Search

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

April 2017

April 26th 1917, In the Field

Dear Dad and Mam

Just a line to let you know that I am still feeling in the pink and hoping you all at home can say the same. I am not with the batt yet but in a detail camp waiting to go up and when I do go up I expect it will be a pretty warm shop  up there. I have not heard how Lew Morgan is lately but up to the 27th of last month he was alright. I wrote to him from Cairo but have not had an answer yet. I will let you know as soon as I get back to the batt. I have not had a letter from you lately but I hope to get a stack of them when I get back. I hope I will have my usual luck and come out alright at the scratch I don’t want any more gold stripes one is quite enough because it hurts to earn them. Well one never knows his luck in a crush so it will be a case of all’s well that ends well. How are things going on in Abertysswg has all the plots been let because I thought of having one when I come home. I hope the mission has been a success as it was in the start did it come up to your expectations I should think it did. I read in the Egyptian Mail That the Germans have sank two of our hospital boats and that the German wounded behaved in a disgraceful way. Can’t out Government counteract the tin fish. I see by the paper the Germans made a raid on Dover but got caught a severe cold. How is Mailys and Dyfan getting on in school hope Dyfan will pass his Senior this year good luck to him. Hope Mailys will be able to go to college this year if I was home it would be a great help for her to go, but I have not forgotten and will send something to help. It’s a pity Dyfan could not start teaching this year because he is too young, better luck next time. Well I have bought something for Glyn it is the only thing I could get and that something is a handkerchief. I could not get what I wanted for Mam but will be able to get it in a town when I get to one again. I wanted a table centre with the Welch badge embroided in the centre it would look fine but I will get it for certain later. I wrote to Jon Mag and Glyn a few days ago hope they will get it I enclosed the handkerchief in the letter. Well I have not got any more to say just now only the old story roll on duration. When do you think this war will be over let me know as I am no authority in the matter. I hope the strikers in Berlin will blow Kaiser Bill rotten head off and then there would be a splash. I must wind up hope you are all in the pink. Best love and best wishes to you all.

I am Your loving Son

Goronwy

Comment

The hospital ships GCR refers to were most probably HMHS Donegal and HMHS Lanfranc, both sunk by torpedoes in the English Channel on April 17th 1917 each suffering 40 lives lost. The Lanfranc had 387 patients on board of which 167 were German.


Strikes were organized in Germany by the Independant Socialist Party on Monday 16th April 1917 in part protesting the lack of food. Shortages were severe in part as a result of the Royal Navy blockading Germany. The following is an extract from the Examiner from Launceston in Tasmania, available through the National Library of Australia.






Advertisements

In the Field April 22 1917

Dear Dad and Mam

I’ve no doubt you will be pleased to hear that I have been discharged from hosp on the 20th and was very pleased to get out of it as it was getting very monotonous. I am now on the way up to join the batt and I expect I will be in the middle of it by the end of this week so I expect you to wish me luck. Well it does not worry me that’s a good thing for my lucky star seems to be always in. Lewis Morgan was alright when I last heard of him about a week ago will give him your kind regards when I meet him. I was reading Mam’s  letter to me on Mar 14 just now that is what I always do is to read the old letters until I get later ones. It reminded me of the present I want to get for Glyn. I will also get something for Mam. I am going to get them this afternoon. I was reading in the News of the World of the Gaza affair and I see The Welsh was specifically mentioned for their behaviour they also pinched the Jonny’s div (Divisional) staff.  So that is a feather in our caps don’t you think so. Well how is Mailys and Dyfan getting on hope they are both in the pink and hope you can say the same. I am feeling in the pink myself and am not so rotten as I used to be a couple of weeks ago. Give Jon and Mag and Glyn my best love will write to them later. I have not got much to say now hope you won’t mind this letter being short. When I rejoin the batt I may not be able to write as often as I do now but you understand the circumstances so mind you don’t worry I will be alright. I close with best love and best wishes to you all.

