Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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SKAIFE , Sir ERIC OMMANNEY ( 1884 - 1956 ), brigadier and patron of Welsh culture ;

b. 18 Oct. 1884 , son of Frederic and Josephine Skaife , Chichester , Sussex . He was educated at Winchester College , and Sandhurst . He joined the Royal Welch Fusiliers as a 2nd. lieutenant in 1903 . During World War I he served in France , and while a prisoner in Germany he began to learn Welsh and improved his Russian . He became a major in 1918 and served in the War Office and in Waziristan before returning to the Welch Fusiliers as lieutenant colonel in 1929 . From 1934 to 1937 he was military attaché in Moscow , and subsequently commander of the Welch Territorial Brigade , before joining the research department of the Foreign Office , 1941-44 . He was author of A Short history of the Royal Welch Fusiliers ( 1924 ). He retired to Crogen mansion in Merionethshire , later residing at Dolserau , Dolgellau . He was an ardent eisteddfodwr and took a keen interest in Welsh culture . He was received as a member of the Gorsedd and was elected a vice-president of Urdd Gobaith Cymru in 1942 . In 1946 he presented five harps, known as ‘ the Crogen harps ’ to the Urdd for young harpists to learn their craft. His Welsh speeches were unadulterated with English words, but he was not a fluent speaker and his Welsh had a strong English accent. As soon as Welsh books and periodicals came from the press he bought them and built up a large library . He was a member of the governing board of the Church in Wales and chairman of the Merioneth Conservative Society . He served as Deputy Lieutenant of the county, and was High Sheriff in 1956 , the year he was knighted . He d., unmarried. 1 Oct. 1956 , in Largos , while attending the Mod in Scotland as a delegate from the Eisteddfod and Gorsedd . On his gravestone in St. Mark's churchyard , Brithdir , is a couplet in Welsh (‘ My heart was in Wales/ And in her soil are my remains ’).

Sources:

  • Who was who? ;
  • R. E. Griffith , Urdd Gobaith Cymru , Aberystwyth, 1971-73 , 1 (1971) , 262-4.

Author:

Evan David Jones, F.S.A., (1903-87), Aberystwyth

Published date: 2001