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         The Welsh Wizard, David Lloyd George employs Gareth Jones


1905 -1935


“Gareth Jones was a journalist who won every step of his way by personal force; he has perished on one of the horizons he was always questing.”

J.L. Garvin; Editor of The Observer


On August 13th 1905, a son was born to Edgar and Annie Gwen Jones in their home, Eryl, Barry and his proud parents gave him the name, Gareth Richard Vaughan Jones. The child blossomed into manhood living his life to the full; a man true to himself. Tragically, his life was cut short on the eve of his 30th birthday. He was to achieve more in his short life than most men who are fortunate enough to live to a ripe old age. 


In 1899 Edgar Jones was appointed headmaster of the recently established Barry County School for both boys and girls.  Though a schoolmaster he was known always as the ‘Major’ following his service as Commander of the Glamorgan Fortress during World War One.  He was loved and highly esteemed by his pupils and regarded as “The Mathew Arnold” of Wales.


Gareth’s mother was an accomplished and interesting woman in her own right. She had spent three years as tutor to the two daughters of Arthur Hughes from 1889 to 1892 in Hughesovka leaving with the whole family to flee from the town on account of Cholera riots.  Arthur Hughes was the son of the Welshman, John Hughes the steel industrialist who founded the town of Hughesovka, later the tragic town of Stalino in World War II and today known as the city of Donets. 


The stories of her wonderful experiences instilled in him a desire to visit the Soviet Union and Ukraine. With this goal in mind he studied languages and had a brilliant academic career at University. He first attended Aberystwyth College with two years between in Strasburg University.  In 1926 he gained an Entrance Exhibition to Trinity College, Cambridge where he gained first-class honours in French and German in Tripos, Part I in 1927, and a Double First, Tripos Part Two in German and Russian in 1929.  These languages he spoke so fluently that he could easily pass for a native speaker.



In 1929, employment for Cambridge graduates, even with excellent results, was difficult to obtain, but following an introduction by Dr Thomas Jones in 1930, Gareth was appointed to the position of Foreign Affairs Adviser to the Wartime Prime Minister, David Lloyd George.  Gareth was fortunate to be appointed to a well-paid position considering the world international economic situation in 1929 and on Wednesday, January 1st 1930 Gareth commenced work at Old Queen Street, Westminster.  He enjoyed his work despite the heavy demands that Lloyd George made of him.  He was expected to read 7 French, 1 Swiss, 2 Italian, 3 German, 4 Russian newspapers and the Chicago Tribune.  He also had to write a weekly report on the Foreign and Welsh Press.


No sooner had Gareth finished one brief for the Welsh Wizard than there was further work to do. One morning he found there was a note from Sylvester awaiting him when he arrived at the office.  On January 6th a Syro-Palestinian Delegation had written a letter to Lloyd George drawing attention to the pledges made to the Arabs during the War and stating that the Balfour Declaration was in total opposition to these pledges.  “Why were pledges to the Jews honoured and those to Arabs disregarded.”


The former Prime Minister asked for an account of Proportional Representation and of the electoral system of Germany. It was to be ready by 1.15 that day. “I want you to get” he said  “ an account of the electoral system in Germany, Belgium, France and any other country where there is either a second ballot, or the alternative vote or P.R.  Get it done by tomorrow.”


Gareth was kept busy undertaking briefs. One was on “The situation in India, Palestine and Egypt” and he worked hard on a brief on the results of the “Naval Conference compared with Washington Conference.”  He also prepared memoranda on Aristride Briand and American tariffs. His briefs covered many and varied topics.  Gareth’s knowledge on world affairs was now without bounds.


India’s demands for Independence rated highly in the politics of the time.  Gareth criticised an article Ll. G wrote for the Daily Mail which contained and an attack on Wedgwood Benn, a veiled one on the Viceroy of India and gave the impression that British Leaders including Stanley Baldwin were muddled and confused.  This was repeated by Miss Stevenson to Lloyd George and Miss Gellan counselled silence as the best policy in future .


                Mae Mrs Lloyd George a Megan yn cashau ysgrifennyddes Lloyd George Miss Stevenson.


             Later Gareth was suddenly called to see Ll.G: “The Chancellor of Austria is coming to see me today.  Schoo – What is his name?”  “Schober, Sir.”  “What’s the political situation in Austria now?”  Gareth spoke about the Heimwehr etc.  The Sangerfest in Vienna.”


              Miss Edwards, a secretary on Ll.G’s staff described the statesman’s character “He is a strange mixture of extremes.  Sometimes he can be amazingly kind, as he was when her father died.  Sometimes he can be absolutely cruel and give you the worst dressing down possible.  You never know how he takes news.  Sometimes he takes bad news extremely angrily and peevishly for instance, Nottingham by-elections yesterday.  Sometimes much worse news may come in and he may say, ‘Oh, it doesn’t matter.  We’ll do better next time.’ He takes sudden likes and dislikes or if he takes a dislike then everything you do is bad.”


`           The patient A.J.Sylvester told Gareth:


 "I’ve been following him (L.G.) round with a bag for 10 days.  If I ask him a question he just walks away.  He won’t say “Yes or No.”  “I’ve been following him round.  He’s in a terribly difficult mood these days.  He’s going to Derby today.  He wanted to go in a new blue suit, so he had new blue suit made for him.  He said he was not going in a top-hat.  Today he asks, “What should I wear?”  I said, “You should be going in a top-hat.”  “Well, I am going in to wear this suit.”  Now what if the King talks to him!  So finally at the last minute he says: “Very well; why weren’t the clothes ready.”  And now we have to search all the corners of London for clothes for him."


