“Now nearly 80 years of age and living on the Wirral peninsular,
I was a member of the former Newport Borough Police and, as a
Detective Sergeant/ Acting Detective Inspector I was seconded to
the Welsh Regional Crime Squad from 1965 to 1970.
As you are no doubt aware, in October 1966 Aberfan was in the
area covered by the old Merthyr Borough Police. A Force with, I
think, just over 100 men. Totally overwhelmed by the Disaster,
they requested assistance from surrounding Police Forces
including big brother Glamorgan. The Regional Crime Squad were
requested by the Chief Constable to set up and run the mortuary.
By noon on that dreadful Friday we were established in the
mortuary in Bethania Chapel in Moy Road and I was designated as
the Senior Identification Officer. My team worked 12 hour shifts
for 15 days until the last body and, sadly, body piece, were
identified and handed over to the undertakers. With my journey
back and forth from my home in Newport we were away for
something like fifteen hours each day. No overtime was paid in
those days of course and we took that, and eating our sandwiches
in the school room as part of our duty.
I have lectured on the disaster at various Police courses and to
Rotary and other organisations. I often get asked about what
"counselling" we received? I always reply that counselling was
not then the Industry it now is and, as mainly ex-servicemen and
experienced Detectives, we would have laughed it off if it had
been offered. After leaving Aberfan, we had two days leave
before resuming normal Crime Squad duties.
I was interviewed by Melanie Dole, a BBC Wales reporter, for
both television and radio for their commemoration of the 40th.
Anniversary. Whether I will still be around or contacted for the
50th. in 2016 I do not know.
Two names that I remember well.
The Reverend Kenneth Hayes whose son Dyfrig died at the school.
Although obviously grief stricken, he was a great supporter to
those of his church members who had lost loved ones.
I recall asking him how he could be so stalwart. I always
remember his reply.
He said, " Because of our faith, my wife and I know that we will
be reunited with Dyfrig. We only wonder if he will still be a
young boy or a grown man"
He and I would think now his wife, are buried with Dyfrig in
West Wales from where they came.
Major Derek Tribble of the Salvation Army. Derek ran what was
then the House of Trees Corrective School for juvenile
He just turned up at the mortuary with a number of young
Salvationists who pitched in to the very unpleasant tasking of
washing and cleaning the bodies before they could be viewed.
Derek became our Quartermaster. Anything we
wanted,blankets,disinfectant, towels, soap he produced it like
magic; including 6 bottles of brandy every day to top up our
drinks in, particularly at night, was a cold unheated chapel.
Deliberately so to try and control decomposition of the bodies.”