Colwyn Bay, Conwy - Pages of the Sea

Colwyn Bay, Conwy




The portrait revealed on this beach was:

Ellis Humphrey Evans

Royal Welsh Fusiliers

Age: 30 Date of Death: 31/07/1917

Son of Evan and Mary Evans, of Trawsfynydd, Merioneth. One of the war poets, who wrote poetry under the name 'Hedd Wyn'.

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Private Ellis Humphrey Evans ‘Hedd Wyn’ (13 January 1887 – 31 July 1917)

Despite only receiving a basic education, Ellis Evans became Wales’s most famous poet of the Great War. The eldest of 11 children, Evans developed his interest in poetry while growing up in the village of Trawsfynydd and wrote Welsh-language verses while working as a shepherd on the family farm from an early age.

Evans left school aged 14 and went on to win his first major poetry prize at the 1907 Bala Eisteddfod – three years later he was given the special bardic name of Hedd Wyn, meaning ‘blessed peace’. His fame began to spread among literary circles as he won numerous competitions. As a Christian pacifist, Evans believed he could never kill anybody so stayed with his family during the first years of the war, although he eventually joined up to spare his 18-year-old brother Bob.

Enlisting with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, Evans was sent to France where he continued to write poetry. He was killed going over the top on the first day of the battle of Passchendaele. Two months later, his work, submitted anonymously, won the Welsh National Eisteddfod in Birkenhead – the greatest honour in Welsh poetry. His name was read out three times before the organisers announced that the poet had died six weeks before. The empty chair was covered with a black veil and the ceremony became known as The Eisteddfod of the Black Chair.