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“The Band of Brothers”: The Mobilization of English Welsh Dual Identities in Second World War Britain

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 July 2021

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In the run-up to the Second World War, the War Office agreed to organize territorial units that recruited specifically on the grounds of English Welsh dual identities. These formations, which comprised the 99th London Welsh Heavy Anti-Aircraft regiment and the 46th Liverpool Welsh Royal Tank Regiment, began recruiting in 1939 from English cities with significant Welsh populations. This article explores the mobilization and performance of English Welsh identities during the Second World War and reflects upon why, at a time of global conflict, some English men opted to enlist on the basis of Welsh antecedents. Relatively little attention has been paid to the plurality of British identity in wartime or to how the existence of what historian Thomas Hajkowski has called “hybrid ‘dual identities’” within the constituent countries of the United Kingdom informed the functioning of Britishness during the Second World War. Making use of previously unpublished and original life-writing sources, this article illuminates the significance of dual identifications across two nations at once—in this case, Wales and England—within the multinational state of Britain at war. Overall, by examining the intersectionality between subjective wartime constructions of kin, home, and nation(s), it points to how a sense of dual identifications could feed into recruitment patterns and potentially bolster combat motivation and morale. By highlighting the interconnectedness between constituent nations of Britain, and the complexities of identity formation within Britishness, this article adds to the literature that complicates the notion of fixed singular national identities and underscores the importance of dual identifications within and across the borders of the constituent nations in advancing our understanding of twentieth-century Britain.

Original Manuscript
Copyright © The Author(s), published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the North American Conference on British Studies

The Second World War has been defined by Paul Addison as the “culminating moment” in the history of multinational Britain, a state that since the eighteenth century “had drawn the English, the Scots, and Welsh into an ever closer union.”Footnote 1 In his view, the wartime period constitutes the “high-water mark of Britishness”: a time when a sense of common purpose bound together the constituent countries of the United Kingdom and heightened a British consciousness.Footnote 2 Yet relatively little attention has been paid to the plurality of British identity in wartime or to how the existence of “hybrid ‘dual identities’” within the constituent countries informed the functioning of Britishness during the Second World War.Footnote 3 This article illuminates the existence of dual identifications among the descendants of Welsh migrants in England and, in particular, focuses on a cohort of male English volunteers for whom Wales and Welshness held meaning at the point of their military enlistment. In the run-up to the war, the War Office agreed to organize two territorial units, the 99th London Welsh Heavy Anti-Aircraft regiment and the 46th Liverpool Welsh Royal Tank Regiment, which recruited from English cities with significant diasporic Welsh populations. Making use of previously unpublished and original life-writing sources, this article explores for the first time the mobilization and performance of English Welsh identities during the Second World War. It reflects upon why, at a time of global conflict, some English men opted to enlist on the basis of Welsh antecedents and illuminates the significance of dual identifications across two nations at once—in this case, Wales and England—within the multinational state of Britain at war.

Anthony King emphasizes how twentieth-century armies “sought to unite their troops around common forms of social identity and civic obligation.”Footnote 4 The Second World War provided a moment of galvanization for diasporic Welsh patriotism in Liverpool and London, which in turn led to English men volunteering to serve in “hybrid” regiments that illuminated the salience of dual English Welsh inheritances. In a time of war, the idea of Welsh identity potentially “trumped other factors” in determining how some of these English volunteers saw themselves.Footnote 5 This article examines the emergence of military units that coalesced around the idea of English Welsh dual identity before providing two narrative case studies from London and Liverpool to underline the significance of dual identities and subjectivities during the Second World War. Overall, this exploration of the intersectionality between wartime constructions of kin, home, and nation(s) points to how a sense of dual identifications could feed into recruitment patterns and potentially bolster combat motivation and morale.

Second-Generation Identities and Identifications

Keith Robbins's work underscores the centrality of mobility within constructions of modern British identity, highlighting how, since the nineteenth century, the borders within Britain have “existed to be crossed—in both directions.”Footnote 6 Hazel Easthope concurs that this period saw a shift from “relatively stable identities rooted in place to hybrid identities characterized by mobility and flux.”Footnote 7 By the twentieth century, as Paul Ward points out, Britishness was an identity accepted, put together, and lived by the majority of the people within the United Kingdom.Footnote 8 Krishan Kumar identifies the fundamental importance of the British Empire, a tightly knit British economy and industrial system, trade unionism and the Labour Party, and the BBC as buttressing a sense of Britishness within and across the borders of the United Kingdom.Footnote 9 In particular, Martin Johnes emphasizes how “war, religion and Empire created powerful common experiences and emotional bonds between England and Wales.”Footnote 10

The close relationship between those two nations certainly has deep historical roots. Gwynfor Jones demonstrates that, since the time of incorporation, the Tudors and Stuarts used aspects of Welsh identity to confer a sense of antiquity and heritage on their rule and to foster a sense of common citizenship between England and Wales.Footnote 11 The Tudor Settlement (1536–1543) emphasized existing interrelationships and interdependency and facilitated “administrative and legal unity” between England and Wales.Footnote 12 Chris Williams confirms the high “level of interconnectedness” between the two nations, noting that the constitutional and legal relationship between England and Wales was “transformed” by the Acts of Union with the English system of local government extending to Wales and all legislation that applied to England applying also to Wales.Footnote 13 Thus, as Kumar notes, from the mid-sixteenth to the late eighteenth centuries, “A high degree of cultural dissimilarity coexisted equably . . . with an equally high degree of political stability and willing acceptance of the Welsh position within the English and later British state.”Footnote 14 The work of Aled Jones and Bill Jones also makes clear the extent to which, by the nineteenth century, Wales was a willing participant in the British imperial project.Footnote 15

Following Linda Colley's influential work on the forging of Britishness in the long eighteenth century, historians of modern Britain have largely worked with the idea of “concentric rings of territorial identities” to locality, nation, and imperial state.Footnote 16 However, there is comparatively little work exploring how dual national identities—the sense, for example, of identifying as both English and Welsh—are “complexly interwoven” within historical constructions of Britishness.Footnote 17 Avtar Brah highlights how, within the “diaspora space,” there is often a requirement for an individual to “name an identity” that then renders invisible “all the other identities” available to them. She detects a deep-seated resistance to the idea of being “both.”Footnote 18 Bronwen Walter, in her analysis of second-generation Irish identity in late twentieth century Britain, endorses this idea, calling for more recognition of “the possibility of both/and identities, rather than the either/or choices that characterize ideologies of assimilation and integration.”Footnote 19 My study demonstrates how the Second World War both illuminated “a range of identifications” across Englishness and Welshness among the descended Welsh in England and provided the opportunity for the expression of dual identifications at the point of military enlistment. Footnote 20 Following Brah, I examine the diasporic tensions between subjective wartime constructions of “home” as “a mythic place of desire” (Wales) and “home” as the “lived experience of a locality” and “everyday social relations” (England).Footnote 21

I use the unhyphenated term English Welsh duality here to reflect the neglected diasporic phenomenon of dual identification with both England and Wales among the second- and third-generation Welsh but also to acknowledge that the descended Welsh in twentieth century England did not themselves adopt a hyphenated identity.Footnote 22 In her study of diasporic identity, Walter emphasizes the ways in which second-generation migrants born in Britain can express a sense of dual identity by identifying on the basis of “cultural background rather than simply birthplace.”Footnote 23 In his landmark book The Location of Culture, Homi K. Bhabha signals the importance of the space “in-between the designations of identity,” writing that “this interstitial passage between fixed identifications opens up the possibility of a cultural hybridity that entertains difference without an assumed or imposed hierarchy.”Footnote 24 In their work on the Irish diaspora in England, Mary J. Hickman et al. characterize hybridity as the site—in their case, Ireland and England—where two hegemonic domains “intersect” in the lives of second-generation migrant children. Their study views hybridity as reflecting “the complexity of the identifications and positionings” of children of Irish origin in England as well as allowing for “the conceptualisation of new forms of identities which arise out of the experience of ‘dwelling-in-displacement.’”Footnote 25 Walter and her colleagues suggest that place-name labels such as “London Irish” allow “‘both/and’ identities to be expressed in an uncontroversial way”; for second-generation migrants, such names “acknowledged the duality of their placement in the city or town of their birth . . . but enabled them to retain and express a particular brand of Irishness.”Footnote 26 Building upon that work, Marc Scully underlines the importance of “localised hybrid identities,” pointing out that for second-generation migrants, adopting a hybridized label creates a “conceptual space” for a different type of identity to be imagined, one that emphasizes the “localised specificity” of their identities.Footnote 27 Historically, therefore, the idea of being “London Welsh” or “Liverpool Welsh” has worked to acknowledge not just the presence of first-generation Welsh settlers in England but also the expression of dual identifications among their descendants, “varying contextually in time and space,” foregrounded or concealed at different times.Footnote 28 Tony Murray, in his analysis of second-generation Irish memoir, agrees, referring to “the inherently bifurcated nature of second-generation experience.”Footnote 29 While some work has been undertaken addressing the hybridity of the Irish, and more recently, Italian elements of “the diaspora space of Britain,” relatively little work addresses second-generation identity formation within the Welsh diaspora.Footnote 30

Welsh Diasporic Identities in England

By the beginning of the twentieth century, more than 250,000 Welsh-born inhabitants lived in England, their families and descendants contributing to the urban cosmopolitanism of cities such as London and Liverpool.Footnote 31 Welsh migration to England had been steady throughout the nineteenth century and was significantly reinvigorated during the interwar Depression.Footnote 32 It is worth noting that Welsh migration into England in the nineteenth century occurred against the backdrop of widely understood “social hierarchies” that, as Steve Garner notes, “created and maintained internal borders between the more and the less white.”Footnote 33 While in the United Kingdom, migrant groups such as the Irish, Jews, and Italians could often be racialized as internal “others,” it could be argued that Welsh migrants, with their “Protestant work ethic” and claims to respectability, were perceived as “more securely white.”Footnote 34 In particular, the Welsh were able to utilize prevailing “constructions of whiteness” to position themselves favorably in comparison to the Irish, who were in turn more vulnerable to racialized understandings of “who” fitted “where” in social hierarchies.Footnote 35 In areas of settlement such as Liverpool, this dynamic would often rest on the Welsh community's sense of their religious, political, and cultural “superiority” to the Irish Catholic population.Footnote 36 Mary Kells also notes how “white, English-speaking, middle class migrants” in twentieth-century England, which could include the Welsh, have been able to select which “aspects of the self to reveal,” as their ability “to merge into the receiving society … is greater than for those migrants whose differentiation is visually unmistakeable.”Footnote 37 Colin Pooley suggests that the first generation of Welsh settlers in Liverpool retained a sense of cultural distinctiveness through chapel attendance, language preservation, and Welsh language newspapers.Footnote 38 For the second generation, however, as Merfyn Jones points out, being Welsh was very often a matter of personal choice or identification.Footnote 39 As he notes, those born into the diasporic Welsh community “were obliged to live with dual identities, they were conscious of their Welshness but they could not avoid being English at the same time.”Footnote 40 For the second-generation Welsh in twentieth-century Liverpool and London, therefore, their respective cultural frames of reference were as likely to be the modernist splendor of the Owen Owen retail store, or the Cambrian Lawn Tennis Club in suburban Cricklewood, as they were to be the local chapel, pointing to what Scully views as a specific form of Welshness “rooted” in English cities and localities.Footnote 41 The second- and third-generation Welsh did not share the “oppositional connotations” that were attached to the identity formation of racialized migrant groups such as the Irish and Italians in Britain but, rather, could benefit from their access to “a romantic cultural association which was not available to the ‘non-ethnic’ English.”Footnote 42 Robbins agrees that second- and third-generation “secret Welshmen” in England could often experience an “unaccountable hiraeth (nostalgia, longing) for the land of their fathers which they had never known.”Footnote 43 Thus, the willingness of this generation of English men and women to signal some level of connectedness to Wales could also reflect a desire for authenticity, or what Raphael Samuel defines as “the romance of otherness” conferred by the idea of a genealogical “second identity.”Footnote 44

Militarized English Welsh Identities in Wartime

In the run-up to the Second World War, well-connected Welsh diasporic elites played a critical role in the formation of hybrid military units. By marking the Welsh presence in two of the largest English cities, these units signaled both the perceived close ties between Wales and England and Wales's contribution to imperial constructions of Britishness. As Johnes notes, the Second World War both reaffirmed the interconnectedness between Welsh and British identities and also promoted a heightened “sense of Welshness.”Footnote 45 The imagining of Wales as a “powerful idea” that “could exert a deep emotional pull” clearly extended into the diaspora space of England.Footnote 46

A historical precedent can be found from the First World War, when notables of the London Welsh community campaigned to establish the 15th Battalion (London Welsh) Royal Welch Fusiliers, which was formally incorporated as one of the four battalions of the First Brigade of the Welsh Army Corps.Footnote 47 Their honorary president was Lloyd George, then chancellor of the exchequer, and the group were instrumental in organizing his landmark speech at Queen's Hall in which he famously signaled his support for the war and called for the creation of “a Welsh Army in the field.”Footnote 48 In her analysis of nineteenth-century martial race ideology, Heather Streets demonstrates how imperial understandings that some “races” were more martial than others led to the military promotion of particular masculine traits: “inherent loyalty, honour and devotion in addition to racial hardiness.”Footnote 49 John S. Ellis, while acknowledging that there were competing traditions of militarism and pacifism within traditional understandings of Welsh identity, points to the popularity and acceptability of notions of Welsh martiality, which by the early decades of the twentieth century largely rested “on images accumulated during the warlike days of the distant past” when “the Welsh and their tribal Celtic forebears were known for their ferocity, tenacity and daring in battle.”Footnote 50 When the London Welsh battalion departed for training in Llandudno in December 1914, Lloyd George spoke at their farewell dinner in London lauding the hybrid unit as the embodiment of the “martial spirit of the men of Wales.”Footnote 51 Drawing upon the discourse of an “imperial Welshness,”Footnote 52 he also emphasized Wales's historical importance within Britain: “Let everyone say when you come back, ‘Gallant little Wales!’ There was a notion that Wales, if Radical, was not Imperialist. Why, Wales founded the British Empire. Elizabeth Tudor was a Welsh lady, and Wales had a separate inheritance in the empire.”Footnote 53 Although the battalion was primarily intended to recruit Welshmen resident in London, membership ultimately incorporated those of Welsh origin and non-Welshmen, so that, as Chris Williams notes, the 15th London Welsh essentially functioned as a site of “ethnic heterogeneity.”Footnote 54 This flexibility over recruitment, indicating an elasticity within contemporary constructions of Welshness in England, is significant.Footnote 55 For the founders of the battalion, the Welshness they evoked was largely imagined. Indeed, as Tomos Owen demonstrates in his analysis of the late nineteenth-century Welsh diasporic newspaper the London Kelt, those who were exiled from Wales were often most complicit in promoting a version of nationhood in which Welshness was “being constructed and asserted in the very act of its performance and articulation.”Footnote 56

Typical among the battalion's recruits was the poet David Jones, who later immortalized his military service in the epic modernist poem In Parenthesis (1937).Footnote 57 Born in Brockley in 1895 to an English mother and Welsh father, Jones was keen to enlist in a regiment with Welsh associations. Although he lived in England for most of his life, he consistently asserted a strong sense of himself as Welsh, writing in later life, “From the age of about six, I felt I belonged to my father's people and their land, though brought up in an entirely English atmosphere.”Footnote 58 Jones's professed dualism is apparent throughout In Parenthesis: the title itself is intended to signify “a kind of space between.”Footnote 59 In the preface of the poem, Jones states: “These came from London. Those from Wales. Together they bore in their bodies the genuine tradition of the Island of Britain.”Footnote 60 Indeed, T. S. Eliot characterizes Jones as “decidedly a Briton,” due to his literary rendering of an ancient identity in which Welshness and Englishness coexist and have transmuted into his battalion's “admixture” of Londoners and Welshmen.Footnote 61 In his post–First World War paintings, Jones continued to create and reflect versions of Welshness filtered through the perspective of his lower-middle-class English suburban life.Footnote 62 This military and cultural elision of Welsh English identities captured by Jones was to reemerge at the outbreak of the Second World War.

Second World War Mobilization

Gary Sheffield notes how, during the Second World War, “regimental or other unit identities were assiduously cultivated in units that were based in England” and that this identity often had a “regional” dimension.Footnote 63 King writes that, in terms of combat motivation, twentieth-century citizen armies “appealed to the patriotism or national identities of their soldiers” and above all, to their shared “social identity.”Footnote 64 This section discusses the phenomenon of two regiments that were based on the idea of dual national identifications. In the late 1930s, two new English Welsh military units emerged as a result of the government's decision to double the size of the Territorial Army recruitment.Footnote 65 In 1937, Leslie Hore-Belisha, as secretary of state for war, also restated the government's decision to entrust the expansion of “anti-aircraft defence on the ground” to the Territorial Army.Footnote 66 This opened up a new space for the Welsh diasporic elites in London and Liverpool to attempt to assert the relevance of Welshness in their localities. Indeed, Owen's notion of “a kind of willed imagining of a Welsh identity” is again relevant here.Footnote 67 It appears that the establishment of the two units was played out amid wider anxieties about the visibility of the Welsh community in England; the war offered an opportunity for the diasporic elite to resuscitate a sense of Welshness. At the same time, this militarized form of English Welsh duality clearly did have some resonance in mid-twentieth century England, with the units creating and performing a version of Welshness that had a wide urban appeal. There is evidence that a number of Englishmen were prompted by their patrilineal ties and a familial identification with Wales to serve on behalf of the “Land of My Fathers” in these hybrid military formations.Footnote 68 King notes how, in wartime, “the appeal to manhood was often simultaneously an appeal of nationality.” Indeed, British doctrine of the Second World War emphasized the need to develop the soldierly traits of “patriotism, loyalty, pride of race and a high sense of honour.”Footnote 69 As with the First World War, notions of Welsh military valor—promoted through the lens of diasporic patriotism—held an appeal for a significant number of English recruits with a sense of mixed heritage.

In London, a committee populated by notables such as Hon. Col. General Sir Henry Ap Rhys Pryce and the Welsh coal and press magnate Lord KemsleyFootnote 70 was set up under the chairmanship of the former prime minister Lloyd George to recruit and fundraise for a hybrid regiment.Footnote 71 Although a commemorative booklet records that the London Welsh regiment was “re-born” in 1939 through the efforts of “patriotic Welshmen,” the 99th (London Welsh) Heavy Anti-Aircraft battery was essentially a new territorial unit. With its headquarters at Iverna Gardens, Kensington, the intention was that the regiment would comprise three batteries “to be formed from the Welsh community” residing in the capital.Footnote 72 Yet, in practice, the recruitment reach of the regiment stretched west to Bristol and north to Birmingham, Manchester, and Hull, suggesting that constructions of London Welshness were by necessity malleable and as likely to include non-Welshmen and those of Welsh heritage as those born in Wales.Footnote 73 Londoner David Jones's discovery, when he had attempted to join the Welsh Horse yeomanry regiment in 1914, that he was deemed “Welsh enough” by the military authorities underscores this flexibility in approach. Footnote 74

The inaugural dinner of the London Welsh regiment was held in July 1939 at the Park Lane Hotel in the presence of Lloyd George. Not only did the former prime minister provide continuity between the London Welsh military formations of both world wars but he also held a powerful totemic value as a signifier of Welshness in England. His attendance at the dinner enabled Hore-Belisha to situate the new unit within a strongly Welsh heritage, pronouncing, “This night will be recalled because the greatest Welshman of his age took pride of place at what might be termed your christening ceremony. By his presence alone he enshrouds you at your birth with a full panoply of tradition.”Footnote 75 At the same time, Hore-Belisha invoked a Shakespearian vision of Englishness that both reflected the prevalent use of the term English “as a synonym for ‘British’” during the warFootnote 76 and signaled the unit's dual inheritances: “Guns and searchlights are spread in a wide chequer-board over the land, by lonely copses, alongside farm buildings, in the hills, in the Fen country, keeping an unceasing watch day and night. What a strange transformation since Shakespeare wrote of our country as ‘This fortress built by Nature for herself against invasion and the hand of war.’ He thought it was enough that England should be ‘bound-in with the triumphant sea.’ But now our vigilance is set upon another element.”Footnote 77

