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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

September 2016

29th September 1916

Sgt GC Roberts 3144
C Coy 1/5th Welsh Regt
159th Brigade 53rd Division
Sept 29th EEF

Dear Dad & Mam
Just a line again to let you know that I am as usual OK, hope you are all the same at home. I have not news to tell you this time. Everything in the gardens lovely with us out here, I think we are very lucky not to be in France just for things seem to be rather warm there just now. We, as I have told you before, are watching and waiting and hope to meet our old friends in a short time. Oh for a change to this climate it is very hot out here, melting point during midday and freezing point at stand to in the morning we feel the cold more because we only wear shorts and not slacks, so our knees are bare. Chaps are getting a months leave at home now if there is any family or business matters to see to I am afraid I can’t find anything to attend to, can you find something for me. How are things going at 3 Arthur St I have not had any news yet. I had a letter from Jon the other week and have answered it. Hope they are all right there. I am eagerly looking out for the photo to turn up so that I can have a look at your mugs as much as I want to. You would not believe what a photo is when you have not seen the dear ones at home for a long time. What did you do with the sticky backs I had taken a few days before I left Blighty, there was no time to get any others taken. I was only a day in Cairo as there was no time there. We have been out in the desert all the time. I am expecting to go on pass to Alexandria for a rest for 7 days in about a months time and I will try and get a decent photo taken then. I must now wish Mam “Many happy returns of the Day,” and I hope I shall have my happy returns of the day with Mam when this war is over. I sometimes think what I am going to do when this war is over. I would not work for the Co-op at one pound per week now. I shall have to look for something better than that but don’t worry I going to soldier at home as long as you will have me, even if it means working in the colliery. You said in one of your letters that you were sending me a parcel of soap etc. I am on the lookout for it. The army issue is very small up here and no shops. I must again ask you for a bit of writing paper I only managed to cadge this bit. I bought a nice little pearl case wrist watch this week I gave 10 piastres for it or 2/- in English. Well you see the paper is nearly finished so I must wind up with best love and best wishes to you all.

I am your loving Son

Goronwy

 

September 16th 1916

Sgt. GC Roberts 3144
C. Coy 1/5th Welsh Regt
159th Brigade 53rd Division
E.E.F.
Sept 16, 1916

Dear Dad and Mam

Just a line to let you know that I am alright and in the pink in health but have got a rotten headache and toothache so I can promise you this is going to be a short letter. I hope you are all in good health and keeping so. When do you think this war is going to be over, I don’t see how it can last for much longer, do you? The French and Russians are doing well and so is Romania and we have got the Turks weighed in Egypt and there is nothing doing now. I told you in my last letter that I received 4 letters last mail, did not get any with this mail. Have you heard the result of the C.W.B. yet let me know as soon as you do. It seems to me that I shall have another birthday out here, will never mind Mam (and I) will have a good birthday together when I come home which will not be long I hope and all well that ends well that’s the old saying is it not. I must be getting quite an old man fancy being twenty next month and only a short time ago I was 18 or so it seems. And now my hair is turning white on the sides. It is fearfully hot out here and the nights are quite chilly. I shall have to sit on top of the fire to keep warm when I come home. I have written to Jon and Mag also to Austin and Auntie Pollie so you see I have had quite a lot of writing to do lately. How are all the people in Abertysswg getting on. Give my regards to H Hughes and family and so forth I must wind up now, hope Mailys and Dyfan are in good health. So long for the present with best love and best wishes toy you all.

I am
Your loving Son
Goronwy
Please send some writing paper, this is all cadged.

Comment

CWB – Central Welsh (Examination) Board
___________________________________

September 3rd 1916

Sgt. GC Roberts 3144

Coy 1/5th Welsh Regt

159th Brigade 53rd Division

E.E.F.

Sept 3, 1916

Dear Dad and Mam

Just a line again to let you know that I am as usual in the pink hope you are all the same at home. I am only writing a short note to you this time as I want to get it of and censored this afternoon. We are expecting a mail in today so you can expect a nice long letter in a day or two. I did not get a letter with the last mail from you but am almostsure of one this time. I have not had a letter from Jon and Mag for quite a long time, I am sure it does not take long to write a short letter. I wrote to them last week and told them about it. Hope it will have the desired affect and a letter to follow soon. How is Mailys and Dyfan getting on. I wrote in answer to their letter last week hope you have received it. The weather is very warm out here still, but I suppose the Egyptian winter will be with us soon, bit of swank wintering in Egypt don’t you think so. I am glad that I won’t get the sort of winter I had last year cold to freezing one day and not the next. I am feeling like a horse just now. I was told that I would have to get you to take the door off its hinges in order for me to come in the house so you can look out. Have you received Mr Davies’  letter yet, let me know when you do. I have heard that the Romanians are giving the Bulgars socks and that there is a revolution in Greece, I really don’t think this war can last much longer at this rate. Well here’s to a speedy close and a quick return home to you again when Mam will be quartermaster Sgt and Mailys Sgt. Major. I will obey orders alright after long practice at the job. I must now draw to a close with best love and best wishes to you all.

