Truth, they say, is the daughter of time. That certainly seems to be the case with the infamous Tonypandy Massacre of 1910. Like the Boston Massacre (in which exactly five people died), Tonypandy turns out not to have been quite so brutal as the legends suggest....
In 1910 the miners of the Rhondda1 Valley were striking over pay. The brutal Home Secretary, one Winston Churchill, was asked to send troops to put down the unrest, which he duly did. A regiment of Hussars were dispatched, along with several hundred Metropolitan Police2.
After a period of steadily escalating tension the police and Hussars attacked the miners with much loss of life, at the town of Tonypandy. A legend in infamy was born.
What actually happened was rather more prosaic.
Yes, the Metropolitan Police were called in - although their mobilisation was delayed until they had been sworn in by a local magistrate (otherwise they had no powers of arrest and could only act in self-defence, as with any other citizen). And there were Hussars - which evokes images of dark men with swords and horses, but this was an ordinary line infantry regiment.
The Met and the army were there because there had been riots and intimidation by the striking miners, and very considerable damage to property. The situation was judged locally to be out of control.
The night of the massacre was in 1910 or 1911 depending on your source, but probably it was one of the nights of rioting in early November 1910. November 8 is the likely candidate because...
On November 8 1910 during serious rioting, during which all but two shops in Tonypandy had their windows broken, the police staged what is now known as a baton charge. With truncheons drawn they advanced on the rioters. Some miners and police were wounded and one miner suffered a fatal blow to the head probably from a police truncheon
And that's the massacre. One rioting miner.
The view of history as told by one aggrieved party was part og the inspiration which led Josephine Tey to write one of the most intriguing and unusual detective stories ever: The Daughter Of Time. The hero of the piece is confined to a hospital bed following an accident when he sees a picture of Richard III. He goes on a historical detective spree which reveals that Richard III almost certainly did not murder the princes in the tower. He refers to the Shakespearean view of Richard III as "Tonypandy," after the legend of the Tonypandy Massacre.
One of the most respected parliamentarians of the twentieth century, speaker George Thomas, took the title Lord Tonypandy on his retirement. He was a Rhondda Valley boy, son of a miner.