Welsh Livery Guild

Apr 192014
 

Every so often I check up on organisations or individuals I have written about just to see what they’re up to now, lest they feel neglected. A couple of days ago it was the turn of the Welsh Livery Guild. Or, as they have been known since September 6th last year, The Worshipful Livery Company of Wales. Oooohh! there’s posh! For they have been granted a Royal Charter and are now a recognised Livery Company of the City of London.

I first wrote about this crew last July with Welsh Livery Guild: All Dressed Up With Nowhere To Go? Then I discovered links between the Livery Guild and the paramilitaries known as the Legion of Frontiersmen, which prompted another post, Dressing On The Right. Next, in early August, I posted the Legion of Frontiersmen, which gave a bit more detail about this very suspect outfit, before finishing on August 11th with Legion of Frontiersmen 2: I Could Have Been a Corporal! It might be worth reading these posts before proceeding.

So, those I ridiculed last year have now received a Royal Charter (from the Privy Council) making them a Guild or Livery Company of the City of London. Along with the Broderers, the Cordwainers, the Fan Makers, the Farriers, the Horners, the Loriners, the Mercers, the Pewterers, the Scriveners, the Tallow Chandlers, the Wax Chandlers, and the Woolmen. Though in fairness, there are a few more modern-sounding guilds: Air Pilots, Information Technologists, Management Consultants and International Bankers. (A full list of all chartered bodies can be found by following the links on this page.) At which point a brief description of Livery Companies may be in order.

The history of these Guilds or Livery Companies goes back to medieval times, and they were originally a way of both safeguarding the business interests of guild members and maintaining standards (e.g. by regulating apprenticeships). These original functions have of course been overtaken by trade associations and trade unions. For example, if you were in the modern fire service who would you want to represent you – The Worshipful Company of Firefighters or the Fire Brigades Union?

One feature of the Livery Guilds – which also struck me last year when I looked at the Welsh Livery Guild – is the disproportionate numbers of military men involved. A few make sense, such as the Master Mariners having Captain John Hughes as Master and Commodore Angus Menzies as Clerk. Others are less easy to explain. For example, why is Admiral the Lord Boyce Master of the Drapers? Or Lt. Col. John Chambers Master of the Wax Chandlers? Military men are even more common among the Clerks; where we find . . .

Brigadier Tim Gregson, Carpenters; Lt. Col. Oliver Bartram, Clockmakers; Vice-Admiral Peter Wilkinson, Cooks; Lt Col. Adrian Carroll, Coopers; Major Jollyon Coombs, Feltmakers; Maj. Gen. Colin Boag CB CBE, Fishmongers; Capt. Shaun Mackaness, Framework Knitters; Lt. Col. Lionel French, Fruiterers; Major Jeremy Herrtage, Gardeners; Brigadier Ian Rees, Girdlers; Cdr. Andrew Gordon-Lennox, Glaziers; Lt Col. Mark Butler, Glovers; Cdr. Robin House, Gold and Silver Wyre Drawers; Rear Admiral Dick Melly, Goldsmiths; Brigadier Robert Pridham OBE, Grocers; Commodore Philip Thicknesse, Haberdashers; Col. Hamon Massey, Ironmongers; Brigadier David Santa Olalla DSO MC, Leathersellers; Rear Admiral Nick Harris, Merchant Taylors; Col. Robert Murfin, Pattenmakers; Cpt. Paddy Watson, Pewterers; Air Cdre. Paul Nash OBE, Plumbers; Col. Nigel Lithgow CBE, Saddlers; Capt. David Morris, Salters;  Lt. Col. Andy Milne, Shipwrights; Maj. Gen. Brian Plummer, Skinners; Lt. Col. John Salmon OBE, Spectacle Makers; Brig. David Homer, Tallow Chandlers; Brig. Jonathan Bourne-May, Vintners; Brig. Michael Keun, Freemen.