The 99th batteries were initially based in Kent and Croydon with Lloyd George's son Major Gwilym Lloyd George taking command of the first battery.Footnote 78 The social profile of the typical recruit of the 99th is encapsulated in their in-house newsletter, On Target, which was produced by 303 battery while based at Shirley Park, Croydon, and which, in its spontaneity, irreverent humor, and lampooning style, mimics trench journals of the First World War such as The Wipers Times. In particular, it adopts what Christopher Westhorp defines as a recognizable “editorial formula” with its mixture of in-jokes and jargon, regular contributors (cartoons by “Kilo”), use of comic pseudonyms (“Carroll Lewis”), and original poems and short stories.Footnote 79 A satirical piece titled “The Army and the Man” alludes to the typical civilian occupations of the 99th gunners as teachers, librarians, and bank managers.Footnote 80 This occupational bias toward the professions mirrors Helen McCartney's depiction of pre–First World War territorial battalions as “socially exclusive” and largely middle class in composition, drawing upon the educational and sporting milieu of public and grammar schools.Footnote 81 The newsletter also highlights the accommodation and acceptance of dual English Welsh identities with the titles of its articles interchangeably addressing both strands of identity, and the plurality of Welshness itself, in terms of language: “Outposts of Empire: Oswestry,” “Night Falls on Shirley,” “Wales and War-Site,” and “Er Cof Anwyl Am Gymry Llundain.”Footnote 82 Within “Er Cof Anwyl Am Gymry Llundain,” recounting the symbolic burial of a “Dragon of Wales, rampant, on a piece of rough board” on the occasion of the departure of some gunners for overseas service, the author recites the funeral oration: “My fellow Welshmen, and those born this side of Offa's Dyke with whom we are proud to serve, and who, we hope, are not ashamed to serve with us . . . Those who go tomorrow are fortunate in that they go together as is fitting for the Cymry, the name by which we Welshmen call ourselves, and which signifies in its derivative meaning, ‘The Band of Brothers.’ And so, my brothers, Englishmen and Welshmen, tonight as the mists roll down from the mountains of Wales and the darkness covers the valleys, Arthur does not sleep in Avalon.”Footnote 83

The dual nature of the 99th London Welsh also inspired some of the wartime output of the poet Keidrych Rhys, the Welsh editor of the literary magazine Wales and a promoter of Welsh writing in English.Footnote 84 Rhys joined the London Welsh as a gunner in July 1940 and was posted variously to Scapa Flow, Great Yarmouth, and Kent, where he was based during the Blitz.Footnote 85 In his contemporaneous poetry, he represented the battery as a site of closer union between Wales and England and underlined the potential of the conflict to draw the two nations closer together. His 1942 poem “Tragic Guilt” begins thus:

No. I'm not an Englishman with a partisan religion.
My roots lie in another region,
Though ranged alongside yours

The poem speaks of the sense of shared “comradeship and pity” experienced in “an open door blitz city.”Footnote 86 His other wartime poems depict life within the London Welsh; “Poem for a Green Envelope,” through naming, positions the unit within a dual identity:

Danny Williams, the rhythm brothers, Jack Hulbert's
collaborators—the ex-war policeman
chaplain to this misshapen staring mass
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Brigade confirmed three totally destroyed last night
The Hon. Colonel Sir Henry ap Rhys Pryce says
We have a good name at the War Office.Footnote 87

A London Welsh Case Study: J. R. Davies

Originally drawn into the male world of sociability, sport, and singing offered by the local London Welsh rugby team, the bank clerk John Rhys Davies was one of those persuaded to join the 99th Territorials. Born in Wandsworth Common in July 1906 to a Post Office clerk from Cardiganshire [Ceredigion] and an English mother, Davies was raised within “a Welsh chapel background,” attending “Eisteddfods” and socializing within a large extended network of Welsh relations in London.Footnote 88 The Imperial War Museum holds 128 letters written by Davies while on military service overseas with the 88th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Eighth Army, in the Middle East, North Africa, and Italy from 1941 to 1945. These letters were typed up by Davies on the occasion of the golden wedding anniversary of his parents, to whom they were originally written before being donated to the museum. Footnote 89 The manuscript is a faithful reproduction of the original letters and provides five years’ worth of sustained correspondence: encapsulating what Margaretta Jolly defines as an act of “self-preservation through perfect communication.”Footnote 90 As Davies ended the war as a lance bombardier, it also offers rare insights into the lived experience of military service from the perspective of the non-commissioned ranks. For the historian, letters are useful both as texts and as “concrete historical artefacts strongly rooted in particular contexts”: they also “act as key cultural sites for the construction of the self.”Footnote 91 The existence of an addressee distinguishes letters from other forms of life writing such as diaries and memoirs. As Janet Gurkin Altman notes, the epistolary experience is a reciprocal one: “The letter writer simultaneously seeks to affect his reader and is affected by him.”Footnote 92 Thus while the letter “connotes privacy and intimacy,” the need for an audience facilitates movement between the private and the public self.Footnote 93 Jolly also underscores the importance of the relationship between the writer and recipient, observing that letters “construct fantasies of identity” and “spring from and codify ideal relationships, preserving the self through appeal to the other.”Footnote 94 Letters are therefore particularly useful in allowing us to explore the ways in which narrative is essential to identity formation.Footnote 95 The focus of Davies's epistolary world was his family home: 2 Elsynge Road, London SW18. The letters are written in English but are littered with Welsh vocabulary, phrases, song titles, and place names. They are addressed to “My dear all,” suggesting they are also directed at Davies's wider family group beyond his parents and underlining that Davies not only writes with an awareness of “a potentially communal” audience but is also communicating within a familial embrace of assumed Welshness.Footnote 96 His letters are lighthearted and humorous in tone, and his agenda is clearly to both reassure and entertain his family back home. Educated at the “semi-public” Emanuel School in Clapham from the age of eleven, Davies is a literate and well-read soldier with a self-confessed passion for “Literature” and confidence in his abilities as an epistolary communicator.Footnote 97 His letters home begin in Palestine in November 1941, when he spends a day's leave at a market in Jerusalem:

We left the Old City by the Jaffa gate and saw something of the labyrinth of bazaars with their strange wares . . . The bizarre combination of the ancient and modern shops—but what prices! They wanted 14/6 for a copy of “How Green is my Valley.” We spent a most enjoyable evening seeing “Gone With The Wind” . . . The following morning behold me once more amidst the street scene of the old city doing a spot more mooching. I found the traditional site of Pontius Pilate's Judgment Hall, now a convent. A jovial old nun showed me round; I think I won her approval by translating a Welsh inscription for her.Footnote 98

Krista Cowman notes that for British soldiers serving in France during the First World War, visiting towns and cities behind the lines enabled them to make connections with urban landscapes back home and to “access a sense of normality through a nostalgic revisioning of the pre-war past.”Footnote 99 At the outset of his first letter, Davies remarks that Jerusalem has a “very welcome Englishness about the landscape.” Yet within this extract there is also a double assertion of Welshness: not only is Davies clearly proud of his ability to provide a Welsh translation but he also expresses an interest in the bestselling wartime novel about South Wales, How Green Was My Valley (1939).Footnote 100 His strong identification with Wales is further evidenced throughout his letters home. When he is stationed in North Africa and Italy, he always locates a local Welsh Society that provides “services in Welsh on Sunday afternoons;” these typically comprise “some pennillion singing, some jokes told in Welsh, a rendering of Fflat Huw Puw and . . . the evergreen Dafydd y Garreg Wen, and Ffarwel Maria.”Footnote 101 At one service, led by Rev. J. O. Jones of Towyn, Davies is “rather gratified to find after all this time that I could understand almost every word.”Footnote 102 A year later, in Caserta, he finds himself among a Welsh-speaking congregation and is relieved to find he has “no great difficulty in joining in the conversation.”Footnote 103 Toward the end of the war, Davies reencounters former colleagues from the London Welsh battery at these Welsh services, demonstrating how dual identifications could be sustained even when the gunners had been transferred from their original regiment.Footnote 104

In his letters home, Davies repeatedly expresses his nostalgia for different parts of Wales, thus expanding the notion of the imagined “home” shared with his parental correspondents in London. In 1942, when he is based near Tobruk, he writes, “My bivvy on a rocky crag overlooks the sea and the view from below might be reminiscent of a bit of Cardiganshire coast line”; while based in Italy from 1943 onward, he regularly compares the surrounding landscape to Aberglaslyn in Snowdonia.Footnote 105 He always remembers to proclaim the significance of 1 March, Saint David's Day, as in a letter to his parents in 1943: “On this auspicious day I should really have made an effort to conjure you a few lines in our native tongue.”Footnote 106 The following year, he writes, “Hope you're all wearing your leeks today or are they rationed?! We've just been listening to the midday Welsh Half Hour—a very good selection—but unfortunately they switched the current off in the middle of ‘O na byddai'n haf o hyd’—an outrageous bit of sabotage by our Anglo-Saxon foes.”Footnote 107

The radio is a particularly crucial medium through which Davies maintains both his sense of Welshness and a reciprocal relationship with relatives back home. When the war broke out in September 1939, the fledgling BBC Wales found itself “fully integrated into the BBC's unified Home Service.”Footnote 108 However, more than two hours of Welsh-language broadcasting on the BBC's 261-meter wavelength were authorized, primarily for broadcasts to Europe. In early 1943, the English-language production Welsh Half Hour, which incorporated “regional news, commentary and a few songs,” debuted on the Home Service.Footnote 109 Davies's letters regularly report on his listening habits, whether tuning in to hear the St. David's singers, or to a Welsh tenor on “The Immortal Hour.”Footnote 110 In one letter, he refers to his Welsh wife, Margaret, who has evacuated to the Rhondda Valley, saying that he was able to hear a broadcast from Blaenclydach at which she was present: “The choir sang well and the too-brief community singing of Bryn Calfaria was grand. I did my best to imagine that I could hear Margaret's voice!”Footnote 111 He regularly attempts to tune into Welsh Half Hour, writing in September 1943: “Listened with much interest to a BBC entertainment for the GIB Welsh Society. Heard some pennillion singing and some personal characteristic messages from the Rhondda and other parts of Wales. I wonder if you were listening?”Footnote 112 Here, Davies clearly positions himself as part of a transcultural imagined Welsh community. There is a sense of reciprocity, a shared connection across borders, regardless of the distance between him and his family. Indeed, this vision of “home” is crucial to him; sometimes he literally dreams of his chapel congregation back in Clapham.Footnote 113

Johnes writes that “it would be difficult to deny sport's place in the inventing, maintaining and projecting of the idea of a Welsh national identity within and outside Wales's blurred borders.”Footnote 114 It is notable that Davies often asserts his selfhood through an embrace of rugby as a key marker of Welshness, frequently constructing his own sense of Celtic identity in opposition to the “Saxons”: “Yesterday morning with a boisterous wind blowing we played a great international Rugby match here—Wales V. England. We had pruned and trimmed a particular area of desert especially for this game and of course heralded it with much advance publicity and propaganda. The Saxons spilt much good red blood on the pitch but they were not quite good enough for us.”Footnote 115

On another occasion he writes of his intention to play in an England versus Wales rugby match, noting, “To whip our Celtic blood into the necessary fervour, we hope to preface the game with a stirring rendering of Sospan [Little Saucepan].”Footnote 116 At the same time, his sense of identity is constantly shifting, a reflection of his own duality. When based in Italy, he both distances himself from English troops—“We tell the Anglo-Saxons here that most of the Italian language has been borrowed from the Welsh—‘See Naples and Dai’”Footnote 117—while also seamlessly representing them: “We soon started to win legendary fame as English Milords.”Footnote 118 Furthermore, his expressions of camaraderie with Welsh servicemen are not boundless. When he encounters a Welsh driver from Aberdare whose ambition for postwar Wales is “to patrol our frontiers when we get back . . . to keep those **** English tourists out,” Davies is dismissive, complaining to his parents, “He just poured it out for half an hour.”Footnote 119

