Eric, my uncle, writes about his early years in Dolgarrog, including being employed at the Aluminium Works, in the local Cinema and with the R.A.F. Police. He recalls a Spitfire hero from World War Two, a Welsh International footballer and the Liverpool evacuees who came to live in the village. A truly valuable collection of memories and photos.
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JOHN ERIC ROBERTS


Eric Requests;

If anyone now living in Dolgarrog and around during my time and remembers me, I would love to be in contact directly with them.
We could swap memories, not the least of which is that, when I was in hospital in central London, a male nurse, having examined my 'notes' saw that I was born in Dolgarrog.
He asked me if I ever knew Mr. Jones the policeman?
I replied "Cop Jones? Oh yes, we all knew him."
It transpired that he was 'Cop Jones's great grandson.... I never saw that nurse again !!!

Eric can be contacted via   mail@penmon.org

Dyddiau DOLGARROG Days

I was brought up in Dolgarrog, and was the youngest in the family, having three older sisters, a dog and a cat!!!! My sisters are pictured here with Betty at the back, Jean and Myfanwy.

The war years meant little to us as children in the depth of the Conwy Valley.  

I vividly recall the tanks passing through Dolgarrog as mentioned in my sister Jean's article of the war days. Once as I was sitting in the armchair of the kitchen and Jean was helping out with the housework by clearing the ashes from the firegrate in the 'Living-Room' and taking them to the dustbin outside the kitchen area, I heard a tank convoy approaching. I leapt out of the armchair with the intention of going through the door leading to the hallway, and on to the stairs 'landing window.'

I got as far as the kitchen door to the 'hall' when I encountered a massive cloud of grey matter. Jean had just met me with a shovel-full of cold ash from the firegrate, and I collided with the shovel. There was a mess everywhere, and the funny part was that there was a remnant of ash still in the shovel and Jean said 'I may as well throw this, too'.

Eric with his mother, Sarah Michell Roberts 

 

As a small boy during the war years, my bathtime was always on a Sunday morning. The water was hot then, a my mother would have the kitchen range alight in order to roast the Sunday joint, and therefore heat the water.

I was always told NEVER to open the bathroom window, as 'it was dangerous'. I never was aware as to why it was 'dangerous', I just knew that I would not fall out of the window!!!
One Sunday morning, on a hot summer day during the war, I had my usual bath. My mother was in the kitchen and had the 'back door' open because of the heat from the fire range, and the hot day.

I decided to open the bathroom window. As I did, it fell down at an angle, hitting the concrete path between our dog 'Jet,' (pictured here with Eric) and cat 'Joe-Soap.' The window was made of iron with individual glass panes, and it made an almighty crash!!!!

Jet shot off in one direction and Joe-Soap in another. My mother was beside herself with panic as she thought that the Germans had dropped a bomb outside the kitchen door !!! There was a huge hole in the concrete path, and I had a row for that. Apparently the window was only held on one hinge, the other hinge being broken. The remaining hinge could not hold the weight of the window. 

MORAL
 
When restricting a child in a course of action, ALWAYS explain why, the consequences could be fatal!!!!! 
I always explained to my two children when they were small as to why they should not take any action against my wife or my instruction.

Steamers on the Menai Straits

Having seen the 'photos of the St. Tudno and St. Trilio, on the Beaumaris Past page of this website, can anybody remember these vessels which sailed from Llandudno Pier and along the Menai Straits during the 1940's? It was always a Sunday school treat for us. I'm not too sure, but I think that they were Paddle Steamers and were always very popular.

St Tudno
St Trillo

 
Eric with  sisters Jean, Betty and Myfanwy

INNOCENCE OF CHILDHOOD
One evening at home in Dolgarrog as a very small boy there was a programme on the radio, I can't remember too much about it, but on reflection as an adult it must have been a discussion on 'Darwin's Theory of Evolution'. It covered the subject about 'Man' being a descendant from Monkeys. 
 
I pondered on this for a while and eventually asked my father, "Dad, when you were small, were you a monkey"?
 
"He laughed so much, and then explained in a way that I could understand that "No, I was never a monkey, but millions of years ago humans were transformed from that species, that's called evolving."

  
Eric standing right with seated, sister Betty and parents Owen John and Sarah Michell Roberts, with sisters Jean standing left and Myfanwy
 

Striding out in Llandudno with sisters Myfanwy and Jean
 
 

WARTIME DOLGARROG

During the 'war' there was a contingent of army personnel stationed in the village. They lived in 'Nissan Huts' located just below the 'old road' and on a mound above the 'swings'. They were a friendly group of regular soldiers and their duties were to protect the factory in case of an air raid on the Aluminium works.

With that in mind there was an antiaircraft gun post located half way along the 'track' and another on the road leading down from the village towards the Newborough Arms pub.
 