All this braid says two things to me. The vast majority of these Livery Companies now have little or no connection with the trades or professions that originally founded them. Second, when we find so many military men in important positions in non-military organisations then something’s not right. Are these really just groups of middle-class men getting together regularly for harmless piss-ups? If so, why can’t they just retire to the country, have a few tinctures, and bark at the peasants? Clearly, Livery Companies nowadays operate as top-of-the-range masonic lodges (that allow women) and act as yet another smouldering tyre in the barricade against egalitarianism that is the English establishment; and one that has, over the centuries, helped London achieve its stranglehold on the economy of Englandandwales.

From a specifically Welsh perspective, the Worshipful Livery Company of Wales is a step backward. Apart from belonging to another age and another country, the Company strengthens the influence of London in Wales, making it yet another tool in the rolling back or undermining of devolution. Then there are the established links with a paramilitary organisation of dubious legality. The current Senior Warden of the Livery Company is W. B. Warlow who is also ‘Lt. Col.’ Wayne Buffet Warlow of the Frontiersmen Welch (sic) Command, one of a number of direct connections between the Livery Company and the Frontiersmen.

Below you will see the invitation sent out (mine must be delayed in the mail) for the Royal Charter Banquet on June 7th at Cardiff City Hall. Heading the guest list is the First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones. (Note also that the Livery Guild Clerk is a Squadron Leader!) I believe that Carwyn Jones, who claims to be the leader of a progressive, twenty-first century political party, in a country looking ahead, should think long and hard about giving credibility to these medievalist oddballs with their established links to a paramilitary group (and God knows what else), and who exist to serve London’s interests. Many of the others invited should also think carefully. Not least the Archbishop of Wales . . . unless of course he’s beguiled by the braid and the hose?

 

 

Aug 092013
 

Now I don’t want any of you to think that I’m picking on Right wing Britishers with a penchant for fancy dress, but you must admit, the Brit Establishment, and those on the political Right who support them, do tend to go overboard with the costumes.

In recent posts I have dealt with the Welsh Livery Guild before following that up with this post in which I mentioned the Orangemen (no, not Peter Hain) and the Legion of Frontiersmen. If you haven’t read these posts then I suggest you do so before pushing on with this one. And even if you have read them, maybe it wouldn’t harm to give them a quick glance. What I should have Postermentioned, perhaps, is that I first became aware of the Legion of Frontiersmen some fifteen years ago. The reason I didn’t mention it in the earlier post was because I thought I’d lost the folder . . . but now I’ve found it, gathering dust atop a bookcase, and what a little treasure trove it proved to be.

It all began for me in 1998, when I found this strange poster on our village notice board, and saw others in the area. (Click to enlarge.) ‘That’s for me!’ I said. So I ripped the poster down and ran home to phone the number given thereon. I soon found myself speaking to a ‘Second Lieutenant Gary J Lillywhite’. He was of course an Englander, and must have been new to the area. I say that because I gave him my real name and he didn’t slam the phone down. He may still live in Tywyn. (For all I know there even may be a unit in Tywyn!!!!) Anyway, he sent me some very interesting information, including an application form. Bear in mind that Lillywhite claimed to be representing The Legion of Frontiersmen of the Commonwealth United Kingdom Command. Worth bearing in mind because two different – Warlowor apparently different – Frontiersmen units will be mentioned below. Naturally, following this revelation, I made enquiries about just who and what the Frontiersmen were, or are. And I looked for mentions in the media. (This was before I had a computer and access to the internet.)

I saw nothing until this piece (right, click to enlarge), appeared on August 19th, 1999, in the ‘Westgate’ column of the Western Mail. The column that day was written by the late Michael Boon. For those who don’t remember Boon, he was a worshipper of the British royals and a hagiographer of Charles ‘Carlo’ Windsor. Who better than this English journo to give a good write-up to a bunch of paramilitary Right wingers with a very suspect background, and perhaps even more suspect current motives?

