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A1 and in the Pink – 100 years on

WWI as seen in the letters of Sgt GC Roberts MM of the 1/5th Welsh Regiment

Month

December 2015

December 27th 1915

 

Private GC Roberts 3144

attached Greek Labor Corps

Lancashire Landing

Dardanelles Army

M.E.F.

December 27th, 1915

Dear Dad and Mam   

Just a line to let you know that I am alright hoping you all at home are the same. How did you enjoy your Xmas, let me know in your next letter. I will just let you know how I spent my Xmas. In the first place, I did not hang my stocking up but I found my foot in them in the morning. Well, I had some bacon for breakfast, for lunch steak, and desiccated vegetables for tea we had some blamonge made in a biscuit tin for a mould, jam and bread and butter. Then for dinner, 7 pm we had some turkey and potatoes also some Xmas Pudding supplied by the Daily News Funds, good stuff too. Our officers gave us three turkeys, very good of them dont you think so. After dinner we has a little sing song. We retired to bed at ten oclock. We keep respectable hours here. I forgot to mention that my bed is composed of five biscuit boxes placed longside each other very comfortable equal to any feather bed and cheaper. So ended with my Xmas day on Gallipoli Peninsular. The only thing that happened spoil the day, it was a grand sunny day, was the visit of a few Taubes which are fond of dropping bombs and darts. They must have smelt our turkeys and pudding. I expect things were a bit quiet in Abertysswg this Xmas a good many faces are missing. Will you let me know if there is conscription in England yet or did Lord Derbys Scheme succeed. Has Jack R. Hughes gone to France yet. Give my kind regards to Mr. Cooper. Tell him I hope Hughes is still alright and in good health. Hope Dyfan and Mailys are in good health, give my love to them, also Jon and Maggie. I have got no more to say this time only I have not had a letter since the one dated Nov 15 consciously waiting for another with every mail. Again hoping you are in good health with best love and wishes to all.

I am

Your loving son

Goronwy

Dec 27, 1915 #1 Dec 27, 1915 #2 Dec 27, 1915 #3 Dec 27, 1915 #4

Comments

Taubes were WW1 German aircraft

taube_large

Lord Derby’s Scheme in 1915 was an attempt to increase voluntary enlistment by directly canvassing all eligible as to whether they were willing to join up. It was a final attempt to avoid conscription and failed

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derby_Scheme

Derby_Scheme_poster_Nov_1915

 

 

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December 10th 1915

 

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Private GC Roberts 3144

attached Greek Labour Corps

Lancashire Landing

Dardanelles Army

M.E.F.

December 10th, 1915

Dear Dad and Mam

“Hurrah.

I have received your letter dated Nov 16th and I can tell you I was jolly glad to get it. I fairly danced for joy. I can tell you I was very glad to know that you are all in very good health. The one great fault I found with it was that it was not long enough if you filled that blank sheet of paper as well I should have been satisfied. I have plenty of writing paper at present. Now I am going to criticise your letter. First of all you are leaving words out, you don’t usually do this, were you in a hurry or what. You also make a remark like this. “I have sent a letter you gave me in your in your last letters for Lemnos what does that mean. I can’t make head nor tail to it. I hope you have not sent any of my letters to any paper, because I should not like to see them in print. Tom Isac is a lucky chap he had a much longer innings than I did. Glad to hear Ainon is prospering. You would be able to get many converts in the firing line. It is when death stares at them that many chaps begin to say their prayers. I shall be very glad when peace is proclaimed if it is only for the lads in the trenches this winter. Glad to hear that Mr Tanner has enlisted. He has joined the cyclist battalion of our regiment they were on coast defense when I was in Pembrokeshire. Not surprised that W. Bebb and H. Hughes have not enlisted, they are to chicken hearted, but they will all be fetched soon. Has Mailys passed the junior? Let me know. I am enclosing you a Xmas card, we only had them today. The dog has Cape Helles where I am in his mouth. I hope to get another letter from you soon hope you will all put a line in it. Hope you are all in good health. I am in the pink. Hoping you spent a Happy Xmas I close with best love and wishes to all

I am

Your loving son

Goronwy

 

Comments

GCR is by now detached from his Battalion and Division and attached to the Greek Labour Corps at Lancashire Landing, Cape Helles. The following is an extract from “With the Greek Labour Corps at Gallipoli” by Bryan T Stefancuk, published in The Gallipolian No 138 – Autumn 2015.

