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On 29 January 1991, 17 Troop D Squadron, reinforced from R Squadron were looking for SCUD missiles deep inside western Iraq. They were two miles south of the Amman-Baghdad motorway and eighty miles behind enemy lines: the sky was overcast and the temperature icy when at 1500 hours they were attacked by more than 40 enemy who nearly overran their position.

There was a fierce firefight at close quarters and within grenade throwing range. The troop broke contact but two vehicles had been disabled by enemy fire and 7 men were isolated on foot. Five, including Trooper Powell, who was seriously wounded, were regulars and two, Troopers Heyes and Richards, were from the Territorial Army and volunteers from R Squadron. They were left to their own devices and fought their way out of the contact to begin the long escape and evasion back to Saudi Arabia.

The painting shows the explosion of one SAS vehicle, which they managed to destroy, and Trooper Nicholls holding off the enemy with grenades on the rise in the background. In the foreground, Trooper Heyes, and Trooper Richards, wearing the shemag, gave covering fire for the others to join them and escape in an enemy light truck, which Trooper Richards drove until it broke down in a big culvert underneath the motorway.

After more than 40 hours evading Iraqi troops who were searching for them, they seized a Cadillac on the motorway and drove it across the desert until it ran out of petrol. They walked from there on, desperately short of water until they seized a Landcruiser crossing the border to Ar’ar in Saudi Arabia.

The wounded soldier made a full recovery and the other six all returned to operations. Corporal Woodrow was awarded the DCM for his outstanding leadership and trooper Nicholls awarded the Military Medal. Trooper M D R Richards was later tragically killed on 23 June 1992 during jungle training in Belize.

The painting was commissioned to record R Squadron’s reinforcement of regular squadrons during the Gulf War.

Great Tre-Rhew Farm was the setting for BBC’s ‘Lambing Live’ earlier this year. We went to see Trevor and Ann now that the farm is back to its working normality.

Both Ann and Trevor are from farming families. They met inevitably through Young Farmers, and Trevor can remember being enthused by his grandfather with farming. The family came to Llanvetherine in 1940 and well remember the hard winter of 1947 when they walked along the top of hedge rows that were covered in snow.

They both appreciate that they have lived through a period of great change. Trevor now gets around on a quad bike, a machine he once thought of as a toy. (We heard later that this amongst other items has recently been stolen). In his yard though, there are still the drills that the horses pulled around the fields. Trevor also thinks that for farms to survive they will need to increase in dramatically: he hopes that his grandsons will assume ownership one day but by then Great Tre-Rhew will probably be much bigger than the present 165 acres. There used to be a saying that ‘one fat lamb would pat a man’s wages’. On most farms now you would be hard pressed to find an employee who is not a family member.

The farm at Great Tre-Rhew is not only a working farm of course. Apart from the restored barns with their now magnificent roofs, there has been found space for a cider press and other machinery of a by-gone age. ‘Village Alive’ has been an enormous help in preserving a number of implements.

These days, the family are well into the 21st century. As well as the televisual Kate and Jim, the butchers’ business in Abergavenny is thriving and Anne and Trevor also take in B & B guests who delight in the surroundings. There is also a Mexican connection as well with the family! Way back, members of the family went out there and there are Beavans farming in Mexico : Ann and Trevor have been out there to see how the other Beavans fared.

And finally, Trevor remembers leaving the chapel Sunday School because they didn’t take kindly to his ferrets – all creatures great and small!

4437351379_17c1c3b770_mJohn was born at Ty Canol Farm, Llanfapley April 1930. His school years started at Llandewi Rhydderch, which meant a long walk across the fields and through Llandewi Woods to get there. Quite a test for a little one, especially in the bad weather.

Later school years were in Brynderi School. Travelling to school then was a walk down to Llanarth turn to catch the bus. Thankfully after a short time a contract was negotiated with Chappel’s Buses, Raglan and the bus called at the Red Hart. Highlight of the year for John, his family and friends was the annual Chapel outing to Barry.