Diplomatic relations had been restored with the Soviet Union after the Arcos affair in 1927 and Gareth was now able to make his first visit  - his pilgrimage to Hughesovka.


.  The visit was very brief as the only food he could obtain him was one small roll of bread.  His letter home from Berlin wrote of the terrible conditions in Ukraine, of famine and he anticipated many deaths.


On Gareth’s return when at Metro-Vickers Comany there was a very important call for him from Miss Edwards who said; “They want you down at Churt.” Seebohm Rowntree, Lord Lothian and Wallace Stewart were present for the weekend.


 Mr. Rowntree said: “I gave such a glowing account of your talk with me that they said they must have you down.  I said that it was more thrilling than any novel I’d read, not only being very valuable, but that you have the gift of a raconteur.”


Gareth wrote comprehensively in his diary and I must just give you some quotes from the conversation.


“Poor devils,” said Lloyd George when I told him about Donetz.  That’s the place to live in.  Tell us what would they do with us if we had a Soviet Government here?”  I replied; “You would be shot Sir.”  “And what about Lothian?”  “Oh, he’d be sent Solovki or the Dokery Islands.”  “And Rowntree?” “ Oh he’d be put in charge of the Soviet chocolate industry with a Communist looking after him.  As soon as he had given all his knowledge and experience to another man he’d be sent away.”


When I said about the tear bombs on Russian towns, he said; “There are some places in London I’d like to drop bombs on.”  “10 Downing Street,” said Wallace.  “Yes, I would like to wake them up a bit.”


  Rowntree continued ; “What do you think of Baldwin?”


“He’s very ambitious.  Balfour once told me.  “There are two men who to the public appear ambitious, but who are really very retiring and conscientious.  They are Asquith and Curzon.  Then there are two who appear retiring and modest and who really very self-seeking and cunning.  They were who?  Baldwin and well, you will never guess. – Grey was very, very ambitious.”  I was staggered when he came to spend a weekend before the formation of the Government in 1906.  He did nothing between 1896 to 1906, but did everything to be Foreign Secretary.


Rowntree: -“What will his part be in history?


Lloyd George: “He’ll play a very contemptuous part in history.  He made some great mistakes, which could have shortened the War.  He could have kept Turkey out of the War.  He could have kept Bulgaria out of the War.  A million pounds would have done it.  If he could only bribed Ferdinand.  That would have had a tremendous effect on the War.  Then he persuaded Greece to keep out of the War.  Greece had some 200,000 trained men.  He could have saved the Gallipolli disaster. 


“I was dead against the War.  So were a lot of others until Belgium was invaded.”


After Lloyd George had gone to bed, Wallace said, “I’ve never heard Lloyd George listen like that.  Usually it’s we who listen to him all the time.”


Fortune favoured Gareth on his return.  Lord Lothian introduced him to Geoffrey Dawson of The Times and three articles entitled ‘The Two Russias’ were published in the October and in April the following year the Western Mail published five.[i]  Gareth wrote describing the situation in the Soviet Union and said “The Dominant factor of the Five-Year Plan is the character of Stalin, the dictator. This ruthless, honest man is just the man to drive a nation. He is brutal and has no mercy.


 Gareth wrote that: “The success of the Plan would strengthen the hands of the Communists throughout the world.  It might make the twentieth century a century of strugg1e between Capitalism and Communism.”


As well, on recommendation from Sir Bernard Pares, he was offered employment by Dr. Ivy Lee, public relations adviser to organizations such as the Rockefeller Institute, the Chrysler foundation and Standard Oil. The intention was research a book on the Soviet Union.  Soon after his arrival in Wall Street, New York in May, 1931 he was invited to accompany Jack Heinz II to the Soviet Union. Fortified with food from the Heinz organization including tins of Baked Beans they made their visit in the summer of 1931 and at the end of their tour they visited Ukraine.  Gareth wrote comprehensive diaries of this visit and from them Jack Heinz was to publish a book anonymously entitled Experiences in Russia 1931: A Diary[1].  Famine conditions were worse - far worse than the year before.  Many 'Kulaks' were being uprooted, many dying particularly en route to Siberia.



En route back to the USA Gareth had three days in London and called on Lloyd George who was recuperating from an operation.  . Sylvester wrote this account in his Book Life with Lloyd George[ii]  but much to my surprise he never mentioned the presence of Gareth. A.J. took him to Churt by car:


Finally after some fine Surrey scenery we entered the drive to Bron-y-De.  Sylvester said that Lloyd George had seen practically nobody and that half of his time was spent in refusing people who wanted to see the Chief - even close friends.


We arrived and were met by two dogs; went in and were taken through the small library- drawing room into a large room where Lloyd George was reclining on a sofa.  He looked very impressive with his absolutely white hair and his smart grey suit.  He gave me a wonderfully warm welcome and seemed really delighted to see me.  “Well Gareth,” he said, “You’ve been wandering over the face of the earth like another very potent figure.  I have a large number of questions to ask you.”  I told him that everywhere in America, Russia, Germany, France I heard people asking about him.  He said. “Well, I’ve turned the corner.”  He looked bright, well and his eyes flashed as much as ever. Sylvester had told me he was getting on wonderfully.  His colour was good and he looked much better and much less tired than he did the day I went to see him from Cambridge two years ago.  “And now tell me about Germany.”  I described my visit to Germany.  “And how is Russia getting on?”  I told him that the Communists were much stronger, due mainly to the success of collectivisation and to the policy of Stalin.


