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The Welsh Military Remembrance Machine


When Welsh farmer and poet Ellis Humphrey Evans lay injured on a battlefield in Flanders, he must have known he was about to die.

As the life drained from his body, he must have thought to himself – I hope my death will be used to inspire future generations of Welsh people to die in similar circumstances.

The man, better known as Hedd Wyn, must have comforted himself in those final moments with a vision of how he would become part of an annual celebration of militarism.

How the British establishment would use these deaths as a marketing tool, a way to attract future generations capable of carry out their wars and invasions.

How a military conscript getting shot in a field for something he opposed could be rebranded and marketed as something noble, inspiring and heroic – the ultimate sacrifice. How the more opposed to war Hedd Wyn was, the more noble and inspiring they could make his death appear.

How rememberance of the war dead could merge so seamlessly with the promotiion of the military. How Veterans Day would warp into Armed Forces Day. How military recruiters stand next to poppy sellers.

How this campaign would be imposed from above and allowed to seep down into every aspect of modern Wales: media, politics, business, entertainment, sport, education.

How forced conscription would be so effectively replaced by a blanket militarism, smothering young people with a message that anyone in a military uniform is a hero. That unblinking, unquestioning obedience to a deranged British establishment is something they should aspire to.

That somebody like Carwyn Jones, who passionately promotes and supports armed forces recruitment in Wales, could see no hypocrisy in laying a wreath down at the Belgian grave of Hedd Wyn.

The 30-year-old Ellis Evans must have thought all of these things during those final moments of his life, closed his eyes and rested in peace.

3 thoughts on “The Welsh Military Remembrance Machine”

  1. It’s always been a celebration of militarism, but in recent years, due to certain political developments, and the attendant anxieties, it has also been used as a reminder of something promoted as ‘Shared Britishness’ . . . whatever the fuck that is.

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