Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Llewelyn Wyn Griffith CBE (1890 – 1977) – Welsh Civil Servant, writer, translator and poet

With grateful thanks to Nick Lock of the Royal Welch Fusiliers

Museum for his help in finding information and poems by Llewelyn Wyn Gfiffin

Llewelyn was born on 30th August 1890 in Llandrillo yn Rhos, Clwyd, Wales.  His parents were John Griffith, a secondary school teacher, and his wife Dorothy Griffith, nee Jones.  Llewelyn had the following siblings: Alun E. Griffith, b. 1893, Dorothy M. Griffith, b. 1895 and Watcyn Emil Owen Griffith, b. 1897.

During the First World War, Llewelyn served in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers*, initially as a Second Lieutenant and later as a Captain, with the 15th (1st London Welsh) Battalion.  In early 1915, he married Winifred E. Frimston in Toxteth Park, Liverpool.  

Llewelyn's youngest sibling - Watcyn - joined the Royal Welsh Fusiliers as a Private and served on the Western Front with the 17th Battalion.  He was killed on 10th July 1916 and is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial in France, Pier and Face 4A.  

After the war Llewelyn worked for the Inland Revnue as a tax inspector. He became a well-known broadcaster – he was a founding member of the Round Britain Quiz team – and when he retired, he became vice chairman of the Arts Council of Great Britain.  Llewelyn was appointed CBE in the 1961 Birthday Honours. He died on 27th September 1977.

Llewelyn’s WW1 poetry Collection “The Barren Tree” was published by . Penmark, Cardiff in 1945 and he had poems published in three WW1 anthologies.

He also wrote “Up to Mametz” (1930), “Spring of Youth” (1935), “The Wooden Spoon” (1937),  “The Way Lies West” (1945), “The Welsh” (1950) and “The Adventures of Pryderi” (1962).

“If there be Time” by Llewelyn Wyn Griffith

If there be time enough before the slaughter

let us consider our heritage

of wisdom, remembering the coil of laughter

girdled our youth, wine of bright vintage

carrying short sorrows into oblivion;

some talk of love in smooth meadows

where dusk brings quiet and night a vision

of daylight joys freed from their shadows.

Above all, wisdom:  for years are shrinking

into a huddle of days and the world a parish

where neighbours bolt their doors and lights are dimming.

Soon there will be nothing left for us to cherish

but the grave words of the last statesmen.

before the battle starts and the air is darkened:

fast fall the night upon the frightened children

and on the wombs where once they quickened.

What towered land of amn’s endeavour

will first be desert, with all our learning

a burnt page trodden in the dust of error?

Farewell to wisdom and to all remembring.

From: "Poetry 1900 - 2000:  One hundred poets from Wales", Edited by Meic Stephens (parthian, Cardigan, Wales, 2007, reprinted 2016)  p. 19 

*NOTE: The Royal Welch Fusiliers (In Welsh: Ffiwsilwyr Brenhinol Cymreig) was a line infantry regiment of the British Army and part of the Prince of Wales' Division, founded in 1689 shortly after the Glorious Revolution. In 1702, it was designated a fusilier regiment and became The Welch Regiment of Fusiliers; the prefix "Royal" was added in 1713, then confirmed in 1714 when George I named it The Prince of Wales's Own Royal Regiment of Welsh Fusiliers. After the 1751 reforms that standardised the naming and numbering of regiments, it became the 23rd Foot (Royal Welsh Fuzileers).   *After the 1881 Childers Reforms, Ithe Regiment’s official title was The Royal Welsh Fusiliers, but "Welch" continued to be used informally until restored in 1920 by Army Order No.56.

Nick Lock tells us "Llewelyn Wyn Griffith served in the 15th (1st London Welsh) Battalion, RWF. Quite a literary Battalion with David Jones (Poet and Artist) and Hedd Wyn, as well as a couple of other writers."

Sources:

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ppf0CQAAQBAJ&pg=PA18&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false     pp 19 – 20

Find my Past, Free BMD, National Archives,

Catherine W. Reilly, “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) p. 150

https://www.porthcawlandthegreatwar.com/llewelyn-wyn-griffith-7.html

"Poetry 1900 - 2000:  One hundred poets from Wales", Edited by Meic Stephens (parthian, Cardigan, Wales, 2007, reprinted 2016)

The Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum is in Canaervon Castle, Canaervon, Wales. To find out more and book a visit please visit their website https://www.rwfmuseum.org.uk/index.php