Note that this piece from the Mule refers to the “Welch Command”. Presumably this is the abbreviated form of the grandly named Countess Mountbatten’s Own Frontiersmen Welch Command I mentioned in my earlier post. Here is the Charity Commission entry for Countess Mountbattens’s Own Legion of Frontiersmen. As you’ll see, despite the bullshit about a “Welch Command”, in reality it’s yet another sad, insulting, Englandandwales outfit. There is very little activity reported on the Charity Commission website, and hardly any money, but that probably doesn’t matter. The important thing is that the Frontiersmen – or one manifestation of them – has charity status. Though the ‘Welch’ branch does not use ‘Legion’ in its title, so does this mean it’s a different organisation?

You will also note that the contact mentioned in the Boon piece is Lt Col W B Warlow. This is Wayne Buffet Warlow of Porthcawl. Who, by an amazing coincidence, crops up in the Welsh Livery Guild as current Junior Warden. Thus giving us two direct links between the Frontiersmen and the Guild; the other being Commander John Curteis, Master of the Welsh Livery Guild 2009/10 and among the host gathered at the Frontiersmen ‘Investiture’ at All Saints Church, Penarth in March 2006. Though Warlow is not mentioned as having been at the ‘Investiture’ nor is anyone from his ‘Welch’  outfit. The only local unit mentioned is the Welsh Auxiliary Corps of Frontiersmen. So now we appear to have three separate units of Frontiersmen operating in Wales. There may be a fourth, the Independent Overseas Command. Possibly a fifth, if Countess Battenberg’s ‘Welch’ lot is separate. How many of the buggers are there? Can anyone set up a unit?

I also phoned ‘Lt Col’ Warlow. (Aren’t I a rascal!) We had a little chat about this and that. But when I directed the subject towards devolution I soon realised I’d struck a nerve. To say that he was hostile to devolution would be an understatement similar to saying that EDL members aren’t all that keen on Pakistanis.

The only recorded public sighting of the Frontiersmen I am aware of came on June 24th and 25th, 2000, when they were acting as ‘security’ for a medieval re-enactment at Coity castle, near Bridgend. Someone sent me photographs. Not good photos, I know, but they might mean something to somebody. (Click to enlarge.) So I made enquiries in various directions, Frontiersman 2from the MoD to the Defence Advisor at the Kenya High Commission. Why the latter? Because in the literature I unearthed the Frontiersmen claim to have fought against the Mau Mau. That was under the Frontiersmen banner, but I suspect that following Kenyan independence in 1963 they re-appeared in Ian Smith’s Rhodesia as the Selous Scouts (named after F C Selous, an early Frontiersman). Then, when Rhodesia became Zimbabwe, the Selous Scouts may have moved on to defending apartheid South Africa.

So let’s start pulling a few threads together. It can’t have escaped the notice of my perceptive readers that these assorted incarnations of the Frontiersmen in Wales start appearing after the devolution referendum had Frontiersman 1been won in September 1997. And around the time that the Assembly came into being in May 1999. This is no coincidence. For what we have here is an extreme Right wing, British Unionist paramilitary group. But they seem to have respectable antecedents. They overlap and share members with superficially respectable groups like the Welsh Livery Guild, Freemasons, British Legion, etc. They rub shoulders with Deputy Lord Lieutenants. They are allowed to hold ludicrous, quasi-military services in Anglican churches. And that’s why they’re so dangerous!

The Left in Wales loves to focus on the BNP, the National Front, the English/Welsh Defence League. Forget them! These pose no threat beyond causing a bit of bovver. They have no electoral support, they have no influence, and no one with a reputation to defend will ever stand alongside them. They pay homage to ‘The Fuehrer’, yet Hitler, with his known attitudes to alcohol, smoking, disorderly behaviour and degenerates, would probably have had them put them down before he turned on the Brownshirts.

