Major Humphrey Lloyd-Jones led from the front and chose to disregard the presence of the enemy by refusing to crawl
Major Humphrey Lloyd-Jones, also known as Wff, spent much of his life in Hay-on-Wye. During World War II he was mentioned in despatches twice and was awarded the Military Cross. In the second part of his memories of the major, Grafton Maggs from Mumbles, recounts how the major used the Welsh language to foil the Nazis.
I had first heard of this man when I was at Hardwick Hall, the Airborne Forces Depot, early in 1945.
Here, all ranks endured a gruelling three month course of physical training, unarmed combat and the like, before moving on to Ringway, for parachute training.
In addition, the depot was a 'sorting out' establishment, for re-posting officers who had been wounded or released from captivity.
One such officer, Captain Gwyn Bowen-Jones, opened up one evening to talk of the 6th Parachute Battalion and its B Company Commander- Wff Lloyd-Jones.
He mimicked his sing-song North Walesean accent and how, when doing a 'drop', he would carry a walking stick, tied to his wrist by a length of string and tape his rimless glasses to his ears.
His inspiration in battle was legendary, he led from the front and in spite of many warnings, he chose to disregard the presence of the enemy by refusing to crawl and sometimes, needlessly exposed himself to enemy fire.
He did pay for this with a flesh wound in the buttocks and had little sympathy from his comrades in spite of his embarrassment.
Major Lloyd-Jones was a fluent Welsh speaker
He commanded B Company from North Africa to the parachute drop on Sicily, then on to the mainland of Italy, supporting the US Fifth Army.
He led his men in the drop on Southern France. Then back to Italy, for the flight to Greece, with its victory over the Germans and its nightmare complication of fighting Greeks of the ELAS who so recently had been allies.
Along the way he was Mentioned in Despatches twice and was awarded the Military Cross.
After the unit's return to Lambourne, England, he was justly promoted to second in command of the Battalion.
He was immensely proud of his nationality and a fluent Welsh speaker.
He guarded, jealously, the special privileges that the 6th Parachute Battalion enjoyed.
The Battalion had been raised in 1942 from the 10th Bn. Royal Welch Fusiliers and was the only unit that received permission from the King to preserve, in its new title, the name of its former Regiment.
Goat, Flash and St. David's Day celebrations were all retained as part of the Royal Welch tradition.
Foreigners, such as Englishmen, Irishmen, Scots and South Africans were necessary to make the Battalion up to full establishment, they were received warmly and became honorary Welshmen wearing the black silk flash with genuine pride.
It was never officially recorded but it is a fact that during the dreadful mountain fighting in Italy against the Wehrmacht, British intelligence units discovered that the Germans were able to pick up the radio signals flashing between the companies of the battalions thus acquiring information on plans and movements.
Units were warned to exercise every precaution and to stick to high security procedure.
Wff went one further! Every radio transmitter in the 6th (Royal Welch) Parachute Battalion had a Welsh speaker manning the station. As there was rather an acute shortage of Welsh speakers in the German Army, intercepted signals remained an enigma.
It was a 100% successful ploy! Here indeed is another justification for preserving this ancient and noble tongue!
On St. David's Day, 1946, at Nuseirat Ridge, I had the honour of becoming a Royal Welchman, at the St. David's Dinner, (presided over by Wff), I went through the ceremony of 'Eating the Leek and Toasting Saint David from the Silver Cup'.
This was carried out standing on a chair with one foot on the table and then, followed by pledging my troth with the simple words, And I!- Saint David!" All this to the roll of the Battalion drums!