I am 

Your loving Son 

Goronwy 

April 17 1917

Dear Dad and Mam

I am writing to you to let you know that I am pretty near alright only got a bit of a cold now and am going out of hospital in a few days for this I won’t be sorry am about sick of being in dock now. I have had teeth at last at least I have had the top lot had 9 new teeth in it. I don’t think I will be able to get the bottom as I have only got a few teeth missing from there. It very queer wearing false teeth at first but I will get used to them soon I suppose. I have not had a letter from you for about a fortnight but I hope to get one soon. Did I tell before that Mr Davies went into action with the batt and was up front most of the time bandaging wounded. He was very great so one of the boys told me when I was talking to him about one thing and another. Well I have not got any news for you just now I seem to have run dry of news now for this is a very monotonous existence. I hope you are all in the best of health at home am pleased to say I am feeling in the pink myself. How is Mailys and Dyfan getting on hope they are doing alright in school. What rank is Dyfan in the Cadet Corps Sergt Major I suppose. How does he like playing soldiers how would he like to come out here instead of me and boil or stew for the summer not much I expect. Well I hope to see this war over by the end of this summer would like to be home for my 21st birthday Ah Mam. But all’s well that ends well so I hope the time won’t be long just fancy it’s nearly two years since I left England and will be two years in June since I saw you. It seems like ten years to me. Roll on the time when I will be able to come and stay home with you again. How is Jon and Mag and Glyn getting on I had a letter from them about three days ago Have written and answered it. I also had a letter from Aunt Annie. Well I must close will write again soon. Best love and best wishes to you all.

I am your loving Son

Goronwy

Comment

As GCR was writing this letter, his comrades in the 53rd Division were again advancing on Gaza.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Battle_of_Gaza




April 13th 1917

Dear Dad and Mam

I am writing to you again to let you know how I am getting on and I am very pleased to be able to tell you that I am now nearly alright the only thing wrong is three fresh boils starting to come out I wish I could get rid of them. This is an awful country for sores and boils and other skin cases it’s the sand that causes it. I am feeling in the pink as usual in myself hope you can all say the same. I have written to you several times since I have been in dock. Hope you get them alright I received a letter from Jon this week and have answered it hope he has had it by now. He tells me that some people say that Glyndwr resembles me how can he say such unkind things about the little chap. I have already checked him for it. I have not forgotten the little present for Glyndwr, but have not been able to raise any money yet cannot get any while I am in hospital but as soon as I can get some I will send him something. I think I told you that I was going to have some teeth  well I have had the top lot fitted yesterday and have to go again on Monday. I hope I shall get some for the bottom the dentist did take an impression of them. I have only got them out on one side on the bottom. I don’t believe in getting rid of the good teeth I have got of my own. I have wished many times I had taken care of my teeth when I was younger it would be a great boon to me now. Fancy having to chew biscuits with only two teeth to do it with. Tell Dyfan and Mailys to look after theirs. Well how did the mission go on in the other chapels hope it kept on in the same way as it commenced. How is Abertysswg and the allotment scheme going on let me know. By the way I suppose you have got a plot for yourself. This will be a fine chance for Dyfan and Mailys to do a bit of war work and turn into amateur gardeners. What do you say? What branch of national service is Dad going in for I should like to know. Hope Mam is selling flags on Flag Days and making money for the poor old Government. Well I heard the result of the trial of them wasters who tried to poison LLoyd George not half enough for them and one was actually let off. They should have met the fate they intended for LG that would be sufficient for them I think. Well I have not got any more to say now will. Write again soon. You can still address my letters to the battalion as usual but don’t send any parcels they might go west. Well hope you are all in the very best of health and will keep so. Roll on duration and then I will be able to come home again. Best love and best wishes to you all

I am

Your loving Son

Goronwy

April 10th 1917

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

This letter is, I believe incorrectly, labeled as March 10th, the envelope is stamped April 11th and the content fits better with it’s being written April 10th while GCR is still in hospital in Cairo.