Lloyd George: “That was a very courageous and statesmanlike speech.  I think that Stalin is a really great figure.”


I said that the misery of the peasants was great and that they hated the collective farms: “Of course they do.  They’ve got to work now no peasant likes to work.”  He did not seem to have much sympathy for the Russian peasants.


“And now what about America?”  How many unemployed there?”


I said there were probably 8 million fully unemployed and about 8 million part-time.


“Doesn’t that lead to blood shed?”  “Well Sir.  There have been serious riots in Kentucky and a number of people have been shot.”


"Just then Miss Russell, the typist came in with the news she had received over the phone.  She read out that MacDonald made no decision about the General Election.  Lloyd George’s facial expression changed immediately and there was a look of tremendous impatience and anger.  “He’s a poor thing!” with absolute scorn.  “He’s betrayed his own party and now he’s going to betray ours.  “Then he snarled  “neurotic.”


"Then we heard a car arriving and in came the maid who announced Sir Herbert Samuel (Home Secretary), Sir Donald Maclean (Minister for Education) (Donald MacLean’s father) and Sir Archie Sinclair (Secretary for Scotland).  I suggested that I should go to the other room and so Sylvester and I went to the library drawing room and had tea.  The historic interview between  and the Liberal Ministers in the National Government took place in the next room and then I could hear raised voices.  Lloyd George seemed to be putting vim into them.  They had been wavering.  Lloyd George was saying: “If there is an election the pound will go down, down, down.”  You could hear the word ‘tariff’ being repeated often. 

Lloyd George is as firm against tariff as ever.i


Gareth was spectator to Depression of in 1932 and 1933 in the U.S.A. In two letters to David Lloyd George, Gareth wrote an account of the conditions in America and how the Depression was affecting the wealthy country.  Lloyd George quoted the January letter in his book the Truth about Reparations and War Debts [iii]as one from a friend in the United States.  Gareth described the feeling in America as one of disillusionment.  He compared the dazzling part of Broadway likening Piccadilly to a Methodist chapel in the country.  There in the brightly-lit centre Gareth described how he had seen hundreds of poor fellows queuing for a handout of two sandwiches, a doughnut, cup of coffee and a cigarette.


 Unemployed now in New York he returned to work for David Lloyd George. Unbeknown to many he assisted the former Prime Minister in writing his War Memoirs.


He returned to work for David Lloyd George. No sooner in London than Lloyd George invited Gareth to Criccieth for the weekend and on May 22nd 1932 he wrote his is Sunday letter to his family describing his visit to Brynawelon from the Lion Hotel: 


 Just as we got to the gate, Ll.G and Megan came out, Ll.G. with flowing white hair, hatless with a cloak over his shoulder.  He was in the most exuberant with his welcome, blocked the way of the car and said with an Amercan accent: "Well, I guess our American friend is back again. How are you Gareth?” We then returned after a walk of 1¾ miles - to the house and I was taken into the drawing room, where Mrs. Lloyd George, Tom Carey-Evans and Lady Carey-Evans were.    Lloyd George spoke in terms of high admiration of Stalin.  Stalin is trying an experiment.  Of course, he fails but he recognises his failure.  He’s man enough.  I take off my hat to Stalin and to Mussolini.  And when Stalin recognises failure or tries a new method they say, “I told you so.”  Every scientist fails time and time again before he makes a great discovery.  People in America are finding that the great business leaders are alright when the car is going along a smooth road but they are helpless now that the car has broken down.


“Mussolini is building roads, bridges, canals, and viaducts in many parts of Italy.  He aims at a re-building of his native country, and it is remarkable that his programme follows the lines laid down by the Liberal party in Great Britain and almost identical with Lloyd George’s Liberal Plans!  What irony that the enemy of Democracy should be carrying out the policy advocated by British Liberals.”


 L1oyd George thought the international situation was desperate.


 Unbeknown to many Gareth assisted the former Prime Minister in writing his War Memoirs.


Gareth returned to London and to his employment with David Lloyd George.  He spent many weekends at Bron-y-de, Churt researching some of the most secret documents of the War for the former Prime Minister’s War Memoirs.  Lloyd George was a hard taskmaster but Gareth was young and very energetic.  Gareth worked in the library, took his meals with Lloyd George who called him “My boy2.  Before breakfast they would walk in the garden of which the great Welshman was so proud, the daily instructions. 


The young researcher wrote on his first visit to Churt: “The work here is most interesting.  I am working on some of the most vital documents of the War.  The shipping brief I am writing is giving me great pleasure and Lloyd George said the first part was very good.  I type all my own material.  .”  Gareth was pleased when the former Prime Minister came into his room and said: “When Gareth and I have finished our book.” 


 The book came out in the spring of 1933.


In the autumn of 1932 there were rumours in London of the terrible famine occurring under Stalin’s regime in the Soviet Union and particularly Ukraine and Gareth made further plans to visit the country. Before leaving he thanked David Lloyd George,  "for the wonderful experience I have had on your staff. I very much regret leaving the office now and leaving the staff at the end of March".