I remember one Sunday afternoon during the summer months the machine gun on the track firing a few rounds into the air, possibly to relieve the boredom of the soldier on duty. The offending soldier, during the following week was punished for his misdemeanour by being 'Route Marched' in full kit in the heat of the summer under the escort of an N.C.O.
 
There was an isolated soldier on guard duty in a 'Sentry Box' located opposite the shops in Dolgarrog. Also on the main road and just before the bridge leading towards Tal-Y-Bont a 'chicane' of concrete circular blocks were placed in order to delay any invading enemy tanks from entering the village.
 
What with the lone sentry on guard in his box and the chicane placed on the main road, it's no wonder indeed that the might of the German 'Wehrmacht' avoided Dolgarrog!!!


My 'hero' was Bruce Woodcock.

He was the British and Empire heavyweight champion 1945-1950, and European heavyweight champion 1946-1949. He had a large fanbase, and his participation in a competition often resulted in sellout crowds.

In July 1945, at White Hart Lane, Tottenham, Woodcock defeated the current champion Jack London to take the British and Empire heavyweight tiles. Woodcock won by a knockout in round six after having London down three times in that round.
 
Bill, later to be my brother in law, cycled with me one Sunday to see Bruce having a public training display at Gwrych Castle.
 
Bruce was at the time training to fight  'Joe Baksi' an American, at Harringay Arena, London, on the 5th April, 1947. Out of interest, during his 'speed-ball' punching session when we saw him training, in his Yorkshire accent, he said "It's bust", when the speed ball collapsed with his power of punching.

At Harringay, Bruce earned a reputation for bravery the fight against Joe Baksi. He was floored 3 times in the first round and twice in the second and yet tried to come back before the referee stopped it in the seventh.
 
Bruce eventually retired from boxing and managed a pub in Doncaster. He died of a heart attack on 21st December 1997 in an 'Old People's Home' in Doncaster.

Click here to see Bruce Woodcock's fighting record

 

WORKING AT THE ALUMINIUM WORKS

True to say, the Aluminium Factory may well have been a target for the German bombers. They were most certainly aware of it's existence as within the factory process complex there was a 'Rolling-Mill' installed by the Germans called 'Krupp.' It was installed many years ago, even before WW1.

Many years ago at the original installation of the aluminium processing plant at the ACL, there was a requirement for some heavy plant to initiate the process of turning aluminium ingots into sheets of aluminium.

When the factory was up'n running, ingots of aluminium were imported from Canada. These ingots were molten down, and further commodities were added to the molten fluid. Iron filings by the sackful to harden the final metal, manganese to make it pliable, etc, etc, and so forth. (The iron filings were the remnants of the metal bits after a nail had been reduced to a point of sharpness) Nothing is wasted in the industry and the filings were purchased in bulk from a manufacturer (somewhere) who manufactured nails (to nail into wood, etc.)


The molten aluminium was poured into moulds, and a large block of the metal, still very hot, was then presented to the 'Breakdown' (of the block) into the first sheet of a thick and flat length of aluminium. This sheet was then processed by other, and less heavy rolling mills until a flat piece of aluminium was produced, and checked for it's thickness by the workforce with a 'Gauge' until the required thickness (as per order) had been achieved. These sheets then went on to the 'cutting dept' and the sheets were cut to size (again as per order) The next process was to the 'Inspection Dept' (my first employment there until I worked in the laboratory). Any faults in the sheeting were then rejected and returned to the 'Recast' section to be melted down for any further possible use in the process. If used, they were once again part of 'The Ingot Breakdown System' and the whole process would then repeat it's function within the factory.  

Once the 'Inspection Dept' staff  were satisfied with the product, the aluminium sheets were moved on to the 'Packing Dept' and packed into large wooden containers, sandwiched between sheets of tissue paper to protect the aluminium sheets. From there, they were loaded onto railway trucks and collected by Dick R'injan (Dick the engine driver) who transported them along 'The Track' to the main line for collection by the 'Goods Train' which then delivered them to all parts of the country, mainly aircraft factories during WW2, and after the war, to factories producing kettles, saucepans, and other items which required the use of aluminium. 

After Dick' Rinjan retired it apparently was uneconomical to send processed aluminium products by rail, and so the line was closed. It was decided to buy a fleet (about three) H.G.V. lorries, all marked up with the ACL Dolgarrog Logo, and deliver the manufactured products by road to various docks for onward shipping to different countries to meet the appropriate orders.
 
An ex-soldier, a resident of Dolgarrog was one of the drivers. On one occasion he was to deliver a load to one of the docks in London. He got as far as London and became hopelessly lost. So he decided to return to Dolgarrog with his undelivered load!! He was sacked on the spot!

