Saturday, May 11, 2013

"The Grandfather I Never Knew" Part 2

Idris was a teenager before that term was ever coined. In the 1920's you were a boy or a young man, there was no in between, particularly in Wales with the coal industry. It was also therefore understandable that Idris would accompany his father on the weekly missions Price conducted and that he would learn himself a trade. At one such mission he went forward for prayer himself to experience healing as he was ill. Later, in Penrhiwceiber, somewhere between 1929 and 1934, Idris would tell others that God gave him a vision and called him to the missions field. This took place during a 'cottage meeting' which was when a group of people would gather in homes to pray.

Idris Davies 1930's.

Idris had many skills. His father was a coal miner and for a while father and son would go to the 'Pit' together, yet Idris also learned to be an interior decorator and was handy with a paintbrush. This trade would come in very useful in his future; when he would build from scratch a family house. For now though, it was enough that he could work for a living. He also loved to sing and would often do so at the church meetings. Throughout his whole life people would always remark upon his voice and how lovely it was to listen to. For sports, he loved rugby and in that fashion he was a "true Welshmen."

At some point he moved to the Birmingham area and there met a young lady by the name of Iris Griffiths. They were married on December 24th 1938, at Bethel Gospel Temple, Wardend Road, Birmingham. The minister was Iris father Harold and he was a traveling preacher, busy both before and after the 26th which is holiday named Boxing Day in England. Therefore the 24th was the only date that would work. In 1939 they gave birth to their first child, a daughter named Grace Wendy.

As British involvement in World War 2 neared Idris began to work in some fashion upon the airplanes of the Royal  Air Force. I am unsure if he was an engineer or a general mechanic but as the war approached the tale is told that he had to parachute out of a plane, perhaps in some form of training and preparation. On one such occasion the exercise perforated his ear drum and he became unable to serve in the military. He was therefore placed in the Home Guard. His brother Glyn went to war

While in the Home Guard his job was a munitions inspector and a collector of the dead. He would have to physically put body parts together so they could be given a proper burial and funeral. If he found bombs that had not yet exploded he would have to call the bomb disposal unit immediately. Once, a spy gave away the location of a nearby ammunition factory that had been camouflaged by the British government. As the bombs dropped and the factory exploded Idris was in the area and dived to the ground just as they had all been trained to do. Upon opening his eyes and struggling to his feet he saw in front of him a single hand; an engagement ring upon the finger. His job now was to find the body to which it belonged.

That night, when he returned home his family asked him about the large explosion. It must have been more disturbing than usual because Idris had to share what happened with Iris and unknown to them their daughter Wendy overheard. That memory has stuck with their daughter ever since.

Fortunately, putting body parts together and inspecting munitions was not to be Idris lot for the rest of his life. There was work in Africa, building a house and raising three children but before all of that, the war had to end.

The information written in this post is drawn from the following material:

[1] Much information is provided courtesy of "A TESTIMONY and a brief record of the of the BEGINNING of the PENTECOSTAL MOVEMENT in the MERTHYR BOROUGH,BEDLINOG AND THE ABERDARE VALLEY by PASTOR PRICE DAVIES – annotated by RoyDavies

[2] Interviews were conducted with Glyn Davies, Merthyn Davies, Wendy Thomas nee Davies and Ruth Salmon nee Griffiths during the time period June 2012 - April 2013.

[3] Copy of Idris and Iris wedding certificate in the possession of the author.