Wales Remembers First World War Centenary At Grave Of Hedd Wyn
14 August 2014
On Sunday, August 17 a service will be held at the grave of
Welsh poet Private Ellis Humphrey Evans, known as Hedd Wyn, as part
of a weekend of activities to commemorate the 40,000 Welshmen who
died in the First World War.
Thousands of people are expected to travel from Wales to the
Commonwealth War Graves Commission's Artillery Wood Cemetery in
Flanders, Belgium to attend the service; which will feature a
sixty-strong male voice choir, prayers, readings and the laying of
The event at Artillery Wood is preceded on Saturday 16 August by
the dedication of a new Welsh memorial at Langemark. The eight-foot
tall bronze dragon, was sculpted at Wales' Castle Fine Arts Foundry
in Powys, after £130,000 was raised by the public, over four years,
through the Welsh Memorial in Flanders Campaign.
CWGC historian, Dr Glyn Prysor, said: "Like so many Welsh men and
women, Ellis Evans left his home to serve in a war which at times
defied imagination. Writing as Hedd Wyn, his poetry was among the
most profound, moving and inspirational to emerge from the war.
Artillery Wood Cemetery is a place of pilgrimage for those of us
who come here to reflect on his life, and the lives of thousands of
his countrymen who now lie in Commonwealth War Graves, or whose
names are inscribed on Memorials to the Missing, across Flanders,
Europe, and the world."
Ellis Evans came from a farming family in rural Gwynedd and
enlisted in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers in February 1917. On 31 July
1917, the first day of the Battle of Pilckem Ridge (part of
the Third Battle of Ypres), he was hit by a piece of trench mortar
shell near Langemark and died at a nearby aid post. He is buried at
the CWGC Artillery Wood Cemetery in a plot close to fellow poet
Evans was largely self-educated and showed an early talent for
poetry in the Welsh bardic tradition. He took the first of the six
poetry chairs he would win in competition in 1907 and was awarded
his bardic name Hedd Wyn ('blessed peace') in 1910. Soon after his
departure on active service, he completed Yr Arwr (The Hero), his
entry for the 1917 National Eisteddfod, for which he was
posthumously awarded the poetry chair.