In the laboratory we would receive 'samples' every morning of the meltdown process produced on the previous night shift. We would grind them into metal filings, and reduce these filings into liquid for testing for the iron, manganese, silicon, and aluminium percentage as required in the initial customer order. My Physics lessons from 'Wyjyur' and Dr Davies in the Chemistry lab. (look at the blackboard whilst I run through it !!) in Llanrwst Grammar School were invaluable. 

To complete the circle, more about the Krupp rolling mill. Krupp is still an ongoing heavy plant company in Germany at Essen, and it was established some 400 years ago. It was they who delivered and installed their rolling machine. This was carried out many years before any hostilities began between the two countries. So, to make my point, there must have been some record in the Krupp archives about the Aluminium Corporation in Dolgarrog. 

 My father often remarked on the heavy and hard work required in the 'Breakdown' as it was locally known. This, of course, was the Krupp Rolling Mill Unit.

WWI Wounded Veteran Assists a WWII Wounded Veteran

 
Towards the end of his employment at the ACL my father worked in the 'Time Office', pictured left. When his night shift was coming to an end at about 6am, the factory workers would be arriving to 'Clock-On' at the time office for their shift. 
One of the workers always arrived on his motor bike, sometimes only with seconds to spare to start his shift. 

His name was Eric. As he was an ex soldier wounded in Casino Italy, there was always a kindly view of him within the residents of Dolgarrog. In order for him not to 'clock-on' late and therefore possibly lose a part of his wages, my father would stand outside the Time Office at about 5.50am, and when he heard Eric's motor bike start in Taylor Avenue, he would take Eric's card and clock-on for him.
 
=============
 
Another well respected villager was 'Roberts -the- Joiner,' and he was a retired gentleman who drove a fawn coloured 'Austin 7'. I never did know, as a child, what he 'Joined'!!
 
There was concern at one time that the mountain above Taylor Avenue and Gwydyr Road could possibly collapse due to water being retained within it's structure and therefore cause a massive landslide that would engulf the houses and roads below. As a result 'Experts' from England and the U.S.A. were called in to investigate this disastrous possibility
 
Roberts the Joiner, who was very knowledgeable about the local landscape structure rejected such a possibility as there were 'streams' running down, one located near the Newborough Pub, another underground stream which emerged just below Gwydyr Road, and was locally called 'Afon Bach.'
Other smaller streams also enhanced the draining of any water that could have been retained within the mountain.
 
To the best of my knowledge his advice was taken, which has proved to be correct as Taylor Avenue and Gwydyr Road remain unscathed to this day.

BBC NEWS 27.12.2007 Web auction for aluminium works
Dolgarrog Aluminium Ltd
Union officials hope to meet administrators later

An internet auction will be held in the new year to find a buyer for an aluminium plant unless a deal is sealed with a prospective buyer.

The auction will be for Dolgarrog Aluminium in the Conwy Valley, which went into administration in August.

The plant, which employed 170 at Britain's only integrated casting and rolling aluminium mill, ran into financial problems.

Just 10 workers are now remaining to maintain the site. A spokesman for administrator KPMG in Manchester said it was still talking to one interested party who wanted to buy the business "as a going concern".

"To date, two bids have been received, both of which have been rejected," he said.
"We also remain in discussion with various parties wishing to acquire both the plant and the land and buildings."

Offers had been received, he added, but had not been accepted.

"Agents have also been instructed to begin the process of carrying out an online auction of the plant and machinery in the early part of 2008 should a deal not be concluded," he added.

Dolgarrog Aluminium was set up five years ago following a management buy-out of the former Alcoa plant.

The company marked the 100th anniversary of aluminium-making on the site this year.

Dolgarrog has changed so much since my last visit in 1967 prior to my being sent to Aden. 
The trees seem to be slowly engulfing  the village.
 

Most of the views of which I was familiar with are almost disappearing.

Dolgarrog railway station has taken on a tremendous alteration. The place which is now a shelter on the platform was in my time the location of the 'Booking Office' manned by Jack the porter, or locally known as 'Jack Porter.' I have no memories of him as a 'character' in the village, he was just a part of the railway station. Furthermore, in my days, there was a lovely 'Waiting Room' further along the platform which always had a roaring fire in the grate during the winter.
 

'Dick R'injan' on his engine named 'Dolgarrog', appears here to be much younger than my memories of him as an older but kindly man.

 
 As children walking along the 'track' (bent on mischief') if we saw the engine on the railway track en route to the main line, we would place a penny coin on the line and watch as the engine and trucks flattened the coin. This could then be 'swapped' for marbles, or some other item such as a 'catapult.' 
 

 

DOLGARROG SCHOOL

 As children in the Dolgarrog Central School (above) we were asked to bring in as much silver paper as possible which we deposited in a large box in the corridor. We were told that it was 'to make Spitfires'. I now know that the real purpose was to use it as 'window' - a system used by the RAF bombers over Germany, and dropped from the aircraft to fool the enemy radar into thinking that there were more aircraft heading their way.
 