The bigger threat comes from the respectable, semi-secret, organisations I’m dealing with here. Organisations that, collectively, form a network of extreme British nationalist groups determined to keep Wales a colony of England. You may find them funny, there’s certainly a lot to laugh at . . . but where do the linkages lead?

P.S. Looking through my notes from thirteen years ago I came across a tantalising reference to “Group 4”, obviously something I meant to check out.

UPDATE March 7, 2015: I bought the Cambrian News this week and flicked through without noticing the gem below. It was only when I when for a coffee yesterday afternoon that a lady in the cafe drew my attention to it, though why I don’t know. (Odd, that, now I come to think about it.)

Anyway, the local knee-flashers are going through one of their periodic PR exercises, you know the kind of thing, ‘We don’t seek to undermine democracy, we aren’t a source of corruption . . . oh no, we’re really cuddly and lovable, always helping out’. In the accompanying picture is Gary Lillywhite (second left), looking very stiff and upbuttoned. Bearing out what I’ve argued in this and linked posts about the overlap and linkages between all these BritNat organisations. Maybe the Frontiersmen are the military arm of the Freemasons. Perhaps they have funny salutes, hand around the back of the head or something! (Click to enlarge image.)

Lillywhite Masons

Jul 282013
 

This post was originally intended as a follow-up to my post earlier this month on the Welsh Livery Guild. In the post I’d planned I was going to mention that The Welsh Livery Guild is not alone in being an outfit of the costumed Brit Unionist royalist Right. I intended mentioning two other organisations that have made an unwelcome appearance – or reappearance – in Wales, the Orangemen and the Legion of Frontiersmen.

I shouldn’t have to explain about the Orange Order and the part it’s played in Irish – and to a lesser extent, Scottish – history, but maybe a bit more needs to be said about the Frontiersmen. Formed in 1904, in the wake of the Second Boer War, and in imitation of the admired Boer mounted infantry, the Frontiersmen enjoyed a brief popularity, even respectability, before the death-blow fell – Western armies stopped using cavalry except for ceremonial purposes. To which might be added the disappearance, or diminishing acceptance, of the ‘gentleman adventurer’. From then on it was a struggle for the Frontiersmen to justify their existence. With the result that in recent decades, certainly in the UK, this outfit has increasingly attracted sad buggers who enjoy dressing up. (Here is the ARRSEPedia entry.)

Badge

Click to Enlarge

Here’s what purports to be the official website of the Legion of Frontiersmen GB. As you’ll see, there’s a homepage, and, er, that’s about it. Though note that they describe themselves as being made up of ex-military, ex-police, even ex-civil service(!), who collectively form “an organisation of Civil Defence volunteers”. Bear that in mind, for it will help explain the circumstances in which they see themselves operating. There’s even a TwitterTweet presence @FrontiersmenGB which seems to be nothing more than retweets. As I write this, the most recent of them is about a launch of the Mumbles lifeboat! Finally, there is also an Independent Overseas Command.

Normally, this penchant for dressing up and playing soldiers would be harmless enough, laughable even. But then, as I started making a few enquiries into the recent activities of the Frontiersmen in Wales I ran into a name I’d recently seen linked with the Welsh Livery Guild. And I saw others, who should have known better, also lending credibility to these Walter Mitty types. But of greater worry to us should be that Wales is specially favoured, with Countess Mountbatten’s Own Frontiersmen Welch Command. Though, confusingly, there may be another Frontiersmen outfit in Wales, the Welsh Auxiliary Corps of Volunteers.

You’ll note that the ARRSEPedia entry (above) is made by the ARmy Rumour SErvice or ARRSE. Here’s a link to an interesting thread on ARRSE from which I have plucked the piece on the left, though whoever posted it does not give the source. (Click to enlarge and read carefully.) Here’s a further thread from ARRSE.

