Report from Resolfen History Society


Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive’, Sir Walter Scott.


The above quote is often mistakenly attributed to Shakespeare, when in fact it comes from a poem by Sir Walter Scott on Flodden field. Yet it is very apt to describe the fascinating talk given by Phil Davies on the ‘suspected’ assassin of President John F Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald. This was the third talk given by Mr Davies on the subject, yet the question as to who ultimately shot Kennedy is still very uncertain,

Mr Davies began his talk by stating that the poster advertising the talk had been incorrect and the “J”, might refer to Lee’s elder brother (joke, Ed). However, in his view the assassination would rank with most of the world shattering events of the last century. He mused as to how the late twentieth century would have panned out had he not been shot. Possibly, there would not have been a Vietnam War, a Nixon Presidency, Watergate, Chinese détente or glasnost. He then turned the focus of his talk on to the mercurial Lee Harvey Oswald, on whom there is little evidence that he actually pulled the trigger.

Oswald was born in New Orleans in 1939, his father, Robert Lee Oswald, left his unstable mother and two older siblings. In the absence of a father figure, Oswald came under the influence of an uncle who was a minor figure in the New Orleans underworld. He in turn was known to Carlos Marcello, the father figure of the Sicilian Mafioso in New Orleans. Robert Kennedy, brother of JFK had attempted (unsuccessfully) to extradite Marcello to his native Colombia, and it is possible that this played a part in his assassination.

Oswald was rather a misfit as a child as well as being dyslexic. It did not help that his mother who worked as a care worker moved schools thirteen times, which did not help him make friends. He had an above average IQ ( 118) and was prone to seek attention, a feature of his character which would remain with him until his ultimate demise. It is also probable that he was influenced by the television programme “I have Three Lives”, which featured the “Reds under the beds scare”, of Joseph McCarthy. Oswald empathised with the victimhood exemplified at this time.

In 1954, Oswald returned to New Orleans and joined the Air Cadets, where he was trained by a rather strange character David Ferry. Ferry, suffered from alopecia, wore a wig and was a homosexual, yet was involved in the JFK shooting some eight years hence.  Oswald began reading avidly, especially military manuals and he also had an interest in the writings of Karl Marx. Ironically, he attempted to join the American Socialist Party at this point when also enlisting in the US Marine Corps. He trained in Mississippi and California where he was trusted with classified information. He was then transferred to Osaka, Japan, where the evidence points that he was in the process of defecting to Russia. He may have had a role in the downing of the U2 spy plane. In Osaka, Oswald became fluent in both Japanese and Russian , in addition he became involved with a beautiful geisha who inevitably was a Russian spy. Following a series of disciplinary incidents, Oswald was forced to leave the Marines and then began a bizarre series of events whereby he moved to Le Havre, London, Helsinki and then Stockholm. He gained a visitor’s visa to enter Russia and appeared on Russian television.

At first, the Russians viewed him as an embarrassment yet allowed him to overstay his visa when he slit his wrists in protest. Following a stay in a psychiatric hospital he went to Minsk, where the Soviets began to view him as a ‘useful idiot’. There he worked in a radio factory where he learned photographic skills, a skill which would help him identify fake photos when he was arrested after the Kennedy shooting. He married the daughter of a KGB Colonel, Marina. Yet, getting bored with life in the USSR he demanded to be sent back to the USA.

In 1961, Oswald and his wife arrive back in the USA, where he felt slighted that his return did not get much attention from the media. He then went to Fort Worth, Texas, where he was befriended by an oil magnate, a white Russian emigre who was also a covert agent for the CIA (he was not thought to be a material witness in the ultimate investigation into the assassination). Oswald then had a series of menial jobs and was very cruel to his wife who left him taking the two children with her. Oswald at this point buys two rifles for $29, using aliases and safe boxes in classic spy style. It is thought at this point that he tried to assassinate a right wing US general, whom he missed as an easy target, a doubt then arises as to how he would have been able to shoot Kennedy with crack accuracy. Bizarrely, he also left the USA for Mexico City where he visited both the Cuban and Russian embassy, Oswald even had time for an affair with a Russian attaché. Another twist to the tale is that five weeks before the assassination of Kennedy, the file held by the FBI on Oswald was ordered to be destroyed by J Edgar Hoover.

The events surrounding the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, on Friday, November 22, 1963, at 12:30 p.m., also indicate that Oswald, though part of the plot in some way, was unlikely to be the killer. To begin with he could not drive and took the bus to the centre of Dallas. After the assassination he took a taxi to his lodgings after a visit to the cinema, he also passes a policeman without arising suspicion. After lurking in a doorway it was a shopkeeper that alerted the Police to his whereabouts in the cinema. Despite the fact that the rifle belonged to Oswald there is no evidence that he shot it.

Taken to the Chief of Police in Dallas, he is questioned for 14 hours, yet there is no written record of the deliberations. The press were outside and on occasion Oswald was seen, where he referred to himself as a “patsy”, slang for fall guy. Later when attempting to be moved to the city penitentiary a series of unfortunate events gave Jack Ruby, an Italian Jew with connections to the mafia, a clear view of Oswald whom he shot dead. Ruby was arrested and the body of Lee Harvey Oswald was taken, ironically, to the same Parkland Hospital where the corpse of JFK lay.

So who shot JFK? After three talks it is still a mystery. Even Donald Trump, who promised to release the files, found that some would never be declassified.

Mr Gwyn Thomas thanked Mr Davies for a most interesting talk.


The History Society will now take a break until September. The Annual trip has been moved to Saturday 20th October, and details will be available in the AGM on the second Monday in September.

REPORT by Mr Trefor Jones