Hostel Sant Dunstan i Filwyr a Morwyr a Ddallwyd

Wrth i’r Rhyfel Mawr fynd rhagddo, cafodd De Cymru nifer gynyddol o filwyr wedi’u hanafu, yn bennaf o Ffrainc a Gwlad Belg ond, weithiau, o gyn belled â’r Dardanelles. Deliwyd â’r achosion mwyaf brys a difrifol mewn ysbytai milwrol mawr a sefydlwyd mewn canolfannau fel Caerdydd. Hefyd, sefydlodd y Groes Goch dros 40 o ysbytai ledled Morgannwg, yn aml mewn tai gwledig a ddefnyddiwyd yn bennaf fel mannau i filwyr orffwys a gwella cyn dychwelyd i’r gad.

Sefydlodd ysgolion ledled Morgannwg gysylltiadau â’u hysbytai lleol gan helpu mewn ffyrdd ymarferol iawn fel casglu ffrwythau a llysiau ar gyfer yr ysbytai. Daethai’r cysylltiadau ag ysbytai lleol nifer o blant ifanc i gysylltiad â milwyr a anafwyd, ac felly â realiti tywyll y lladdfa a berodd ymladd cyfoes yn Ffrainc a thu hwnt:

This afternoon four wounded soldiers from Caerphilly Hospital visited the school from 3.20 to 4pm. They visited the various classes in pairs and showed much interest in a Welsh school. The pupils were equally delighted with the visitors who hailed from Liverpool, Norfolk, Cornwall and London respectively.  The soldiers were the guests of the Red Cross Nurses for the afternoon [Ysgol Ferched Cwmaber, 27 Gorff 1918, ECG18/2 t.133]

Permission has been granted by the Local Managers to take the Scholars to the Palace Theatre, this afternoon, when an interesting programme has been prepared to celebrate Empire Day. An invitation has been tendered to the wounded soldiers, now at Caerphilly Red Cross Hospital [Ysgol Ferched Caerffili, 24 Mai 1917, ECG13/3 t.99]

Defnyddiwyd nwy mwstard ar faes y gad o 1916 ymlaen, gan ddallu miloedd o ŵyr ifanc dros dro – ac yn aml, yn barhaol. Mae cofnodlyfr yr ysgol yn sôn am yr ymweliadau gan filwyr dall ag ysgolion lleol, a’r ymdrechion a wnaeth yr ysgolion i gynnig cyfleusterau i helpu’r milwyr i wella. Roedd cofnod Ysgol Ferched Cwmaber ar gyfer Gorffennaf 1917 yn un arferol i’r cyfnod:

Two visitors came here this afternoon to hear the girls singing – two blind soldiers who were on a visit to Abertridwr – one from London and one from Australia. They expressed great pleasure at the singing, especially the Welsh songs. The children keenly felt the presence of the visitors and their sacrifice appealed to them greatly.  Needless to say they received a very hearty welcome [Ysgol Ferched Cwmaber, 27 Gorff 1917, ECG18/2, t.118]

Cawsai’r ymweliadau argraff ddofn ar y staff a’r disgyblion. O ganlyniad, rhoddodd ysgolion sylw penodol i elusennau a weithiai â’r milwyr a ddallwyd. Y fwyaf adnabyddus oedd Hostel Sant Dunstand yn Regents Park Lodge, Llundain. Roedd yn elusen a gefnogwyd gan Sefydliad Cenedlaethol y Deillion, Cymdeithas y Groes Goch ac Urdd Sant Ioan, Jerwsalem. Yr unigolyn a greodd yr hostel oedd Arthur Pearson, y perchennog papurau newydd, a ymrwymodd ei hun i weithio i Sefydliad Cenedlaethol y Deillion ar ôl colli ei olwg.  Cydnabu’r angen a oedd ar gynifer o filwyr a ddallwyd yn ystod y rhyfel am ofal arbenigol, a sefydlodd Hostel Sant Dunstan ym mis Chwefror 1915 fel canolfan lle gellid addysgu crefft i ddynion, a’u helpu i ddychwelyd i fywyd bob dydd. Ymhlith y sgiliau a addysgwyd oedd teipio, teleffoni, gwaith saer a garddio’n fasnachol. Anogai’r hostel i’r dynion wneud pob math o bethau, o chwaraeon i ddysgu offeryn cerddorol.

