Cymdeithas Hanes Resolfen History Society

A web log for the Resolven History Society which publishes articles and stories related to Resolven and the immediate surroundings.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Home News

Resolven Home Guard

The weather recently has been rather austere and it was great to see the large attendance at this year’s Noel Thomas Memorial Lecture. As it happens, Mr Phylip Jones who once again gave the annual lecture took austerity as his topic in reviewing the role of Resolfen’s own bi-monthly war time newspaper “Home News”. It is unclear whether this was a development unique to Resolfen during the dark days between 1939-45, but its role was certainly influential and a valuable record of everyday life in the 1940s.

The paper had several editors however the main work was undertaken by David Dan Herbert and Ieuan Davies. Both were local schoolteachers and deacons in local chapels. David Dan Herbert was also a local historian who had written an unpublished Welsh language history of Resolfen which is deposited at the National Library of Wales. Ieuan Davies was a very talented scriptwriter; however he was “called up” after the first ten episodes. Mr Jones also pointed out that local ministers of religion were also prominent in producing the publication and this was evident in the general ethos of Home News which reflected general life in the village in those days. A biblical message was included in each edition.

Even though Home News represented a comprehensive view of life, there were some obvious omissions. Notably, a serviceman's death was not mentioned for obvious reasons since the purpose of the newspaper was to maintain morale not undermine it. However its content was well received by servicemen in the four corners of the world.

Mr Jones now turned to some of the notable items in the paper. In October 1940, some 200 evacuees arrived in the village alongside the grandchildren of Resolfen residents who had left the village during the 20s and 30s. The Welfare Hall hosted the Old Vic, with a Shakespearian production featuring Sybil Thorndike and Lewis Carson. Wilfred Pickles also brought his show to the village. Resolfen also featured in many musical broadcasts on the World Service, of both congregational singing and performances by Resolven Choral Society.

Both the role of the Home Guard and the Auxiliary Fire Service was covered by the paper. Sometimes irreverent, it nevertheless made innocent fun of ill fitting uniforms, lonely guard duties and the antics of Frank Gardner and Arthur Morris being reminiscent of “Dad’s Army”. The individualistic nature of the content was also evident in personalised jokes on well known characters in the village:-

Question: Why did Ted Steele?
Answer: Because Reg Snook!

Organised sport such as rugby, cricket or association football came to a halt during the war. However, the bowling green remained open and proved a welcome distraction to many. Indeed, Home News states in 1942 that the members of the bowling fraternity were “Like Drake, impervious to the world without”. This must have been of comfort to the many Resolfen men and women who met during the war in very far flung corners of the globe.

Home News also concentrated on the activities of the Home Comforts Fund which raised money and gifts for the troops via knitting societies, whist drives, concerts, galas and dances. In addition social events such as Cyrddau Mawr, Cymanfaoedd Canu, academic lectures, the formation of a branch of the Communist party and the opening of the Boys Club were all featured.

The final editions of Home News relate to the ending of the war in Europe. Street tea parties were held and a bonfire was built at tweedle tip. In addition, a Roll of Honour was published revealing that twenty four Resolfen residents had been killed. Others had been incarcerated as POWs and many had been decorated for bravery. Incidentally, no bombs had fallen directly on the village but several had fallen within a radius of three miles.

Mr Jones concluded his memorable talk by stating that Home News was a remarkable résumé of how life had transpired in the village during the war years and that a full set of Home News now resided in the National Library of Wales.

Mr Gwyn Thomas thanked Mr Phylip Jones for his lecture and made the comment that this fitted well with the earlier lecture by the residents of the “Coal House at War”.
P.S. Phylip has promised to lend us a copy of Home News so that we can scan its content on our weblog.


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