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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

August 2017

August 28th 1917, In the Field

Dear Dad and Mam

Just a line to let you know that I am as per usual in the pink hope you all at home are the same. I am down on the course I told you about and my word there is plenty of work attached to it. Ask Dyfan or Mailys would they like to have a job as clerk to me for three weeks for there is plenty of writing to do. Have only been on it two days as yet and have already done a tremendous amount of writing. We have to attend lectures and take notes and then copy the notes and enlarge on them in our notebooks in our own time. So you see I am pretty busy for the present. I am down by the sea I can’t tell you where but away from Jonny. It’s a treat to be able to bathe in the sea every day I enjoy it a great deal. I had not had a wash for over a week till I came here and water is a great thing to be able to wallow in. I have not got much to say this time but I am sure you will excuse me writing a long letter. I will write you as often as I can anyway. Lewis Morgan was alright when I saw him he has gone for a week in the rest camp. I came out of the trenches down here what a change great no bobbing your napper down here had been in three weeks. I saw Tudor Dodd up there he is alright. I saw Bernard Fry last week he is alright. I told him Dyfan wanted to leave school and I think he was going to write to him. He said that Dyfan was very foolish if he left. He said he thought that it was men with a good education will be wanted when this war will be over and I think the same myself. He came through the scrapping alright. He wishes to be remembered to you all. Well it’s time for another parade and I must wind up I wrote to you a few days ago before, one letter for each of you hope you will get it alright. I received your letters dated July 15 and 25 alright and one from Auntie Annie written by Mailys dated Aug 8 that has come in very good time. My address is still 241261 Corpl GC Roberts 159 Brigade Trench Mortar battery EEF. Well I must say solong hope Jon, Mag and Glyndwr are alright also that Mailys and Dyfan are in the pink. Hope dad and Mam are fighting fit. I must close Best love and best wishes to you all. Your affectionate Son,

Goronwy


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August 22nd 1917 To Master Dyfan Roberts

Dear Dyfan

Very glad indeed to get your nice letter and to see you are sticking like glue to your promise that’s the style. Promises are not made to be broken as some people say and I am glad you have not broken yours. I hope you will pass your senior CWB with distinction and even if you don’t do as Dad wants you to do and go in for your Matriculation you can always leave school but you can’t go back that is the worst part of it. I wish I had your chance now I guess I would make use of it. It is surprising how a little education helps no matter what you go in for. So I hope you will stick for all you are worth to it. Hope you will enjoy yourself on national service and have a good time. No doubt it will be hard work but it will do you good. A change of work is as good as a rest they say. How are the cadets going on are you still in them. I have no more to say just now only I will have to grow a bit more or you will beat me yet. Are you as big as Jon let me know.

Best love and wishes

from Dy frawd

Goronwy

Comment

This is not the first reference to the family at home doing national service or war work. So far I can’t find much about it other than to replacing called up agricultural workers.

August 22nd 1917, To Miss Mailys Roberts

Dear Mailys

Thank you very much for your nice letters which I am receiving very regularly hope you are having mine the same. I can tell you that I look forward to all your letters very much in fact they are the only thing I have to look forward to and peace proclaimed. So you have left Hengoed by when you get this letter are you sorry to go. What a difference there is in you now and when you first went there. I should like to see you all very much. There may be a chance for leave later on but the leave I want is to come home to stay. Hope you will pass your exams successfully and will also get your post as teacher. Just fancy you being a full blown teacher only a short time ago you were in the council school yourself. Hope I haven’t insulted you by saying so but time has flown. You say you are 5ft 4 and Dyfan is 5ft 6. I am only about 5ft 8 or 9 myself and only weigh 13st. Well I must wind up now.