Roedd Sant Dunstan yn symbol o drasiedi rhyfel, ond hefyd yr hyn y gellid ei wneud i helpu milwyr i ailadeiladu eu bywydau.  Roedd felly’n elusen boblogaidd a gafodd llawer o gymorth, a gwnaeth ysgolion De Cymru, ynghyd ag eraill ledled y wlad, ymdrech arbennig i’w chefnogi.

Un o’r prif ffyrdd y codai Sant Dunstan arian oedd drwy gyngherddau cerddorol. Aeth y ‘Blind Musicians’ ar deithiau cenedlaethol. Ym mis Mehefin 1917, daethent i Dde Cymru. O adroddiadau papur newydd gwyddom i gyngherddau gael eu cynnal yn Neuadd y Dref, Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr, lle codwyd £50. Roeddent hefyd yn westeion i Gôr Meibion Rhymni yn Neuadd Blwyf Dewi Sant, Rhymni, yn ystod yr un mis.  Ar 15 Mehefin 1917, adroddodd y papur newydd lleol:

The true patriotism of the public of Rhymney and its readiness to appreciate first class music were again strikingly demonstrated on Wednesday evening when a grand concert was given at St David’s Parish Hall… by the Blind Musicians of the National Institute for the Blind, London, the proceeds being devoted to the St Dunstan’s Hostel for our Blinded Soldiers and Sailors, Regents Park, London.

The artistic efforts of the performers revealed the fact that there are amongst the blind some splendid musicians and encores were quite numerous during the evening.

During the interval Mr Avalon Collard the representative of the National Institute for the Blind delivered a most interesting address on the splendid work of our Blinded Soldiers and Sailors at St Dunstan’s.

St Dunstan’s could be described as a workshop of darkness, a training ground for those who living in a world entirely different from ours must get their living in competition with us for whom the sun still shines and night is a visible beauty [Bargoed and Caerphilly Observer, 15 Meh 1917]

Erbyn mis Mehefin 1917, roedd yr hostel wedi helpu dros 200 o ddynion, gyda 380 ymhellach yn cael eu hyfforddi a’u cynorthwyo. Fodd bynnag, nod y daith oedd codi arian i’r 110 o ddynion mewn ysbytai milwrol a oedd yn aros i ddod i Sant Dunstan. Gallwn weld pa mor boblogaidd oedd Sant Dunstan ymhlith yr ysgolion gyda’r penderfyniad a wnaed ar 7 Mehefin i gau ysgolion Caerffili fel y gallai’r disgyblion gyfrannu at gefnogi’r cyngherddau gan ‘The Blind Musicians’ yng Nghastell Caerffili:

ECG12_3 p51

Received instruction to close school this afternoon as there is a great function in the Castle on behalf of the Blinded Soldiers from St. Dunstan’s. The Blind men will give two Concerts [Ysgol Bechgyn Caerffili, 7 Gorff 1917, ECG12/3 t.51]

Byddai ysgolion hefyd yn trefnu eu digwyddiadau eu hunain i godi arian i Hostel Sant Dunstan. Yn ystod yr un mis, nododd Pennaeth Ysgol Fechgyn Mardy hyn yng nghofnodlyfr yr ysgol:

ER23_5 p125

A charity concert, organised chiefly by the teachers, was held on the 9th June at the Workmen’s Hall, Ferndale, the proceeds being devoted to the St Dunstan’s Hostel for Blinded Soldiers and Sailors. Mardy’s contribution towards this was £28.11.0 [Ysgol Bechgyn Y Maerdy, 20 Meh 1917, ER23/5 t.125]

