Welsh Internationalism and Peace Movements: post-WW1 Interwar era, 1918-1939

Engine for Peace: The driving force for widespread Welsh community participation in world affairs was the internationalist campaigns and activities of the WLNU, Welsh League of Nations Union. In 1935, the Cardiganshire District WLNU organised the spectacular Aberystwyth Peace Pageant, bringing children from schools throughout the county – delegations dressed to represent nations of the world – to deliver this Festival of Youth in the grounds of the Castle. Here, Tregaron School are celebrating the arrival of Switzerland.

In the aftermath of WW1, Wales was alongside nations worldwide shattered by war. Wales’ WW1 Book of Remembrance records a lost generation of 35,000, whose loss pained families and communities nationwide; for the surviving generation, to many ‘Never Again’ was not a platitude, but a pledge. It was one to which many thousands dedicated their energies, through campaigning with the Welsh League of Nations Union (WLNU), for a “vision of a warless world”.

The WLNU became one of Wales’ biggest civil society networks of the interwar era, with local branches and advocates in every county and community. Their Campaigns, although echoing those of the UK and International League movements, had a distinct Welsh flavour, cultivating narratives of internationalism that reflected and resonated with nurturing Welsh identities of the 1920s.

Through leadership and financial support of David Davies, campaigning dynamism of Gwilym Davies, and involvement of many ‘establishment’ figures – including a particularly strong Women’s Peace movement, led by WLNU Chair Annie Hugghes-Griffiths – the WLNU’s campaigns punched far above Wales’ weight on the world stage, and left an indelible mark on Wales’ national psyche in ways perhaps hitherto underestimated.

This articles explore the campaigning historiography and participatory development of the WLNU, narratives themes underpinning their communications, and legacies for today:

“we dream to leave, to the generations who come after us, the proud heritage of a warless world”