[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 May, 2004, 10:58 GMT 11:58 UK
Funeral for Free Wales Army chief
Dennis Coslett
Dennis Coslett died, aged 64, at Llanelli's Prince Philip Hospital on 20 May
The funeral of a former commandant in the Free Wales Army (FWA) took place in Llanelli on Wednesday.

Dennis Coslett achieved notoriety when in 1969 he, along with the FWA's leader Cayo Evans, was jailed for 15 months for public order offences.

The 53-day trial finished on the day of the Investiture of Prince Charles and effectively ended the organisation's brief spell in the national spotlight.

The FWA had emerged four years earlier amid increasing Welsh nationalism.

The organisation's declared aim was to start a revolution that would lead to independence.

Coslett and Evans had a flair for publicity and the copy they provided was lapped up by journalists in Cardiff and London.

Dressed in home-made uniforms, Coslett would also wear a black eye patch over his glass eye - the result of a mining accident.

Firepower

Television presenter David Frost once referred to him as Dai Dayan, because of his resemblance to Moshe Dayan, the Israeli general.

Coslett was usually accompanied by his beloved Alsatian dog, Gelert, who he once claimed had been trained to carry sticks of gelignite - thus making the animal a lethal weapon.

He had, he said, dozens more trained dogs hidden in the Black Mountains of Carmarthenshire where the FWA use to carry out manoeuvres.

The organisation made extravagant boasts about its strength and firepower - claiming to have millionaire backers, its own aeroplane and links with the IRA and Basque separatists.

In reality members never numbered more than 20 and even the gun in Coslett's holster turned out to be a toy.

Aberfan
The FWA took up the case of the victims' families at Aberfan

But there was a serious side to the FWA.

Members actively protested against the Tryweryn Dam in mid Wales.

And when the families of the victims of Aberfan, desperate for payments from the disaster fund, found their claims blocked by bureaucrats - the FWA took up their cause.

While the media never really took the FWA seriously - the authorities did.

Under pressure to do something about the protests against the Investiture, the police arrested nine FWA members in dawn raids.

Ringleaders

When the trial began in Swansea in May 1969 the defendants arrived in the dock to be greeted with an impromptu recital of Land of My Fathers from the public gallery.

Coslett refused to speak in English throughout the 53 day hearing, at the end of which he and Evans were jailed for 15 months after being identified as the FWA's ringleaders.

Almost all the evidence against them came from the journalists they had been so keen to speak to.

Born in Carmarthen in September 1939, at the age of 18 Coslett joined the Royal Welch Fusiliers and was a merchant seaman before becoming a miner.

On his release from prison he continued to be politically active but outside the mainstream.

He published two books of poetry and prose, Rebel Heart and Patriots and Scoundrels.

He died on May 20 and is survived by his wife Averil and daughter Sian.


RELATED BBC LINKS:


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific