Clwyd West AM Darren Millar unveiled a plaque in the Old City of Jerusalem this week to commemorate Welsh Christian and military heritage in the Holy Land.
The unveiling ceremony was part of a programme for a cross party delegation of Welsh Assembly Members to Israel and the West Bank. It took place in a small garden at the rear of Christ Church, an Anglican Church just inside Jerusalem’s famous Jaffa Gate, through which Welsh troops marched with General Allenby following the surrender of the city by the Ottomans during the Egypt and Palestine campaign of the First World War.
Those taking part in the ceremony included fellow AMs Alun Davies, Russell George, Llyr Gruffydd, Mandy Jones, and Jenny Rathbone; and the Rector of Christ Church, the Reverend David Pileggi.
“It was a great honour to unveil the plaque which is made of Welsh slate and is the only Welsh language text on public display situated in the Old City.
“St David is said to have visited Jerusalem in the 6th century where he was appointed as an Archbishop by the local Patriarch and given gifts which he brought back to Wales. These gifts included a portable altar in which was inlaid a stone known as the Jerusalem tablet.
“The altar now sits in St David’s Cathedral in Pembrokeshire, from which the plaque we unveiled started its journey to Jerusalem. This exchange of stones and pieces of our land is a symbol of friendship and commemoration.
“We are grateful to Reverend Pileggi for his kind permission to have the plaque installed in such a beautiful and peaceful garden in the Old City.”
The ceremony included readings by AMs of extracts from the memoirs of Royal Welsh Fusiliers Captain John More, the History of the 53rd (Welsh) Division and the life of St David.
The costs of the plaque have been generously supported by 160th Infantry Brigade, the Royal Welsh, and Christian heritage charity the Evan Roberts Institute.
A special message from Brigadier Alan Richmond, the Head of the Army in Wales, was conveyed to those who attended the event, in it he said: “I am delighted that the military heritage of the Welsh people in the Holy Land is being recognised today. My brigade was part of the 53rd (Welsh) Division and after 2 ½ years of fighting in the Dardanelles, Egypt and Palestine, entered Jerusalem on 9th December 1917. Two days later, on 11thDecember General Allenby arrived on foot to formally declare the liberation of the Old City of Jerusalem from the Ottoman Empire. His success would not have been possible without the selfless sacrifice of so many Welsh soldiers of the 53rd (Welsh) Division and also the 74th (Yeomanry) Division. We remember them all with great pride and humility. Cymru am Byth.”
Darren added, “Wales has a rich military heritage in the Holy Land which is often overlooked. The plaque will help us to remember the sacrifice of those Welsh troops who paid the ultimate price in the service of their country thousands of miles from home.”