Mr. Richard Jones (Dick 'R injan mentioned above) was my first Sunday School teacher, and after his retirement, took on a small job of opening the cinema curtains when I was working there as a projectionist. He would open the curtains after my signal from the projection room. 

I saw Dolgarrog cinema being built when I was in the junior part of the Central School. It seemed to us as kids to be a massive and modern building, and in its day I suppose it was. 

When completed it became a venue of many aspects of Dolgarrog. Every Saturday night it was the 'Dance Hall', it also doubled as the venue for visiting concert parties, and of course, the cinema every Tuesday and Friday evening. On a Sunday afternoon it became our Sunday School where I was taught initially by 'Dick R'ingan', Mr. Richard Jones, the engine driver of the works factory railway engine. He was a kindly elderly man who aways called me John !!!

As we became older (circa 12 years of age) our Sunday School teacher was David 'Cabbage'. Not his real name of course, Dolgarrog was always rife with nicknames. He was an ex serviceman of WW2 and he was dedicated to us as 12 & 13 year old youths....As I recall he never bored us with 'Bible-Punching', but he kept our attention with stories from his war experiences. Nothing gory of course, only the fun times he had with his army mates in foreign countries. He helped us to stay off the streets of Dolgarrog and taught us the adult ways of right from wrong. He also liked his pint, and would visit the British Legion across the road on a Sunday night. Apparently the 'Taliban' of Set Fawr in Tal-y-Bont Chapel found out and told him to stop going there. He refused, and was told not to continue as a teacher in our Sunday School. So he left, as we did too in protest.

 

THE ZIG - ZAG


The pipeline from the top of the mountain, known locally as 'The Incline' had concrete steps parallel to the pipes. It was quite a drag to climb these steps, so in order to facilitate a walk there was a path through the woods, adjacent to the pipeline locally known as the Zig-Zag. This path, by it's described name made walking up to the top much easier. It was accessed from the end of Taylor Avenue, and by walking through the sloping field to the edge of the woods covering the mountain, one could arrive at the beginning of the zig-zag. Halfway up the path there was a clearing containing a substantial hut, obviously constructed for the use of the workmen during the construction of the pipeline. This hut was locally called 'Dead Man's Hut.'
XS3265/121

Although there was no evidence that it was used to house a dead man, one can assume that one of the construction workers had died, and carried temporarily to the hut. We always gave this hut a wide birth. Upon reaching the top of the mountain, it was an easy walk to Llyn (Lake) Coedty. We would select some flat stones and deftly threw them into the lake and count the amount of times we could make the stone bounce along the surface of the water. 
 

 

EVACUEES

Back row; Eric, Peter Hewett, /-/, evacuee, Hughie Williams
Centre row; Evacuee /-/, evacuee, Arwyn Jones. 
Front row; /-/, Ivor Powell, John Alun Jones, David Webb, Colin McMillan, Keith Rose, Gwyn Jones

Peter Hewett, an evacuee, and I became good friends. He was a good footballer. 
Ivor Powell was an older brother of Dave Powell, International Footballer. 
Colin Mc Millan was an uncle to Keith Rose.
Keith Rose of Rose's Garage, Tal-Y-Bont.
 
Gwyn (Bach) Jones was always highly intelligent in Llanrwst Grammar School. Later in his career became a professor, although I have no idea of his calling. I am led to believe that he has now unfortunately passed away.

During 1943/1944 we had evacuees in the village from Liverpool. They were a mixture of boys and girls and they were accommodated in homes in the village. They were mostly about 'our age' and they integrated well into village life.

We all (as village lads) made a point of making the evacuees from the bombing of Liverpool as welcome as possible. Even as kids we felt so sorry for them having to leave their parents and friends and live in Dolgarrog of all places.

We all palled up with them, and 'showed them the ropes' of the type of antics we were usually up to. I remember some of us taking a few down to 'The Cob,' a raised path parallel to the Conway River. We warned them NEVER to swim in that tidal river, as others had drowned doing so. We took them to a 'known Conker Tree' in Maenan, and by throwing sticks into the tree, conkers would fall encased in their protective shell cover. By breaking open the outer shell you had a 'conker.' Then we 'played conkers' with them. We played 'Cowboys and Indians' with them in the 'Boulders' (which now are apparently hidden by trees).

 

LOCAL SPITFIRE HERO

A Dolgarrog 'Hero' was Harold Jones, the only son of Mr. (& Mrs) Gethin Jones. They lived in a row of bungalows just outside of Dolgarrog on the 'Old Road' leading to the Newborough pub. Harold Jones was also a Commissioned Officer in the RAF.  

