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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

May 2017

May 27th 1917

Dear Dad and Mam Mailys and Dyfan

I am very pleased to be able to tell you that I received your letters dated May 6th and was very glad indeed to get it. You will see by this writing that I am not writing as usual the fact is I have split my thumb again opening a tin and have got a big bandage on it so you see I can’t write very well. Am very glad indeed to hear that you are all in the pink and glad to say I feel in the pink myself. I have been promoted again and am now full corporal  so you see things are busking (?) up I may get the other one back in time but am not particular. I wrote a long letter to you a few days ago hope you have had it back before now. Mam was saying she was praying for me I am quite sure of it because I have been protected from harm on many occasions. I was working in a trench this week and the whole side fell in but I was just in time to dodge round the traverse. One chap got buried but we had him out and he was no worse for it. I told you that the batt have gained 8 honours in the Gaza scrap not bad do you think so. Well I hope this war will not be long now and I can come home again. My word Mailys and Dyfan must be awful swanky by all accounts. well I wish I could come and try and swank with you. I can’t write more now thumb too awkward will write again soon. 

Best love and best wishes to you all

I am Your loving Son and Brawd

Goronwy

Comments

Brawd = Brother

In this letter GCR continues the story of his losing his sergeants rank and gradually regaining it; telling his parents that it was because his company commander had it in for him and that’s he was a away in hospital. The story I was told by my father is somewhat different.

According to this version, Goronwy was being pestered by an Egyptian in a market, possibly in Cairo, finally lost it and punched the chap who promptly fell down dead; this lead to the temporary loss of rank. It is understandable that we did not reveal this to his Godfearing parents.

Long before my father told me this story, I can remember sitting on my Grandfathers lap and he would show me his left fist and say “Do you no what this is?” The answer was “6 months in hospital”. Then he would show his right and ask the same question; the answer was “Sudden death”

May 22nd 1917  In the Field

Dear Dad and Mam

Just a line again to let you know that I am alright and feeling in the pink all the time. Hope you are all the same at home. I wrote to you a few days ago hope you have received it before now. I was out on working  parties last night and we were passing through a wadi and there was a noise like many flocks of sheep braying and what do you think was kicking up all the noise only thousands of frogs croaking. With all the work parties we do now I will be a fine navvy by when I come home I can use the shovel with the next. I have had the no of my group put on my pay book and its Group 37 Draper but I don’t think this will effect us coming home I think we will all come home together don’t you think so. Let me know your verdict on this group system. All colliers are Group 3. But don’t worry I will be home as soon as the rest or else I will want to know the reason why. I am not a Derbyite or a conscript. Now here is something that will interest you but it makes me feel proud of the company I am in. Three of my coy have had the Military Medal. In the battalion two have had DCM’s. The Adjutant has had the DSO. The signal Officer has had a Military Cross. You remember me saying that Mr AW Davies our Chaplain has done some fine work in carrying and attending wounded well he has had a Military Cross we were all particularly pleased to hear of it because we all liked and respected Mr Davies before the fight but the boys think a lot more of him now. He carried half a dozen ……. (?). So you see the 5th Welch have done well up here 8 honours is not bad for one fight. Well I have no more news for you this time. Hope Jon and Mag Mailys Dyfan and Glyn are alright. Best love and best wishes to you all.

I am 

Your loving Son

Goronwy LCpl

May 20th 1917

Dear  Dad and Mam

Just a line to let you know that I am as per usual in the pink and getting on alright hope you all at home are the same. I have been back with the battalion for about a week now and am still a Lance Corpl but am expecting the the other to come out soon. If it does not come out soon I am going to throw the other one in  I don’t intend to make myself cheap for them. If I was good enough to hold three I think I can hold two. We get plenty of hard work here but that makes me sleep like a top I have found out there is nothing like hard work for a night cap. We go out at night up to the trenches on working parties and do four hours hard graft. Last night we were up we had to keep our heads down to Mother Earth or mother sand as it is here for Jonny felt pretty lively. I was not sorry when I dug a few feet down below level ground. I had a letter dated May 1st from Auntie Annie yesterday will answer it later. Mr Davies is still here with us I have only just come from church parade Mr Davies preached  very good he preached about the sun shining through dark clouds. I hope Mam’s back is better by now and that the hoarseness in Dad’s voice is gone by now. Tell Mam to buck up it won’t be long before this war will be over we had some good news today and I can see the sun shining through the clouds now. They are putting the no. of groups we will be in for demobilization on our pay books colliers are group 3 goodness knows what group I will be in about 18 I think but I don’t worry about that as soon as the war is over I soon settle with that. You must not worry if I don’t write my letters so long as usual because it’s  not very convenient to do so and there is not much to say but you can see-end I will write as often as possible if it’s only to say I am alright. Hope Jon is better these days and feeling himself again. Hope Mag and Glyn are also alright I often wonder about how big will Glyn be when I come home. Hope Mailys and Dyfan are in the pink I wrote a long letter to Mailys hope she has had it before this. What about a letter from Dyfan tell him to think it over for it’s a lot more easy for him to write than me. I am sitting on the sand leaning against a sand bag writing this. Tell him to let me know how he is getting on in the cadets. Is he a NCO yet if I was home I could give home a good many points. Lewis Morgan is alright and wishes to be remembered to you he does not hate many letters from home. I sent you a Turkish and Greek testament when I was in Cairo in the school of instruction did you get them you never told me. We had a nasty sand storm and heat wave yesterday and last night when I woke up this morning I. Was pretty near buried in sand its very unpleasant I can tell you. I am feeling like a horse once more and as fit as a fiddle. All the septics have gone and my skin is as clear as a baby’s one more. I have no more to say just now will write as soon as I can again. Best love and best wishes to you all.

