Les Spence Memorial Gates, Cardiff

button_lang_japaneseLes Spence Memorial Gates, Cardiff Arms Park

cardiff_les_spence_and_wilf_woollerThese gates were erected near the bowling green at Cardiff Arms Park in memory of rugby player Les Spence, a survivor of Japanese imprisonment during the Second World War.

Leslie Spence was born in 1907. He played for Cardiff RFC and captained the team in the 1936-37 season. When war broke out he joined the 77th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment. He was posted to the Far East but was captured, with his comrades, in Java in 1942. He recorded his war experiences, including the hardships of life in Japanese prison camps, in a series of diaries which were published in 2012 in a book titled From Java to Nagasaki.

After returning to Wales, he became chairman of Cardiff RFC. He was president of the Welsh Rugby Union in 1973-74, and instigated a tour of Japan by the Wales rugby team in 1975 with the aim of reconciliation through sport. He was awarded the MBE.

His interest extended to other sports, and for a period he was joint secretary of Glamorgan County Cricket Club. In the 1977 photo (courtesy of the Glamorgan Cricket Archive), he is on the left beside Wilf Wooller, a former captain of both the Wales rugby team and of Glamorgan who had also been held prisoner by the Japanese during the war. Les died in 1988.

With thanks to the Glamorgan Cricket Archive

Postcode: CF10 1JA    View Location Map

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