Best love and wishes from your brawd

Gorowy

xxxxxx   Not sloppy ones

Comment

Hengoed Intermediate School for Girls (opened 1900)

Hengoed-Girls-School

August 22nd 1917. In the Field

Dear Dad and Mam

It gives me great pleasure to be able to tell you that I received two envelopes containing letters from Dad dated July 25 and from Mam, Mailys and Dyfan dated July 15th. I have no need to tell you how glad I was to get them. I received them yesterday so you see I am making haste to answer them. I was very thankful to hear that you are all in good health. That’s the style. I am glad to tell you I am still A1 and in the pink. Glad to hear that all the allotments at Abertysswg are getting on so well no doubt they will be of great help to everyone. I should say it was rather a compliment to Dad for Mr Blake to say he had not seen any better allotments than those at Aber for Dad was the pioneer of the scheme at Abertysswg so I understand from one of your letters. Dad is asking what my rank now is, well I am now corporal and am quite satisfied because I am much better off with the battery as corp than if I was sergeant in the battalion. So please do not send to anyone about it. It would be of no use Kings regulations are I.T. in the Army. If I was with the battalion I should have had my rank back but I am glad I am not for I do not want it. You are also asking how I did in the trench mortar course I had, well I had 96 in the exam out of 100 so that is no so bad in fact it’s a distinguish. I wrote and told you about it long ago but you could not have got the letter. I am very glad to hear that Mam is going for a holiday to Swansea I hope she will enjoy herself thoroughly for it will do her good. It’s high time Mam had a little run around. I should like to see her cutting a dash on the Mumbles I bet she can beat many a one in the shade still if she likes. But in my estimation I don’t think there is anyone a patch on Mam bach. I won’t be sorry when the time comes for peace to be declared and I can come home again and then I hope to have  a holiday with you all as long as you will have me anyway. By Jove you must both be very proud of Glyndwr getting the prize as a sensibly dressed baby and I am sure Mag and Jon are. I hear you are having pretty hot weather so are we and I am sweating trying to write this letter. I hope Mailys  and Dyfan will pass their exams with flying colours. I hope Dyfan will not be so daft as to want to leave school yet especially as he has a chance to stay. It will be a great thing for him if he passes his matriculation for if he does that it will help him to get many a good job. I wish I had not been so dull now. I think a half educated man is a dangerous person because he thinks he knows things when he does not. He is worse than a man who has had no education at all. I consider myself the daft one of the family but if Dyfan does not stick to school and do his best I will be loosing my position tell him so. I am going on another course next week trench warfare this time. I will have a try at passing out if I don’t I will eat my helmet and bray. How much longer do you think this war will last, let me know, I have no opinion of my own. I saw a piece in the paper that some miners trade union were protesting against the action of the Seamen’s Union and Captain Tupper in not allowing Ramsey McDonald to go to Russia. What are they trying to do Do they want to chuck in the sponge it seems like it. They would have been more of men if they had said bravo to the Seamen’s Union and Capt Tupper. R McDonald is a disgrace to Scotland. What do you think of him. Lewis Morgan is quite alright and wishes to be remembered to you he has gone down to the rest camp for a week. I have not seen B Fry for some months will let you know when I see him. I have no more to say just now will write again soon. Best love and best wishes to you all. Address as usual.

Your Affectionate Son

Goronwy

Rev J Roberts. The Green. Abertysswg. Mon. Blighty

Comment

After the overthrow of the Tsarist government in Russia, socialists all over Europe took up a Russian suggestion of a conference in neutral Stockholm to discuss a compromise solution to end the war. Ramsay MacDonald, former leader of the Labour Party and a well known pacifist was to attend the conference. This did not go down well with much of the country including the Seamens Union, who felt too much sacrifice had been made to “throw in the towel”. The ships crew, rallied by the firebrand union agitator Captain Tupper, refused to sail with the socialist party on board and MacDonald was prevented from leaving the UK.

Tupper had claimed to be a Captain, to have won the VC and to have trained for the priesthood. None of this was apparently true. He made his name during the 1911 seamens strike.


