Obituary:Julian Cayo Evans

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The Independent Online
Julian Cayo Evans was Commandant and co-founder of the self-styled Free Wales Army. Formed in the early 1960s, the core of the army's and ``Cayo's'' beliefs was a principle, still held by some today, that Wales's problems stemmed from its connections with England.

In Wales in the 1960s, inspired in part by the activities of the Official IRA in Northern Ireland, an extreme nationalist movement developed (much to the irritation of the Welsh Nationalist political party, Plaid Cymru). Groups such as the Movement for the Defence of Wales launched its ``direct action'' and blew up pipelines feeding Welsh water to English homes. The group disbanded when its leader John Jenkins, an army sergeant, was convicted and imprisoned for 12 years.

The Free Wales Army was based less on violence and more on hype and PR. Consequently it courted both the attention of the Special Branch and the media and was invested with an influence way beyond its powers. Members wore paramilitary uniforms, marched at nationalist rallies and gathered for boisterous training, including bomb-making lessons at remote camps in the mid-Wales mountains.

The son of a former High Sheriff of Cardiganshire, Evans's route to nationalist fame was via the English public school system. As a pupil at Millfield he was much influenced by his housemaster Yanick Helczman, a Polish exile and fervent nationalist who had fought both the Germans and the Russians.

After leaving school Evans joined the Army and served with the South Wales Borderers fighting Communist guerrillas in Malaya. He spent a year at Cirencester Agricultural College and went on to breed palomino and appaloosa horses on his stud farm near Lampeter.

Evans, along with other members of the FWA, was arrested shortly before the investiture of the Prince of Wales in 1969 and was sentenced to 15 months in prison after being convicted of public order offences. The FWA seemed to fade into misty Celtic romanticism, when on Prince Charles's wedding day in 1981 there was a reunion at Evans's farm where a memorial, bearing the organisation's Snowdon Eagle symbol was unveiled, in memory of old comrades.

It was said that the FWA never fired a shot in anger - except maybe to bag a rabbit for the pot. And the rumours that they were supplied with guns by the Official IRA were denied. Evans said: ``We bought, begged, borrowed whatever we could. To be honest I think any folk museum would have been pleased to acquire some of our arms.''

A handsome man, he had something of an international flavour and was admired for more than simply his transparent love of Wales.

On Prince Charles's wedding day he was with a crowd in a Lampeter pub when a policeman put his head round the door - ``Don't worry," he said. "The terrorists aren't here.'' The FWA Commandant roared.

Tony Heath

Julian Cayo Evans, nationalist activist: born Lampeter, Wales 22 April 1937; married Gillian Davies (two sons, one daughter); died Lampeter 29 March 1995.