporters if you have thoughts to share – contact email@example.com.
From the Temple Archives… UNA Wales’ quarterly bulletins from the 1950s and 60s offer rich insights into international youth volunteering activities from the 1950s-60s onwards.
From April 2020, we will start to make and communicate changes based on the feedback we’ve gathered, and the funding situation.
On Tuesday 21 April 2020, we will be holding an event at the Senedd, showcasing the work and achievements of Wales’ International Volunteers through the years; to bring people together, celebrate what UNA Exchange and WCIA have done, and explore next steps.
We would love to invite you to join in – please ‘save the date’! – and will send further information nearer the time. We will also communicate updates electronically for those who can’t come along, and via social media.
We’ll do our best to stay in touch throughout this process, but please do let us know if you think we could do more. We look forward to involving our supporters in shaping a new chapter of shared working – to advance international volunteering for future generations.
UNA Exchange Team / Enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
Merger Review inputs: email@example.com
1) The Temple of Peace was founded by David DaviesFounded in November 1938, the Temple was conceived by Lord David Davies of Llandinam after his experience serving in the trenches during the First World War.
2) The Temple was opened on the eve of WWII, 23rd November 1938
3) The Temple is home to the Book Of Remembrance was the initial vision of David Davies
Founded in 1938 as Wales’ memorial to the fallen of WWI
The building would act as a permanent home for the Welsh Book of Remembrance, now housed in the purpose-built Crypt, which contains over 35,000 names of those who lost their lives during WWI.
4) Davies’ own money was a lasting gift to the people of wales, who had lost a lot after WWI.
5) The Temple was opened by Minnie James, who has since been labelled ‘the mother of wales’ and is from Dowlais, Merthyr.
The building was then unlocked and declared open by a Welsh Mother, Mrs Minnie James, 72, who lost 3 sons in the War
If you would like a more in depth history of the Temple of Peace then you can read about it here.
On Tuesday January 14, the International Relations Minister Eluned Morgan launched Wales’ first International Strategy.
The aim of the strategy is to promote the country as an outward-looking nation ready to work and trade with the rest of the world.
Our CEO Susie Ventris-Field has issued the following statement:
“At the WCIA, we are pleased to see a commitment to a globally responsible Wales as one of the three main priorities of the strategy.
“A strength of the new strategy is its clear messages about Wales as a welcoming nation to people from all backgrounds, countries and cultures, including those seeking sanctuary.
“The commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and human rights in the values are important and we can see this reflected in other parts of the strategy, for example, in relation to the promotion of Wales as a Fair Trade Nation and Nation of Sanctuary.
“It is also promising to see the connections made between the innovative new Curriculum for Wales and the delivery of this strategy.
“The next steps for us will be to scrutinise the strategy in more detail with our partners in the sector to ensure the commitment to global responsibility is reflected throughout, and we’ll also be paying close attention to the implementation of the strategy.
“For example, we will want to see a focus on the three chosen industries support our responsibilities to the rest of the world, for example, in reducing our emissions, eliminating poor labour practices from our supply chains, and a commitment to cooperation and peace.
“We’ll also want to understand in more detail how the Welsh Government will build on the existing strengths of the Wales Africa programme.”
In December last year, we worked with partners across the International Sector to provide feedback about the draft.
You can read our collective response here
Vale pupils outshone their opponents to take first place at this year’s Wales Schools Debating Championships.
On Monday 16 December, Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg pupils Sara Jones and Rhys Griffiths were crowned the 2019 winning team at Tredegar House, Newport.
The winner of this year’s Individual speaker award went to Amelia Furlong from Cardinal Newman RC School, for her motion on; this house would ban plastics from 2025.
This year’s runner up Individual award went to Alice Kember from Howells Schools. This is the 18th and final year of the Wales Schools Debating Championship, which has involved up to 60 schools competing each year.
Topics debated on the day included democracy, mental health issues, democracy and justice.
CEO of the WCIA and debating final judge, Susie Ventris –Field
said: “As always with this competition, I feel inspired listening to young people set out arguments on difficult topics and often having to argue a view that is not their own.
“It is great to see them develop empathy, public speaking skills and critical thinking. These are such essential life skills and it had re our determination to find funding for the future”
The WCIA team would like to thank Tredegar House for hosting and The Hodge Foundation for their support over the years.
A judge in the final and Head of BBC Radio Cymru, Colin Paterson, said: “I took part in schools that argued when I was younger, and it has given me a lot of skills to do the job that I do now, as I had not taken an academic route.
“You can see that this competition gives people the confidence to debate, to rebut, how to formulate and express arguments and I think using these skills is extremely important. “
On the 29th of November, the Temple of Peace hosted its first Ethical Christmas Market as an alternative to Black Friday -one of the biggest day of shopping in Britain. It was the perfect moment to rethink our shopping habits. There was something of Christmas in the air – visitors were welcomed with festive songs, smells of mulled wine and colourful stalls.
We talked to a woman who bought her baby’s first Christmas ornament :
“I suppose for me, particularly since having Freddie, it’s just trying to make some decisions whether that’s kind of more sustainable decisions. Kind of be more aware of, you know, the little planet that he is inheriting! Just trying to do our bit really. We bought a little dinosaur today which is his first Christmas decoration. So it’s remade from old saries and it’s quite nice to have a little story behind it!”
Indeed, all the stallholders were charities and organisations which promote sustainable development goals. It was the occasion for them to gather, talk about the issues that are close to their heart and share good practices.
For the organisation Health Help International, being Ethical means “buying directly from the people who make the items, because they are trying to make a living from what they are selling. […] The people we are engaged with [located in India and Africa] are usually disabled people or they are mothers of disabled children. They are artists who are trying to look after their families. Or, in India particularly, they lost their main income earner, their husband has had an accident and can’t work anymore so the women have to try to keep things together.”
“We buy directly from them and they use local products to make their items. Then we bring them to the UK and all the money goes directly back to them. This is what we interpret as ethical.”
It is very inspiring to see that there are already so many options to help us on our path to a more ethical way of shopping. To sum up, here are a few tips we learned from both customers and stallholders at the Ethical Market : / We decided to sum up for you a few tips we heard during this Ethical market.
The first step is to try. Everybody can be more ethical! Every little helps, and together we will make a difference…