Significantly, although Davies is keen to foreground his Welshness in terms of his social networks and preferred leisure activities, his letters also underline his cultural rootedness in London. Indeed, throughout the correspondence, he is equally attuned to the nostalgic appeal of his birthplace. In March 1942, traveling on an army lorry in Cairo, he remarks on “the exquisite music” of two former London bus conductors discussing making “a brew.”Footnote 120 Indeed, in many ways, Englishness—or the classic tropes associated with wartime constructions of EnglandFootnote 121—is interwoven throughout the letters to his parents. For example, on 10 July 1942, he writes, “The garden I suppose is looking pleasant now . . . it will be grand to see English flowers again after these months of sand and rock”; on another occasion, “carpets of small bluebells, buttercups, daisies, and poppies bring vivid recollections of an English meadow.”Footnote 122 The following month, he states, “The remarkable speed with which some of the letters have travelled here lately makes home, you and the gardens, and flowers, and joints going into ovens, and Sunday afternoon teas seem so much nearer.”Footnote 123 In October 1942, based near Tobruk, he makes specifically London references: “Vauxhall (my pet aversion) on a damp and foggy day is a Utopia in comparison to El Adem,” and he likens the movement of a tank column across the desert to the noise of “about 10,000 Edgware to Morden underground trains.”Footnote 124 When, in January 1944, he hears a concert party rendition of “Five Minutes in Petticoat Lane” by a Cockney comedian, he muses, “I almost fancied I was back in Northcote Road on a Saturday night.”Footnote 125 Shifting from lowbrow to highbrow within his cultural frames of reference, he also includes an occasional literary reference to Keats or Coleridge alongside his elegiac musings about the English landscape.Footnote 126 In December 1942, his slight misremembering of Rupert Brooke's poem “The Old Vicarage” does not detract from his immersion in English literary tradition: “I'm still very fit and quite full of beans. At my side is a Rupert Brooke, left behind by a fleeing Jerry. I've just been dipping into it to find my old favourite Grantchester. Wish I could furnish my landscape with a few ‘green glooms and tunnels of chestnuts,’ and an ‘unkempt hedgerow or two complete with English unofficial rose . . . !’”Footnote 127

Davies's poetic ode to Englishness peaks in spring 1943 with the whimsical reflection, “Oh to be in England now that April's here!”Footnote 128 Thus, while he foregrounds allusions to Wales and Welshness in his letters and the connections he chooses to make overseas are Welsh—societies, radio programs, rugby teams—his asserted sense of Welshness is often disrupted with his English attachments claiming significant space in his familial letters. Overall, an English sensibility is displayed alongside a deep Welsh identification within his self-narration, illuminating an almost unconscious split in his self-identity: a hybrid sense of self. Davies's letters demonstrate the equal importance of both his English and Welsh inheritances, his willingness to draw upon the tropes of English Romanticism as well as signal his Welsh attachments with his allusions to rugby, chapel, and song. This tendency supports Hickman et al.'s notion of hybridity as “the intersection of two hegemonic domains of rootedness, nation, and authenticity” whereby, in this scenario, Wales represents Davies's “imaginings” while England represents “locality and citizenship.”Footnote 129 As Brah notes, the “multi-placedness of ‘home’ in the imaginary of people in the diaspora does not mean that such groups do not feel anchored in the place of settlement.”Footnote 130

Wales is Davies's family's imagined “home” but England is the home he writes to, where his parents and siblings live, where he and his “Ma” were born. Essentially, England is home. At the time of the “flying bombs,” he expresses concern for his parents’ safety, counseling them to move out of London.Footnote 131 He also acknowledges his mother's difference, often locating her in more English settings: “Remember the famous ‘Torna a Sorrento’ (a sort of Italian ‘Dros y Gareg’ or ‘Ffarwel i Llangyfelach’) which Caruso used to pour out with such passionate intensity (or as Ma would have it ‘make that horrible din about’)?”Footnote 132 Ironically, Davies's expressed longing or nostalgia for home, summed up by the Welsh word hiraeth, often takes the form of reminiscing about England within his correspondence. Fundamentally, his observations to his parents contain fascinating insights into his own lived subjectivity and illuminate the complex interconnections between his English and Welsh sense of selves.

Here, as M. Wynn Thomas suggests, Bhabha's notion of hybridity can usefully be applied to “the meeting, mingling and cross-fertilization” of English Welsh identities, a space “where cultural differences ‘contingently’” touch.Footnote 133 For Davies, his Welsh upbringing in London anchors his sense of belonging while serving overseas, underscoring the significance of English Welsh dual identifications. As a continuation of this, Davies contemporaneously positions himself as part of the British Army at war and expresses retrospective pride in being a member of the iconic Eighth Army, as evidenced by the title he gives to his unpublished manuscript, “The Diary of a Desert Rat.”Footnote 134Arguably, Davies's life-writing demonstrates the existence of a particular strand of dual identity in wartime, which by accommodating a small number of servicemen for whom Welshness was, in Mo Moulton's phrase, a “constitutive” part of being English, contributed to constructions of pluralistic Britishness.Footnote 135

A Liverpool Welsh Case Study: Shrewsbury House “Old Boys”

The 46th Battalion (Liverpool Welsh) Royal Tank Regiment was formally constituted in April 1939 following a campaign supported by elite members of Welsh social networks in Liverpool, such as local councilors, businessmen, and former army officers, and spearheaded by the Welsh journalist Harold Tudor, who wrote “Cymric Causerie” columns in the Liverpool Echo under the pseudonym “Talwrn.”Footnote 136 The regiment's formation was galvanized by news of the establishment of the 99th London Welsh and also by a form of ethnic competitiveness with the Liverpool Scottish and Liverpool Irish battalions that existed in the city.Footnote 137 Unlike these two battalions, the 46th had no First World War precursor. In his study of St. David's Day in nineteenth-century Liverpool, Mike Benbough-Jackson notes how initiatives sponsored by the Welsh elites in Liverpool were often “struggles to assert selected interests of an aspiring nation, albeit one whose people were not as active in their own interests as the Irish, successful as the Scots and as established as the English.”Footnote 138 As part of a transnational diaspora, this “self-appointed Welsh community leadership” sought to “diffuse ideas of Welshness.”Footnote 139 By the turn of the twentieth century, the Welsh had such a sizable, long-established presence in Liverpool that the city was often characterized as “the Capital of Wales”: “the great centre towards which the inhabitants of the six northern counties of Wales have always looked as the sphere for their enterprise and the basis for their fortunes.”Footnote 140 Indeed, the creation of the 46th Liverpool Welsh can be viewed as what Katie Pickles terms the “localised invention” of a martial Welsh tradition.Footnote 141 From the outset, the “dual association” of the unit was signaled by “its regimental crest of the Red Dragon of Wales and its brigade flash of the Liver Bird.”Footnote 142 External press commentary enthusiastically endorsed the Welsh nature of the new unit as understood by a Liverpool audience, with the continual use of naming to anchor the men in a tradition of Welshness. For example, in May 1939, the Liverpool Daily Post reported on one platoon: “As might be expected, the Joneses are well to the fore in the roll of names. Although there was no parade as yet, the sergeant-major is looking ruefully down at the thirty-five Joneses already there. In addition to the members of the Jones family, there are twenty-five recruits who answer to the name of Williams. Hughes and Owen are not so plentiful, although the Owens monopolize the column under ‘O.’”Footnote 143

This monitoring by the Liverpool press indicates an anticipation of the comic potential of this “Welsh” unit but at the same time, an acknowledged sense of ownership of Welshness as an integral part of the city's cosmopolitan identity. This bond reflects what Hickman et al. define as the articulation of a second-generation identity contingent upon “locational specificity.”Footnote 144At the same time, there were some instabilities surrounding the promotion of a Welsh martial identity, with both the Liverpool Scottish and Liverpool Irish regiments, re-raised for the Second World War, overshadowing the 46th in terms of recruitment figures and positive press coverage.Footnote 145 Streets notes how within martial race discourse, Scottish Highlanders were traditionally the “poster boys” of the British Army, acting as “an image of ideal masculinity and racial superiority to which all potential recruits could aspire,” while the Irish were acknowledged as “good and brave fighters.”Footnote 146 In this competitive context, the idea of Welsh martial prowess initially struggled to assert itself, and a note of anxiety began to be struck in local press reports that recruitment among the Welsh in Liverpool was rather sluggish.Footnote 147

The regiment was originally intended to be made up of volunteers from the Merseyside area “of Welsh descent or connection,”Footnote 148 and it had been publicly anticipated by the chairman of the Young Wales South Liverpool Society that “the younger element among the strong Welsh community” in Liverpool would respond “willingly and loyally.”Footnote 149 However, it is worth noting that such organizations were not themselves fully reflective of the composition of the Welsh community in the city. Merfyn Jones points out that, while the Young Wales Society was established in Liverpool in 1893 “to command the support and adhesion of Young Welshmen of every class and creed who, by pure force of patriotism, we hope to see welded together into a common brotherhood,” by the mid-twentieth century it was more of a social club than “a politically significant society” and had declining influence.Footnote 150 This observation mirrors Johnes's contention that Wales, with its history of immigration, has always been an “imagined community” and, for its inhabitants, Welshness has “a plethora of different meanings for the people who possess and make it.”Footnote 151 The founders of the regiment were possibly more aware of the diluted nature of Welsh identity in Liverpool than their confident public pronouncements admitted, and so set the following broad eligibility criteria for admission: (1) “Welsh, or of Welsh descent; (2) married to a Welsh woman; (3) an old boy of any Welsh school; (4) a member of a Welsh cultural society on Merseyside; (5) an ex-serviceman who has served with a Welsh regiment or Welsh T.A. unit.”Footnote 152

Fundamentally, therefore, there was a disconnect between the ambitious intention of the founders of the 46th to invent a tradition of Welsh warriors in Liverpool and a haziness around the eligibility criteria, which worked to subvert this objective. After an initial burst of enthusiasm in attestation, within weeks recruitment “slowed down to almost a standstill,” and there were reported anxieties that “the exclusive character of the unit will have to be disturbed.”Footnote 153 Sydney Blackhurst, the West Lancashire Association public relations officer, remarked on “the failure of the potential strength to come up to expectations.”Footnote 154

This dilemma played out amid a wider anxiety that the “Welsh” community itself barely existed. In 1943, O. E. Roberts, the secretary of the Merseyside branch of Undeb Cymru Fydd, sent a circular to Welsh contacts and societies in the northwest region of England to ascertain the level of involvement with “Welsh activities”; more specifically, the circular enquired whether there were “many young Welsh people” in their locality who took “an interest in Welsh matters.”Footnote 155 The replies from Ellesmere Port, Blackburn, and St. Helens were broadly negative. The representative from St. Helen said of the second generation, “they have tended to marry English brides and have then deserted everything Welsh.” He concluded sadly, “Before the boys went away they had already lost their Welsh if they had it to lose in the first place.”Footnote 156 This sample contrasts with the case study of J. R. Davies above, who with his regular attendance at Welsh chapel in London and his wartime marriage to a Welsh woman, had more visibly opted to retain his “cultural allegiance” to Wales and to Welshness.Footnote 157 Overall, however, the Roberts correspondence provides a wartime snapshot of falling chapel and church attendance in England among the second and third generation, their disengagement from Welsh associational culture, and a tendency for this to be attributed to intermarriage and interaction with the “English.” Thus, although the 46th achieved full strength by end of July 1939, there was a sense of underlying awareness among the founders that the imagined community of Welsh people that the regiment was set up to appeal to no longer existed in any recognizable form.Footnote 158 The war provided an opportunity, to adapt Owen's phrase, to will it back into existence. Fundamentally, therefore, there was a distance between the desires of the diasporic elite to forge a wartime vehicle of patriotic Welshness and the more prosaic realities of a long-established Welsh presence in Liverpool.