August 11th 1917. In the Field

Dear Dad and Mam

Just a line again to let you know that I am as per usual in the pink hope you can say the same at home. I received a letter from Mailys and Dyfan by the last mail and was exceedingly pleased to get them. I also received a letter from Auntie Polly. I have written in answer to both letters hope they have received them by now. I wrote to you three days ago hope you have received that letter safe by now because if I know you are getting my letters alright it’s half the battle. I see by Mailys and Dyfan’s letters you have had the Sunday School walking out hope everybody enjoyed themselves and that it was a success. I should like to have been there very much for we always used to have plenty of fun over it. I am living in hopes of being home for the next one. Do you know it was two years yesterday I got wounded on Sulva time has gone don’t you think so. I did not bargain on being out here so long when I came out and i don’;t think anyone else did either. Roll on the day when i can come home again. I think this war has dragged on for far to long already don’t you think so, but all the same I am willing to do a few more months to see us winning. I intend to tie myself by the fastest knot I can get to Mam’s apron strings when I come home and if anyone says anything to me about it I will try my best to severely hurt him. I am only 13 stone now when I weighed a week ago and I guess if I stepped on someone’s toes it would hurt don’t you think so. I heard today that the munition workers in England are having a week’s holiday. Well if that is correct it is good news for it proves we have things well in hand now. Let me know if it correct would like to know very much. How is Jon and Mag and Glyn getting on because I don’t now if they are alive or not. I have not had a letter from them for a long time and I know I wrote last. If they find it too much trouble to write well and good one less for me to write to that’s all. Hope you don’t think me peevish or anything of the kind but I do not think much of them for not writing it’s the least they can do. Just fancy I will be twenty one in October I wish I could come home for my birthday with Mam. It would be alright don’t you think so. I would be quite willing to go anywhere they would like to send me only let me have a leave home first. When do you think this war will end let me know. The weather here is still very hot but it does not effect me in the least now. My skull must be as thick as a nigger’s, as you know it always was a bit thick.  My address is 241261 Corpl GC Roberts 159 Bde Trench Mortar Battery EEF. I have not yet received a letter with my new address on yet so by going to the batt my letters are delayed for about four days. I am still in the line and we are not so bad off and don’t grouse for there is nothing to grumble about but take my chance with everyone else. How is Abertysswg getting on now hope it’s still in the same place. I had a letter from Roberts the Co-Op he tells me he is class C1 I told him I was A1 will a capital A at that. He told me he was appealing for exemption at the Rhymney tribunal. I am not sorry even now I joined up because I can call myself a volunteer and not a Derbyite or conscript or a C.O. People in Blighty seem to think a lot more of the Derbyite and conscripts treat are coming up now than they do of the men who came up first. But all’s well that ends well. So the sooner this is over the better. I must wind up now with Best love and best wishes from

