Gareth Jones

[bas relief by Oleh Lesiuk]



Stop Press


Complete Soviet Articles & Background Information


Précis of Gareth's Soviet Famine Articles


All Published Articles




Tell Them We Are Starving




Eyewitness to the Holodomor



More Than Grain of Truth



Manchukuo Incident





'Are you Listening NYT?'  U.N. Speech - Nov 2009


Gareth Recognised at Cambridge - Nov 2009


Reporter and the Genocide - Rome, March 2009


Order of Freedom Award -Nov 2008


Premiere of 'The Living' Documentary Kyiv - Nov 2008


Gareth Jones 'Famine' Diaries - Chicago 2008


Aberystwyth Memorial Plaque 2006





Scholarship Fund


Site Map




Legal Notices


Sponsored Links



Recollections of Gareth Jones

By Nigel Linsan Colley

February 2007. 

On occasion, I have been asked questions about the character behind Gareth, the man, along with ‘what was in his unique make-up to stand up alone and be counted in his exposure of the Ukrainian famine genocide’… 

In the past couple of years, as a result of international publicity for Gareth, our family has received two separate pieces of correspondence, which to my mind helps towards answering the above questions. There is no doubt that Gareth’s address book, read like a ‘Who’s Who’ of the international world of politics and business, but these following two pieces of correspondence perhaps shed light upon his humility, but also show that he never forgot his Welsh roots.

The first piece of correspondence refers to his time in the ‘wilderness’; the following 12-months after exposing the famine, when Gareth was seemingly restricted to writing on solely the rural affairs of Wales rather than international politics, which was his forte… Nevertheless, in a delightful series of articles, he chronicles the dying days of many Welsh traditional art and crafts. In one article in particular (printed in full below), he is prophetically kidnapped by a gang of young mining children, then after negotiating his escape with a ransom of chocolate, he tramped on into the hills in search of Dorwen, the highest farmstead in the Black Mountains. There, he knocked on the farmer’s door in order to secure permission to sleep in their barn, but instead was offered true Welsh hospitality with a bed in the farm for the night; and there began a warm friendship with farmer Moses and his family, ending with an affectionate postcard from far-off Siam; just a few months before his murder by alleged ‘bandits’ in Northern China; all of which recently we became aware of through Elaine Edwards, a descendant of this hilltop farming family. 

The second piece of correspondence followed a radio interview I made on Canadian radio station CBC in late November 2006, when a listener of Welsh origin, Janet Wright remembered that her aunt, Mrs. Morfydd Davies (nee Williams) knew Gareth as a young girl and subsequently contacted her back in Wales. Mrs. Davies then wrote two letters to my mother Siriol (Gareth’s niece), relating some of her vivid memories of Gareth, as well as sharing with us an amusing postcard, which evinced Gareth’s playfully wicked sense of humour. 

After having read both sets of correspondence, I sincerely hope that you, the reader, will have a better understanding of Gareth, a young man who dared stand up to Stalin, Hitler and also the Japanese, not simply because of his devout Welch Non-Conformist upbringing, but beyond all, I believe he saw and stood up for the goodness in the ‘everyday’ man; and no matter from whence they came… 

Nigel Linsan Colley


17 February 2007.

CLICK HERE for a 600kb Printable Adobe Acrobat version of this page

The Western Mail 13th September, 1933



Carrying On a Century-old Tradition in a Hill-side Farm


 What is the national dish of Wales?  It would be difficult to find a rival to the ham and eggs served in the countryside, and of all the dishes of ham and eggs offered me the tastiest was at Cwmgorse, Gwaun-cae-Gurwen.

It had a richness of flavour which is all the more appreciated when it is eaten in the open-air after tramping.  Perhaps the air of optimism and of work reigning in the anthracite areas, which contrasts strikingly with the pessimism prevailing more towards the east of Wales, adds zest and appetite.