Harold was a Spitfire pilot during WW2 and sometimes during 'playtime' in the Dolgarrog school yard, he would fly down over the school. We would waive to him, and he would 'bank' his 'plane to silhouette himself, and then raise his hand to return the waive. He would then continue down over Dolgarrog and when he was above his home, Mrs. Jones would rush to the garden with a bedsheet and waive it for him. Harold then would 'waggle' his wings to his mother, and continue on his patrol.
 
It was Harold Jones that brought some RAF Officers home on leave one day, and during a Saturday night dance (as aforementioned) it was there, with the other officers, that my sister Betty met Alvin Gaetz, who was also a Flying Officer pilot, but with the Royal Canadian Airforce.
 
Having seen Harold Jones flying his Spitfire over the school, we all resolved, from that day, to become Spitfire pilots, and NOT engine drivers or Cowboys or Indians. That too included the evacuees, who were amazed to see an aircraft at reasonably close quarters.

DOLGARROG'S VERY OWN

WELSH INTERNATIONAL FOOTBALLER

DAVE POWELL

Most of the evacuee boys played football with us on the football field near the 'works'. The game usually was with someone in goal (without the nets) and we played together with two coats as goals on the halfway line.

 Dave Powell, Welsh Football International and former Wrexham, Sheffield United and Cardiff City player
I remember our team mates well, Richie Williams, Ivor Powell, Willie Harris, Tommy Watson, Eifion Bowen Hughes, and many others. We usually had a group of small boys behind the main goal who collected the football for us when it went into the Gorse bushes. One small boy named David was the little brother of Ivor Powell.
 

 

 
His name, of course was/is David Powell, who grew up to be an International footballer, playing for Wrexham, Sheffield United, Cardiff City and Wales. 

So times went by and I attended the school in Llanrwst. I left there in 1948 with no academic qualifications, and as previously stated, went to work in the factory.

 

DOLGARROG FOOTBALL CLUB

The only team during my (late) teenage years was 'Dolgarrog', and they played in the Conway Valley League, against Llanrwst, Betws-y-Coed, Bangor, Llanfairfechan, Conway (now Conwy) and others I can't remember. I played a few games with/for them, and our strip was Blue and White Quarters on the shirt, with white shorts.  Alun Griffiths (now deceased) was in goal, and was quite good. I really can't remember the names of other players as they were much older than I was at the time. I also played for an ACL team, but it was only a 'local factory thingy' whereby one factory 'shift' played against another. I was at the Llanrwst Grammar School at the time. There were no 'Gwydyr Rovers' around during my time.

 
 

CINEMATOGRAPHY

Meanwhile I filled my time by being in the ATC (Air Training Corps) cadets, and was invited by Billie Elgood to learn the ropes of being a cinema projectionist. He was the senior projectionist and I soon picked up all the required technical information. It wasn't long before I too became No.1 projectionist, and enjoyed every moment. We (the No.2) and I were required to be at the cinema at 6pm, and get things started. The films to be shown were in round metal tins, and they were carted up to the projection room. There they were wound onto a large spool, and the first one placed in the appropriate position labelled No.1 and so on until all the spools were filled. Meanwhile I would be working on the projectors, cleaning the film 'runs' and making sure that the positive and negative carbon rods were of sufficient length to last for the evening. I would turn the power generator on, and 'strike' the carbon rods by remotely hitting one against the other. By pulling them slowly apart an arc of intense light would emit from the arc, and that was the light used to show the film. I'm sure that you have seen these beams of light from the projection room window when visiting the cinema. A mirror within the lamp housing would then deflect the strong light on to the screen. 

So it would be time to lace-up reels 1 & 2, there being two projectors in the projection room. When all was ready and the time approached 7.30pm I would signal Dick R'injan by flicking a light on and off and I would see him walking up the stairs to the area behind the curtains. I would turn on projector No.1 and so the show began. There was a signalling 'code' from the downstairs staff who had an electric bell-push connected to us. One ring meant 'More Sound' so I would increase the volume, two rings meant the sound was too loud, three rings signalled that there was a fault with the film, either out of focus, which was rare, or 'out of rack' which was frequent with old celluloid film.

This was easily adjusted. Four rings meant that 'Cop Jones' had arrived to inspect for any fire hazard (as required be the insurance), so it was time to put out the cigs. As the reel in projector No.1 was coming to an end, I would position myself next to projector.No.2 with both hands on various controls of the projector. I would be watching the cinema screen waiting for the 'Motor Mark' to appear in the top right hand of the screen. When that appeared I would turn on the second projector, and with my hand on another control wait for the 'Film Mark.' When that appeared, I would then activate the projector, and on a good night the changeover would be completed without the audience even noticing anything different. Meanwhile, No.2 projectionist would turn off the other projector, remove the used spool of film, and take it into the rewind room and replace it into the round metal container. He would then return with the next spool of film in line and I would lace it into the projector ready for the next 'changeover'.