“From the beginning of the campaign through December 1915, volunteer Greek labourers were extensively used for essential manual labour tasks at Cape Helles, Anzac Cove and on the surrounding islands which supplied the army on the Gallipoli Peninsula.

Casualty figures suggest the Greek Labour Corps suffered eleven documents casualties during the campaign. The Greek Labour Corps was commanded by British officers and non-commissioned officers ….. Conversely on the other side of No Man’s Land, Greeks also served as labourers; but forcibly conscripted into the labour battalions of the Ottoman Army.

Often criticized for their performance, the Greek Labour Corps worked under tough conditions on the beaches dodging shrapnel and high explosive shells fired by the Turkish gunners from the heights above. Snipers were a constant threat. The Greek labourers were engaged in the unloading and loading of supplies, hauling water up to the front line, digging, construction, excavating latrines, establishing supply depots, fortifying positions, grave digging and other varied tasks essential for the campaign. If called on in an emergency, the men of the Labour Corps were expected to stand and fight. The fact was that the beaches were often more dangerous than the trenches.”

 

Ainon was John “The God’ Roberts’ Baptist chapel in Abertysswg.

The following are photos inside and outside the chapel that John the God founded in 1906; the second picture is clearly post war. Of the two little boys on the right, the one on the left is John Roberts, GCR’s son, born 1923. The minister on the left and in the interior shot is John the God, to whom most of GCR’s letters are addressed.

John the God, Ainon Outside Ainon

This is a picture of the chapel taken in the 90’s before it was demolished.

ainon

And a contemporary one.

image

 

December 1st 1915

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Private GC Roberts 3144
C Company
1/5th Welsh Regt
159th Brigade
attached 53rd & 54th Division Base Detail
Lemnus M.E.F. Camp.
December 1st, 1915
Dear Dad and Mam

Just a few lines to let you know that I am still alive and kicking and am in the pink. I hope all of you at home are the same. The only thing that is wrong with me at present is a touch of indigestion, but I hope I will get rid of this very soon. We have had very cold weather here for the last four or five days, but it is improving again today. What sort of weather are you having at home just now a bit rough, I should think. I have got to wish you all a Very Happy Xmas and a prosperous New Year, but I am very sorry indeed at not being able to be at home with you all this Xmas, but I hope you will all enjoy yourselves as you usually do at Xmas, and don’t forget to hang a stocking up for me and keep the “trysor y person” by when I come home which I hope will be before long. I hope this war will be over by next Xmas anyway. I have not received a letter yet, but hope to in the course of a week or two. I will jump for joy when I do get one. I would be very glad if you could send me a pair of warm woolen gloves as it gets bitter cold out here in a short time, in fact we have had some bitter cold weather here. I thought that we would have very little winter out here but I see I am disappointed. I lost all my kit when I got wounded at Suvla I was for a long time had to wash my only shirt in the sea and wait till it dried and then put it on, but I have a change of shirts and plenty of socks now also s Cardigan jacket which I am very thankful to have. I hope Mailys and Dyfan are alright, give them my best love. I must now close with the best love and wishes to you. Hoping to hear from you soon
I am
Your loving Son
Goronwy

 

Comment

The cold weather refers to the major blizzard that hit at the end of November costing many lives and significantly reducing the numbers fit to fight in many units. Not just an understatement but also appropriate self censorship; it wouldn’t do for the Turks to find out how badly the Allies were affected by the weather.

“trysor y person” is according to my sources in Wales, best translated as“the persons treasure” or perhaps gifts or my goodies. GCR would not enjoy these for another 4 years.

 

 

 

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