I certainly found Gwaun-cae-Gurwen and the surroundings a bright patch. There was a spirit of friendliness about the district, although the winters there must be bleak and sullen, and the mountains to the north are bare and lonely. Everyone gave a greeting which was warm and spontaneous.

As I was passing the East Gwaun-cae-Gurwen Colliery several men waved, and we talked in Welsh for long [sic].

A Welsh Matador

On a farm near that colliery I came upon a character whom I shall call the “Welsh Matador.”  He was a short, wiry Cardi, with flushed cheeks, who had came to the farm, Bryn Awel, for his health.

He told me calmly of his fight with a bull upon the mountain.  The animal had come rushing full speed upon him, and instead of fleeing for his life the little man had stood his ground until the beast was almost upon him.  Then with his stick he struck the bull a crashing blow over the eyes, blinding the savage enemy.  He was quite unconcerned at the struggle.

“Were you not terrified?”  I asked.  The Cardi was surprised at my question. “Oh, I’m quite used to it in Cardiganshire,” he answered. 

Leaving the matador to his work in the fields, I went on to a little town which delighted me - Cwmllynfell.  It was so thoroughly Welsh and so thoroughly alive.  The children played on the heath in Welsh and shouted greetings to strangers.

It was here that I was for the first time in my life taken prisoner by bandits and ransomed.  They were Welsh bandits, varying in age from seven to thirteen years, who seized me and took me to their tent.  I have no complaints to make about my treatment by these outlaws and they speedily released me from my captivity when a supply of chocolate was forthcoming as ransom.

Overflowing With Music

Cwmilynfell seemed to me to be brimming over with music-lovers.  The first person I met was a proud member of the Ystalyfera Choir, which has won so often at the National Eisteddfod.  In shop-windows there were printed notices about rehearsals.

No sooner had I begun to sup at the Mountain Hare than a torrent of brass instruments flooded the inn and I listened to cornets and trombones vying with each other in a Niagara of melody.

The tuning in was like an attack on the Western Front, but once they began to play order resolved itself out of chaos.

Nor was that an end to the flow of music at Cwmllynfell, for as I passed the school a stream of song issued from the windows and I stood listening to the “Ash Grove.”  So attractive was the music that I had to drag myself away, passing the memorial to Watcyn Wyn and the fine new building which is being erected in the middle of the town.

A Cockfighting Story

I saw nothing of the cockfighting for which Cwmllynfell was once famous, but I heard a story of those wild days.  A cock which had battled often and well and was renowned throughout the neighbourhood for its savage vigour met at last its equal and had an eye scratched out.  His owner, a miner, took it to a town some distance away to sell it.  A prospective buyer came and was going to purchase the bird, when he noticed the blind eye.  “But it’s blind in that eye, man.  I can’t buy that.”

“Blind in that eye, indeed,” replied the owner. “It’s winking at me, he is not to let him go too cheap.”

Night was falling, but I was determined to find shelter in the barn of a farm up in the mountains and leave the industrial district for the countryside.  Moreover, next day a stiff climb up to the top of the Black Mountains, to Llyn y Fan, and down to the Usk Valley awaited me.  I, therefore, tramped along a beautiful gorge, through which flows the tempestuous River Twrch (twrch is the Welsh for boar).

Good-bye to the Mines

I seemed to be saying good-bye to the Wales of the coal-mines and the steelworks and suddenly alighting upon the Wales which has hardly changed.

The last trace of industrialism was the gaunt relic of Henllys Vale Colliery. How out of place it looked with the rocks and the river and the trees all around.  Below blazed a huge fire of bracken, throwing up great flames.  A derelict locomotive stood near the crumbling chimney of the colliery.  Two elderly colliers emerged from the semi-darkness and greeted me. 

“I want to go to the furthest farm up the valley,” I told them in Welsh.  “Is this the way?

“It is,” they replied, and one of them said dramatically, “But beware of Craig y Fran (the Raven’s Rock) on the way.  The path is narrow there and many have slipped to their death.”