Cydnabuwyd hefyd fod teuluoedd milwyr a oedd wedi colli’u golwg yn wynebu anawsterau ariannol difrifol. Ym 1917, penderfynodd awdurdod addysg y Rhondda gefnogi apêl genedlaethol i godi arian ar gyfer Cronfa’r Plant i Filwyr a Ddallwyd. Ym mis Tachwedd 1917, cafodd Prifathro Ysgol Fechgyn Trealaw y cylchlythyr canlynol gan yr Awdurdod Addysg:

I write to ask for the benefit of your co-operation in my Xmas appeal to the British Isles on behalf of the children of our Blinded Soldiers and Sailors. Briefly the aim is to collect a sum of not less than £250,000 to provide a weekly payment of 5/- for each child of every blind soldier and sailor until such child reaches the age of 16. At present the married men and children receive from the Government a weekly allowance for each child they may have and for every child born nine months after their discharge, but there is no allowance for children born after the blinded man has left the army nor any allowance for the children of men who marry after their disablement. Christmas envelopes containing an appeal will be given to each child and these will be collected after the vacation [Ysgol Bechgyn Trealaw, 9 Tach 1917, ER41/2 tt.294-5]

Er bod dogni wedi cael ei gyflwyno, a’i fod yn gyfnod anodd i deuluoedd ledled De Cymru, tarodd yr apêl dant â’r plant.  Ym mis Ionawr, adroddodd Trealaw fod £12 5 swllt wedi’i godi a gwnaethai ysgolion eraill yn yr ardal gyfraniadau tebyg. Er enghraifft, cododd Ysgol Fabanod Pen-y-graig £3 8 swllt a 6 dimai. I gydnabod ei chyfraniad, cafodd Ysgol Trealaw lythyr o ddiolch gan Arthur Pearson:

ER41_2 p307

Will you please convey to your scholars my sincere thanks for their subscription to the Blinded Soldiers’ Children Fund – £12 5s. 1d. I need not tell you how keenly I appreciate this evidence of their sympathy and interest and in the effort to make as happy as possible the home lives of the men who have made so great a sacrifice for their country and whose bravery has been shown not only while they were serving in the Army, but in a most remarkable manner since. In thanking in my own name all who have so kindly assisted in this collection, I am thanking them on behalf of those blinded soldiers for whom the fund is being raised [Ysgol Bechgyn Trealaw, 11 Maw 1918, ER41/2 t.307]

Erbyn llofnodi’r Cadoediad ym mis Tachwedd 1918, roedd Sant Dunstan wedi helpu dros 600 o gyn-filwyr, ond megis dechrau oedd y gwaith. Roedd o hyd 900 o ddynion yn dysgu sgiliau newydd yn Regent’s Park ac agorodd canolfannau eraill ledled y wlad. A, chwarae teg, bedwar mis yn ddiweddarach roedd yr ysgolion yn dal i gasglu arian ar gyfer Sant Dunstan.

ECG13_3 p131

Celebrations of St David’s Day. Programme – A Welsh drama composed by Mrs John CA now a member on the staff and previously Head Mistress of Senghenydd Infants’ School – ‘Plant y Pentre’. As usual the entertainment will be held in the Palace kindly lent for the occasion. A nominal charge will be made for adults, the proceeds to be handed over to St Dunstan’s Institute for our blinded heroes of the war [Ysgol Ferched Caerffili, 28 Chwe 1919, ECG13/3 t.131]

Er i Arthur Pearson farw ym 1921, daliodd Sant Dunstan i gynorthwyo cyn-filwyr dall ar ôl y rhyfel ac yn ystod yr Ail Ryfel Byd. Blind Veterans UK yw enw’r elusen heddiw, ac mae’n dathlu ei chanmlwyddiant. Mae ei gweledigaeth wreiddiol yr un fath â’r weledigaeth a ysbrydolodd plant De Cymru ledled Prydain ym 1915 – ni ddylai neb sydd wedi gwasanaethu’r wlad frwydr dallineb eu hunain.

Tony Peters, Gwirfoddolydd Archifau Morgannwg

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