Your affectionate Son

Goronwy




August 9th 1917 In the Field. To Mailys and Dyfan Roberts

Dear Mailys and Dyfan

I have much pleasure in writing and letting you know that I have received your two letters dated July 8 and 10 respectively and to know that you are in good health. I am pleased to say I am keeping as usual in the pink. I was also glad to see by Mailys’ letter that you have received a letter from me not long ago and i hope you have had several others by now for I do hope it is not correct what that man said, that you had not received a letter from me for some considerable time. Well I see you have had the Sunday School teas. What is a tea fight like I have about forgotten. I won’t be sorry when I can come home and be able to go to one once more. I really hope to be home for the next one you have I should like to have been there very much and had a game of kiss in the ring etc glad to hear you enjoyed yourselves. Fancy Mailys keeping a table ah. I guess Mam is getting knocked out of a job. Only a few years ago Mailys was a small girl in short skirts and long pigtails and now she has long skirts and her hair up. Buck up Mam bach, rise and shine. I should like to have seen Mam running in the egg and spoon race or playing kiss in the ring I bet she can beat many a one yet. My word fancy how the time has flown I can hardly realize things have gone so quick what do you say. How did Dad behave himself during the evening hope he did not play kiss in the ring but stuck to his old job as usual and threw sweets and pennies about for the youngsters to scramble for. How did Dyfan get off in the scrum hope he picked up a few sweets or is he getting too big a chap for that game now. Hope he managed his first day’s exams alright that the tea fight did not divert his brain from the work on hand. My word that Latin of yours Dyfan fairly took my breath away. Don’t send any more of it it’s worse than shell shock. You must consider that my poor mind cannot grasp the great problems of Latin as your mighty brain does. Lewis Morgan is alright saw him a few days ago. Have not seen B Fry for some months will let you know if I see him. I had a letter from Auntie Polly with the same mail as yours came a very nice letter to. I see Mam made a nice frock for Mafanwy very good of her indeed. I don’t know how Auntie keeps going on so little as she earns. She must be up against things pretty rough although she has not said anything to me about it. Well I hope Jon and Mag and Glyn are alright, did they walk out. How many cups of tea did Glyn drink and did he pinch any cake. I hope Dyfan showed him a good example and did not do so himself. My address is 241261 Corpl GC Roberts 159 Bde Trench Mortar Battery EEF. Well I hope you are all keeping fit I wrote a letter to Dad and Mam yesterday hope they have received it. Will write again soon. Am in the fire line.

Best love and best wishes to you all.

Your affectionate brawd

Goronwy

Comment

At this point GCR’s sister Mailys is 18 and Dyfan is 16.




August 7th 1917. In the Field

Dear Dad and Mam

Just a line again to let you know that I am as per usual in the pink and hope you are all the same. well I am back from my week’s leave in Alex and have thoroughly enjoyed myself while I was there but I must say it seemed very hard to come back here again from there am in the line. I went to the Zoological gardens but they have not got many animals there, Cairo gardens are by far the best. I was very much amused to see there some English rabbits also English pheasants and peacocks. The Gipos value the peacocks very much and prize their tail feathers highly. I was also in some other gardens I forget their name as I am not much of a hand at remembering names especially Arabic ones. It was a great treat to see the green trees and beautiful flowers once more and i can assure you. I won’t be sorry but extremely glad to see old Cymru again and especially that little place called Abertysswg. What do you say about it. I wrote two short letters to you while I was in Alex so that you would be able to hear from me in a short time at least shorter than usual. I was staying at a hotel while I was in Alex but was having my food in the soldiers and sailors home. There is an old lady there who was like a mother to us all with. A good word for everybody. I went to see Pompey’s Pillar also General Abercromby’s memorial near where he fell in the battles of Alexandria.I also saw General Earle’s statue in the English church in Alex. He was killed in the Sudan. I saw Mohammed Ali’s statue many times it is an extremely fine bit of work. I guess Dad would like to come out and see Egypt for without a doubt although I hate the country there are plenty of very interesting places in it and days can be spent in going to see them also pounds or piastres. Another thing I was glad of was to meet some men who had just come out from Blighty and to hear it was still in the same place. I have not met anyone from Abertysswg bar George Parry since I have been out from England would like to see some of them I know. I saw a chap in my batt when I came from Alex who had met someone from Aber in Port Said who you Dad is supposed to have written to, to ask if he knew anything about me as you have not received a letter from me for some time. I can tell you this was not pleasant news for me to hear and I feel pretty worried about it for it is a rotten thing to hear as I have been thinking that you have been receiving my letters pretty regular. I have always been very careful to write to you at least twice a week sometimes more and it it is only once to twice I have failed to write at all and that was on the march. I will be very glad if you will please let me know how things stand for I am anxious about it. I can’t make out who it is you have written to or supposed to have written to for I hope it is not correct. I passed the batt on the way up and saw Lewis and Tudor Dodd, they are both alright and wish to be remembered to you. I have not had a letter from you for about a fortnight, but am not worrying about that because they will come alright am expecting one any day I have not had a letter from Jon for goodness knows how long but am living in hope if I die of despair. Hope they are alright how is Glyn hope he is keeping up to the mark. By the way I weighed in Alex and found I was only 13 stone quite a light weight. I also had a photo taken with some pals just after we had arrived there. I have not had a haircut and my mop is sticking up for fine weather consequently I look a regular wild man from Borneo. I am enclosing the said photograph for you but please don’t be alarmed it’s only me. I met one of my pals from Cape Hellas days he is p.b. (?) had his finger knocked off with a lump of shrapnel. He is in a base QM stores. I was very pleased to see him. Another of my pals with me there is in a garrison battalion. He is the one who gave me them snapshots I sent you. I hope to get some of the best of them enlarged when I come home which I hope will not be long. I intend to write to Roberts the Co-Op today in answer to his letter which was a very decent one. My address is still 241261 Corpl GC Roberts 159 Brigade Trench Mortar Battery. EEF. Have you heard the result of Mailys and Dyfan’s exams yet. I do hope Dyfan will pass the CWB exam, what does he intend to go in for. Tell him to write and let me know as i am very much interested. Has Dad written to Mr Davies yet I have not seen him for somew time. I am anxiously waiting for the mail as there is one due and I am looking forward to having a letter from you. I hope you are all in the very best of health. I am feeling as usual in the pink. I have not got any more to say just now will write again soon. Best love and best wishes to you all.