I went on, rather regretting that I had not stayed the night in Cwmllynfell, stepped warily as I went past Craig y Fran, descended to the stream, crossed over to Breconshire - the Twrch is here the boundary between Breconshire and Carmarthenshire - and rejoiced when I saw a light on the hill.  It was Dorwen, the highest farmhouse in the valley.

Farmwife’s Welcome

Would Welsh hospitality be as warm it is vaunted in literature and song?  I wondered as I tapped at the door.  The farmwife, came.

“May I sleep in your barn?”  I asked.  She grinned.  “Sleep in the barn indeed!  You can have a bedroom and you must have a good supper and a nice cup of tea and make yourself quite at home.  ‘Dewch I fewn! Dewch I fewn!”  My heart leapt up; a thin mist was beginning to fail; I could hear children laughing inside and the sound of butter being churned; I could see a blazing fire; but the greatest joy was to realise that hospitality in Wales was as spontaneous and as warm as ever.

My host and hostess, Mr. and Mrs. Moses, farmers up in the hills, were carrying on a century-old tradition of doing honour to an unknown guest.


Correspondence relating to Dorwen from the Moses' Family

In February 2004, Elaine Edwards, grand-daughter of Mr and Mrs Moses of  Dorwen Farm (above) wrote an email to Gareth's Archives:

"I first heard of your uncle when I was a young child (I am now 40) as my father had in his possession a few short  pieces of correspondence - namely a letter, a postcard, a gift card and also a newspaper cutting confirming his death and a printed thank you card from your family.   My great-grandparents had kept these after a brief acquaintance with your remarkable uncle.  They met in 1933 (September, I think) as they took him and Dr. Wyn Davies in for the night at Dorwen Farm.  I remember hearing of how they had lost their bearings as the fog descended suddenly on the mountain and that they somehow found their way to Dorwen Farm in dangerous conditions (I don't know how accurate that account is). 

It is probable that they never met again but as a child I was intrigued by him - and struck by the fact that he kept in touch with this working-class, hill farming couple whose lives were so very different from his own.   In the postcard from Siam - dated 30th April 1935 - he wrote about going on to China, Japan and America.   Although there are only three brief pieces of writing in all, he comes across as a truly kind and decent man.   

I can remember being aware of his story, wondering at his tragedy and feeling frustrated that there were no answers about why he had to die.  Years later I read two articles in the Western Mail and his articles in "In Search of News" and realised how remarkable his short life had been.   I thought a great deal about the way two very different families experienced the loss of a grown up child (Maggie, my father's mother died of TB at 28, in 1934) and when your family heard of your great loss my great grandparents were grieving for their daughter. 

I started to write about my family a few years ago and found that I couldn't write about Maggie's death. My great-grandparents and Dorwen Farm without also thinking about Gareth Jones.  It was strange."

Below are the postcards and correspondence Gareth sent in Welsh (and kindly translated by Elaine Edwards) to Farmer Moses and his family: 

Letter to Mr & Mrs Moses from the Cardiff Western Mail Offices from Gareth, dated 1st January 1934.


January 1st 1934

Dear Mr and Mrs Moses and everybody at Dorwen,

Thank you very much for the beautiful chicken you sent me.  It was excellent and I had it for lunch on Saturday.  It reminded me of the splendid time I had at Dorwen when Dr Davies and I came walking across the mountains.

How is little Bessie?  Best wishes to her.

With hearty wishes for 1934 and many many thanks,

Best wishes, Gareth Jones.

Gift Card to the Moses' from Gareth.


To the children of Mr. and Mrs. Moses,

With best wishes; I often think of your kindness to Dr. Davies and myself when we were walking across the mountains.  Dr. Wyn Davies is in Africa now.

A very happy Christmas,

Gareth Jones.

[The children referred to are Elaine Edward's father , about 1-year old,  and his sister Bessie - about 5-yreas old; their mother was suffering from TB  at the time and expecting her third child, so they were at Dorwen with their grandparents; she died in June 1934 at 28-years old.  All that Elaine Edwards has of Maggie Edwards nee Moses are two photographs and one letter to her brother.]

