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Celebrated journalist Martha Gellhorn honoured with purple plaque at her former home in Sir Fynwy

Martha Gellhorn and Ernest Hemingway in Chongqing, China

Martha Gellhorn, the celebrated American novelist, travel writer, and journalist—who is often considered one of the great war correspondents of the 20th century—has been honoured with a purple plaque at her former home in Sir Fynwy.

Gellhorn reported on almost all of the major world conflicts that took place during her career.

For many years, she lived in her cottage near Y Dyfawden when she was in between assignments.

She was married to novelist Ernest Hemingway from 1940 to 1945.

Welsh Miners

In 1984—in one of her last assignments—she went to Trecelyn to write about the miners' strike. She later revisited the town for a BBC documentary.

Gellhorn spoke at length about the Welsh miners in a 1997 interview with journalist Tim Minogue.

She said: "In 1984 I was living in Wales in a cottage, watching it on telly, with increasing indignation. The police looked as I had never seen British cops before - the helmets, the long shields and batons, the black uniforms, like stormtroopers. As the cameras were behind the cops it always looked as if the miners were attacking, which was ridiculous - they were bare- headed, in tee-shirts and sneakers ... they were getting a terrible beating.

"I saw it as a war with two generals - Mrs Thatcher, ruthless and clever, and Mr Scargill, a fool. Then came the day when Thatcher used that really disgusting phrase, 'the Enemy Within'. So I went. It was exactly like a war: they were fighting for their territory, their community. They said 'if the mine closes, the village dies'. Mrs Thatcher had all the money and the power of the state against these people who took home something like pounds 100 a week.

"Eventually, of course, they lost. So when the BBC asked me to take part in this series I thought I would like to see if anything or anybody was left.

"My first thought was that they all looked terribly old. The women, who had been in stout, blooming middle-age seemed 100 years old, yet they were only 60 or so. Many of the men had died of lung disease. Still the people were spirited. But the town now has everything going: youth unemployment, crime, vandalism, drugs. They were right, the sense of a community is gone.

"We all know about history being re-written, but in Wales history has been turfed over. This place had a mine every block, it was solid coal; now there's no sign there ever were mines here. lt's a most extraordinary example of how history can be erased.

"There was something about the camaraderie of the miners, the dependence of one man upon another, which is not found in factory life. It's a tough and dangerous job, but they knew how to do it and had the guts to do it. lt gave them a solidarity in the way a man in a good infantry company has complete belief in his comrades."



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