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New revelations about the fate of Owain Glyndŵr

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​'​In The Last Days of Owain Glyndŵr​'​: By ​Gruffydd Aled Williams

OWAIN GLYNDŴR, 600 years since his death,​ is still one of the most important and fascinating figures in Welsh history. His fate during his last years is unknown, and where he was buried is an enduring mystery.​

​’​In The Last Days of Owain Glyndŵr​’​, which is published this week by Y Lolfa, ​​Gruffydd Aled Williams, a leading authority on the subject, here rigorously assesses the evidence in oral tradition, manuscripts and printed sources, as well as on the ground, sorting fact from fiction.

He also investigates Glyndŵr family history and, based on new research, brings to light new information available in English for the first time on Wales’ most enduringly inspiring national hero, who led the war of independence in the early fifteenth century.

A descendant of the Princes of Powys through his father and of the Princes of Deheubarth through his mother, Glyndŵr was proclaimed Prince of Wales in 1400, the last native-born leader to boast this title. In the first years of the century, he led a successful campaign against the English rule of Wales under Henry IV, capturing strategically-important castles and winning key battles against the English army.

However, by 1409 the castles had been retaken and the last documented sighting of Glyndŵr seems to have been in 1412. What happened to him after that and the locations of his death and subsequent burial remain shrouded in uncertainty.

​”​There are certain mysteries that can never be finally solved. One such mystery is that of the last days of Owain Glyndwr,​”​ sa​id Gruffydd Aled.

​”​This volume, therefore, has not been written with the intention of finally revealing where Owain died or where he was buried. Its aim is rather to survey the various traditions that have been recorded about Owain’s last days in detail and to evaluate them as far as is possible in the light of known historical facts and the broader historical context,​”​ he added.

The author’s original Welsh language book, Dyddiau Olaf Owain Glyndŵr (2015) ​-​ the first extended and comprehensive analysis of the subject – was hailed as ‘outstanding’ and won the 2016 Wales Book of the Year ‘Creative non-fiction’ award.

​’​The Last Days of Owain Glyndŵr​’​ also discusses one or two new locations and traditions which have come to light since the publication of the 2015 volume, and which are significant from the point of view of tracing Owain’s last days.

The volume also includes colour photos by acclaimed photographer Iestyn Hughes.

​”​It was my intention to fill a gap in Welsh historiography and to do that in as readable a manner as possible,​”​ added Gruffydd Aled.

Gruffydd Aled Williams grew up in Glyndyfrdwy, the district which gave Owain Glyndŵr his name. Before retiring, he lectured in Welsh at University College, Dublin and the University of Wales, Bangor, and was Professor of Welsh and Head of the Department of Welsh at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. He delivered the 2010 British Academy Sir John Rhŷs Memorial Lecture on medieval poetry associated with Owain Glyndŵr, and contributed chapters to Owain Glyndŵr: A Casebook (2013). He is a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales, President of the Merioneth Historical and Record Society, and a member of Gorsedd y Beirdd (Gorsedd of the Bards).

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The tale of the WW2 Luftwaffe pilot who mistakenly landed in west Wales

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IT WAS this time of year, 1942, that a bizarre series of events led to a German fighter pilot landing at RAF Pembrey in South Wales, unintentionally aiding the war effort of The Allied Forces in the process.

On June 23, 1942, Oberleautnant Armin Fabar was ordered to a fly a combat mission along with his squadron, in response to an Allied bombing raid of northern France.

Armin Faber mistakenly flew to South Wales after the dog-fight

Fabar’s squadron (the 7th Staffel) all flew Focke-Wulf 190 fighter planes. These planes were seen as superior to the then current Spitfires of the Allied Forces, and in the subsequent dog-fight that developed over The English Channel seven Spitfires were shot down, compared to only two Focke-Wulf 190s (FW-190s).

One Czechoslovakian Spitfire pilot, Alois Vašátko, dramatically lost his life when, in the fray of combat, he collided head-on with an FW-190. The German pilot bailed out and was later captured by Allied Forces.

Spitfire pilot Alois Vašátko lost his life in the battle

In the ensuing battle, Faber became disorientated and was separated from his squadron. He was attacked by a Spitfire manned by Seargent František Trejtnar. In a desperate attempt to shake off his pursuer, Faber fled North over the skies of Devon. He pulled off a brilliant ‘Immelman Turn’, a move in which the sun is used to dazzle a pursuer on your tail. Now flying directly from Trejtnar’s view of the sun, Faber shot him down.