A useful way to examine this rupture is to analyze the experience of eleven troopers in the 46th Liverpool Welsh who shared a preexistent group identity as “Old Boys” of Shrewsbury House, a youth club in the working-class Everton district, set up as part of the philanthropic public-school mission movement by Shrewsbury School in 1903.Footnote 159 The fact that Everton was considered one of the “three main Welsh enclaves” in Liverpool possibly explains why, in 1939, eleven of its members volunteered for the Liverpool Welsh, constituting around 20 percent of the youth club's servicemen.Footnote 160 Their experiences serve to illuminate the contested nature of diasporic military identity construction and highlight the tensions between the high-minded objectives of the unit's founders and the reality of its recruiting base. Since 1928, the Shrewsbury House Old Boys’ Association had been run by an Old Salopian, Barr Adams. Adams was thirty-four when the war broke out, working in a directorial position at the oil refining company James Light & Son.Footnote 161 Throughout the war, Adams encouraged the “Old Boys” who were in the forces to write to him; he then collated extracts from their letters and recirculated them as “news sheets,” sent to all members of the club at his own expense.Footnote 162 In 1944, he set out to publish the news sheets in a book, “The Club of War,” to act as an exemplar for junior members of the club; a draft version of this unpublished manuscript is held in the Shrewsbury House archive. The archive, managed by a group of volunteers, also holds copies of the letters that Barr Adams wrote to those who were on active service.Footnote 163 This material collectively provides a rare insight into the life-writing and perspective of working-class servicemen and their meditations on war, with the news sheets containing large chunks of unedited text from the “Old Boys.” The news sheets also provide a running commentary on their promotions, “leadership” qualities, and fighting abilities, with their achievements in the forces continually praised. Overall, the news sheets function to develop a strong masculine group identity that incorporates the older civilian Barr Adams. The work of Lucinda Matthews-Jones demonstrates how the existence of philanthropic organizations in poor urban areas created a space for the formation of “cross-class friendships,” which could be reinforced at a time of war.Footnote 164 In this case, the news sheets act as a conduit for the exchange of news as well as a safe forum for expressions of camaraderie and solicitude for each other. However, the correspondents, numbering around fifty servicemen in total, are also performing public roles—their awareness of a multiple audience potentially inhibits confidences, encourages jocularity, and leads to a mutual reinforcement of viewpoints.Footnote 165

The letters, which run to hundreds covering the period 1940–46, are largely written by Adams either to multiple recipients or to favored respondents, so there is often a tonal shift from the cheery lightheartedness of the news sheets to more intimate expressions of affection within the letters, often intensely expressed.Footnote 166 In his letters, Adams also passes on news of their families to his correspondents, acting as a point of reassurance at the time of the bombing raids in Liverpool. This dynamic supports the conclusions of Matthews-Jones, who argues that as philanthropic organizations in working-class areas were “utilized by soldiers as part of their network of emotional support,” they should be included “in our understanding of home and community” in wartime.Footnote 167 The closeness revealed within the correspondence reflects the strength of the volunteers’ emotional attachment to the club in Portland Place, also evidenced by their decision to gather there when war was declared. On the day after Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, Adams records that although their football match is canceled, the Old Boys still instinctively congregate at the club: “talking about the uncertain future . . . one of the soldiers crying openly that he was ‘scared stiff.’”Footnote 168 It is at the moment of volunteering, however, when this shared group identity acquires the patina of Welshness. Their communal act of enlistment, which mirrors the “smaller scale group volunteering” of the “Pals” battalions of the First World War when men joined up together in the expectation of fighting together,Footnote 169 is faithfully relayed in “The Club at War”:

Bill Foulkes was standing at the corner of Dale Street and Castle Street opposite Liverpool Town Hall. It was a brilliantly fine Monday evening towards the end of May 1939 . . . He was soon joined by one or two others, and they all crossed the street and walking in the direction of the Victoria Monument, turned into what had once been shop premises but was now serving as a recruiting centre for the newly “Liverpool Welsh” Tank Regiment. After waiting about two hours among many eager volunteers those who passed their medical test and were able by some means or other to prove their Welsh origins were duly sworn in. On the question of Welsh nationality it seems that an easy view was taken. Even Jimmy Mackay who sounded like a Scotchman, looked like an Englishman, and at times behaved very like an Irishman was able to satisfy the battalion adjutant about his Welsh ancestry. For the others it was comparatively easy. And so six who had gone in as civilians, came out as troopers.Footnote 170

These Liverpudlian volunteers were able to confidently assert an ancestral Welshness in order to gain access to the martial masculinity of the glamorous new tank unit, drawing upon a recognizable strand of Welsh identity within their local community. A newspaper article appears to allude to one of the Shrewsbury volunteers when it observes, “Two Liverpool-Welsh-Scotsmen, insisting respectively on the ‘Mc’ and ‘Mac’ have been enrolled. One proudly pointed to a Welsh grandmother as his qualification for admission. The other had a Welsh mother.”Footnote 171 Within the news sheets, these volunteers are initially referred to by their peers as “the Liverpool Welsh,” “the 46th Welsh,” or “the Taffies,”Footnote 172 and there is clear willingness among the club's members to endorse the constructed Welshness of the 46th. As David McCrone and colleagues argue, a person's national identity is not only socially constructed but sensitive to external validation: “Various ‘identity claims’ are made and received in various ways. Such claims and their reception may vary according to the context.”Footnote 173 The identity claims of the Shrewsbury “Old Boys” were clearly accommodated within the 46th, demonstrating that while these eleven volunteers did not constitute the original “sons of Wales” envisaged by the founders, Welshness retained an urban appeal beyond the confines of formalized diasporic institutions. At the same time, the familial connections of the “Old Boys” with Wales appears to have been rather distant. One of the group, Billy Reece, alludes to this with his tongue-in-check reference: “They're holding a grand ball at St George's Hall on St David's Day so all we true blooded Welshmen feel that we are expected to attend”—indicating that pride in regimental traditions of symbolic Welshness possibly overlaid any sense of national identification.Footnote 174 There is also little self-reference to questions of Welsh identity in the news letters. It is likely that the volunteers essentially used the notion of ancestral Welshness to further consolidate their own shared sense of fraternity, forged in the Everton youth club and summer camps in Wales. For these young working-class men, the 46th provided a site of camaraderie and togetherness, and during the war, they made use of the regimental identity to further solidify their bonds of kinship. Five of them managed to reconstitute in Egypt, Adams noting, “The lads have stuck together marvellously so and if anything the first year of war that bound us all together more closely in many ways I think.”Footnote 175

In terms of the interaction between English and Welsh identities, one of the most fascinating aspects of the Shrewsbury House correspondence is when they—“the Taffies”—encounter Wales. The volunteers did have preexisting knowledge of Wales, having attended an annual summer camp at Penmaenmawr in Conway. However, when the Liverpool Welsh tank regiment transfers from Blundellsands on the outskirts of Liverpool to a training camp at Dinas Dinlle in Caernarvonshire [Gwynedd] in June 1940, a sense of dissonance appears within their correspondence. One of the group writes back to Adams, “We have finally arrived and what a place!! Eight miles from the nearest town and to top it all the people here don't speak English. They just jabber away to you in Welsh. I think they must either be ignorant or they can't speak English.”Footnote 176 A fellow “Old Boy” already posted out in Egypt, signals back empathetically from overseas, “Re. the opinion of [Atkinson] on Welsh people I can say the same for the wogs out here. They are too b-----lazy to learn the King's English.”Footnote 177 Later on, new recruits to the regiment at Whitby are dismissed by another volunteer with the words, “These Welsh lads stink.”Footnote 178 Very similar language is deployed within the volunteers’ letters to describe colonial and Italian “others” encountered in North Africa: the “gyppos” and the “wogs” who also “stink” and are found “jabbering” away.Footnote 179 Paul Fussell refers to the use of stereotyping by Allied troops as a mechanism through which to see themselves as “attractive, moral and exemplary”Footnote 180 and points out how, within military propaganda, “monosyllabic enemies” such as kraut or wop were “easier to despise than others.”Footnote 181 However, while these exchanges may reflect commonplace forms of racialized military language, they also simultaneously construct the Welsh as form of domestic “other.”Footnote 182 When Atkinson receives a posting to Criccieth, North Wales, this soon becomes the source of dissatisfaction, as retold within “The Club at War” in 1944, with an additional layer of anti-Welsh sentiment:

His job was to act as a batman, and clerk to one of the officers. He was at least fortunate in his billet which was a hotel and he had no complaints to make on that score, either of the feeding or of lack of comfort. But he missed his old companions and commented unfavourably on the Welsh inhabitants, the fact that no training of any sort was being done and the dullness of life at a North Welsh coast resort in winter. The only compensations appear to have been the passing attraction of the Welsh girls and by way of a link with the famous, an occasional game of billiards with Lloyd George's chauffeur—a certain Mr Dyer. He also saw the veteran statesman himself but reported that the local inhabitants held no high opinion of him judging him to be mean—a point on which the Welsh may at least claim to have gained expert knowledge through experience.Footnote 183

These extracts suggest that the volunteers’ construction of ancestral Welshness was contingent upon place and was open to challenge when they were actually based in Wales.

