Wales First Minister hails the heroism of Welsh soldiers during unveiling of commemorative painting

The artwork depicts the Battle of s-Hertogenbosch and was unveiled during a live video link with the Mayor of the Dutch city.

The First Minister visited Den Bosch in 2019 and said he was struck by the “astonishing feelings” the city had for the people of Wales and the enduring friendships and relationships built over nearly eight decades.

The painting depicts members of A Company 7th Royal Welch Fusiliers (7 RWF), an antecedent unit of The Royal Welsh, taking a canal bridge during the battle in 1944.

During the unveiling in the Officers' Mess at The Barracks in Brecon, the headquarters for 160th (Welsh) Brigade, Brigadier Andrew Dawes CBE, praised Colonel Nick Lock OBE for being the architect of the project and bringing it to reality.

"I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to go myself to Den Bosch back in 2019 for the 75th anniversary of the liberation and it was the most fantastic occasion." First Minister for Wales Mark Drakeford

Members of Major John Dugdale’s family, who was the Officer Commanding A Company 7 RWF in 1944, were present during the ceremony, as well as descendants of Major General Bobby Ross, who commanded the 53rd (Welsh) Division. 

"We are privileged and honoured to be joined by the First Minister for Wales and so many distinguished guests,” said Brigadier Dawes.  

“This painting marks a significant milestone in the rich and much-celebrated relationship with the city of S’hertogenbosch and my brigade here in Brecon." 

Addressing those in the Officers’ Mess and guests in Den Bosch via the video link, the First Minister said: "It is fantastic to see familiar faces across the screen and across the years really. I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to go myself to Den Bosch back in 2019 for the 75th anniversary of the liberation and it was the most fantastic occasion.

"It’s vivid in my memory, everything we saw, everything we did together: the astonishing feelings that are still there in the city for Wales, for the people who they’ve come to know since then. There was a tinge of sadness in the occasion because it was the last of its sort, five liberators as they are known, still there, fantastic people with the most enormous energy, but inevitably, fewer and fewer, year by year.

"There was a decision taken at the 75th that in the future the way in which those events would be remembered would have to change and we would have to reinvent the relationship and find new ways of marking it. The painting is a product of that determination, a product of that commitment made that day to go on marking the relationship." 

Representatives of General Dynamics, the principal sponsors for the painting, also attended the event.

"The painting is a product of that determination, a product of that commitment made that day to go on marking the relationship." First Minister for Wales Mark Drakeford

"It’s a remarkable work,” said Mr Drakeford. "There are two themes I wanted to talk about this evening: friendship and freedom. The friendships that have been laid down over the years that have followed are absolutely real. The word liberators is deliberately chosen and used to signify the experience, the memory and the impact of what happened in the events we can see here." 

The First Minister also referred to the recent support from the military during Operation Rescript, which he said, echoed themes of friendship and freedom.

“(Brigadier Dawes) referenced the fantastic assistance that the Welsh Government has had over the last 18 months from military personnel here in Wales. It has created new friendships across the organisations who have been working together to keep Wales safe in these difficult times and at a time when all our freedoms have been curtailed." 

Brigadier Gerhard Wheeler, the senior Regimental representative from The Royal Welsh, was also present during the unveiling, and travelled to ‘s-Hertogenbosch with Major John Dugdale, shortly before he died in 2005.