April 4th 1917

Dear Dad and Mam

Just a line to let you know that I am alright and hoping you are all the same. I am stuck for news this time and am only writing so as to let you know that Lewis M is alright and came through the scrap without a scratch so you can tell Mrs Morgan so for she might be worrying and no doubt you will get this letter before he will have a chance of writing. Well how is Abertysswg getting on now, any new …… would like to be walking down the old Green now, what do you say. Perhaps the time is not far off when I will be going down it. Roll on duration I say and then I will have a chance to settle down and earn my bread and butter, I was going to say once more but I can’t say that because I have not earned it yet. Wouldn’t it be a treat for me to be home for my 21 years birthday …. Mam. Well how is Dyfan and Mailys going on hope they are both well. Give my love to Jon and mag. I wrote to them last week. I must wind up now got no more to say. again hoping you are all in the best of health and spirits. With Best Love and Best wishes to you all.

I am

Your loving Son

Goronwy

I am still in dock but getting better like a house on fire.

April 2nd 1917

Dear Dad and Mam

Just a line again to let you know that I am getting on alright and hope to be better in a short time. Hope you all at home are keeping in good health for there is nothing like it. Well I expect you know by now that there has been a bit of a do out here and our batt was in it I have not heard how L Morgan got off have not seen anyone from the our company to find out but will make enquirers as soon as I see someone from the coy. I went to hospital ten days before that scrap came off so you see I was in luck in one way but I should like to have been there after tramping all the way up after them. I have been told that I have been reverted to L Cpl owing to coming to hospital if that is correct I intend to chuck it in as it’s not worth having I know I have been in the captain’s bad book for a month or more and he would have had me before if he could but he couldn’t as I did not give him the chance and he also could not get me as being inefficient because I am efficient as I passed in the school. As I could not help going to hosp he had me but I don’t worry about it that’s one good thing. When I return I intend to revert and transfer into another company and start over again there. Don’t you think that wil be best, because there is too much scratching and red tape with the captain I am with now and I won’t do it to please him or anyone else. Well enough of this. How is young Glyndwr getting on hope he has got rid of his cold by now. I received the fifth B Times two days ago have not had another letter yet. I wrote to you about three days ago also to Jon. Hope you have had it by now. I was talking to a chap from Abergele one day last week and he told me he knew you he also told me that Francis McRay had been killed at Sulva at the start of that campaign. I don’t remember his name. How is Dyfan and Mailys getting on in school hope they are alright. I don’t know of any news for you. Hope the mission is still prospering as in the commencement. Well I must wind up again hoping you are all in the best of health.

Best love and best wishes to you all

I am, your loving Son

Goronwy


Comment

The “bit of a do'” refered to was the First Battle of Gaza which started on March 26th 1917 in which the 53rd Division played a central role.

“The first of three battles fought in the Allied attempt to defeat Turkish forces in and around the Palestinian city of Gaza takes place on this day in 1917.

By January 1917, the Allies had managed to force the Turkish army completely out of the Sinai Peninsula in northeastern Egypt, leaving British forces in the region, commanded by Sir Archibald Murray, free to consider a move into Palestine. To do so, however, they would first have to confront a string of strong Turkish positions atop a series of ridges running west to east between the towns of Gaza and Beersheba and blocking the only viable passage into the heart of Palestine. These Turkish forces, commanded by the German general Friedrich Kress von Kressenstein, numbered some 18,000 troops; Murray planned to send twice that many British soldiers against them under the command of his subordinate, Sir Charles Dobell.

On the morning of March 26, 1917, Dobell and his men advanced on the ridges under the cover of dense fog; they were able to successfully cut off the east and southeast of Gaza and deploy troops to prevent the Turks from sending reinforcements or supplies to the town. The 53rd Infantry Division, at the center of the advance, received considerable assistance from a cavalry force commanded by Sir Philip Chetwode. However, near the end of that day, with a victory in Gaza in sight, Dobel and Chetwode decided to call off the attack. The decision, attributed to the failing light and mounting casualties among the infantry troops, was nonetheless controversial—other officers believed the Turks had been on the verge of capitulating.
Though the infantry resumed their attacks the next morning, the overnight delay had given Kressenstein time to reinforce the permanent garrison at Gaza with 4,000 new troops. After confronting a renewed Turkish counterattack, aided significantly by German reconnaissance aircraft from above, Dobell was forced to call off the attack. His forces suffered 4,000 casualties during the First Battle of Gaza, compared with only 2,400 on the Turkish side.”
http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/first-battle-of-gaza

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: