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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

March 2017

March 29th 1917

Dear Dad and Mam

Just a line again to let you know how things are with me. Glad to say that the sores are improving gradually hope to be quite alright soon. Hope you at home are all in good health I am feeling in the pink in  myself. Things are not so bad here and we get a pretty decent time. We had a very good concert last night and I enjoyed it very much it was very humourous and there was some fine singing there too. I went to a C of E service on Sunday night being the only one available it was held in the hospital chapel. The chapel is a fine place inside it is only a small place but the work inside is beautiful and well worth seeing. The service itself I could not enjoy in the least everything was in a dry monotonous tone, like a parrot house, the Nonconformists service is much better more sense in it. Have not seen the chaplain I told you about since that time. I have written to Uncle Messach and Aunt Polly in answer to their letter hope they will get them. Uncle Messach told me that everyone has to volunteer for war work and that he did not know what to do himself. I helped him out of his difficulty by proposing he should sell flags on Flag Days don’t know if he will follow my advice or not. Well how is Mailys and Dyfan getting on glad to hear that they both intend to go in for the teaching profession good luck to them. Glad they have got more brains than your humble. You were asking once if I had all the B.Ts you had sent me. I have had the first four have not had no 5 yet. I find the war notes are very good indeed. Address my letters to the batt as usual. How are things going in Abertysswg hope you have disposed of the 120 allotments have you got one yourself let me know. Hope the mission is still prospering. I wrote to Mr Rees in answer to his letter the other day has he had it yet he should have by now. Hope Jon and Mag and Glyndwr are alright and that Glyn has got over his cold. Well I have no more to say just now again hoping you are all well. With best love and best wishes to all.

I am

Your loving Son

Goronwy

Comment

BT is the Baptist Times

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March 24th 1917 Citadel Military Hospital, Cairo

Dear Dad and Mam

I am very pleased to tell you that I received your letter dated Feb 28 yesterday it was forwarded on to me from the batt I was very glad indeed to get it I also received a small parcel from Uncle Messach containing a pair of socks braces and handkerchiefs also a letter from Auntie Polly. So you see I am getting things quite well this time in hospital not like last time. Well glad to hear most of all that you are all in good health and hope Glyndwr is better by now. Well I expect you want to know how I am now, glad to say getting better am feeling in the pink myself it’s only the septics that are rotten so there is nothing to worry about. I don’t understand how you did not get a letter from me for three weeks I write one if not two every week. Glad to hear Wm Francis received my letter we were in a place called El Abdu then and I wrote to you as well from there of that I am certain. Does the ration allowance come sufficient for everyone’s needs let me know what the allowance is am curious to know. Well I have not got any news to tell you am run out of stock. I might tell you that when I came down on the hospital train people were very kind, in one station there were two English ladies dishing out cups of cocoa to us and when we reached Cairo there was another lady with tea and biscuits. So you see things are not so bad we are not quite out in the cold. There was a band concert here the night I came in 19th it was fine, best band I have heard for a long time. There was another concert party called the Bing Boys it was very humourous and comic. All this helps to pass a pleasant hour, but all the same I won’t be sorry to be out of hosp and in good trim once more am more like a camel at present as rotten as one anyway. Was glad to hear that the mission has been so successful there has been fine results so far by your figures. Glad to see that the Government has started their combing out but am sure they could get more from Aber than five, not many teeth in that comb do you think so, They should have taken all that started working from Aug 1914 for they would capture several big Northmen who have come down and taken the places of men who have had the guts to join up. Hope Dyfan will succeed in the Central Welch Board Exam also that he will win the ……. in the Eisteddfod. Glad to see that Dad is coming out as a lecturer glad to hear that the lecture was a success but by the way was not J Muller a German, its a German name anyway, very unpatriotic of Dad to speak about Germans these times. I am going to write to Auntie Pollie and Uncle Messach tomorrow. Glad to hear that Mam goes out every day that is the way to keep well. Would like to be home to come for a walk with her now hope she will keep it up. I have no more to say now. Give my love to Jon and Mag hope they are keeping well I wrote to them this week. Hope Glyn will soon be better. Hope Dyfan and Mailys are keeping alright. I must wind up now with best love and best wishes to you all.

I am, Your affectionatr Son

Goronwy.

March 20th 1917 – The Citadel Cairo

Dear Dad and Mam

Just a line to let you know how things are progressing with me at present I feel pretty sore about the lower regions and am in hospital in Cairo with septic sores on me legs and pretty rotten ones they are too, but I am glad to say that I feel in the pink in myself so you see there is nothing to worry about. I have not been able to write to you for at least a week but it’s not my fault as I have been shifted from one hospital to another till I got here, have been here two days. I saw a Wesleyan Chaplain this morning called Mr Munro he and the Baptist Chaplain work the hospitals of Cairo between them, he was very decent indeed and told me to let him know if I wanted anything. I can tell you I did not know where I was standing when I lay down in a nice soft bed once more. It’s a great change after the old desert stroke (a blanket and valise). So you see everything in the garden’s lovely just now. Lewis Morgan was alright when I left the batt a week ago. How are you all getting on hope you are all in the pink like myself. I will try and get something for Glyn now as soon as I am out of dock. I think I told you I had written to Uncle Messach and Moses hope they have received them alright. The hospital I am in is a fine place used to be the Sultan’s Palace and was built around 1100. There is some beautiful work on it and a fine view of Cairo to be got from there. You had better keep addressing my letters to the batt and I can get them forwarded on here. Must wind up now more soon.Best love and best wishes to all.

Goronwy

Comment

The Sultans palace referred to as the location of the military hospital in Cairo was the Citadel, built by Saladin to protect against the Crusaders between 1176 and 1183.


March 10th 1917 “In Dock”

Dear Dad and Mam

I wrote to Mam the day before yesterday in answer to her letter which I received the same day, hope you have had it before now. I am writing to you again as I find it’s the best thing I can do under the circumstances and I am sure you will like to have a letter as often as possible at least Mam said so in her last letter to me. You will be glad to know that I went and had an impresssion taken of my teeth this morning have got to go again on Thursday so I think I will touch(?) out for teeth this time hope they will turn out alright when I do get them for goodness knows I have had to go through the mill many times on account of my teeth. Well how are you getting on at hope hope you are all in the best of health I am feeling grand, in the pink and the septics are nearly alright again hope to be out of dock in a week’s time and then up the old desert again. Give my love to Jon, Mag, Glyn hope they are well also Mailys and Dyfan hope they are doing alright at school. Solong now. Best love and best wishes to you all.

Your loving Son

Goronwy

Comment

Can’t decide if this letter was in the wrong envelope, postmarked 11 April, or did GCR mistakenly date the letter March 10 when it was actually April. The reference to being out of dock in about a week fits better with the latter.

 

March 9 1917

In the Field

Dear Dad, Mam, Mailys and Dyfan I am writing to you all in a bunch in answer to the letter I received from you all dated Feb 18. I can tell you I was delighted to get them one from Mam another from Mailys and last from Dyfan thank you all very much for them. I also had a letter from Umcle Moses and a photo of Nain and Einion this is the first I have had from them since I have left England two years ago come July. I also had one from Auntie Annie and I also had a Baptist Times marked 4. I have received all four too. I would like if you could put a word or two in the paper BT. Well to start with Mam’s letter. I never dreamt that food had gone so bad it’s time this war was over and no mistake. I am sure its very good of you to intend sending a cake for me it will be most welcome but I don’t like the idea of you sacrificing what little sugar you do get on me. We have not got even a canteen near here. I intend to send a few pounds shortly I shall not want much pay up this way its 41 days since I had the last and that at 1/9 a day will soon mount up it’s more use to you than to me. You also mention about me sending something small to Glyndwr I have thought of it many times since you first mentioned it and I intend to send him something as soon as circumstances permit. You understand that there is no shops or even inhabitants up this way. As for Willie Bebb getting married I always thought he was a bit lightheaded but never thought he was so daft as all that poor girl is all I have to say. Hope I will never be so daft as him. I don’t mean that I shall not get spliced eventually but I do hope I can earn my barra …. and pay back a bit of what I owe you for I will never be able to pay back all of it. I can give you one guarantee that I will do nothing so silly as WB while I am out in this country. Lewis Morgan says the same and so say all of us, I do hope that the Rhymney tribunal will have a bit of sense and let Evans Co-Op do a bit of soldiering it will bring down that pot of his and do him good. One bit more from Mam’s letter. Well Mam dear I also hope like you that the time is not far off when we will all be together again. Now Mailys’ letter. I am very glad Mailys that you exercised your authority and made Mam stay in bed for the two days you were home from school it’s a bit more of that Mam wants. I am glad to hear also that Mam is getting such a knut(?) I wish I could see her swanking it. Glad to hear that Glyndwr is progressing favourably now. You mention that the children of Israel were wandering in this desert for forty years well I wish they had kept the rotten place for good and all for all the good there is but where we are now is green and sewn with wheat and barley also plenty of daisies and dandelions. I tell you it’s a shame to tread on them for fear of crushing them. Now for Dyfan. Glad to hear that you are looking after baby so well till I come home and also glad that Jon was such a sport to you. Also glad you did not mention what you had for dinner it only gives me a pain. Glad you are all in good health I am in the pink. Well paper finis. Best love and best wishes to you all.

Yours affectionately 

Goronwy




March 4 1917

Dear Dad and Mam

I am writing again to let you know how things are with me very pleased to be able to say that I am in the pink hope you are all the same. I received a huge envelope a few days ago containing a letter dated Feb 1 and also a BT and 2 pamphlets also the mission handbill many thanks for same. The war notes in the BTare about the best I have seen. I received another BT yesterday also a letter from Auntie Annie, have not had an opportunity to look at the former yet. Well I am pretty short of news again this time everything is all in the same old routine as usual. Very sorry to hear that Mam has not been well for a few days hope she is better by now. Sorry that Glyndwr has not been well hope he is better by now. L Morgan is alright have not seen B Fry for some weeks saw him on the march but not since. I see by the latest war news that things have started to move in France also in Mesopotamia. I am properly stuck for something to say I hope that the mission keeps on prospering as it has done it made a good start anyway. I wrote to you some few days ago hope you have had it before now. How long do you think this war is going to last I believe that everybody would like  to see it over but one thing I can’t understand is why they allow such people as Ramsay McDonald and them people who try to murder L George to live, shoot every one of them they should not be allowed to live  and are not fit to. Such people doing their worst and poor squaddies getting killed and ruined for life in France and elsewhere for such wasters as that. I don’t know what to think of such people as this in England with their conscience objectors or cowards. Would like to see the lot done away with. Well hope things will have altered a lot by when I get back to Blighty, {My address is still 3144 Sergt GC Roberts C Coy 1/5th Batt Welch Regt EEF.} I will have something to say that some won’t like, as it is. Hope Dyfan and Mailys are in the best of health and doing alright at school I will have a quid or two to send for Mailys before long perhaps more am 3 pounds in credit now have not had pay for over a month. I spent some money in Cairo and have had to spend most of my money on grub when we could by it. Will wait till I have got a five note I can send you. Well time will tell. Hope you are all still keeping up your spirits I conclude with best love and best wishes to all.
I am Your loving Son
Goronwy

Comment

GCR is most likely referring to the case of Alice Ann Wheeldon (27 January 1866 – 21 February 1919) who was a British supporter of suffrage and anti-war campaigner. She was convicted in 1917, along with her daughter, Winnie, and son-in-law, Alfred Mason, of conspiracy to murder the Prime Minister, David Lloyd George. At least some of the evidence given in the case against them appears to have been fabricated on behalf of “a government eager to disgrace the antiwar movement”.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice_Wheeldon#

Ramsay MacDonald – first Labour Prime Minister 1924. Denounced during WW1 for his opposition to the war.

BT – Baptist Times; ran from 1885-2012

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