by her faith?
BBC Wales documentary is set to cause debate over its portrayal
of Christian heroine Gladys Aylward.
was immortalized in the Hollywood film The Inn of the Sixth Happiness
where she was portrayed by Ingrid Bergman as a heroine whose actions
saved the lives of tens of Chinese children during the bloody war
between China and Japan.
Adar Drycin (storm birds), shown on S4C tomorrow (Tuesday
24 February) at 9.00pm, asks whether her actions led to the torture
and imprisonment of innocent people by the Japanese, including Cardiff-born
David Davies, who was one of Aylward's closest friends and allies
programme also includes an interview with Murray Davies, David Davies'
Adar Drycin series, produced by Swansea-based Antena TV company,
is no stranger to controversy following the first programme of the
series which told the life story of Winifred Wagner, the woman of
Welsh roots who nearly married Hitler.
Aylward was born in Edmonton in 1922. She was working in London
as a parlour maid when she had a profound experience that changed
was pulled into a church one night by a group of young people...
and they were so happy they thought they got everything in Jesus
Christ," she says in a recording featured on the programme.
were determined everybody else was going to find him too, and I
that night sat in there and for the first time in my life realised
that Jesus Christ, son of the Living God, had died for Gladys Aylward.
It shook me, it moved me, and it was going to alter my whole life."
joined an evangelical church and studied at the Bible College in
Swansea where she spent her time in the rough docklands area trying
to 'save' young women from becoming prostitutes.
also came to believe that God was calling on her to spread his word
in China but, not being the most academic of people, failed the
Chinese Missionary Centre's exams.
to fulfil her 'calling' she found another way - helping an elderly
woman called Jeannie Lawson with her missionary work in remote northern
Yangcheng they founded the infamous Inn of the Sixth Happiness and,
on Lawson's death, Aylward continued to run the Inn, continuing
with the work of spreading Christianity but gradually turning it
into a home for orphaned children.
was in 1935 that Aylward met Christian missionary David Davies,
wife Jean and young son Murray, who now lives in Swansea. They became
great friends and colleagues.
the war raged, Yangchen was taken over by the Japanese. Aylward
hated the Japanese and their attacking of her beloved adopted country
and agreed to become a spy for China.
on the programme, Murray Davies tells of his father's worry over
father took her to task over this and said, 'look, you know it's
not the right thing to do'... 'I appreciate your position but it's
not the right thing to do, we must remain absolutely neutral in
this' and he said, I think, words to the effect that if it did come
out in the open, heads would roll, literally."
the Japanese discovered that Aylward was a spy and made her a wanted
woman, offering $100 for information that would lead them to her.
that the children's lives were in danger, David Davies and Aylward
planned the infamous escape where Aylward led nearly a hundred children
on a long and dangerous journey over the mountains to the safety
of the Shensi province.
having stayed behind, was captured and accused of being a spy like
was captured and thrown into this 2,000 year old prison in Taiwan,
and sentenced to five years," remembers Murray Davies.
had horrific treatment and he was tortured, and in a room, a cell,
nine by twelve something, and kept awake at night, and the screams
of other Chinese being tortured, the brutal treatment meted out
by the Japanese...
tried to get him to sign that he was a spy, but he wouldn't.
got two of his converts which were thrown into prison as well, and
they chopped one's head off in front of him - the chap wouldn't
denounce my father - and another one who was an oil worker that
became one of his converts, they crucified him, and this chap went
through crucifixion rather than denounce my father."
Davies finally returned to his roots and spent his last years in
never held it against Gladys Aylward at all," says Murray Davies.
"As a Christian, he supported her, apart from that fact, he
supported her all along, but no grudges or anything against her."