Pte GC Roberts 3144
1/5th Welsh Regt.
159th Brigade 53rd Division
Force in Egypt
March 9, 1916
Dear Dad & Mam
You will notice by above address that I have again shifted my station. I am now back again with my battalion. I left Sidi Bishr two days ago the night before I left I received a letter from Auntie Polly, a very nice letter indeed I have written back in answer to it. I have not had one from you since I left Mudros. I am now camped right out in the desert some miles from anywhere, it is very hot here but I can stand the heat very well now, am quite climatised.
The last sunday I was in Sidi Bishr, I went to the YMCA to hear Lord Radstook preach my word he is a real fine man both in physique and brains. He preached on the words of Solomon. “A three fold cord is not easily broken,” but he told of a three fold cord that never breaks he called the folds. Pardon, Peace, Power. After the service, he wrote his name on the fly leaf of the testaments of some of us chaps and the above three fold cord. What do you think of it. I enjoyed him very much indeed. The YMCA are holding a mission throughout the whole of their Association and wherever troops are stationed in a weeks time. They expect much good to come of it.
This week they are holding prayer meetings every night to ask for success of the mission I may tell you that no civilians attend those meeting and it’s soldiers that take part. So you see the army is not such an unresponcible affair as some civilians seem to think in fact you will find quite as many good men in the army as out of it. I am stationed about fifty miles from Cairo. Well how is Mailys and Dyfan getting on, give my love to them. Tell them if they want to see some sand they must come to Egypt, there is miles and miles of it as far as you can see. Harley any trees where I am now.
How are they getting on in school, hope Dyfan will pass his Junior as well as Mailys. Give my love to Jon and Mag. Would like a word from them. Well I must draw to a close now. Please excuse writing there are no tables available so my knee has to serve the same purpose. Hope you are all in the very best of health at home, I am in the pink as usual, don’t ever feel otherwise now am like a bull, but the sun is melting me a bit now. With best love and wishes to all.
Your loving son
Sidi Bishr is a northeastern neighborhood of Alexandria in Egypt. In WW1 it was a major British military camp and also a POW camp. There are clearly letters missing but we know GCR left Mudros, the town and camp on Lemnos where he had been attached to the Greek Labour Corps, sometime after Jan 30th 1916 and rejoined his battalion (1/5th Welsh) “50 miles from Cairo” on March 8th. Whether he was stuck in transit at Sidi Bishr for the month of February or gainfully employed there is unknown but, bearing in mind the massive troop movements going on during the reorganization after the Gallipoli withdrawal, the former is likely. At the time of writing this letter the 159 Brigade was at Camp Wardan in Beni Salama north of Cairo.
Lord Radstock was a senior missionary leader in the YMCA; the attached page from the Missionary Review of the World Jan-Dec 1916 refers to his time in Egypt. We do not have the signed Testament to which GCR refers but the following are some of those he carried with him during the war. An inscription inside by Lord Roberts of Kandahar encourages the soldier to read the Gospel daily.
Next Letter coming March 19th…