Trejtnar crashed near the village of Black Dog, Devon suffering shrapnel wounds and a broken arm.

The victorious Faber had another problem entirely, though he was unaware of it at the time. He had mistaken The Bristol Channel for The English Channel, and flew north into south Wales, thinking it was northern France!

Finding the nearest airfield – RAF Pembrey, in Carmarthernshire, Faber prepared to land. Observers on the ground ‘could not believe their eyes’ as Faber waggled his wings in a victory celebration, lowered the Focke-Wulf’s undercarriage and landed.

Faber expected to be greeted with open arms by his German brothers, but was instead greeted by Pembrey Duty Pilot, Sgt Matthews, pointing a flare gun at his face (he had no other weapon to hand).

As the gravity of the mistake slowly dawned on him, the stricken Faber was ‘so despondent that he attempted suicide’ unsuccessfully.

Faber was later driven to RAF Fairwood Common for interrogation under the escort of Group Captain David Atcherley. Atcherley, fearful of an escape attempt, aimed his revolver at Faber for the entire journey. At one point the car hit a pothole, causing the weapon to fire; the shot only narrowly missing Faber’s head!

Fabers mistaken landing in Wales was a gift for The Allied Forces, a disaster for The Third Reich.

He had inadvertently presented the RAF with one of the greatest prizes of the entire war – an intact example of the formidable Focke-Wulf 190 fighter plane, an aircraft the British had learned to fear and dread ever since it made its combat debut the previous year.

Over the following months Faber’s plane was examined in minute detail, the allies desperately looking for any weakness in the FW-190. There were few to be found.

They did find one, however.

The FW-190s became relatively sluggish at higher altitudes. This knowledge aided the Allied Forces and saved countless lives, as the aerial battles turned increasingly in their favour.

Faber was taken as a prisoner of war, eventually being sent to a POW camp in Canada. Towards the end of the war he was sent home to Germany due to his ill health.

49 years later Faber would visit the Shoreham Aircraft Museum, where parts of his FW-190 are displayed to this day, along with parts of the Spitfire that he shot down in the skies over Devon. He presented the Museum with his officer’s dagger and pilot’s badge.

This little-known but important piece of Carmarthenshire history illustrates not only the high-stakes arms race between The Third Reich and The Allied Forces during WW2, but also the cost of human error.

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Cered organises a fun evening for Llandysul Cubs with ‘Britain’s got Talent’ star

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CERED: Menter Iaith Ceredigion hosted a fantastic evening for Llandysul Cubs where the comedian Noel James from ‘Britiain’s got Talent’ came to entertain them.

Rhodri Francis, Cered Development Officer said, “We are very keen to work with organisations like the Cubs in order to hold a series of Welsh language events for their members. The evening with Noel James at Llandysul Cubs was fantastic – everyone enjoyed themselves! We wish to organise more events there in the future. We would like to thank Llandysul Cub leaders for giving us the opportunity to work with them so that their members can have the opportunity to socialise and enjoy activities through the medium of Welsh”.

Alix Bryant,Cub Leader 1st Llandysul Scout Group said, “On behalf of Llandysul Cub Scouts I would like to say a huge thank you to Cered for organising a very entertaining evening for the Cubs. It was great for the children to be entertained bilingually by Noel James, he did an amazing job. I think the children especially enjoyed the impressions!”

“This session has inspired the children to complete their entertainers badge so maybe we will have a few budding Welsh comedians in our group. Thank you again and we look forward to working with Cered in the future”.

For more information about Cered: Menter Iaith Ceredigion events and activities, visit their website, cered.cymru or their Facebook page, @ceredmenteriaith, or get in touch by calling 01545 572 358.

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Time given to develop Parc Natur Penglais

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New steps: At Parc Natur Penglais

VOLUNTEERS, including students, have given around 500 hours of their time to develop Parc Natur Penglais.

Along with support from Ceredigion County Council, the Group have built around 100 steps in 5 different places which has made the park a great place to walk, play and enjoy around a number of safe paths.

Councillor Mark Strong said: “Knowing that we have the support of the local community makes such a difference to peoples’ enthusiasm and having the grant from Aberystwyth Town Council, Cambrian News and Tesco made it possible. Volunteers can make a relatively small sum of money go long way.”

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