 But dramatic events were occurring in Germany and so in late January and early February 1933 the intrepid traveller visited firstly, a country he knew extremely well. He had visited Germany each year from 1922 – a date when the Deutsch Mark was so low in value that it is said he made the whole journey for £5.  He was present in Leipzig the day Adolf Hitler was made Chancellor and a few days later flew with the dictator in his famous plane ‘Richthofen’ to Frankfurt.  There, Gareth was present at a great newly appointed Fuehrer was given the ‘Vaterland’ a tumultuous reception and where the hall echoed to the ovation made by the newly appointed Chancellor of Germany.  He compared the oratory of Hitler as Wagnerian with that of Lloyd George's to a symphony of Beethoven's. The article that he wrote about his flight with Hitler is a classic piece of writing.[2]


"If this aeroplane should crash the whole history of Europe would be changed. For a few feet away sits Adolf Hitler, Chancellor of Germany and leader of the most volcanic nationalist awakening which the world has seen."


It was in the next month, March 1933 that he made his third and final visit to the U.S.S.R. and to Ukraine to investigate the reports that had filtered through of the terrible starvation to the city.  In his diary, on Gareth’s arrival in Moscow, he records that he met Malcolm Muggeridge and they discussed the famine in Ukraine. Soon after this, Muggeridge’s articles were published in the Manchester Guardian[3] on March 25th, 26th and 27th respectively though according to Muggeridge these had been drastically edited by the left wing newspaper.


Careful about what he wrote in his letters home from the Soviet Union, on his return to Berlin, Gareth Jones immediately gave his famous press release on the 29th of March 1933 and this was printed in many American and British newspapers including the New York Evening Post[4] and the Manchester Guardian. The article in the New York Evening Post was entitled “Famine Gripping Russia, Millions Dying, Idle on the rise says Briton”.


Gareth had taken an unaccompanied journey through north Ukraine and wrote “We are waiting for death’ was my welcome, but see, we still, have our cattle fodder.  Go farther south.  There they have nothing.  Many houses are empty of people already dead,’ they cried.


Two days later March 31st   1933 there was a Rebuttal  by Walter Duranty to Gareth .in  the New York Times

      “There is serious food shortage throughout the country with occasional cases of well-managed state or collective farms.  The big cities and the army are adequately supplied with food.  There is no actual starvation or death from starvation, but there is widespread is mortality from diseases due to malnutrition.”


To which Gareth replied by letter to the New York Times on May 13th refuting the article of Walter Duranty who had stated that there was "no famine and death".

“The Soviet censors had turned the journalists into masters of euphemism and understatement  and hence they gave ‘famine’ the polite name of ‘food shortage’ and starving to death was softened to read as ‘widespread mortality’ from diseases due to malnutrition’…


“Gareth congratulated the Soviet Foreign Office on its skill in concealing the true situation in the U.S.S.R.”


Gareth appeared to have offended Lloyd George in a letter he wrote immediately he arrived in Berlin on March 27th stating that “The situation is so grave, so much worse than in 1921 that I am amazed at your admiration for Stalin.”


A telegram was sent to The Soviet Embassy by which Maxim Litvinoff, the Soviet Commissar for Foreign Affairs which accused Gareth of espionage. He was also placed on the Black list of the O.G.P.U. the Soviet Secret Police indicting many crimes to his name.  Was it a coincident that Sylvester was called to the Soviet Embassy at 12 o’clock on April 8th by the Ambassador Maisky.[iv] Both Maisky and Litvinoff were  friends  of Lloyd George.


Gareth after this appeared to be ostracized by the British establishment and never to be contacted by Lloyd George again. Gareth was banned from the U.S.S.R., though his German colleagues despite their support of Nazism  remained supportive and friendly.


On Gareth’s return from the Soviet Union he published at least 20 articles in the Western Mail, the Financial News and the Daily Express..  His last article was “Goodbye Russia” in the London Daily Express, but no further article were published after April 20th  in Britain by him.


  This must have been a bitter disappointment to him as he was unable to return to a country about which he knew a great deal, and had spent so much time studying her literature, history and language. For his age he must have been one of the foremost specialists in Britain on the country. The academic world had lost a man who had he lived would have been as renowned as Sir Bernard Pares.


Gareth had been called liar by the Moscow Correspondents but he never survived long enough to be vindicated by Eugene Lyons in his book Assignment in Utopia.[5] Eugene Lyons describes how Gareth Jones’ portrayal of the shocking situation in Soviet Russia and Ukraine was denied. “Throwing down Jones was as unpleasant a chore as fell to any of us in years of juggling facts to please dictatorial regimes”.


In 1933 to 1934 Gareth was employed as a journalist and reporter to the Welsh newspaper, The Western Mail. During his employment with the newspaper he wrote some delightful articles about Wales, a Wales that no longer exists in this day and age of technology. Here, in these articles he shows his genius and ability to describe scenes of his beloved homeland vividly and poetically. He showed compassion and humour.  The vitality of his prose is shown in the full light of his exuberance. His depth of pity for the miners and steel workers from the Valleys of south Wale is evident in his articles describing the scourge of unemployment and the deplorable living conditions of the poor.


The last time Gareth was to hear and to met David Lloyd George was at the August 1933 Eisteddfod in Wrecsam, and he attempted to mend the apparent rift between the two men after an interlude of some 6 months.  Gareth again, in his description of the event published in the Western Mail and South Wales News, compared the oratory of the former Prime minister with that of Adolf Hitler: 


"Where Hitler had trumpeted political accusations, Mr. Lloyd George gave a word picture, with the mines closed, the workless lining the streets, but [where] the Eisteddfod pavilion was packed.  Where Hitler would have been humourless, Lloyd George was delightful in his light witty speeches, as when he spoke of England having built Offa’s Dyke to keep out the Welsh, ”but some of us got through’. ... Lloyd George rejoiced that Offa’s Dyke had gone and hoped that the dykes separating other nations would disappear.