John remembers the times in Llanfapley when there was more going on, whist drives and dances in the village hall. There was also a football team and Scouts. Miss Daisy Townsend, the Rectory, was the scout mistress. The village hall in the war years was a school for evacuees, whilst the local children had to walk to Llandewi.

In the early nineteen sixties Mr.William Powell, Dufryn Farm started the Rural Life Museum in the village hall, which John had the pleasure of helping to set up. It quickly outgrew the available space, eventually being moved to the Malt Barn at New Market Street, Usk. The museum now holds in excess of 5,000 exhibits.

John was a well know builder in the area, much respected for his eye to detail. He lives at the Mill, Llanfapley with wife Diane. Jane his daughter lives in the village, and two sons Jeffrey and Nicholas live in Abergavenny and Longtown.

(It is sad to announce that John died in November 2017 after a long illness)

vcIt was in 1989 that Adrian and Val came to Nantyderi Farm: they had first met, of course, through Young Farmers and both can be said to have farming in their veins.

Nantyderi is a beef and sheep farm and there are three generations living on the farm. They used to dairy farm but like so many found that it was uneconomic: indeed Adrian and Val feel squeezed by the big supermarkets – there seem no fair deals – and as they look to the future, stability of prices and market conditions are the things they hope for.

They enjoy farming though, as you can see from Val’s picture. The night before this picture was taken, Val had been up lambing half the night and here she is with one of triplets. Just out of picture is an ewe that will hopefully be her 100th successful birth.

Although, they just love being with animals, it is the inevitable paperwork that bogs them down – they simply don’t do holidays, regarding the big shows as ‘time off’, and even then they take their animals with them! The highlight of their year is the Royal Welsh Show and they were very successful this past year.

Everybody in Llantilio Crossenny knows their son Rhys of course as he trundles his barrow, assisted sometimes by Jane, with eggs and in the summer, vegetables.

There is a bit more to Rhys though, he recently bought a steer for £800 out of his egg money and 12 months later sold it for £1920, and against a champion at the auction. Hugh Bevan, the butcher was a delighted customer as well.

The Cooke family as a whole are a team, and they are involved in the Raglan Farmers’ Association and something called ‘Farm Connect’ in which Nantyderi is a demonstration farm not only for Monmouthshire but also for the whole of Wales.

Val is also secretary of the Llantilio Crossenny Social Club and the community owes her a debt of thanks for all that she does. I came away from Nantyderi aware of a hard-working and family team at work who also enjoy all that they do.

cdThe house that Caenwen lives in is called Little Cil-llwch, which literally means ‘the little priest hole by the stream’. She has lived in house since 1949 when she married Edgar, but came to White Chapel Farm in the village when she was 6 months old.

Edgar, who died in 2003, was a farmer and Caenwen as a farmer’s wife fulfilled that demanding role for many years until she returned to teaching. She was for 5 years head teacher at Brynderi School which in those days had some 110 pupils on roll.

It was a vocation that Caenwen enjoyed and she speaks fondly of being an influence for good in children’s lives. These days Caenwen offers private tuition to pupils seeking entrance to independent education and especially to children need extra support in mainstream education she regards these one to one sessions as most rewarding.

Caenwen remembers the times in Llantilio Crossenny when there was so much more going on. The young people met at the Hostry Hall for dances, drama and music: she particularly recalls the lessons they had in old-time dancing. Like so many she values the countryside and would not want to live in a town: as a founder member of the Music Festival Caenwen delights in its continuing life here in the village. On a Sunday she was the person who used to pump the church organ bellows whilst her sister in law Flo played –she was glad when the organ was electrified!

She feels we still need more community things and one her ideas is to form a bridge club – a game she enjoys with other people. I asked Caenwen what she would do if she was Prime Minister : she felt that nationally we had lost our parenting skills and consequently standards of behaviour had declined. The present TV soaps are examples of how wrong values are being promoted.

Caenwen loves living here in Llantilio Crossenny and feels that we are blessed so much by both the people and the beauty of this part of Wales.