 
 

PACKING A PUNCH

Another village true story was a character named Eric Baker, an army boxing champion and built like a heavyweight. He was wounded in Italy during WW2 by being shot in the leg, and he had a permanent limp.

In Rowen there was a POW Camp housing Italian prisoners of War. It was decided when hostilities ended in 1945 to let the prisoners integrate with the local population but they were required to still wear their brown POW uniform with a large yellow circle on the back. So they decided to attend the Saturday night dance in Dolgarrog.

All went fairly well until the 'lads' came out of the British Legion (left) to also attend the dance. Amongst them was Eric Baker who swore that he identified the Italian who had shot him in Casino, Italy. Eric hit him, once, and knocked him clean through the glass fire escape doors. The Italians were prevented from going to the dances any more, and nothing was done about Eric.

I remember another amusing incident from 'times of yore'.
 
My father, a WW1 wounded veteran, but very ambulant  joined the village local  L.D.V.(Local Defence Volunteers) "On the Day War Broke Out" later re named the 'Home Guard.'
 
He once recalled: Towards the end of the war, the Italian prisoners at Rowen
were allowed, if they so wished, to help local farmers with various tasks. Those who did volunteer were escorted from the camp to their appropriate farms in small groups with a single Home Guard 'soldier' armed with a rifle. Goodness knows if it was 'loaded'.
 
On one occasion, a Home Guard escort, accompanying his 'prisoners' were required to negotiate a 'stile' in order to enter a farmer's field. The elderly Home Guard had some difficulty with the stile, so he handed his rifle to one of the Italian prisoners saying "Hold this for a minute"  !!!
 
The prisoner obliged, returned the rifle to the soldier, and all went well that ended well.

 

THE ROYAL AIR FORCE

So time passed by, and I joined the RAF police  where I was in the Counter Intelligence Dept. of the RAF Police, and served in Singapore (twice) - Aden (when there were terrorist incidents) Germany twice, and ended my career after 23 years service in Berlin. During my service I was (at RAF Changi) Gazetted by the Singapore Government as a Customs Officer, and also as a Deputy Controller of Immigration.  

I was required to fly to other countries in South East Asia during my variety of tasks. My visits were routine military exercises and NOT in my capacity as a Customs & Immigration Officer. 

 
My capacity as a Customs and Immigration Officer is NOT a branch of the RAF Police. It was a separate entity to the RAF Police and was unique to Singapore, as local conditions precluded the use of local personnel for that position.

 


At home in Dolgarrog with sister Myfanwy and parents.

RAF Changi (now the main international airport) often had classified aircraft arriving, together with 'sensitive' visitors. As we (five of us) had been security cleared to a high level, we were able to deal with these situations without compromising security by having local personnel being involved.

T. Glynne Davies










T. Glynne Davies

I listened to the British Forces Broadcasting Service whilst based in Singapore during 1970 and  in particular looked forward to hearing T. Glynne Davies. Each evening there would be a regional news report from England, Scotland, Ireland, and of course, Wales. Tom's broadcast was every Wednesday evening at 6.45pm until 7pm. One time in a letter to my sister Jean , I asked her if Tom, her brother in law, could possibly mention 'Dolgarrog' in his broadcast.

True to form, some little time later, Tom came up with the goods. It was lovely to know that Tom was aware that I was listening to his broadcast and in mentioning Dolgarrog he used the BBC broadcast to let me know that he too knew that I would hear him. That's family for you !!!!
 
During my RAF career I was awarded the 'Campaign Medal' for my duties in Singapore, with clasp 'Malay Peninsular'. I was also awarded a further 'clasp' to the same medal (South Arabia) for 'activities' against terrorist incidents in Aden.  I also have the RAF 'Long Service and Good Conduct' medal.

 MARRIAGE AND FAMILY


Eric married Jean Margaret Brice


Children Carol and Stephen


"MAGICAL MYSTERY" MOMENT

When I was in Aden, Jean, Carol and Stephen were housed in the married quarters of a disused airfield named West Malling, in Kent. It was still staffed by a skeleton staff in order to 'keep the wheels in motion,' but it no longer had any 'planes there. It was an ex 'Battle of Britain' airfield.
 
During that time, about  September 1967, The Beatles were filming the Magical Mystery Tour there, and Jean and the other wives were paid to make sandwiches and tea 'on location' on the airfield. Carol & Stephen were there too as it was the Summer holidays from school.

At one time, John Lennon, with Paul McCartney, was leaning on his colourful 'Rolls' and whilst strumming his guitar, was making notes on a piece of paper. Carol asked him, "What are you doing?" to which he replied "Your mother should know." Carol went over to Jean and asked her what John was doing? Jean had no idea, and said so. It transpired that John Lennon was, at the time, composing the hit "Your Mother Should Know"!!!!!
 