WarlowNow if we read the extract on the left, it refers to a big get-together – or “Investiture” – for Frontiersmen and friends at All Saints Church, Penarth on March 5th, 2006. Among the good and great we see the name of “Commander John Curteis the Vice Lord-Lieutenant of South Glamorgan”. This can only be Commander J M D Curteis RD FCA DL who went on to become Master of the Welsh Livery Guild in 2009/10. The Brigadier Alun Thomas-Evans referred to seems to be the same man as this Freemason. Maybe readers will recognise other names from the host in attendance.

Among them Earl Kitchener, the mayors of Penarth and Barry, the local sea cadets, Gorseinon College band, and the ghost of Queen Victoria. (OK, I made up that last one.) What were these people thinking of to lend ceredibility to this bunch of inadequates! Or maybe they view the Frontiersmen differently. Just look at who was involved. The British Legion, the Freemasons, various Jugend groups, the Welsh Livery Guild, Unionist political parties . . . and it all takes place – where else! – in an Anglican church. If you want to find the underpinnings of the British State, and the interconnectedness of the different strands, here they are for you. How many more organisations are there like the Welsh Livery Guild and the Frontiersmen?

For all I know, these clowns in the Frontiersmen may be legally entitled to own and train with weapons. It’s a worrying thought. Especially when we put it into the wider picture. Going back to the Welsh Livery Guild for a moment, I note that Brigadier R E L Jenkins CBE DL, Master in 1998/99, (and another Deputy Lieutenant) is, or very recently was, Director of Movements for the British Army. Which fits with my rather disturbing theory.

Forget ‘civil defence’ and ‘natural disaster’, what I fear we have here is a network of like-minded groups organised to step into the breach if the great unwashed get too stroppy, or if events in Scotland or Wales take an unacceptably un-Unionist tack. These paramilitary and semi-secret groups are linked by an adherence to an extreme variant of the ‘Queen and Country’ outlook. Which means that no matter how many Welsh symbols they choose to use, no matter how much of the Welsh language they employ, these bastards are our enemies. They may be little more than a secret army-in-waiting. At least, that’s how I believe they see themselves.

Dennis Coslett, portrait

Commandant Dennis Coslett FWA

I note that on its website the Welsh Auxiliary Corps of Volunteers ” . . . offers support to the Welsh Assembly Government in Wales”. Was such an offer ever formally made? If so, what was the official response? Funny when you think about it, isn’t it . . . I can recall back in 1969 Cayo Evans and the Free Wales Army boys getting arrested and banged up for (among other things) wearing unauthorised uniforms. There were other arrests in 1990(?) of the Meibion Glyndwr Colour Party for a similar offence. So why can some in Wales wear contrived or illegal uniforms with impunity?

There can only be one answer. Despite the bollocks about us all being equal before the law, in practice, it all comes down to which side you’re on. If you support the English monarch, the Union, and all that goes with it – including the colonial status of Wales – then you can ponce about in a uniform that would bring tears to the eyes of the most emotional costume designer for a Ruritanian operetta. You can also give yourselves ludicrous ‘ranks’ (even impersonate military officers), award yourselves pretty medals, and nobody’s gonna touch you cos you’re on-side. Making Britain not a lot different to a third world country or a totalitarian state.

Footnote: I should explain, for those perhaps too young to know, that in the old days, when a young man about town (such as I once was) went to measure for a bespoke suit, the tailor, when taking the inside leg measurement, would ask, “Which side does Sir dress?” In other words, ‘Which side do you prefer to have them hang?’ It seemed an appropriate title for this piece considering the pricks I’ve been dealing with.