Other elements of discord captured in the archival material hint at the complexities underlining the creation of hybrid English Welsh units. Adams mentions that while the 46th Liverpool Welsh were training in Wales, “The most local ‘local’ had been put out of bounds following a series of disputes between the soldiers and the Welsh inhabitants. A climax was reached when the villagers declared that they would welcome the arrival of Hitler being apparently under the impression that he would liberate Wales and particularly their corner of it from the English occupation.”Footnote 184

Chris Williams alludes to the historical traditions within England of “certain pejorative attitudes towards the Welsh as a poor, ill-educated, coarse, shifty, garrulous and untrustworthy people.”Footnote 185 Within the shared correspondence of the Shrewsbury House volunteers and Adams, there was a tendency to indulge in the “othering” of Welsh civilians in ways that mirror the crude national stereotyping of enemy troops. Thus, while participating in and subscribing to the invented military tradition of the Liverpool Welsh regiment, the troopers often, paradoxically, and particularly when based in Wales, construct their identity in opposition to the Welsh. This self-contradiction supports Murray's contention that, in the case of migrants’ descendants, “contrary ethnic positionings are often simultaneously maintained and claimed,” an expression of what Brah terms “contingent positionality.”Footnote 186 Yet there could also be gentler associations. At the end of December 1940, Tommy Watts was on active service overseas, engaged as a petrol lorry driver in the fighting at Gallabat, on the Sudanese border with Ethiopia. Watts writes, recalling their annual camp, “At one time we were living in the mountains and it reminded me very much of North Wales and it was there that I saw the first and only rainfall since I have been in the Middle East.”Footnote 187 Atkinson's letter, cited above, also contains the passage, “I had a fine run up by road and as we passed through Penmaenmawr it brought back many memories of the camps we have had there. I hope it won't be long before we are back there again.”Footnote 188 Billy Reece, serving in Egypt, uses Wales as a goal to return to at the war's end: “It's a far cry from Rhyl to Cairo and I didn't think last year my next Whit would be spent here. I guess Ali Baba Palin [his Rhyl landlady] will feel the pinch. Well here's hoping we can pay a return visit next Whit.”Footnote 189 Jimmy Mackay, in Aldershot, reminisces about the “last time we went to Pen.”Footnote 190 Here the English troopers collectively construct Wales as a restorative site of refuge and solace. Interestingly, this nostalgic construction mirrors the contemporaneous work of the Welsh writer Hilda Vaughan, who in two novels, The Soldier and the Gentlewoman (1932) and Pardon and Peace (1945), addresses the experiences of English former servicemen seeking psychic recovery in postwar Wales. In Pardon and Peace, for example, an English soldier, Mark Osbourne, returns from fighting in the First World War to revisit a former Welsh holiday destination in order “to be made whole again.”Footnote 191

The need to maintain the invented Welsh identity of the 46th remained strong to external observers and cheerleaders for the unit, not just the social and cultural representatives of the Liverpool Welsh diaspora, such as the department store Owen Owen, which hosted a “comforts” club for the regiment, but extending out to the press, which sustained the link through their reporting.Footnote 192 For example, in June 1944, the lord mayor of Liverpool sent “hearty greetings” to the Liverpool Welsh based in Italy, congratulating them on a “splendid fighting record of which the City is proud.”Footnote 193 Again, this sentiment produces a similar dynamic identified by McCartney in relation to the Liverpool Scottish battalion of the First World War, where the presence of Englishmen in the ranks did not “dilute its character or alter its significance” but rather “helped to perpetuate this symbol of the Scottish community in Liverpool.”Footnote 194 Although the number of original members with Liverpudlian or Welsh associations substantially diminished—a reflection of the army's policy of cross-posting from 1941 onward, but also the loss of half of its tank crews during one of their first engagements on the Alamein line at Ruweisat Ridge in July 1942—the local press continued to use the notion of a localized English Welsh identity to frame the tank regiment. Serving in North Africa, Italy, and Greece, the 46th was said to have maintained “a strong regimental spirit.”Footnote 195 Coverage in the Liverpool press of the regiment's ceremonial dissolution in Greece in 1946, through the continued use of naming, underlines the connection in the subtext of one photograph: “The General talks to Staff Sergeant Major J H Jones, who joined the regiment when it was formed in the summer of 1939. Next to him is another of the original members, Sjt. F W Jones.” The Echo journalist Ronald Clare, who first encountered the 46th in Italy, chose this occasion to reiterate how in 1939 “the sons of Wales in Liverpool” answered the call to form their own battalion and, with the Eighth Army at El Alamein, “these Liverpool Welshmen fought fearlessly” and with “native tenacity.”Footnote 196 He projects forward to the time when these men “next meet in Liverpool, and sing, as only the Welsh can sing, ‘Land of My Fathers.’”Footnote 197 This blurring of identity is clearly considered unproblematic: even among those who know this unit is no longer filled with men from Liverpool, its “localized” Welshness still matters.Footnote 198


Examining the functioning of English Welsh dual identifications within localized hybrid military formations during the Second World War reveals the complexity of the lived identity of Britishness in wartime and highlights the complex, multilayered nature of personal identity construction within the modern British world. In the first half of the twentieth century, Wales and Welshness held meaning for hundreds of English men and women, their lived subjectivities reflecting a delicate balancing act between an imagined “home” of origin and their “home” of birthplace and residence. An examination of these military units provides one way of demonstrating how these complementary identifications across Englishness and Welshness acted as an important strand of pluralistic Britishness in wartime. While both regiments emerged as the result of a deliberate assertion of elite diasporic Welshness, their identities were constantly renegotiated and, on occasion, could be significantly subverted. J. R. Davies's wartime self-construction made use of his hybridity, rooted in paternal Welshness, to signal an attachment to family and a shared imagined “home,” while the Shrewsbury House “Old Boys” made use of a more vestigial ancestral Welshness to consolidate kinship bonds forged in their youth club “home.” This evidence suggests that national identities and identifications are not just about nation(s) but are also about understandings of home, friendship groups, and kinship affiliations. For all these servicemen, the part “played by England” in their making was crucial.Footnote 199 As English-born men, they tended to construct Wales as the “other,” in both positive and negative ways, underlining duality as a site of complex “identifications and positionings.”Footnote 200 Fluid and diverse English Welsh identities coexisted within constructions of Britishness in the first half of the twentieth century—identities that could be mobilized at times of war.

Examining decorative culture within the Palace of Westminster, James Ford suggests that, at times throughout the nineteenth century, Welsh national identity could “combine or collide with Englishness to form an overriding Britishness.”Footnote 201 In wartime, Britishness also functioned in a “conglomerative” way, gathering together distinct national identities.Footnote 202 During the Second World War, the 99th London Welsh and the 46th Liverpool Welsh units provided a useful vehicle for English men to access martial masculinity by claiming identification with Wales, but they also valued their wider participation in the British war effort, particularly as part of the iconic Eighth Army. In this sense, it is possible that their military experiences within localized hybrid units also shaped, and contributed to, their sense of Britishness. Understanding the interconnectedness between constituent nations of Britain, in this case Wales and England, and the complexities of identity formation within Britishness complicates the notion of fixed singular national identities and underscores the importance of dual identifications within and across the borders of the constituent nations in advancing our understanding of twentieth-century Britain.


1 Paul Addison, “The Impact of the Second World War,” in A Companion to Contemporary Britain, 1939–2000, ed. Paul Addison and Harriet Jones (Oxford, 2005), 3–22, at 12. See also Sonya O. Rose, Which People's War? National Identity and Citizenship in Wartime Britain, 1939–1945 (Oxford, 2003); Wendy Ugolini and Juliette Pattinson, “Negotiating Identities in Multinational Britain during the Second World War,” in Fighting for Britain? Negotiating Identities in Britain during the Second World War, ed. Wendy Ugolini and Juliette Pattinson (Oxford, 2015), 1–24.

2 Paul Addison, “National Identity and the Battle of Britain,” in War and the Cultural Construction of Identities in Britain, ed. Barbara Korte and Ralf Schneider (Amsterdam, 2002), 225–40, at 235.

3 Thomas Hajkowski, The BBC and National Identity in Britain, 1922–53 (Manchester, 2010), 2.

4 Anthony King, The Combat Soldier: Infantry Tactics and Cohesion in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries (Oxford, 2013), 62.

5 John Herson, Divergent Paths: Family Histories of Irish Emigrants in Britain, 1820–1920 (Manchester, 2015), 6.

6 Keith Robbins, Nineteenth-Century Britain: England, Scotland and the Making of a Nation (Oxford, 1989), 6.

7 Easthope, Hazel, “Fixed Identities in a Mobile World? The Relationship between Mobility, Place and Identity,” Identities 16, no. 1 (2009): 61–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar, at 65.

8 Paul Ward, Britishness since 1870 (London, 2004), 7.

9 Krishan Kumar, The Making of English National Identity (Cambridge, 2003), 235–37.

10 Martin Johnes, Wales: England's Colony? (Cardigan, 2019), 4.

11 Gwynfor Jones, Early Modern Wales, c.1525–1640 (Basingstoke, 1994), 75–90, 208–11.

12 Jones, Early Modern Wales, 86.

13 Chris Williams, “Problematizing Wales: An Exploration in Historiography and Postcoloniality,” in Postcolonial Wales, ed. Jane Aaron and Chris Williams (Cardiff, 2005), 3–22, at 4–6.

14 Kumar, Making of English National Identity, 138.

15 Jones, Aled and Jones, Bill, “The Welsh World and the British Empire, c. 1851–1939: An Exploration,” Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 31, no. 2 (2003): 57–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

16 Linda Colley, Britons: Forging the Nation, 1707–1837 (New Haven, 1992); Smout, T. C., “Perspectives on the Scottish Identity,” Scottish Affairs, no. 6 (1994): 101–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar, at 102.

17 Walter, Bronwen, Morgan, Sarah, Hickman, Mary J., and Bradley, Joseph M., “Family Stories, Public Silence: Irish Identity Construction amongst the Second-Generation Irish in England,” Scottish Geographical Journal 118, no. 3 (2002): 201–17Google Scholar, at 202.

18 Avtar Brah, Cartographies of Diaspora: Contesting Identities (London, 1996), 3.

19 Walter, Bronwen, “English/Irish Hybridity: Second-Generation Diasporic Identities,” International Journal of Diversity in Organisations 5, no. 7 (2005/6): 17–24Google Scholar, at 18.

20 Walter, “English/Irish Hybridity,” 20.

21 Brah, Cartographies, 190, 192.

22 Golash-Boza, Tanya, “Dropping the Hyphen? Becoming Latino(a)-American through Racialized Assimilation,” Social Forces 85, no. 1 (2006): 27–55CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

23 Walter, “English/Irish Hybridity,” 19.

24 Homi K. Bhabha, The Location of Culture (London, 1994), 4.

25 Mary J. Hickman et al., “The Limitations of Whiteness and the Boundaries of Englishness: Second-Generation Irish Identifications and Positionings in Multiethnic Britain,” Ethnicities 5, no. 2 (2005): 160–82, at 160, 178; Walter et al., “Family Stories,” 202.