"When the ovation had died down after Lloyd George speech and when the male voice choirs from the Rhondda, to which the great man had listened appreciatively, had faded away, Gareth took the opportunity to speak to his former “Chief”.  Proudly dressed in Bardic robes, Gareth asked him: “What do you think, Mr. Lloyd George of the place of crafts in the country?”


"His reply was like a flash: “Crafts are essential.  You can’t do without the crafts and rural industries if we are to restore Wales. … Take my village, Llanystumdwy.  It used to be self-supporting.  Our boots were made from leather made in the tannery from our own cattle.  Our clothes were home spun, and the wool was from our own sheep.”*


 Gareth made two visits to Ireland during his period in the ‘wilderness’ and wrote on the ‘Enigma of Ireland. – his articles are well worth reading giving an insight into the Irish problem.  He interviewed Éamon De Valera who spoke with envy about the way Wales had kept its language. Before leaving Dublin in March 1934, Gareth spoke at the Dublin Rotary Club meeting on 'The Russia of Today'. Gareth, was thanked, described as the most eloquent speaker they had had for sometime, and placed him along side the finest orators known in the  19th century English Parliament naming Parnell, Sexton, Healey and Dillon (Irish Nationalists) to name, but few famous Irish men.


The Far East was an enigma to the west and as so, Gareth wished to find out and investigate the Japanese intentions of expansion in the Far East and in particular northern China and Manchukuo. In 1931 Japan invaded Manchuria, deposing its Governor, the War Lord, Chang Hsueh-Liang, known also as the Young Marshall. It was named Manchukuo in the following year,   Not only had Britain a vast empire to rule, but was anxious about events in Germany. She did not wish a confrontational front in Asia as well as Europe. 


Gareth resigned from The Western Mail and he left Britain in late October 1934 to embark on a ‘Round the World Fact-Finding Tour’. He arrived in New York in time for the congressional elections resulting in immense support for F.D Roosevelt. Three interesting months were spent in the States. He interviewed Frank Lloyd Wright in his home Taliesin.[6] On New Years Day he visited Randolph Hearst, the anti-Communist newspaper magnet who was duly impressed with the young journalist.


On January 18th 1935 Gareth left for the Far East calling firstly in Hawaii.  There he foresaw the problems involving the Japanese that might erupt in the newly-built Pearl Harbour. While there, one of the articles he wrote, with uncanny intuition, was entitled the ‘Rape of Manchuria’.


 He spent six weeks in Japan where he interviewed some of the most important politicians influencing the politics of Japan and the Far East in the early 30’s. Namely Eliji Amô, the Foreign Office Spokesman, Yosuke Matsuoka who took Japan out of the League of Nations, Admiral Mineo Osumi, the Naval Minister, Genera Sadao Araki, the former War Minister who advocated ‘Strike North’ into Siberia and General Senjuro Hayashi, the War Minister who succeeded Araki. The fact that he had been David Lloyd George's former Foreign Affairs Secretary gave him entreé to meeting these men.


Leaving Japan, Gareth spent 3-4 months visiting the countries around, what today is called the Pacific Basin, enquiring about the situation in each country and their attitude to the Japanese. His final intended destination was to be Manchukuo of which his associates in America and Japan were well aware.


Briefly calling in Shanghai and Hong Kong, Gareth landed in the Philippines two days after Roosevelt had given the country Independence. His next port of call was Java where he was introduced to Black Magic, saw Opium production and was shown a map in which Japan had coloured the Dutch East-Indies (Indonesia) and Australia as their colonies.  Sailing to Singapore he was shown round the newly constructed Naval Base, ‘The Bulwark of the East’ and then on to Siam (Thailand) by tramp steamer where he remained for two weeks. The highlight of his visit was the interview with Luang Pradit, Pridi Panomyong, the young Marxist who had endeavoured in 1933 to overthrow the Princes in a coup de état.


Gareth left by train to travel overland through Cambodia.  He was mesmerised by Ankor Wat and he continued by bus through French Indo-China seeing numerous opium dens on the way, before catching a boat to Hong Kong.  In this British Colony, with the aid of Gerald Yorke (a secret agent) he arranged his unaccompanied journey through bandit country to Changsha and on to Nanking.


While on the train to Canton (Guang Dong) he met some lively young people.  Their fathers were respectively General Tsai Ting-Kai[7] who was living in exile in Hong Kong following a failed coup known as the Fukien Rebellion and General Chen Chi-Tang, War Lord of Canton who gave safe passage to Mao Tse-Tung[8] in the early part of the Long March and had been buying Tungsten from Mao's mines to sell to the Germans.  Both Generals were adversaries of Chang Kai-Shek and opponents of the Japanese.  Gareth's journey to Changsha was extremely adventurous. He then proceeded to Nanking where he interviewed, the Young Marshall, Chiang Hsueh-Liang, and finally arrived in Peking.  There, he received an invitation from Baron von Plessen of the German Legation and accompanied by Dr Herbert Mueller, they attended the Meeting of the Mongolian Princes. Gareth was the only person to be interviewed by their chief, Prince Teh Wang.


