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David Llewellyn

 

David R Llewellyn was a South Wales miner from Blaengarw, an isolated mining village at the head of the Garw Valley. Born in June 1907, he completed secondary school and started in the mines a little later at the age of sixteen.

 

He was heavily involved in politics from an early age and stated that the Blaengarw miners were so committed to the trade union movement that: "We paid our union dues before the rent".

 

Llewellyn was involved in organising a South Wales hunger march to London in October 1936. He volunteered to fight in the International brigade in defence of democracy and Republican Spain, where he was appointed political commissar 

 

On his return, Llewellyn once again resumed his activities in the South Wales Miners Federation and unsuccessful moved an anti-war resolution at the 1940 South Wales Miners Federation annual conference. Writing in Daily Worker [23rd September 1940] he stated: "There is no easy way out the horrible mess the ruling class have landed us in. We have a big task ahead., but their is a growing understanding among the working class and we can be confident that, under the leadership of the Communist party, the workers will take the only way out that can end the system which uses their lives of men and women and kiddies as pawns in the game of profit"

Despite his staunchness even in the difficult days of the earl part of the Second World War, Llewellyn left the Communist Party over his championing of strikes by the Bevan Boys. These were the young men who were directed into the coal mines instead of the armed forces during the Second World War. Unfortunately, the war cabinet had permitted thousands of miners to enlist in the armed services but labour now became short in the mines.

Ernest Bevin, the Minister of Labour, sought service volunteers and then compulsorily sent some 20,000 18-year-olds to mine coal when they had been expecting to serve in the armed forces. It was not a good decision for few recruits had any background of mining or even came from mining areas. Some of Bevan’s Boys were so hostile to their call-up that they preferred to go to prison due to refusing to serve. Most tried to do the work but many were simply hopeless at it. The Communist Party took the view that, whatever discomforts the Bevin Boys felt, the needs of the anti-fascist war were paramount. Llewellyn thought that the boys had a point and should make their hostility clear by striking.

Despite this brief ultra-leftism, Llewellyn soon now found his way into the labour establishment. Llewellyn was appointed a miners’ agent in Somerset and was an official in all for fifteen years, serving on the National Union of Mineworkers National Executive Committee. He also stood as a Labour parliamentary candidate for North Somerset in 1950 and Wells in 1951, securing over 21,000 votes. He was also an elected Somerset Labour county councillor. However, he ultimately returned to South Wales, becoming National Coal Board director for industrial relations there.

Sources: include `The Fed’, `Miners Against Fascism’, The House of Commons (1951), The Times contemporary reports

Michael Walker