15 August 1908|
Swansea, Glamorgan, Wales, UK
|Died||4 February 1987
Fishguard, Pembrokeshire, Wales, UK
|Occupation||Broadcaster, journalist and writer|
Lewis John Wynford Vaughan-Thomas CBE (15 August 1908 – 4 February 1987) was a Welsh newspaper journalist and radio and television broadcaster. In later life he took the name Vaughan-Thomas after his father.
Thomas was born in Swansea, in South Wales, the second son of Dr. David Vaughan Thomas, a Professor of Music, and Morfydd Lewis, the daughter of Daniel Lewis who was one of the leaders of the Rebecca riots in Pontardulais.
He attended the Bishop Gore School, Swansea, where the English master was the father of Dylan Thomas, who was just entering the school at the time that Vaughan-Thomas was leaving for Exeter College, Oxford. At Oxford he read Modern History and gained a second class Academic degree.
In the mid 1930s he joined the BBC and in 1937 gave the Welsh language commentary on the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. This was the precursor to several English language commentaries on state occasions he was to give after World War II. During the war he established his name and reputation as one of the BBC's most distinguished war correspondents of World War II. His most memorable report was from an RAF Lancaster bomber during a real bombing raid over Nazi Berlin. Other notable reports were from Anzio, the Burgundy vineyards, Lord Haw Haw's broadcasting studio and the Belsen concentration camp.
Anzio (US title), also known as Lo sbarco di Anzio (original Italian title) or The Battle for Anzio (UK title) - a 1968 war film, an Italian and American co-production, about Operation Shingle, the 1944 Allied seaborne assault on the Italian port of Anzio in World War II - was adapted from the book Anzio by Wynford Vaughan-Thomas, who had been the BBC war correspondent at the battle. The film stars Robert Mitchum, Peter Falk.
In 1967, after leaving the BBC, he was one of the founders of Harlech TV (HTV), now ITV Wales, being appointed Director of Programmes, as a frequent TV broadcaster himself throughout his early career with the BBC he had adopted the required BBC accent of the time but employed his more natural native Welsh accent to even better effect in his later career. He wrote numerous books, many on Wales and a favourite subject of his, the Welsh countryside. In May 1970, when President of the Council for the Protection of Rural Wales, he officially opened the Pembrokeshire Coast Path in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park at its southern end, at Amroth, Pembrokeshire.
His wartime overview and experiences, and his successful broadcasting career later, enabled him to view life and its vagaries with what he called 'pointless optimism' — a perspective that served him.
He was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1974, and raised to Commander (CBE) in 1986.
A memorial was constructed after his death, completed and unveiled in 1990 near Aberhosan in the form of a toposcope looking out over the rolling hills and mountains of Wales, with a depiction of Vaughan-Thomas pointing towards Snowdon, Wales' highest peak, which is just visible on a clear day.
- Anzio (1961)
- Madly in All Directions (1967)
- The Shell Guide to Wales (1969, with Alun Llewellyn)
- Portrait of Gower (1976)
- "Great Little Trains Of Wales" (1976)
- Trust to Talk (1980)
- Wynford Vaughan-Thomas's Wales (1981)
- Princes of Wales (1982)
- The Countryside Companion (1983)
- Dalgety (1984)
- Wales: a History (1985)
- How I Liberated Burgundy: And Other Vinous Adventures (1985)
- John, D; Thomas, DN (Autumn 2010), "From Fountain to River: Dylan Thomas and the Bont", Cambria.
- Dictionary of National Biography 1986-1990, ISBN No. 019865212
- Trust to Talk, an autobiography.