Von Plessen returned to the German Legation and Gareth, the intrepid journalist travelled into Inner Mongolia to a town called Dolonor with the German, Dr Herbert Mueller.  They believed it to be in Chinese territory, but found that they had ventured into an area, infiltrated a few days previously, by the Japanese Army and where Kwantung troops were massing - up to 40,000 though the figure varies. Apprehended by the Japanese they were eventually told that there were three (or two according to Gareth) ways back to the Chinese town of Kalgan, one of which was safe the other being infested by bad bandits.  Taking the presumed safe route on the following day they were captured by the brigands and held for ransom for 100,000 Mexican dollars (£8,000).  The German was released within two days, but after 16 days in captivity, Gareth was murdered.  The bandits were disbanded Chinese soldiers.  His death still remains a mystery, but it was certainly politically motivated for he was looked upon as an important captive having been employed by David Lloyd George.


Gareth’s parents, as soon as they heard of his capture contacted Lloyd George and A.J.Sylvester tirelessly acted as an intermediary on their behalf only to be thwarted by a intransigent Foreign Office mandarins. This is recorded in the Public Record Documents, over 450 in number, covering the investigation into Gareth’s capture and murder. Mrs Edgar Jones, Gareth’s mother wrote: “If it were not for Lloyd George’s secretary, who has been wonderful, nothing would have been done.  Little do they care!  So much for our Foreign Office!” There were daily reports about Gareth’s capture in the newspapers, though the troop movements in Dolonor as well as Dr Müller’s full account were suppressed by a press censorship influenced by the British Establishment. 


On 3rd September, Mr Sylvester wrote to Mr C.W.Orde at the Foreign Office in order to clear up some points on their behalf:


“Mr Lloyd George would like a full enquiry to be made into the tragic affair of Gareth’s death if the Foreign Office had not already done so in order to establish just how the whole tragedy had happened, and precisely who gave advice to Gareth Jones and what that advice was.” 


On the 7th September Mr Sylvester again wrote to Mr Orde of the Foreign Office :


"… I had passed on to you the suspicion that is in the minds of some of his [Gareth] friends that he may have been the victim of a plot to get him out of the way because of some knowledge he may have happened on that neither the Japanese nor the Germans would want to have published. 


Someone with expert diplomatic knowledge speaking at a private meeting at which I was present some months ago said that if the archives at the Japanese and German War Offices became accessible to the public they would probably reveal a very close and friendly understanding, if not actually a Treaty for Mutual Assistance, between those two war-minded Powers.


            Sylvester requested that a trained lawyer skilled at cross-questioning – or a detective? –  see Dr Müller, on behalf of Gareth Jones’ relatives,


On 16th September, Sylvester sent the further letter to the Foreign Office Official, Mr Orde as well as a report from Adelaide Hooker who had called on him with information about the kidnapping:


"I am very much obliged to you for your letter of the 13th September which I am laying before Lloyd George.  I shall await further communication from you when you receive the information.  Meantime I enclose herewith a copy of The Week dated September 11th which has just come into my hands."


Following this letter 16th of September from Mr Sylvester, Mr Orde of the Foreign Office sought advice from a Whitehall colleague, Mr Kitson:


"I have had several letters from Mr Sylvester regarding this case.  We can give Lloyd George, as a former employer of Mr Gareth Jones, a great deal of information, which is of legitimate interest in the case.  The basis that there is a German-Japanese conspiracy is far-fetched.  I cannot help imagining that Mr Lloyd George is trying to make political capital out of this.  We could tell Mr Sylvester that we are trying to get hold of Müller and take his story."


This prompted the following comments the Foreign Office in their records on 17th September:


"It is not clear why, if both Gareth Jones and Müller found out the secret of Japanese designs on Chahar only Gareth Jones and not Müller was murdered by the alleged bandits in Japanese pay.  Otherwise the story is fairly plausible and certainly sensational, with the Foreign Office living up to its reputation for international intrigue.


Personally I do not believe that there is anything at all in these suspicions of Japanese foul play.  But given that there are suspicions."


In consequence of this note, the Foreign Office sent copies of Sylvester’s letter to the British Embassies in Peking and Berlin. 


The British Embassy in China denied the theory of a German-Japanese pact.  “There is evidence that at least some members of the Japanese staff are in contact with the Germans, but no evidence to connect them.” 


Mr Basil Newton of the Berlin Embassy was asked for information on Müller and was assured that the Foreign Office would not necessarily pass everything on for “internal political reasons”.  On 26th September he replied that:


"Unless General von Blomberg, [German Foreign Minister] some officials at the War Ministry and Ministry of Foreign Affairs are the most arrant liars there is no treaty or entente between Japan and Germany today.  What is more, in view of Hitler’s peculiar views on racial questions - which are no joke as any German Jew can testify - it will take a good deal of persuading him to join with Japan or any other exotic race against the chosen Aryan stock. What is more, in view of Hitler’s peculiar views on racial questions - which are no joke as any German Jew can testify - it will take a good deal of persuading him to join with Japan or any other exotic race against the chosen Aryan stock".


On September 23rd, A.W.G. Randall of the Foreign Office stated that there was no foundation whatever to substantiate a German-Japanese Pact.  He noted that Messrs Jones and Müller made the trip against the advice of the local and British authorities and had signed a voluntary bond disclaiming the Chinese authorities of responsibility:


"Lieutenant Millar reported the view that Müller was released because he was a German, “and the relations of the Germans and the Japanese are friendly”.  This evidence lends colour to Mr Sylvester’s allegation regarding a German-Japanese understanding. 


But I am afraid that if we were to send Mr Sylvester the enclosures to this despatch it would be difficult to get either him or Mr Lloyd George to agree with Peking’s conclusion, and Mr Lloyd George would probably be provided with some useful ammunition for awkward questions in the next Parliament."


The following are hand written comments from the Foreign Office appraising this document:


"I have now read this report and annexes, and agree that it is premature to disclose any of it to Mr Lloyd George.  The Embassy in Peking has been asked for their opinion on the allegation of Japanese complicity and on the suspicions regarding Dr Müller.


            I am afraid that the wording of this despatch would be hell to justify Mr Sylvester’s worst (and no doubt, largely unwarrantable) suspicions.  We must therefore wait for a direct answer to our direct questions to Peking.  


            We must be very careful meanwhile what we say to Mr Sylvester and avoid if possible that there are ‘complete reports’ which we might then be asked to publish."[ii]


            The Foreign Office acted in line with the policy which later became known as ‘appeasement’.  If, in so doing, their aim was to thwart Lloyd George from discovering the truth about a possible German-Japanese alliance, then they were clearly successful.  However in so doing they also prevented Sylvester and the Jones family from finding out the truth about Gareth Jones’ murder for fear of Lloyd George embarrassing his Majesty' Government. The Anti-Comintern Pact was concluded between Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan on November 25, 1936 with much secrecy in the German archives before hand.

              Sylvester, determined to get to the bottom of the mystery of his colleague’s death wrote on 6th September from the Office of Mr David Lloyd George to Mr Timperley, the China correspondent for the Manchester Guardian:  “I am writing to ask your kind assistance to see whether you can throw any light on the tragic death of my friend and late colleague Gareth Jones.”


               Many years later this letter  must caused much anguish to Baron von Plessen  for two years after Mr Lloyd George had died, in 1946, von Plessen wrote to Mr A.J. Sylvester with the request that the letter be forwarded to Gareth’s parents.


"… But none other than Mr Lloyd George himself has blamed me for the death of the Englishman.  His former secretary - not publicly, but in a letter which he wrote to a friend of mine in Peking.  I saw the letter myself, Mr Lloyd George was wrong – I was not to blame for the death of Gareth Jones.  I feel I have a score to settle with Mr Lloyd George.


Why did Mr Lloyd George have to write about my ‘mission’ to Mongolia implying, of course, that it was a secret mission?  It was no more a mission than if he went to Brighton with his daughter Megan for the weekend.  And what about Sir Charles Bell and the various members of the British Embassy in Peking who, like me, attended the celebrations of Prince Teh Wang’s residence?  Were they on a mission too?  What was the meaning of that Japanese aeroplane which landed close by at luncheon time?  And why were the two occupants closeted along with Prince Teh Wang in his tent for so long?  We heard that they had asked for the names of all the Europeans present, without expressing a wish to see any of them.  Possibly it was just a routine matter – the Japanese like to know what is going on in these parts – and yet!"


The Baron must have read the letter that was written to either Timperley or another correspondent Macdonald and he assumed that Lloyd George had implicated him in Gareth’s death.


Sylvester decided not to send it to Gareth’s parents despite a number of letters from the Baron requesting him to do so.  The reason Sylvester gave was that he did not want to stir up old memories of this ill-fated expedition.  In his letter Plessen appears to be more concerned about his honour than family grief. 

In 1987, Sylvester at 99 years old still felt that Von Plessen was to blame.  He wrote to my son, Philip who had visited him that he was convinced in the letter that Baron von Plessen and Müller at the instigation of the Japanese were both implicated in Gareth’s death


“Again, I say from the very start in 1935 I have felt instinctively that Von Plessen, the supposed friend of Gareth, had a responsibility for his death.  I feel strongly that Gareth’s murder was deliberately planned.  He had discovered too much.  He died for his country.”]


            Gareth's death still remains a mystery, but it was certainly politically motivated for he was looked upon as an important captive having been employed by David Lloyd George.


The verdict remains open on Gareth’s death. The Japanese almost certainly intended to invade Inner Mongolia. The question remains whether Gareth’s capture by bandits, controlled by the Japanese was a covert plan. Was it a pretext to release an important captive by the Kwangtung Army thereby invading the territory? Initially the vehicle, the pair were in, was owned by the organization, Wostwag a cover for the O.G.P.U.[1]  After Dr Mueller, who has been found to be a Soviet Agent, was released, the bandits holding Gareth were changed to another band and a Soviet connection with the banditry seems less likely.[2


Which of the great powers would have been the most interested in eliminating Gareth? Neither the Soviets nor the Chinese would have wished an invasion of Inner Mongolia. Gareth had endeavoured to expose the Five-Year Plan of Collectivisation and Industrialisation and in its wake he had, by his articles attempted to bring world-wide attention to a desperate situation, the Great Famine in Ukraine; an atrocity, the knowledge of which, Stalin had attempted suppress. For this did Stalin order his death as a vendetta or did the Bolshevist regime kill him fearing the invasion of Inner Mongolia and subsequently incursion into Soviet Siberia?[3] The Soviets feared the presence of the Japanese on the border of Siberia as they had designs on striking north into Soviet Territory. It would not have been in the Japanese interest to kill Gareth in their quest for raw materials and their desire to be a colonial power though in their turn they might have been anxious that Gareth did not expose their carefully laid plans to invade by stealth, the Northern provinces. China, possibly the most devious of these countries was playing a waiting game, powerless to fight the Japanese; did she kill Gareth to foil the latter's strategies? The Chinese would not have wished the loss of their land in the north.   Their militia was in hot pursuit after the bandits and it is possible they may have killed him. Gareth's murder might have been quite simply carried out by the bandits fearing capture by the militia.


