Grieving Town Salutes Llywelyn
A Tribute To A Welsh Hero
1979 -- 2003
A LONE Scottish piper played
the last strains of Amazing Grace as six pallbearers care-fully raised
the coffin of Lance Bombardier Llywelyn Evans from the waiting hearse.
Llandudno, Wales was brought to a standstill yesterday as more than 1,000
people turned out to pay their respects to one
of its sons killed in action
on the first day of the war with Iraq. In the town centre around 800 people
stood in the spring sunshine watching in respectful silence as the pallbearers
from Llywelyn's 29 Commando Regiment, Royal Artillery, carried the coffin
into Holy Trinity Church.
Fiancée Becky Williams expressed her feelings for 24-year-old
Llywelyn, with a floral "I love you" tribute in red and white roses and
white carnations. Inside the church moving tributes were paid to "Welly,"
as he was nicknamed by Becky, friends and military colleagues, who said
he "died a hero and would never be forgotten" in Llandudno. Miss Williams,
who was due to marry Llywelyn next year, told the 500 or so gathered inside
the church for the full military funeral, including First Minister Rhodri
Morgan and Conwy MP Betty Williams, "Welly was one of those people who
you meet once and never forget. "Welly had a sparkle in his eye and when
he smiled his whole face glowed, he was like a bright light in a dark room.
"Without him saying a word I always felt loved and safe. I still do." Fighting
back tears, Miss Williams then read Rupert Brooke's poem Do Not Stand At
My Grave and Weep before continuing her own tribute to the fallen soldier.
"Finally I just want to thank Welly for sharing his life with me. We had
seven fantastic years of love, laughter and great times. "I am so lucky
to have had that time with him, he was very special." Wearing a knee-length
black satin dress, 20-year-old Miss Williams added, "In his last letter
he promised he would be a good husband and make me happy. I have no doubt
he would have. "Until we meet again my memories will keep him close and
I will love and miss him always."
Che Murphy, a 59 Commando Royal Engineer, who was a close friend of Llywelyn's,
recalled how the lance bombardier thought he was the "karaoke king". "Everyone
knew Welly as the karaoke king and he used to annoy me with the song American
Pie.He would just keep doing that song. "That will live with me for the
rest of my life - that song and him singing it. "What I would give today
to listen to him sing that again. "All the memories will never replace
our loss, but they will help us cope with it better during the rest of
our lives without him. "It will help us remember how special he was not
only as a soldier, but more importantly as a son, a brother, a fiancée
and a real good friend to everyone here today. "In everyone's eyes Welly
was a hero. He died a hero and he will never be forgotten in this town."
Army Padre Major Reverend Rory MacLeod, who played the pipes as the coffin
was led into church, read a tribute on behalf of Llywelyn's mother Theresa.
He said, "He has done us all a great honour in giving his best in everything
he did. "A life lost for his nation of Wales. "Well done son. Your job
is done. Rest in peace." Draped in a Union Jack and bearing his regimental
beret and a floral tribute the coffin was returned to the hearse following
the service. LeAnne Rimes's You Light Up My Life, Survivor's Eye of the
Tiger and Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings were played out over loudspeakers
outside the church before the funeral cortege made its way to the nearby
Llanrhos Lawn Cemetery. Standing at the church en-trance in a black suit
with a white top, Llywelyn's mother was visibly shaking and needed support
from Miss Williams before making her way to the waiting cortege. Llywelyn's
brother Lee, who was also serving in the Gulf, was flown home on compassionate
leave to be with his parents and attended the funeral in full military
garb. Later at the graveside an eight-gun salute was sounded three times
before two trumpeters played The Last Post and Reveille. His mother, who
has been comforted by her surviving sons, Lee, 20, Jamie, 17, and Dewi,
18, touched the beret on his coffin before he was finally laid to rest.
Llywelyn, a keen member of Llandudno rugby club, died along with 11 others
on the first day of the Iraqi conflict. He was one of six young men from
the same street in Llandudno who went out to serve in the Gulf. All from
Conway Road, they called themselves the Conway Crunchers. Only hours after
the war started, the American CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter he was travelling
in crashed in the Kuwaiti desert. Llandudno Rugby Club is hoping to organise
a match against a representative side from the military with members of
the Welsh national squad as a mark of respect