USEFUL ASIDES

When discussing Dr Wyn Thomas and the publication of John Jenkins: The Reluctant Revolutionary? John: ‘I was only ‘on board’ [regarding the research etc] because I knew you’d be so straight about it. The book is a stormer; a mini-masterpiece in my opinion.  Each and every disclosure within the book is a true account of what I said.  The result is that The Reluctant Revolutionary? is so accurate.  I’ve read it from cover to cover and I think: “He’s got it.  He’s got the story of my life, warts and all; and MAC”.  Because unlike others who’ve written about the MAC campaign, you know the true story because I’ve told you.  You’ve got it all ‘from the horse’s mouth’ as it were.  But not only do you dig out and prove historical facts, as any true historian should, you also provide a sound and deeply psychological background to any conclusion you arrive at…You psychoanalyse the information, in the way a psychologist would.  But I should say that you’ve always made clear to me your hope that your work in this area (Hands Off Wales and Reluctant Revolutionary? – and your current writing project about Tryweryn) will ensure there is not another Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru.  In that you hope your books provide a warning.  Both to the politicals, about the need to listen, and those who may in the future think to reconvene a militant campaign’.

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John declared when smiling: ‘I do think that John Jenkins: The Reluctant Revolutionary? is a good title.  But I liked: The Memoirs of a Turkish Taxi Driver.  [Please refer to JJ:RR? p.145].

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With regards the issue of John Jenkins’ illegitimacy, you may be interested to know that until the nineteenth century, a child born outside wedlock was not entitled to support from either parent.  But as early as 1842, it was recognised in relation to an agreement between the mother and father of an illegitimate child, that the latter should pay the former maintenance for the child – and that this was now actionable.  The consideration for the father’s promise has been variously stated: it is usually recognised as a counter-promise on the mother’s part to maintain the child herself…or to refrain from taking proceedings.  Although the Poor Law legislation cast upon the mother the obligation of maintaining her illegitimate child, she could still not recover the expenses of maintenance from the father in the absence of any contract to that effect between them.  It was not until the Poor Law Amendment Act 1844, that the mother was given the power to apply for an order of maintenance to be paid to herself.  The law was amended and consolidated in the Bastardy Laws Amendment Act 1872 (and again in the Affiliation Proceedings Act 1957).  Under the legislation, the right of unmarried mothers to claim from alleged fathers was circumscribed.  For example, applications could only be made to magistrates’ courts, applications had to be ‘single’ mothers, claims had to be brought within three years of the child’s birth (unless the father was voluntarily paying money for the child) and the mother’s evidence had to be corroborated.  Nigel Lowe & Gillian Douglas, Bromley’s Family Law, Tenth Edition (OUP, 2007), pp. 914, 915, 917,955.

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Along with the Jenkins family, it is estimated that out of the UK’s population of 48 million people, 40 million listened to Neville Chamberlain’s radio announcement on 3 September 1939, that Britain was now at war with Germany.

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John Jenkins: ‘My parents were not drinkers at all.  They never touched the stuff.  Well, having said that, every Christmas Day afternoon my parents and me and Keith would have half a pint of cider.  And that was it for another year!  My mother never smoked either.  But very occasionally, my father would smoke a woodbine – and after doing so, he thought he had walked on the wild side!’

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John Jenkins discussing the British Army, at least when Jenkins was a serving member: ‘The British Army deconstructs you.  It then puts you back together again.  This is done, so that you’re the person they want you to be.  And in some ways, I can understand the British Army’s reason for doing so.  Because it’s about the need for conformity, and obeying an order without questioning it and asking why it’s being given – which is the last thing the army wants a soldier doing’.

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Page 60 (John Jenkins: The Reluctant Revolutionary?)  Asked if he had frequented prostitutes while serving in Germany in the early 1950s, John replied: ‘No, I never did anything like that.  But as I say, owing to the privations, anything and everything was available for a few cigarettes, and so some of the British servicemen I was with in Berlin did’.

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If some regard the militancy as exercised by John Jenkins as requiring bravery, another form of courage was surely exemplified by John’s brother Keith, who suffered a serious mining accident.  Keith Jenkins: ‘Because of a rood collapse, while working below ground, I suffered significant injury.  The experience was terrible, terrible.  You can’t describe it’.

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MAC receiving guns – see John Jenkins: The Reluctant Revolutionary? p.105-7: ‘I’ll throw more light on this business of guns being supplied from Libya.  The plan was that a consignment of rifles would be shipped to Southern Ireland for the IRA, and a number of them would then be handed over to MAC.  I wonder how many of them would have arrived here [Wales]?  Not many would be my guess!  But anyway, from what I was told – because this was during Dave Pritchard’s time in charge of MAC and before I even joined – the plan was cancelled.  I’m not sure why.  But it does, perhaps, put this idea of Dave being a ‘model of restraint’ in a different context’.

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The pipeline at Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant, targeted by Jenkins and Alders on 30 September 1967 to reconvene MAC’s militant campaign, carried 12 million gallons of water every day from Lake Vyrnwy to Liverpool.

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Speaking on 26 June 1969, just days before the Investiture, and asked if he had been concerned at the level of protest, and indeed militancy in Wales surrounding both his arrival in the country to attend UCW Aberystwyth during the summer term in 1969, and the ceremony itself, Prince Charles replied that he had naturally read the reports with some foreboding.  But that the picture [in Wales] was not as bad as initially feared.

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In a statement to police after his arrest, Ernie Alders informed officers with regards Jenkins: He advised me to tell her [Ann Woodgate] what we were going to do before we went to Llanrhaeadr.  But not to unless I was sure in my own mind that she wouldn’t tell’.