There are many theories to debate, but until there is documentary evidence as to how Gareth died we shall never know the answer. Did his death foil the invasion of Inner Mongolia in 1935? According to H.T.Barrett of the Hong Kong Critic[4], “It is quite obvious that efforts were made to create another international incident.”


Gareth had revealed to the world the terrible famine in the Soviet Union and Ukraine; he predicted the Second World War in Europe would breakout following the Danzig Corridor dispute between Germany and Poland. Had he lived he might have been able to reveal the designs of territorial expansion by the Japanese that would bring about the conflagration in the Far East. He foresaw problems in Pearl Harbour as early as 1935 and he pointed to the problems in the north of Czechoslovakia. His predictions were uncanny.


Gareth Jones, a great Welsh patriot, walked with princes and had seen the plight of peasants. “He had this gift of international understanding; he had this genius of becoming the interpreter of nations to one another.  To him was given, for example, the power, the rare power of an instinctive reaction to an international dispute not as a quarrel, which it seldom or never is, between ‘a right and a wrong’ but between ‘two rights”. He was an idealist – a lover of liberty and a foe of oppression.[5] The truth to him was all-important. His death on the eve of his thirtieth birthday was a tragic loss not only to his family but also to the world and to society as a whole.


Mr Lloyd George’s statement

Jones Knew Too Much


             " I was struck with horror when the news of poor Mr Gareth Jones was conveyed to me.  I was uneasy about his fate from the moment I ascertained that when his companion, Dr Herbert Müller, was released he was detained.  The so-called bandits fastened on to Mr Gareth Jones as the more dangerous of the two. That part of the world is a cauldron of conflicting intrigue and one or other interests concerned probably knew that Mr Gareth Jones knew too much of what was going on.  Mr Gareth Jones was a born scout, dauntless to the last degree.  He had a passion for finding out what was happening in foreign lands wherever there was trouble, and in pursuit of his investigations he shrank from no risk.  Doubtless he had notes in his possession that would have been of great interest to me or to many other foreign powers interested in Mongolia.  I had always been afraid that he would take one risk too many.  Nothing escaped his observation, and he allowed no obstacle to turn from his course when he thought that there was some fact, which he could obtain.  He had the almost unfailing knack of getting at things that mattered."


Further Reference:  Gareth Jones: A Manchukuo Incident

More Than a Grain of Truth: The Biography of Gareth Richard Vaughan Jones

By Margaret Siriol Colley






[1] The Author,  Experiences in Russia -1931: A diary, Alton Press, Pittsburg 1932. (written anonymously by Jack Heinz with a preface by Gareth Jones.)

i The Gold Standard Crisis had occurred a few days previously in September 1931.

[2] Gareth Jones, ‘With Hitler Across Germany’. The Western Mail, 28 February, 1933 p.6.

[3] Malcolm Muggeridge, ‘The Soviet and the Peasantry’, The Manchester Guardian, March 25,27,28, 1933 p,p,p, 9,10,10.

[4] H.R Knickerbocker, ‘Famine Grips Russia, Millions Dying, Idle on Increase, Says Briton’, New York Evening Post, March 29, 1933.

[5] Eugene Lyons, Assignment in Utopia, Harcourt Brace, New York, 1937, p.576.

 9 Gareth Jones, ‘Frank Wright’. The Western Mail, 8th February 1935.  

[7] Margaret Siriol Colley,  A Manchukuo Incident, Nigel Colley, Newark, 2001. p 280.

[8] Juan Chang and Jon Holliday, Mao: the Unknown Story, Jonathon Cape, London, 2005.

[9] http://www.garethjones.org/muller/muller.htm

[10] Mr R.T.Barrett, Hong Kong Critic. August 25th 1935. Pages, 2. 

[11] Juan Chang and Jon Holliday, Mao: the Unknown Story, Jonathon Cape, London, 2005.p. 208.

‘Following Japan’s swift occupation of northern China in July [1937] posed a very direct danger to Stalin. Tokyo’s huge armies were now in a position to turn north and attack Russia anywhere along a border many thou­sands of kilometres long.’

[12] Mr R.T.Barrett, Hong Kong Critic. August 25th 1935. P.2.

[13] Margaret Siriol Colley,  A Manchukuo Incident, Nigel Colley, Newark, 2001. p 267.

    Reverend Gwilym Davies’s Tribute to Mr Gareth Jones: “Apostle of International Understanding.”


[i] The Times Leader October 13th 1930 THE TWO RUSSIAS.

The Western Mail 7th - 11th April, 1931  COMMUNISTS’ FIVE-YEAR-PLAN.

[ii] Life with Lloyd George by A.J.Sylvester, Macmillan Press 1975 page 39.

[iii] Lloyd George, David, Truth about Reparations and War Debts 1932, Doubleday, Doran (Garden city, N.Y) page 122.

[iv] Life with Lloyd George by A.J.Sylvester, Macmillan Press, 1975 page 94.

Gareth Jones "The Eisteddfod" , August 8th. 1933.

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