Dear Dad and Mam
Just a line to let you know that I am as per usual in the pink and A1. Hope you all at home can say the same as myself. It is really a great thing to be able to say and while I can say that I am willing to tackle ant difficulty that comes my way. I had my difficulty yesterday in the form of washing day and I was able to wash my tunic, shorts, two shirts, towel and a pair of socks so you see I have overcome that difficulty again and the togs really look well. It would really surprise Mam and Mailys what an expert I am at the wash tub. I overcome another difficulty in mending a few holes in my shirt and a bit of my tunic that came undone. I have another difficulty on Friday morning in the form of two Exams one on trench mortars and the other on trench warfare. I obtained 46 out of 50 on the former and 48 out of 50 in the latter so 94 per cent is not so bad but I want to try and get my average over 95%. My average on the two TM exams is 95% and on TW 88% not so good as I had hoped, but I must try and pull up on the next two exams. The tw is a rather complicated course as it deals with a good many headings. I received a letter from Auntie Polly yesterday and wrote back in answer today. I wrote to you on Friday after the exams hope you will have received it by now. I was reading the Baptist T yesterday and I don’t like the look of things in Russia she is not doing her best by a long way if she does the dirty on us she ought to catch out hot. I hope Mam will enjoy her holiday at Swansea and hope it will do her good I also hope that Mailys will have a good time in Cefn. Have you heard the result of the Senior yet Let me know when you do also the result of Mailys exam. Hope Dyfan likes his job in the blacksmiths ask him to find a job for me by when I come home “a good job I want”. Hope Nain will enjoy her stay in the South and hope it will be quite as beneficial as it usually is. Hope Auntie Annie’s arm is quite alright again. You will notice that half this letter consists of hopes and the other of difficulties. Pleae give my love to Jon, Mag and Glyndwr, not Glyn as Dad told me in one of his letters will write to them again soon. I wrote to them last week hope they have had that letter by now. Hope the allotment is still going strong hope you will save a few new potatoes for me. Have you ever tasted Egyptian potatoes they are sweet to the taste not near so good as English potatoes. We get an issue of English spuds every day so you see we are not bad off by any means. We get plenty to eat but no war bread thank goodness if it’s history is true. We get respectable white bread bar one day per month and we get biscuits but we don’t grumble at that because we can always save a bit of bread to tyde us over the hard tack day. My address is 241261 Corpl GC Roberts 159 Bde Trench Mortar Battery EEF. You say you have been told that this job of mine has to be treated carefully please don’t think it is dangerous by any means because it’s not I really enjoy strafing Jonny and it’s very interesting work especially it one takes a pride in keeping things ship shape. My team and I were congratulated once by a colonel who came to inspect the gun pit. He said “Very nice and tidy indeed and a nice clean looking lot of men. I should have liked the general to have seen this pit this morning” How’s that for swank ay? Has Dyfan had a letter from B Fry yet he is going to write to him. He was alright when I saw him last and wishes to be remembered to you. I get a fine bathe in the sea everyday my word it’s simply great to be able to wallow in the water for as long as you like. A chap does not know the value of a good bathe until he has to do without it for some time. Well I suppose that next month will see Mam’s and my own birthday run round again. I can hardly realize that I will be twenty one then for it only seems a short time ago I was eighteen time does fly and no mistake. I am afraid I shall not be home for this birthday again but never mind Mam we will try and make up for lost time when I come home and we will have three birthdays in one. Just fancy I will have been in the Army 3 years on October 15th I never dreamt this war would last all this time, but I don’t think it will hang out much longer I think the spring will see it out alright and then Hurrah for home again. We are having fine weather here all the time but I keeps very hot during the day. There is one good thing I am not in the least affected by the heat and have stood it all along without any ill effects. I have seen fellows coming out in drafts out here go down wallop where they stand not being used to the heat. I shall need being re-climatized when I get back to Blighty don’t you think so. But I bet there will not be the least trouble over that again. All men with two years service out here had their names taken with all particulars whether married or single. There is a rumour that they are going to try and get leave for so many at a time to come home married men first. It would be alright if I could manage to come home don’t you think so. But it is not leave I want what I want is to see this war over and come home to stay once more. But don’t put your minds on any leave coming through I am not putting my mind on it because it would be an awful disappointment if nothing turned up so I am not worrying about it. Well I have got no more to say just now I think I have been holding forth quite long enough. Hope you are all keeping in the best of health. Best love and best wishes to you all. I am Your loving Son, Goronwy.
The Stokes mortar was a British trench mortar invented by Sir Wilfred Stokes KBE that was issued to the British, Empire and U.S. armies, as well as the Portuguese Expeditionary Corps (CEP), during the later half of the First World War. The 3-inch trench mortar is a smooth-bore, muzzle-loading weapon for high angles of fire. Although it is called a 3-inch mortar, its bore is actually 3.2 inches or 81 mm.
Frederick Wilfred Scott Stokes – who later became Sir Wilfred Stokes KBE – designed the mortar in January 1915. The British Army was at the time trying to develop a weapon that would be a match for the Imperial German Army’s Minenwerfer mortar, which was in use on the Western Front.
Stokes’s design was initially rejected in June 1915 because it was unable to use existing stocks of British mortar ammunition, and it took the intervention of David Lloyd George (at that time Minister of Munitions) and Lieutenant-Colonel J. C. Matheson of the Trench Warfare Supply Department (who reported to Lloyd George) to expedite manufacture of the Stokes mortar.
The Stokes mortar was a simple weapon, consisting of a smoothbore metal tube fixed to a base plate (to absorb recoil) with a lightweight bipod mount. When a mortar bomb was dropped into the tube, an impact sensitive primer in the base of the bomb would make contact with a firing pin at the base of the tube, and detonate, firing the bomb towards the target.
The barrel is a seamless drawn-steel tube necked down at the breech or base end. To the breech end is fitted a base cap, within which is secured a firing pin protruding into the barrel. The caps at each end of the bomb cylinder were 81 mm diameter. The bomb was fitted with a modified hand grenade fuze on the front, with a perforated tube containing a propellant charge and an impact-sensitive cap at the rear.
Range was determined by the amount of propellant charge used and the angle of the barrel. A basic propellant cartridge was used for all firing, and covered short ranges. Up to four additional “rings” of propellant were used for incrementally greater ranges. The four rings were supplied with the cartridge and gunners discarded the rings that were not needed.
One potential problem was the recoil, which was “exceptionally severe, because the barrel is only about 3 times the weight of the projectile, instead of about one hundred times the weight as in artillery. Unless the legs are properly set up they are liable to injury”.
The mortar was in no sense a new weapon, although it had fallen out of general usage since the Napoleonic era. In fact, while the British and French worked on developing new mortars, they resorted to issuing century-old mortars for use in action.
The Stokes mortar remained in service into the Second World War.
In World War I, the Stokes mortar could fire as many as 25 bombs per minute and had a maximum range of 800 yards firing the original cylindrical un-stabilised projectile. British Empire units had 1,636 Stokes mortars in service on the Western Front at the Armistice.