I am

Your affectionate Son

Goronwy






Pompey’s Pillar is a Roman triumphal column in Alexandria, Egypt, and the largest of its type constructed outside the imperial capitals of Rome and Constantinople.  The only known free-standing column in Roman Egypt which was not composed of drums, it is one of the largest ancient monoliths and one of the largest monolithic columns ever erected. The monolithic column shaft measures 20.46 m in height with a diameter of 2.71 m at its base. The weight of the single piece of red Aswan granite is estimated at 285 tonnes. Erroneously dated to the time of Pompey, the Corinthian column was actually built in 297 AD, commemorating the victory of Roman emperor Diocletian over an Alexandrian revolt.

 
 In 1800, General Ralph Abercromby, commanded the expedition to the Mediterranean, and after some brilliant operations defeated the French in the Battle of Alexandria, March 21, 1801. During the action he was struck by a musket-ball in the thigh; but not until the battle was won and he saw the enemy retreating did he show any sign of pain. He was borne from the field in a hammock, cheered by the blessings of the soldiers as he passed, and conveyed on board the flag-ship HMS Foudroyant which was moored in the harbour. The ball could not be extracted; mortification ensued, and seven days later, on March 28, 1801, he died. (Wikipedia)

Major General William Earle fought in the Crimean War, was later part of the Nile Expedition attempting to relieve General Gordon at Khartoum. He was killed following the Battle of Kirbekan. (Wikipedia)

July 30 1917 Sailors & Soldiers Institute, Alexandria

Dear Dad and Mam

Just a line to let you know that I am as per usual in the pink hope you all at home are the same. I had a letter from Roberts the Co-Op two days ago will answer it next week. I am on a week’s leave in Alex and not in Cairo as I expected. Arrived last night after two days travelling I will write you a decent letter later and let you know the ins and outs of things etc etc. You see by the address where I am writing from it’s a fine place with nice English ladies helping here. I am going to have a good dip in the mor this morning and I guess it will be great. Was it very good of my CO letting me come down on leave don’t you think so. He has also put me in for substantive rank so now it would take a court martial to pull me down. The gardens round here look great with the flowers in full bloom. It’s a treat to see a decent garden after being up the line. My address is 241261 Cpl GC Roberts 159 Bde Trench Mortar Battery EEF. Well hope Dyfan and Mailys have passed their exams by now and are ready for their holiday at National Service. Please excuse the scribble decent letter to follow.

Best love and best wishes to you all.

Your affectionate Son

Goronwy




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