 
Carol was also an extra in the film. During the scene in a cafe where a fat woman threw spaghetti over someone. Carol, pictured above with John Lennon, was sitting with her back to the camera at a table in "The Cafe," identified by her long hair which she had at the time.

 

MIDLAND BANK PLC

After my service with the RAF which ended in July 1974, I enjoyed a short break until September '74 when I was fortunate to be successful in an application to join the Midland Bank Plc, now known as H.S.B.C.

I was selected to be employed in the Head Office Accounts Dept. Poultry, in Central London. I had absolutely no knowledge of working in a bank but like most ex. servicemen, I soon adapted to my new environment. It was an 'open plan' office, and the many accounting  tasks involved included the reconciliation of accounts held at Head Office, such as Draft Account, Bankers Payment Account, Branch Advice Accounts, and E.F.T. (Electronic Funds Transfer). I progressed quite well within the office and gained one or two promotions during my stay of about fifteen years.
 
There is not too much to relate during this period which would be of any interest to the general public, but there is one incident worthy of amusement. I do hastily add though that the following incident filtered through to us at Head Office and I am unable to guarantee it's authenticity, but it's a lovely 'story.'
 

Kenny and Marina Dalglish

The famous Football International and Liverpool player Kenny Dalglish was engaged to a Midland Bank staff member, Marina at a branch in Wales. When they eventually married, all of the branch staff in Wales were invited to the Wedding Reception during the evening of their special day. Most who attended requested an autograph from 'Kenny Dalglish,' and being the gentleman he is, both on and off the field, I'm sure that he would have obliged.
 
One junior male member of staff, being the worse off for drink, asked 'Kenny' if he would like to have HIS autograph! I do feel sure that 'Kenny Dalglish' would have joined in the fun of the moment and would have said "Yes please."
 
 
I took early retirement from the bank, and thought 'What now?'

 

HEATHROW AIRPORT

 

My next and final career move was to Heathrow Airport in London where I worked for an American Carrier. My RAF experience gained me the position in the Airline Security by dealing with 1st. Class Passengers, V.I.P. Passengers, and Celebrity Passengers.
I met and spoke with most of the celebrities who travelled including, Cher - Shirley Bassey - Tom Jones - Tony Curtis - Joan Baez, pictured right  - Barry Manilow - Frank Bruno (en route to fight Mike Tyson) - Kate Moss & Johnny Depp - Kylie Minogue - and so many others, worthy of mention, but the list would be endless.
Joan Baez played her guitar and sang to me on the 'Buggy' en-route to the departure gate.
My position of trust at Heathrow Airport precludes writing about the tasks involved in carrying out my duties.

Heathrow "Wannabes"

On one occasion I was in the area of a departure lounge being used by another American carrier en route to the USA.

I happened to be near the First Class entrance to the lounge and saw the back of about four teenage girls enter the lounge.
Standing nearby and obviously 'with ' these girls was a man with a 'clip-board' I asked him "Are those girls famous"?
(Only the very rich can fly 1st Class.
He replied "No, not yet, but they will be."
I asked him " Who are they"?
He replied "They call themselves 'The Spice Girls.'

RETIREMENT

 I eventually finally retired, and now enjoy friends and family and hope to do so for some time yet.  

US POLICE OFFICER, DONNA

My son Stephen and family live in Wylie, Texas, which is a suburb of Dallas, his home is some five miles away from the 'Southfork Ranch' which featured in the TV series 'Dallas'. Jean ad I have visited that ranch many times and it is now a 'Tourist Attraction.' During one of our visits there was a local public celebration which was held prior to their 'Independence Day' holiday on the 4th. July each year. 

As in all venues attended by the public, it is the law in the State of Texas that there be a Police presence.
 

I saw this policewoman standing nearby having friendly conversations with the public, so I went over to chat with her. I introduced myself as a visitor from the UK, and explained that I was Welsh. She was very interested in hearing about Wales as she had heard that it was the mountainous region of the UK and that the citizens 'had their own language.' I gave her a few examples of Welsh, including the full name of Llanfair P.G. She was ever so courteous and pleasant, and enquired if we had female Police Officers in the U.K.?
I confirmed that we did, and in true Welshman fashion added, 'but they are not as attractive and friendly as you' !!!! 

 

FAMILY PORTRAITS


Eric with his wife Jean




Left; daughter Carol with her daughter Lisa, son Jon on the right and Luke below, photographed obtaining his B.A. degree in Art, Animation, and Graphic Design..

Son Stephen, with his wife Cindi at 'Southfork Ranch'.



Grandson Lloyd at his Graduation with sisters Holly (left) and Eryn (right).