I am

Your loving Son

Goronwy


May 6th 1917

Dear Dad and Mam

Just a line to let you know that I am alright and feeling in the pink hope you are all the same at home. I wrote a letter a few days ago to Mam and Mailys in answer for the one I had from them hope they have received it before now. I am enclosing three post cards with views I have seen hope you will like them. Mam was asking in her letter if Tudor Doddwas alright. He came through the first lot alright but do not know how he is now. I met a chap from Cardiff last week he said he had seen me before but I don’t remember seeing him. I went to a nonconformist service on Wednesday afternoon there was only eight there not enough to make a noise. There is a great difference to that up with the batt. How are things going on at Abertysswg has it increased in size a great deal. I would not mind coming home to work on Dad’s allotment or plot what do you call them? I would like the job of planting the spuds for you. What do you think of the suggestion. When do you think this war will be over some say Aug should see it through. I should like to be home for my 21 birthday anyway. It will be pretty rotten if I am not. How is Jon and Mag and Glyn getting onhope they are in good health. Give them my best love. Hope Mailys and Dyfan are alright tell Dyfan to buck up and write, Mailys wrote last time. Is he a sergt major in the Cadets yet tell him to let me know and what hopes he has got. Well I have no more to say just now will write again soon.

Best love and best wishes to you all

I am

Your loving Son

Goronwy


April 30th 1917

Dear Dad and Mam

Just a line to let you know that I am alright and feeling in the pink hope you are all the same at home for there is nothing like being in the pink. Have you had the letters I sent you from hospital hope you have for I was writing about four times a week to you. I am still in a detail camp waiting to go up to the batt and I am pretty cetain that I will rejoin this week. I can tell you the Welch made a name for themselves this time there are only two batts of us so you must excuse me if you think I am crowing but is worth crowing for as we captured the Jonny’s divisional staff. I have now heard that Lew Morgan is alright up there. I think there must have been something providential in me having to go to dock a few days before the scrap I had no idea it was coming or so so soon and I should like to have been in it, but I know what you say. Where is Hughie Cooper now is he still in Ireland, you were saying he would be coming out here next time. Let me know. I wrote to Dai Williams last week have forgotten to do so before. But it’s as much as a chap can do to write to his own family regularly especially when we are in the field. I sent a silk handkerchief to Glyn last week hope he will get it alright it’s the only thing I could get and the best I gave twelve piasters for it but you had better not let them know. I could not get what I wanted for Mam but will be able to when I get to a decent town. Give my love to Jon Mag and my nephew Glyndwr. Jon said he is like me so I have sent my condolences to the little chap it’s his misfortune as well as mine. How is Mailys and Dyfan getting on. Is mailys still teaching. Hope Dyfan will pass his Senior this time. Is he a non-commissioned officer in the cadets yet he ought to be, although his (Crowd)? will not be one for long. I don’t think I will stick to the one it’s more worry than the worth of it. Would be everyone’s beck and call but I will see how things are first and will then know what to do. Please let me know what regiment Howard Hughes is in would like to know. How did the mission go off hope it prospered. I read Lloyd George’s speech at Albert Hall today it was in the Egyptian Mail and it was very good indeed. Please look up the News of the World for April 9 and you will get a slight account of the Welsh, digest it well. I told you of Mr AW Davies splendid behavior in one of my letters so will not repeat. I must wind up now. Remember me to those who ask for me. Best love and best of wishes to you all

I am

Your affectionate Son

Goronwy

XXXXX mam and Mailys

Don’t quarrel over the odd one give it Dad and Dyfan



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