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John Jenkins: ‘I did hear, as the bombing campaign against the water pipeline issue intensified, that Birmingham Corporation unofficially contacted Plaid Cymru offering to give the party a not insignificant amount of money, if it intervened to stop the pipelines being targeted.  Plaid Cymru was not in the position to stop us [MAC] targeting them’.

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Testimony as anonymously provided by a Caernarfon resident: ‘I believe the bomb that injured Ian Cox was placed in what used to be an Ironmongers – it is now Carlton Bakery.  Locals say it was in the back yard of this shop, and that fits perfectly with the other description of the location you received from a Caernarfon town person.  Also, and I don’t know whether this has been commented on before, the back yard (which is now built upon) would have been more or less opposite the Institute Building: the home of Caernarfon Royal Town Council, which was such a fervent supporter of the investiture – a suitably symbolic location [to be somewhat targeted]?  Though the back end of the yard would have been some way back from the main road, you can see that the shop would have been only a pavement-width from the route of Charles’ carriage’.

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‘There were 2,500 police on duty in Caernarfon during the Investiture – and they came from everywhere.  There were 1,000 in plain clothes and 1,500 in uniform’.  Dai Davies, former Royal Protection Officer.  This ensured there was a security presence every 2.5 yards of the processional route, with an equal distribution of police facing both the crowd, and officers facing the route to the castle as the royal party went passed.

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‘Statement by MAC’, claimed by police to have been found ‘in a sideboard in the living room’ during the raid on Jenkins’ home, 2 November 1969 and later identified as being written in Jenkins’ hand by colleagues: ‘I honestly can’t remember writing it.  That’s not to say I didn’t.  But I don’t remember it’. See Hands Off Wales, p.341.

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In a statement by police constable, Christopher Moorcroft, who interviewed John Jenkins at Saighton Barracks on Thursday, 18 September 1969, Moorcroft asked Jenkins: ‘Why did you apply to have your children go to a Welsh school?’  To which Jenkins allegedly replied: ‘It was just one of those things we [he and Thelma] wanted to do’.

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Testimony as anonymously provided by a Wrexham resident: ‘I first met John when he led the cadets’ marching band in Wrexham.  It was 1969 and I was 14.  I was so shocked when he was arrested.  I would never have guessed he was involved in anything like that.  He was such a quiet, reserved man.  But I do remember that shortly after his arrest, the police searched the building where we, the band, practiced, and where the instruments were stored.  I’m not sure if the police were being thorough in their search for anything, or if they were being malicious, but they made a right mess of the instruments’.

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It was claimed by police sergeant, George Bernard Atkinson of Wrexham police station, that on escorting John Jenkins to the toilet on Tuesday, 4 November 1969 at 3.45 p.m., that Jenkins declared: ‘They wouldn’t have caught me had it not been for informers – at least not as quickly’.

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Jenkins’ relationship with the prison authorities: ‘I never misbehaved in prison.  But you could beat them if you tried.  I mean, when I arrived in Birmingham Prison, I was told that the regulations stated that I needed to be ‘under observation at all times’.  Which meant that the light in my cell had to be on throughout the night, so that, as they told me, ‘We can observe that you’re in the cell’.  Well I protested, of course.  But they wouldn’t bloody listen.  But I knew enough about electricity to know that electricity and water don’t mix.  And so, by carefully using my fingers, and with a knife or a fork, I would manoeuvre the bulb out of the overhead light fitting and dab water on the two connectors in the bulb.  Then at 11pm, these two prison officers would come into my cell and switch the light on.  But it would come on for a split second, and then go off again.  And of course, they couldn’t blame me because I was bloody asleep.  But they were grumbling about it, because their regulations stated that the light needed to be on during the night.  So, they’d have to arrange for the light fitting to be checked and a new bulb fitted.  But having done so, I’d just do it again!  And they couldn’t understand why there was a problem – and they never did understand.  But it was simple enough.  I was just putting a small amount of water on the connectors an hour or so before they arrived to turn the light on.  Some inmates threw buckets of piss over the guards. But I wasn’t into anything like that.  What I was about was outsmarting them…They were bloody glad to see the back of me!’.

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The wearing of prison uniform: ‘I know there’s a perception that all prisoners in the 1970s wore a uniform like those worn in the comedy programme of the era Porridge. But not in one prison where I was held, even Wormwood Scrubs, did I wear anything other than my own clothes.  For reasons of cost, I should think, we were able to wear our own clobber.  And for reasons of acceptability – because you wouldn’t want to draw too much, or unnecessary attention to yourself – this amounted to a pair of jeans, a t-shirt and training shoes, or more typically, sandals.  You could get clothes through the prison.  But they never fitted – either way too big or way too small!  So, we wore our own clothes.  And this was the same when I was imprisoned in the ’80’s’.

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Former Shrewsbury Unit member, Raymond Kendall: ‘I stayed on in Shrewsbury for about a year after the Investiture’.  [After John Jenkins and Ernie Alders were arrested in November ’69 and sentenced to 10 years and 6 years respectively in April ’70, no further arrests and convictions of MAC members followed].

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5 March 2019 – Prince Charles’ coronet features a gold-plated ping pong ball… coronet that graced Prince Charles’ head 50 years ago on his first investiture.  Elle article by Daisy Murray.

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Anonymous comment regarding John Jenkins’: ‘It’s like he feels the normal rules of life don’t apply to him.  For example, a couple of years ago, he wanted to drive down to see his son in Cardiff.  But because of his failing health, which included his eye sight deteriorating, they’d taken his driving licence off him.  And so, it was suggested that he take the train.  But John was having none of that.  And when his son said “how can drive down Dad?  They’ve taken your licence off you”.  John replied: “Yeah, but they haven’t taken my car off me” and he drove from Wrexham down to Cardiff!’.