Goronway Cuffin Roberts (GCR) was born on 18th October 1896, the son of John and Margaret Roberts, in Cefn Mawr, Denbighshire in North Wales. It was a God fearing family, his grandfather had reportedly died on his knees at the age of 30, praying on the kitchen floor. His father John had initially worked as a model maker in the clay works in Ruabon but subsequently trained as a Welsh Baptist Minister being ordained at the age of 30 in 1898. Apparently he had a vision which he interpreted as a vision from on high to go and preach to the sinners in the valleys of South Wales. The census of 1911 shows the family living in the Rhymney valley at 15 The Green, Abertysswg, Monmouthshire; the address to which the majority of GCR’s letters are sent.
GCR himself in the census appears as the second of four children (another four had died). His older brother was at the time a Colliery Timekeeper (below ground) and part time student, his younger sister and brother were at school; GCR himself is at this time recorded as an apprentice draper. According to one story he was not entirely satisfied with this as a career and at 15, presumably in search of adventure, attempted to run away to join the Navy. He was however too young and was sent back home. Two years later he was to set out on the adventure of a lifetime.
Goronway Roberts enlisted on 15th October 1914 into the 5th Battalion the Welsh Regiment three days before his 18th birthday.