Postcard to Mr & Mrs Moses from Siam, April 30th 1935

April 30 1935

Best wishes from far away Siam.  I often think of your kindness to Mr. Davies and myself when we were walking across the mountains.  How are all the children?  I hope you are all in good health.  I am soon to go on to China, Japan and America, Best wishes, Gareth Jones.

Second Series of Correspondence from Mrs Morfydd Davies in 2007 – 1st Letter 


Notes relating to the above letter:

Ianto was Gareth’s dog –  pictured here below with my mother, Dr Siriol Colley aged about 13 and her brother John, circa 1937-38. 


Dr Reinhard Haferkorn was a close friend of Gareth’s and was the Chairman of League of Nations High Commission in the Polish Corridor (lecturing on the controversial League of Nations enclave at the prestigious RIIA [Royal Institute for International Affairs] in London in late 1932), as well as being a member of faculty of Technische Hochschule, Danzig teaching Classical literature. 

N.B. Gareth stopped off in Danzig with Haferkorn (pictured below) directly after leaving Moscow in March 1933 en route to his famine-exposing press conference in Berlin on the 29th March (and met him there again in May 1933 in the company of the German Consul to Kharkiv, who personally expressed his concurrence that Gareth’s graphical published picture of the city’s destitution painted a true picture of the conditions therein). 

Second Series of Correspondence from Mrs M. Davies in 2007 – 2nd Letter




The following postcard was one of those mentioned in the first letter sent to the young Miss. Williams in 1934 from Germany and shows Gareth’s ability to mock himself! 



Finally as an aside, I happened to have an enchanting telephone conversation with Mrs. Davies for over an hour on Saturday 17th February, during which she remembered coming home from Barry Grammar school for Girls to Llantwit Major; after alighting the train, the last leg of her journey was by bus, where she happened by chance to have met Gareth, who happily paid their fares, where the conductor mistakenly only charged them a penny… She recalls that Gareth was just on his way to interview Randolph Hearst at his Welsh castle retreat of St. Donats, outside Cardiff, which was an occasion that would subsequently transform his life…

I subsequently mentioned that Gareth was later to be offered a very lucrative job with a princely sum of £1500 per year by Hearst to run his Berlin press bureau, destined to start when he was to have returned from the Far East in 1935.  Mrs. Davies then recalled a conversation he had with her mother, when Gareth stated he could never work for Hearst on a full-time basis, on account of his anti-British reporting of the Great War! At this revelation, I was simply aghast by her statement regarding yet another unknown instance of his moral fibre, but at the same time, not at all surprised! My primary reasoning being, that if the Soviets were incapable of finding his Achilles heel in terms of blackmailable vices and, in my opinion, ultimately resorted to having him liquidated, then there were probably no vices to be readily found! 

One further account Mrs. Davies recalled during our conversation, relates to Gareth’s remarkable ear for language.  On one occasion at her home, she remembers Gareth purposely traipsing around her living room with a notebook in one hand and his other hand thrust in his pocket, whilst simultaneously mimicking perfectly the dulcet tones of his employer Lloyd George… In fact, Gareth had the ability to impersonate virtually every noteworthy person he met from Goebbels to Hearst; an after-dinner act he would regularly perform for the amusement of his fellow diners! Coincidentally, one of the other potential job offers he had prior his last fateful trip, was to set up an office for the BBC in Wales, one which he did not relish, but nonetheless, he would no doubt have been quite a performer! 

© Copyright 2007. Nigel Linsan Colley. All rights reserved.

Previous Page

Top of Page


Original Research, Content & Site Design by Nigel Linsan Colley. Copyright © 2001-17 All Rights Reserved Original document transcriptions by M.S. Colley.Click here for Legal Notices.  For all further details email:  Nigel Colley or Tel: (+44)  0796 303  8888