26 Walter, “English/Irish Hybridity,” 20.

27 Scully, Marc, “‘Plastic and Proud’? Discourses of Authenticity among the Second-Generation Irish in England,” Psychology and Society 2, no. 2 (2009): 124–35Google Scholar, at 133, 131.

28 Walter et al., “Family Stories,” 202.

29 Tony Murray, “A Diasporic Vernacular? The Narrativization of Identity in Second-Generation Irish Memoir,” Irish Review, no. 44 (2012): 75–88, at 85.

30 Marc Scully, “Discourses of Authenticity and National Identity among the Irish Diaspora in England” (PhD diss., Open University, 2010); Wendy Ugolini, Experiencing War as the “Enemy Other”: Italian Scottish Experience in World War II (Manchester, 2011). See also Pooley, Colin G., “The Residential Segregation of Migrant Communities in Mid-Victorian Liverpool,” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 2, no. 3 (1977): 364–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Pooley, Colin G., “Welsh Migration to England in the Mid-Nineteenth Century,” Journal of Historical Geography 9, no. 3 (1983): 287–306CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Mike Benbough-Jackson, “Negotiating National Identity during St David's Day Celebrations on Merseyside, 1880–1900,” in Merseyside: Culture and Place, ed. Mike Benbough-Jackson and Sam Davies (Newcastle, 2011), 263–90; D. Ben Rees, The Welsh of Merseyside, vol. 2, The Welsh of Merseyside in the Twentieth Century (Liverpool, 2001); Emrys Jones, ed., The Welsh in London, 1500–2000 (Cardiff, 2001); Jones, Merfyn, “Welsh Immigrants in the Cities of North West England, 1890–1930: Some Oral Testimony,” Oral History 9, no. 2 (1981): 33–41Google Scholar; R. Merfyn Jones, “The Liverpool Welsh,” in Liverpool Welsh and Their Religion: Two Centuries of Welsh Calvinistic Methodism, ed. R. Merfyn Jones and D. Ben Rees (Liverpool, 1984), 20–43.

31 John Davies, A History of Wales (London, 1993), 443; John Belchem and Donald M. MacRaild, “Cosmopolitan Liverpool,” in Liverpool 800: Culture, Character and History, ed. John Belchem (Liverpool, 2006).

32 Davies, History of Wales, 578–79.

33 Steve Garner, Whiteness: An Introduction (London, 2007), 63.

34 Anne McClintock, Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest, (New York, 1995), 52–53; Ugolini, Experiencing War, 26; Benbough-Jackson, “Negotiating National Identity,” 265; Richard Dyer, White (London, 1997), 4. See also Donald M. MacRaild and Philip Payton, “The Welsh Diaspora,” in British and Irish Diasporas: Societies, Cultures and Ideologies, ed. Donald MacRaild, Tanja Bueltmann, and J. C. D. Clark (Manchester, 2019), 244–79.

35 Carol Lynn McKibben, Beyond Cannery Row: Sicilian Women, Immigration, and Community in Monterey, California, 1915–99 (Champaign, 2006), 82; Garner, Whiteness, 68.

36 Merfyn Jones, “Liverpool Welsh,” 28; M. Wynn Thomas, The Nations of Wales, 1890–1914 (Cardiff, 2016), xiii.

37 Mary Kells, Ethnic Identity amongst Young Irish Middle Class Migrants in London (London, 1995), 6.

38 Pooley, “Welsh Migration,” 302.

39 Jones, “Liverpool Welsh,” 29.

40 Jones, 35.

41 Advertisement in Y Ddolen (newsletter for the London Welsh Centre), March 1939; Scully, “Discourses of Authenticity,” 15.

42 See Walter, “English/Irish Hybridity,” 20, 21; Ugolini, Experiencing War, 3.

43 Robbins, Nineteenth-Century Britain, 36.

44 Thanks to Matt Houlbrook for this observation. Raphael Samuel, Theatres of Memory, vol. 1, Past and Present in Contemporary Culture (London, 1994), 247; Ugolini, Wendy, “The ‘Welsh’ Pimpernel: Richard Llewellyn and the search for authenticity in Second World War Britain,” Cultural and Social History 16, no. 2 (2019): 185–203CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

45 Johnes, Wales since 1939, 3, 29.

46 Johnes, 3.

47 “First Welsh Brigade,” Llangollen Advertiser, 5 March 1915. All Welsh newspapers have been accessed via the digital online collection Cymru 1914,

48 Lloyd George: A Diary by Frances Stevenson, ed. A. J. P. Taylor (London, 1971), 2; The Great War: Speech Delivered by The Rt. Hon. David Lloyd George, MP (London, 1914), 13.

49 Heather Streets, Martial Races: The Military, Race and Masculinity in British Imperial Culture, 1857–1914 (Manchester, 2004), 11.

50 John S. Ellis, “A Pacific People, a Martial Race: Pacifism, Militarism and Welsh National Identity,” in Wales and War: Society, Politics and Religion in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, ed. Matthew Cragoe and Chris Williams (Cardiff, 2007), 15–37, at 16.

51 “Mr. Lloyd George and the London Welsh Battalion,” Cambrian News, 4 December 1914.

52 Jones and Jones, “Welsh World,” 57.

53 “Mr. Lloyd George and the London Welsh Battalion.”

54 Chris Williams, “Taffs in the Trenches: Welsh National Identity and Military Service, 1914–1918,” in Cragoe and Williams, Wales and War, 126–64, at 144.

55 See James Ford, “The Art of Union and Disunion in the Houses of Parliament, c.1834– 1928” (PhD diss., Nottingham University, 2016.)

56 Tomos Owen, “The London Kelt, 1895–1914: Performing Welshness, Imagining Wales,” Almanac: Yearbook of Welsh Writing in English, vol. 13 (2008/9): 109–25, at 110.

57 Its bilingual title also signals dualism: David Jones, In Parenthesis: Seinnyessit e gledyf ym penn mameu (London, 1937).

58 David Jones, The Dying Gaul and Other Writings (London, 1978), 23.

59 David Jones, In Parenthesis (London, 2014), xv.

60 Jones, x.

61 T. S. Eliot, “A Note of Introduction,” in Jones, In Parenthesis (London, 2014), vii–viii, at vii. See also Paul Robichaud, Making the Past Present: David Jones, the Middle Ages, and Modernism (Washington, DC, 2007).

62 Jeremy Hooker, Imagining Wales: A View of Modern Welsh Writing in English (Cardiff, 2001); Ariane Banks and Paul Hills, The Art of David Jones: Vision and Memory (Farnham, 2015).

63 Gary Sheffield, “Englishness in the British Army of the Second World War,” in Ugolini and Pattinson, Fighting for Britain?, 49–64, at 51.

64 King, Combat Soldier, 62.

65 Ian R. Grimwood, A Little Chit of a Fellow: A Biography of the Right Hon. Leslie Hore-Belisha (Lewes, 2006).

66 Grimwood, Little Chit of a Fellow, 75.

67 Owen, “London Kelt,” 123.

68 Wendy Ugolini, Wales in England, 1914–1945: A Social, Cultural, and Military History of the Two World Wars (Oxford, forthcoming).

69 King, Combat Soldier, 75.

70 99th London Welsh Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, 1939–1945 (n.p., 1945), 15, LBY K. 75915, Imperial War Museum. (Hereafter this repository is abbreviated as IWM).

71 Colonel Arthur Evans, Speech to the House of Commons, 5 August 1943, Parliamentary Debates, Commons, 5th series, vol. 391 (1943), col. 2509.

72 Letter from R. V. Nind Hopkins to War Office, 8 May 1939, The National Archives, T 161/861. (Hereafter this repository is abbreviated as TNA.)

73 99th London Welsh Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, LBY K. 75915, IWM. Johnes notes how the presence of non-Welshmen serving in Welsh regiments during the Second World War did not diminish regimental Welshness. Indeed, “what on the surface might appear to be national symbols”—such as “eating the leek”—“were in practice driven more by the need to create personal relationships and a common bond between diverse sets of men.” See Martin Johnes, “Welshness, Welsh Soldiers and the Second World War,” in Ugolini and Pattinson, Fighting for Britain?, 65–88, at 73.

74 David Jones, Dai Greatcoat: A Self-Portrait of David Jones in His Letters, ed. René Hague (London, 1980), 26–27.

75 Western Morning News (Plymouth), 19 July 1939, 7.

76 Kenneth Lunn, “Reconsidering ‘Britishness’: The Construction and Significance of National Identity in Twentieth Century Britain,” in Nation and Identity in Contemporary Europe, ed. Brian Jenkins and Spyros Sofos (London, 1996), 83–100, at 87.

77 Western Morning News (Plymouth), 19 July 1939, 7.

78 Y Ddolen, June 1939, 17.

79 Christopher Westhorp, introduction to The Wipers Times: The Famous First World War Trench Newspaper (London, 2013), n.p.

80 On Target 1, no. 1, April 1940, E.J.3487, IWM.

81 Helen B. McCartney, Citizen Soldiers: The Liverpool Territorials in the First World War (Cambridge, 2005), 5, 26.

82 On Target 1, no. 1, Apr. 1940; On Target, 1, no. 2, May 1940, E.J.3487, IWM.

83 On Target 1, no. 2, May 1940, E.J.3487, IWM.

84 Glyn Jones, The Dragon Has Two Tongues: Essays on Anglo–Welsh Writers and Writing (London, 1968).

85 Keidrych Rhys, The Van Pool: Collected Poems, ed. Charles Mundye (Bridgend, 2012), 28.

86 Rhys, The Van Pool, 37–38.

87 Rhys, 25–28.

88 Interview with John Rhys Davies by Peter M. Hart, March 2003, 26841, IWM.

89 Private Papers of J. R. Davies (hereafter PPD), letters to parents, 13167, IWM. Thanks to Mary-Lynne Jones for permission to cite from these papers.

90 Margaretta Jolly, “Myths of Unity: Remembering the Second World War through Letters and Their Editing,” in Arms and the Self: War, the Military, and Autobiographical Writing, ed. Alex Vernon (Kent, 2005), 144–70, at 159.

91 Rebecca Earle, “Introduction: Letters, Writers and the Historian,” in Epistolary Selves: Letters and Letter-Writers, 1600–1945, ed. Rebecca Earle (Aldershot, 1999), 1–12, at 2.

92 Janet Gurkin Altman, Epistolarity: Approaches to a Form (Columbus, 1982), 88.

93 Altman, Epistolarity, 187.

94 Jolly, “Myths of Unity,” 164.

95 Jolly, Margaretta and Stanley, Liz, “Letters as/Not a Genre,” Life Writing 2, no. 2 (2005): 91–118CrossRefGoogle Scholar, at 92.