Jul 182013
 

Here I am, a man of ‘mature years’, who has lived in Wales all his life, who has always taken a close interest in what goes on, and yet this little country of ours can still throw up organisations of which I’d never heard. This time in the form of the Welsh Livery Guild, which came into being in 1992. (The founders had hoped to start a livery company, but the City of London said Nay.) My attention was drawn to this outfit by a route I choose not to elaborate on, for reasons that might become clear later in this article.logo

Let’s start with the Guild’s website. Well, in design, it’s very basic, amateurish even (black writing on a dark green, patterned background!); and poorly written. Be that as it may, the website tells us that the Guild is organised with a Master, a Senior Warden, a Junior Warden, and a Deputy Master who together appear to make up the Court, (which may, or may not, include the Past Masters). This Court is served by fourteen Assistants, a Chaplain, a Clerk, a Treasurer, a Beadle, a Master’s Steward, a Senior Warden’s Steward and a Junior Warden’s Steward. What possessed a bunch of grown men, coming together towards the end of the twentieth century, to set up a fancy dress club complete with a bloody Beadle! Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against grown men dressing up, ‘some of my best friends’ and all that . . . But this is supposed to be a Welsh organisation for the twenty-first century, yet the only template it could think of was both English and medieval. That says a lot.

MasterWhat else do we learn from the execrable website? One thing that struck me about the Past Masters was the disproportionate number of military men who’d filled the role. Of the seventeen Past Masters between 1992 and 2011 seven were military men. A very high figure when you remember that (at least) two of those Past Masters were women. The current Master is a Lancashire lad. The miltary is also well represented in current roles, with a colonel and two majors among the Assistants, the Clerk is a Squadron Leader and the Treasurer a Commander.

Then there’s the Cardiff-centricity of the Guild. If you look at the organisation’s Calendar for 2012/13 you’ll see that of the twenty-eight events and gatherings listed just five are held outside of Cardiff. That is appalling for what purports to be a national organisation. The Guild visits Bridgend a couple of times, but Swansea is obviously a step too far. Then there are a couple of safaris to the north, and a WWI battlefields tour! Which I suppose makes sense given all the military men involved with the Guild. The miltary theme was also present in a January get-together where a talk on Rorke’s Drift was given at the Firing Line Museum, Cardiff Castle. Though it’s not all blood and guts. One of those northern safaris revolved around a carol service last December. Followed by sherry and mince pies at the home of Liveryman John Solbe, or to give him his full name – and why not! – John Frank de Lisle Guerin Solbe, a big shot at the English cathedral in St. Asaph.

I’m sure I’ve whetted your appetite, and now you want to join, go on – admit it. Well you can’t. For as it says on the relevant page, “Admission depends on professional attainment and citizenship. Membership is for life, so that the knowledge and experience of several generations is Dai Lewisavailable for the benefit of the Livery’s objectives.” So there! Membership is by invitation only and for life! Holy Moley, what is this, the Mob! While that might rule you out from becoming a full Liveryman, there might yet be hope for you as a Freeman, or associate member. (What are the women called – Liverywomen, Freewomen?)

So apart from poncing about in costume, revisiting someone else’s glory, or engaging in festive chit-chat in Llanelwy, what exactly does this Welsh Livery Guild do? To believe the website, the Guild exists solely to administer its Charitable Trust, which gives out grants, scholarships and awards to promising youngsters in fields as diverse as scaffolding and cello playing. But I don’t buy that. There are countless organisations doing the same bloody thing, we don’t need another. And even if we did, why should it model itself on medieval English Guilds, and contain so many military men? No, this is Al Capone, ‘philanthropist to Chicago’s poor’. In other words, a ‘front’, or public face, for something less commendable. Maybe something more sinister.

My view is that this is a kind of top notch – but ostensibly open – freemasonry, organised on a London-Cardiff axis, and operating across Wales. Hiding behind the Charitable Trust is the organisations’s true purpose. Given its membership we can safely deduce that it is both royalist and Unionist. That being so makes a nonsense of its claim to be serving the best interests of Wales. What we should be asking is, ‘How much influence does the Welsh Livery Guild exercise, both in Cardiff and London’?

Finally, as a post script, I suppose the Guild’s logo needs to be interpretated for those – unlike me – without a grounding in heraldry. The lion (on the right) has obviously just killed a bishop, which explains why he’s wearing a mitre. The three stars stand for the three kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland. And the waves underneath are a reminder of Rule Britannia.