John Roose Williams
Communist, author and Welsh speaker, Williams contributed to the monthly Welsh journal `Heddiw' on the need to support Republican Spain and, as Communist Party District Organiser, he was also involved with journal produced by the North Wales Communist Party, `Llais y Werin' (Voice of the People) in the late 1930s.
On November 7th 1939, Roose Williams was the key speaker at the quarrying village of Llithfaen Communist Party in Caernarvonshire, North Wales, "an almost unique party meeting" as it was carried out "exclusively in Welsh."
The quarrymen had always been strong supporters `militant' of the Labour Party. However, by 1939, the quarrymen had become 'Dissatisfied and dismayed' to the point that local Labour Party branches had been inviting Communist speakers on a regular basis. Denied access to a local school, they secured the use of a local Independent Chapel 'among whose deacons there is a strong element of militant socialist'.
Williams now became Communist Party organiser for North Wales and set to organising the Welsh-speaking part of Wales, establishing a branch in the area. A Welsh district congress (Party terminology would later define such a thing as a nation congress) was held in Rhyl on May 7th 1939. By the end of the year, Williams had got another three Party branches established in North Wales. A report of his appeared in “Party Organiser” in August 1939. “The other day five young fellows walked to Bangor from a village 25 miles away in order to be able to join up in the Party.” Williams also wrote of T E Nicholas (see separate entry) becoming the first communist Crown Bard at the National Eisteddfod that very month.
The Communist Party was beginning to grow in North Wales, with very little effort put in formally, even in the early days of the war years when the Party was opposed to the war. A meeting was announced throughout the local quarries and, despite the war time black out and a rival Peace Pledge Union meeting, a large attendance was secured. At the end of the meeting four of the audience joined the Communist Party, including the chairman and a local branch established at Llithfaen.
Roose Williams authored a number of editions of the pamphlet `Llybr Rhyddid y Werrin'; he also wrote a biography of the famous Welsh Communist Party member and poet, T E Nicholas (`Proffwyd Sosialaeth a bardd gwrthryfel') and 'Quarryman's Champion: The Life and Activities of William John Parry of Coetmor'.
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