With thanks to Sheila and Jim Maxwell of the Harlech Old Library and Institute for telling me about Dafydd, and to Clive Hughes of the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum for information and for his wonderful translation of the poem, to Keith Edmonds and Robin Braysher of the Salonika Campaign Society and to Nick Lock and Al Pool of the RWF Museum for additional information about Dafydd.
In 1913, Dafydd graduated from the University College of North Wales with a BA Hons in Welsh. While at university, he met Albert Evans, who became famous as the Welsh poet whose Bardic name was Cynan and who later became the Archdruid of Wales. They became friends and joined the Welsh Student Company of the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) together. Posted to Salonika, they were separated for the first time in four years and served in different units.
Private David Ellis 81871
Enlisted RAMC 11.12.1915
Embarked for Salonika 10.9.1916
Posted to 36 General Hospital 29.9.1916
Missing on or since 15.6.1918.
By all accounts, Dafydd was a prolific writer. For instance, we are told that he wrote an elegy to David Jones, nicknamed 'Dei Llwyn Cwbl', son of Robert and Margaret Jones of Llwyn Cwbl farm, Llangwm, Uwchaled. Jones, who was a talented harpist, was killed serving in WW1 with 1st Battalion, the Welsh Guards (Private, no. 2101) in France. He died of his wounds on 7th January 1917. Dafydd Ellis wrote:
“Brwd alaw ei bêr delyn - ddistawodd ys tywyll ei fwthyn. Hyd erwau gloes - drwy y glyn Aeth o ymdaith a'i emyn.”
The fervent song of his sweet harp is silent;
his cottage is in darkness;
through the aching acres - through the valley he went,
leaving his sojourn and his hymn.
On 15th June 1918, Dafydd disappeared from a British Forces camp a few miles north of Salonica. His body was never recovered but he is remembered on the Addenda Panel of the Doiran Memorial in Salonika, Greece. Dafydd Ellis e is also remembered on the WW1 Remembrance plaque in Soar Congregational Chapel in Glyndwr, Maerdy, Clwyd, Wales.
In 1946, Dafydd's friend Cynan published a piece of ‘romantic fiction’ about his friend’s disappearance. Entitled "Y Ffarwel Weledig”, it was a veiled attempt to outline Ellis’s possible escape to a life amongst the local people - the Vlachs - as told to Cynan in a letter from a fictitious Welsh soldier serving in Macedonia during the Second World War.
|Article from "Mosquite", the Magazine of|
the Salonika Campaign Society, 1954
Clive Hughes of the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum tells us “ There’s a biography of him by Alan Llwyd and Elwyn Edwards – “Y Bardd A Gollwyd: Cofiant David Ellis” (164 pp) (Cyhoeddiadau Barddas, 1992). It's in Welsh, but interestingly doesn't refer to him by any other than the English forename.
Here is one of Dafydd Ellis's poems in Welsh:
Cywydd Gyrru’r Eryr i Gymru
(yn ôl Dafydd ap Gwilym)
A threm a lledrith yr ha’
Hyd anial Macedonia,
A’r fagnel ar dawelu
Ar y bryn ei rhaib a’i rhu,
Eryr uchel a welem,
Rhugl ei dro, gloyw o drem,
Ac iddo fo yn y fan
Roi chwithig annerch weithian.
Yn llawen gyda lliwiau
Drud y wawr, ehed eryr
Draw ymhell hyd erwau myr.
Gad oror losg y dwyrain
Gad y rhos ar frig y drain;
Hwnt i olwg Italia
A golud rhwysg Gwlad yr Ha’;
Anwyldeb y Canoldir
A’r tes yn goreuro’r tir.
Yna trwy .........
Anialdiroedd, ffriddoedd Ffrainc,
Lle nad oes llwyni dail
Na dedwydd hyfryd adail,
Na thirioniaeth rhianedd
Ond cur y byd---eco’r bedd.
Ar ei hyd; taria wedyn
Ar lawr glas Parlwr y Glyn.
Yno mae hoen ‘y mywyd,
Ac yno mae, gwyn y myd,
Ardal hyfryd Rhyd Lefrith,
A’r dydd ar y bronnydd brith.
(o’i lyfryn yn Salonica)
Article by Cledwyn Fychan on the website for the Society Farsarotul
Photograph of Dafydd from https://www.farsarotul.org/nl21_6.htm