 

Christmas & New Year, 2012/13 in America
Front row - Holly (aged 18) Stephen's daughter, Cindi - Stephen's wife,
Eryn (aged 21) Stephen's daughter, me, Jean.
Back row - "Josh" Holly's boyfriend, Stephen - and Lloyd, Stephen's son

Jean and me about to depart from the airport, returning home.

More photos

26 Gwydr Road, Dolgarrog
then (above) and now (below)
All Gwydr Road properties were renovated a few years ago


Gwydr Road Dolgarrog

View towards Dolgarrog from the school

Tal y Bont Chapel, where my parents and sister Betty are buried
Photos courtesy of daughter Carol and her husband Steve Jenkins 


My thanks to Eric for kindly granting permission
to include this item about his daughter Carol's school,
on his webpage. KD.

Bryn Primary School
Pontllanfraith

Delighted to receive the following request from Carol Jenkins, a teacher at the school. Naturally, happy to oblige, KD 
I am studying The Age of the Welsh Princes with my Year 5 class and would love to share the Royal Family tree with them that you have on your website.
Would you be willing and able to e-mail me the Royal Connection sheet to share with the children?

It makes a great example of historical investigation through documents, as I will not be telling them immediately of my connection but giving them bit by bit documents (like my birth certificates and marriage certificates) for them to make the connection themselves.

We are playing 'history detectives' and I will be opening up your site for them and allowing them to view it as an introduction to family history.

Carol continues;
Tomorrow, 4th October, 2013,  is our big History Detective Day and I am really looking forward to it. I plan on setting up a large evidence board for the investigation (as they do for police crime scenes) and the children can add their facts, drawings, hypotheses and information to it as the day progresses and I feed evidence/documents to them bit by bit.
This day would not be happening if not for your information and website so I would be glad feed back to you as to how it goes.
Bryn Primary School's
History Detective Day


Wow! What a day this was!

The class was buzzing from the moment I gave them the royal family tree. Quite the best day's teaching I can remember! They were very interested and involved with extracting information from the documents I produced and the discussions that came out of the research were inspiring.

The children also loved your website and enjoyed finding and matching photos to names from the family tree, as well as having a good giggle at seeing me as a child. It was hard getting them off at the laptops at the end of the day!


Access the Royal Connection here

10 year old children were cross referencing documents, finding links, making predictions and searching for evidence to support their hypotheses!
A highly successful skills based approach to historical enquiry. 
So many have said how they want to go home and search out birth and marriage certificates from their family to start researching their own family tree.

It's days like these that remind me how glad I am to be a teacher!
Many thanks for your help in this matter, Ken.  

Please find attached a letter from Carys and Hollie on behalf of the class.

Bryn Primary School
Pontllanfraith
Friday 4th October 2013

Dear Mr. Davies,

Thank you for the important documents you allowed us to look at. Our jaws dropped as we figured out that the woman we were researching was your cousin and our teacher!

We appreciate all the work and effort you put in to your family research. Your website inspires us to research our own family histories. We hope to do some more investigating of your family history too.

Your website is jam-packed full of family history and bright colours. We loved the picture of you and your daughter re-enacting your great grandmother Jane Jones. (Your daughter is very pretty by the way.)
It was also most interesting with a range of family names with a lot of information. It's amazing on how much you know about your family and how big your website is. 

We have seen Mrs Jenkins on your website and wish you all the best for the future in researching more about your family history.

Yours sincerely
Carys and Hollie
On behalf of
Year 5 Bryn Primary School
Pontllanfraith


Thank you Carys, Hollie and Year 5 pupils, for this wonderful letter. I'm so pleased that the website has been helpful to you and that you enjoy your family history research.
Thank you Carol for sharing this excellent experience with us .

Friday 4th October is now an important day in the history of the Penmon website, because as a result of the children's research, the site had a record number of  59 'hits' in one day. KD.


 

PROGRESS?

It never ceases to amaze me when reading about the people of 'yore' listed in this website who lived a very frugal but happy life, with close family and friends around lending support as and when required.They cared little of any life on a remote planet some 20 trillion miles away, the moon was there every night, and they had no intention of ever walking on it. They had no television, mobile 'phones, computers, ipods, MP3's, dishwashers, and 'double-glazed windows', and we have the audacity to call that 'Progress'?-it makes me feel 'ever so 'umble.' (a la Charles Dickens).

They left us all with a legacy of a way of rural life unaffected by low moral values. Drugs, knife attacks, and gun crimes were unheard of within their community, neither was there any corruption within the Police Forces of those days. Their religious beliefs, and the beliefs of other religions, were respected. They cared so much for their farm livestock to the extent that disease of the animals was unknown. Our ancestors left us with a world unaffected by religious wars, wars instigated by politicians for financial gain, and Global Warming. Their legacy to us is an example for us all. 

 God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference. 
 

Many thanks Eric for a truly fascinating insight into your memories - Ken Davies