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Historic find is a mystery for minister.

Byline: Kathryn Williams

[bar] AS Wales' First Minister he's never far from the headlines.

But Carwyn Jones has opened up on his normally private family life to reveal the story of his great uncle.

Leading Aircraftman Edgar Hopkin, from Gwaun Cae Gurwen in Carmarthenshire, was killed while training in Alabama in 1942 during World War II. He was Mr Jones' great uncle on his father's side.

Now Mr Jones is uploading photographs of the RAF pilot to historical website People's Collection Wales, an archive of reminiscences, photographs, video and audio in the hope that others can learn his history.

Mr Jones told the Echo: "When my great aunt died in 1993 all the family heirlooms came to me - photographs, Edgar's service card from the RAF.

"We knew a lot of his story already, he was one of five siblings, which included my grandmother, and he was the first in the family to be accepted to university.

"He was a collier's son going to read medicine at Edinburgh University - but he never went."

The First Minister and his family discovered that Edgar, who was just 19 when he died, had been sent to the US for warm weather training and didn't bail out when his aircraft got into difficulty.

"We knew he was buried in Newcastle, Pennsylvania, near other family members, and we even had a cine film of the funeral," said Mr Jones.

"I decided to put his name into Google and it found pictures on a website. I decided to contact the site administrator who told me Edgar's instructor was still alive."

Mr Jones found out that many air servicemen did not trust their parachutes and would prefer to try and land their planes, which is what Edgar did.

Mr Jones was also given a printing block with Edgar's image printed on it, which has remained something of a mystery.

"We guess that the block may have been used to print Edgar's picture in the local paper in Gwaun Cae Gurwen," he said.

He hoped that, by posting the items online, someone who knows more

about the printing block may come forward.

Mr Jones said: "Since it was launched last summer the People's Collection has been well received, with more than 1,000 people making their own contribution to the story of Wales. I hope many more will take part to help the site evolve and widen the understanding of our rich cultural heritage."

Anyone looking to add their own stories and items to the website can go to www.peoplescollectionwales.

com

CAPTION(S):

[bar] Carwyn Jones' great uncle, Leading Aircraf tman Edgar Hopkin, front, with some of his comrades and below, the printing block with Edgar's image on it [bar] First Minister Carwyn Jones added photographs of his great uncle, who was killed in World War II, to the People's Collection Wales PICTURE: Andrew Davies [c]
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 19, 2011
Words:478
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