96 Earle, introduction, 7.

97 Interview with John Rhys Davies by Peter M. Hart, March 2003, 26841, IWM.

98 PPD, letter to parents, 10 November 1941, 13167, IWM.

99 Krista Cowman, “Touring behind the Lines: British Soldiers in French Towns and Cities during the Great War,” Urban History 41, no.1 (2014): 105–23, at 108, 122.

100 Ugolini, “The ‘Welsh’ Pimpernel.”

101 PPD, letter to parents, 30 September 1944, 13167, IWM.

102 PPD, letter to parents, 7 June 1944, 13167, IWM.

103 PPD, letter to parents, 1 July 1945, 13167, IWM.

104 PPD, letter to parents, 17 April 1945, 13167, IWM.

105 PPD, letters to parents, 22 November 1942, 6 October 1943, 31 August 1945, 13167, IWM.

106 PPD, letter to parents, 1 March 1943, 13167, IWM.

107 PPD, letter to parents, 1 March 1944, 13167, IWM.

108 Hajkowski, BBC and National Identity, 182–85.

109 Hajkowski, 182–85.

110 PPD, letters to parents, 18 and 23 June 1943, 11 August 1943, 13167, IWM.

111 PPD, letter to parents, 23 July 1944, 13167, IWM.

112 PPD, letter to parents, 20 September 1943, 13167, IWM.

113 PPD, letters to parents, 18 March 1943, 6 December 1944, 13167, IWM.

114 Martin Johnes, A History of Sport in Wales (Cardiff, 2005), 109.

115 PPD, letter to parents, 27 December 1942, 13167, IWM.

116 PPD, letter to parents, 1 March 1943, 13167, IWM.

117 PPD, letter to parents, 6 October 1943, 13167, IWM.

118 PPD, letter to parents, 17 May 1944, 13167, IWM.

119 PPD, letter to parents, 14 August 1944, 13167, IWM.

120 PPD, letter to parents, 8 March 1942, 13167, IWM.

121 Lucy Noakes, “‘Deep England’: Britain, the Countryside and the English in the Second World War,” in Ugolini and Pattinson, Fighting for Britain?, 25–47.

122 PPD, letter to parents, 10 July 1942, 27 February 1943, 13167, IWM.

123 PPD, letter to parents, 30 August 1942, 13167, IWM.

124 PPD, letter to parents, 24 October 1942, 13167, IWM.

125 PPD, letter to parents, 21 January 1944, 13167, IWM.

126 PPD, letters to parents, 8 August 1943, 12 September 1943, 13167, IWM.

127 PPD, letter to parents, 5 December 1942, 13167, IWM.

128 PPD, letter to parents, 31 March 1943, 13167, IWM.

129 Hickman et al., “Limitations,” 173.

130 Brah, Cartographies, 194.

131 PPD, letters to parents, 3 July 1944, 3 August 1944, 13167, IWM.

132 PPD, letter to parents, 23 July 1945, 13167, IWM.

133 Thomas, M. Wynn, “‘A Grand Harlequinade’: The Border Writing of Nigel Heseltine,” Welsh Writing in English, vol. 11 (2006/7): 51–68Google Scholar, at 52; Bhabha, Location of Culture, 296.

134 Davies attended Eighth Army reunions every year. Personal communication, 2012.

135 Moulton argues that Irishness can be viewed as “a constitutive element” of Englishness in the interwar period. Mo Moulton, Ireland and the Irish in Interwar England (Cambridge, 2014), 7.

136 “‘Talwrn's’ Cymric Causerie,” Liverpool Echo, 12 April 1939, 3.

137 “A Cymric Causerie,” Liverpool Echo, 22 March 1939, 14. See also A Short History of the 46th (Liverpool Welsh) Royal Tank Regiment (1949), RH87, 46 RTR 7431, Tank Museum Archive, Bovington, Dorset.

138 Benbough-Jackson, “Negotiating National Identity,” 286.

139 Jones and Jones, “Welsh World,” 62, 68.

140 Belchem and MacRaild, “Cosmopolitan Liverpool,” 344–45.

141 Katie Pickles, Female Imperialism and National Identity: Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire (Manchester, 2002), 37.

142 Ronald Clare, “L'pool Welsh Disband near Corinth,” Liverpool Echo, 22 February 1946, 4.

143 “‘Macs’ Join the ‘Joneses,’” Liverpool Daily Post, 31 May 1939.

144 Hickman et al., “Limitations,” 178.

145 See “Liverpool Scottish Regimental Association,” Liverpool Daily Post, 19 June 1939; “Honour for Irish Battalion,” Liverpool Daily Post, 20 December 1939; “Welsh-Irish TA Units,” Liverpool Echo, 21 April 1939.

146 Streets, Martial Races, 181, 4, 169.

147 See “Call to Welshmen,” Liverpool Echo, 7 June 1939.

148 RH87, 46 RTR 7431, Tank Museum Archive.

149 “Liverpool-Welsh Battalion Developments,” Liverpool Daily Post, 22 April 1939.

150 Jones, “Liverpool Welsh,” 36–37.

151 Johnes, History of Sport, 109.

152 “Brisk Start of Welsh Battalion,” Liverpool Daily Post, 15 May 1939.

153 “Call to Welshmen,” Liverpool Echo, 7 June 1939; “Welsh Tank Unit Recruiting,” Liverpool Daily Post, 13 June 1939.

154 “Lull in ARP Recruiting,” Liverpool Daily Post, 7 June 1939.

155 O. E. Roberts's Undeb Cymru Fydd Papers, Circular from O. E. Roberts, 14 April 1943, GB 0222, BMSS OER, Bangor University Archive, Bangor, Wales. Thanks to the Edinburgh Welsh Society for providing a translation of this material.

156 Letter from Meurig Walters, 25 April 1943, GB 0222, BMSS OER, Bangor University Archive.

157 Davies met his wife at chapel in London, and they married in 1941. Personal communication from Mary-Lynne Jones, 19 August 2012; Murray, “A Diasporic Vernacular?,” 80.

158 “‘Liverpool Welsh’ on View,” Liverpool Daily Post, 31 July 1939.

159 Nigel Scotland, Squires in the Slums: Settlements and Missions in Late Victorian Britain (London, 2007).

160 Jones, “Liverpool Welsh,” 22.

161 Letter from Adams, September 1942, BA194209SEPTb, Shrewsbury House Archive Shrewsbury House Youth Club, Liverpool. (Hereafter this repository is abbreviated as SHA.)

162 “I. G. Barr Adams (O.S),” SHA.

163 Thanks to Shrewsbury House and to the archive team for permission to cite from this material. I also acknowledge the work of the archive team in transcribing this material.

164 Matthews-Jones, Lucinda, “‘I Still Remain One of the Old Settlement Boys’: Cross-Class Friendship in the First World War Letters of Cardiff University Settlement Lads’ Club,” Cultural and Social History 13, no. 2 (2016): 195–211CrossRefGoogle Scholar, at 195.

165 News Sheet 496, 1 July 1940, SHA.

166 Letter from Adams to Reece, [19] August 1940, BA194008AUG19thBRb, SHA.

167 Matthews-Jones, “‘I Still Remain,’” 197.

168 Barr Adams, “The Club at War,” chap. 2, SHA.

169 John Hartigan, “Volunteering in the First World War: The Birmingham Experience, August 1914–May 1915,” Midland History 24, no. 1 (1999): 167–86, at 175–76.

170 Adams, “Club at War,” chap. 1, SHA. An additional five “Old Boys” subsequently joined.

171 “‘Macs’ Join the ‘Joneses.’” On the BBC People's War website, veteran Arthur Johnstone recollects, “I signed up with the Liverpool Welsh Territorials (46th RTR) declaring a Welsh grandmother.” “My War Years and Being a POW,” Article ID A2146015, contributed 17 December 2003.

172 News Sheet 501, 7 July 1940, SHA.

173 McCrone, David et al. , “Who Are We? Problematising National Identity,” Sociological Review 46, no. 4 (1998): 629–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar, at 651.

174 News Sheet 419, 17 February 1940, SHA. See also Johnes, “Welshness.”

175 Letter from Adams to Reece, 19 August 1940, BA194008AUG19thBRa, SHA.

176 News Sheet 481, 6 June 1940, SHA.

177 News Sheet 545, 8 September 1940, SHA. As I am focusing on a negative but slender aspect of an extensive six-year correspondence for the purpose of this article, I have assigned pseudonyms to some of the “Old Boys.”

178 Adams, “Club at War,” chap. 43, SHA.

179 News Sheet 429, 4 March 1940, SHA; News Sheet 485, 10 June 1940, SHA; Adams, “Club at War,” chap. 18, SHA. In his letters, J. R. Davies also makes reference to the Italian “Fascist” troops as “wogs.” PPD, letter to parents, 22 March 1943, 13167, IWM.

180 Paul Fussell, Wartime: Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War (Oxford, 1989), 127.

181 Fussell, Wartime, 117.

182 See also Chris Hopkins, English Fiction in the 1930s: Language, Genre, History (London, 2006), 62.

183 Adams, “Club at War,” chap. 43, SHA.

184 Adams, chap. 29.

185 Chris Williams, “Problematizing Wales,” 5. See also Prys Morgan, “Early Victorian Wales and Its Crisis of Identity,” in A Union of Multiple Identities: The British Isles, c.1750– c.1850, ed. Laurence Brockliss and David Eastwood (Manchester, 1997), 93–109.

186 Murray, “A Diasporic Vernacular?,” 76; Brah, Cartographies, 149.

187 Adams, “Club at War,” chap. 45, SHA. Watts was killed at age twenty in June 1941 and is commemorated on the Alamein Memorial, Egypt.

188 News Sheet 481, 6 June 1940, SHA.

189 News Sheet 470, 23 May 1940, SHA.

190 News Sheet 530, 20 August 1940, SHA.

191 Lucy Thomas, introduction to Hilda Vaughan, The Soldier and the Gentlewoman (Dinas Powys, 2014), 1–19, at 7.

192 “Liverpool Welsh Comforts Fund,” Liverpool Daily Post, 21 February 1941.

193 “Britain Proud of Its Fighting Regiments,” Union Jack: Newspaper for the Fighting Forces, 16 June 1944, 2.

194 McCartney, Citizen Soldiers, 21.

195 RH87, 46 RTR 7431, Tank Museum Archive.

196 Clare, “L'pool Welsh Disband,” 1.

197 Clare, 1.

198 Scully, “Discourses of Authenticity,” 234.

199 Jeremy Hooker, John Cowper Powys and David Jones: A Comparative Study (London, 1979), 30.

200 Hickman et al., “Limitations,” 178.

201 Ford, “Art of Union,” 14.

202 Hickman et al., “Limitations,” 178.

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