 

I am

Your loving Son

Goronwy

Comment

Romania entered the war in an attempt to seize Transylvania, a region with significant Romanian population, from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Despite initial successes, the Romanian forces (aided by Russia) suffered several setbacks, and by the end of 1916 only Moldavia remained under Allied control. After several defensive victories in 1917, with Russia’s withdrawal from the war following the October Revolution, Romania, almost completely surrounded by the Central Powers, was also forced to drop out of the war; it signed the Treaty of Bucharest with the Central Powers in May 1918. On 10 November 1918, just one day before the German armistice and after all the other Central Powers had already capitulated, Romania re-entered the war. By then, about 220,000 Romanian soldiers had been killed, about 6% of total Entente military deaths.

From – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romania_during_World_War_I

 

August 27/28th 1916

Sgt. GC Roberts 3144
C. Coy 1/5th Bn Welsh Regt
159th Brigade 53rd Division
E.E.F.
Aug 27, 1916
Dear Dad and Mam

Just a line again to let you know that I am as usual in the pink, hope you are all the same. I am absolutely stumped for news this journey but must write if only a couple of lines, if you were out here you would realize how difficult it is to find anything to write. I wrote a long letter to Mailys three days ago. Hope she has received it by now. I was on Church Parade this morning and Mr Davies preached on the first meeting of Christ with Peter after his death. There is another service again tonight. I am going there. Mr Davies wrote to you yesterday so you see you are having an early answer to your letter which he was very please to receive. I think I told you in my last letter to Mailys that I had received a letter from Ethel and have answered it now. I am going to write to Nain Jones this week. Has Auntie Annie received the letter which I stated I had received her parcel and thanking her for same, let her know I was talking to Fry one day this week. He is in good health and wishes to he remembered to you. He does not look any the worse for being in the army. In fact he is getting quite fat over it.
Aug 28
I am going to finish this letter today. I had to leave it yesterday but it could not be helped, parades must be done. I am very pleased to be able to tell you that I received a letter from Mailys and Dyfan dated August 13th, was very pleased to get it, many thanks to both of them. Mailys is getting very descriptive in her letters indeed with her diagrams etc. If she drew diagrams like that in the Central Welsh Board Ex she will get six months hard labor, what an awful fact. Glad to hear Geo Perry is home and getting better. Tell Dyfan that the Pengam Cadet Corps has appeared in the army list. Does he belong to them or the scouts? Well I hope you are all in good health, I must close now with best love and best wishes to you all.
I am
Your loving Son

Goronwy

Comment

This is the first mention of an Ethel; it may be that this was his future wife, our grandmother, Ethel Ada Pritchard. More likely however it was Ethel Burgess his cousin who would have been 17 at the time. (Thanks to Dylan Burgess for this suggestion)

August 22nd 1916

Sgt. GC Roberts 3144
C. Coy 1/5th Welsh Regt
159th Brigade 53rd Division
E.E.F.
Aug 22, 1916

Dear Dad and Mam

Just a line again to let you know that I am as usual in the pink hope you are all the same. I have not got any news this journey in fact you if you were in my place you would realize know things are. I was on a Welsh service of song last night (Sunday) held by Mr. Davies I enjoyed myself up to the mark there and there was a good attendance. A Camanfa Ganu has been suggested and it will come off before long but can’t say when yet. There is also going to be a Sunday school next Sunday afternoon so you see things are not bad by any means in the army if any man makes use of the privileges. The Nonconformists are very strong indeed in the battalion. I should say there is about four hundred or more of them. We had a very good parade service Sunday morning. I have been inoculated this morning against cholera. This does not effect us like TV or TAB inoculation does and we get no time off after it. Lewis Morgan is in the best of health and so is Bernard Fry. I saw him two days ago tell Dyfan so. He will write to him soon as he gets time. You would be surprised to know little there is you are able to say in our letters but I try to say as much as I possibly can. How is Mailys and Dyfan getting on give them my best love. Hope John and Mag are also well hope everything is alright I send a Field PC to them the other day. I expect they have had it before this. I intend to write as soon as I possibly can to them you must excuse the letter being so short I have not got anything more to say. I forgot to mention this. When are you going to fulfill my request of a few months ago, I mean a photo of you all. I am longing to have a look at your dear mugs once more. Hope I shall have them soon. So long for the present with best love and best wishes to you all.

I am your loving son Goronway.

Comment

Camanfa Ganu – Cymanfa Ganu (Welsh pronunciation: [kəˈmanva ˈɡanɨ], Singing Festival), is a Welsh festival of sacred hymns, sung with four part harmony by a congregation, usually under the direction of a choral director.

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