[Editorial Note: We done not condone the actions of the Free Wales Army, but feel as part of recent Welsh history they should be listed in this section]
The Free Wales Army (Welsh: Byddin Rhyddid Cymru) was a paramilitary Welsh nationalist organisation, formed out of Lampeter, West Wales by William Julian Cayo-Evans in 1963 as a replacement for the then supposedly moribund Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru.
Eryr WenThe Byddin consisted of a number of commanding units leading a structure of ranks and volunteers. These commanding units were often isolated and worked within the tight precepts of army directives. Activities were largely limited to training in the Welsh countryside armed with surplus IRA equipment, and small–scale operations. Although the media treated this surreptitious movement with some ridicule, the authorities took them seriously enough to bring court action against the leading figures in 1969, resulting in lengthy prison sentences for them.
The Army's motto was "Fe godwn ni eto", Welsh for "We shall rise again". Its crest was Eryr Wen, a white eagle mounted on dark green shield, commonly seen in shorthand. Also incorporated in the national flag on the top left hand corner.
Their objective was to establish an independent Welsh republic which had the sole allegiance of all her citizens. The Byddin's White Eagle of Eryri symbol became a familiar sight painted on walls and bridges throughout Wales.
The exact number of active members is unknown. Conservative estimates approximate the membership at 50, whilst at its most popular the byddin claimed a nationwide network consisting of 2000 active members and many more sympathisers. However, in August 1968 only 200 volunteers attended the Abergewsyn training camp, indicating that the actual membership was probably between the two figures.
All volunteers wore a bottle-green peaked cap or beret with eagle crest. A bottle-green combat jacket, civilian trousers, neck scarf, combat boots, and bottle-green webbing belt rounded out the uniform for Privates and NCOs and black or leather webbing belt with peaked officers' cap for officers.
The colour of the beret and neck scarf varied depending on the area of operation of the soldier's attachment.
General service dress uniform consisted of a dark green blazer with an eagle crest.
Decorations and Awards
- These decorations were rarely issued and often crude in appearance. Only ribbons were worn on field uniforms. Medals were worn in order of importance, with the most important on the left.
- Order of St.David Awarded for outstanding furtherance of the freedom movement and recognising outstanding achievements. Ribbon: Black and yellow. Medallion: Gold cross
- Cross Of Llewellyn Awarded for leadership in addition to bravery. Ribbon: Two vertical red and green bars. Medallion: Silver Celtic cross embossed with eagle.
- Cross Of Glyndwr Gallantry in the face of the enemy, and individual acts of courage. Ribbon: Violet. Medallion: Bronze Celtic cross with dragon rampant.
- Merit Of Incarceration In recognition of six or more months incarcerated. Ribbon: Vertical black and white bars with single thin red bar. Medallion: Three bar grid.
- Assault Dagger Participant in at least three separate assaults. Brass hilt ceremonial dagger.
- Blood Medal For serious wounds or loss of life, in the name of freedom. Ribbon: Black with single thin vertical red bar.
- Distinguished Service. Service for specified periods of time. Ribbon: Blue (4 years), Blue with silver trim (12 years), Blue with gold trim (20 or more years)
The smallest unit of the army was the section, comprised of six volunteers. This was the basis of army organisation in any area. The section volunteers lived in close proximity, and were available for service at short notice. At this level the section commander (highest ranking officer) worked closely with the company adjutant to oversee operations in their Cantref.
Four sections formed one district platoon. Four platoons formed one area company.
So as to avoid overlap of operations the commander in chief split Wales into five areas of operation each made up of their respective Cantrefi:
- Gogledd Orllewin (North West Wales): Brown
- Gogledd Ddwyrain (North East Wales): Red
- Canolbarth (Central Wales): Green
- De Orllewin (South West Wales): Black
- De Ddwyrain (South East Wales): Blue
- Gwirfoddolwr - Volunteer.
- Gwir.saf 1af - Volunteer 1st class: Snowdon Lilly on right sleeve.
- Corfforol - Corporal (NCO): One burgundy strip on dark green epaulette slides.
- Sersiant - Sergeant (NCO): Two burgundy strips on dark green epaulette slides.
- Ailisgapten - 2nd Lieutenant: One burgundy Eagle head on dark green epaulette slides, and burgundy flash behind cap badge.
- Isgapten - Lieutenant: Two burgundy Eagle Heads on dark green epaulette slides and burgundy flash behind cap badge.
- Capten - Captain: Three burgundy Eagle heads in triangle on dark green epaulette slides and burgundy flash behind cap badge.
- Uchgapten - Major: Two burgundy strips one burgundy Eagle head on dark green epaulette slides and peaked officers cap with burgundy flash behind cap badge.
- Cadlywydd - Commandant: Two burgundy strips, two Eagle heads on dark green epaulette slides, and peaked officers cap with burgundy flash behind cap badge.
- Cadlwydd Cadfridog - Commandant General: Two burgundy strip, three Eagle heads on dark green epaulette slides, and peaked officers cap with burgundy flash behind cap badge.
Timeline of notable events
Feb 1963 FWA is formed.
Oct 1965 confronts Lord Mayor of Liverpool at the opening of Tryweryn reservoir.
Oct 1967 FWA column appeared on David Frost's show.
Jun 1969 Final preparation to storm Caernarfon Castle to stop investiture of Charles Windsor.
Jul 1969 CID operation "Cricket" comes to fruition with the arrest of the FWA leadership.
Mar 1995 Death of Commandant WEJ Cayo-Evans.
May 2004 Death of Commandant D Cosslett.
Commandant William Julian Cayo-Evans (Founder)
Commandant D Coslett
K Griffiths AKA G Ap Iestyn
E H Wilkinson
D B Thomas
S M Forty-Seven
A H Lewis
V G Davies
W V Griffiths
J C Evans