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

Alexandria, Egypt. November 29th 1918


November 26th 1918 Dear Mailys …

Happy Thanksgiving

In the spirit of the season here is the program for the Cymanfa Ganu or singing festival held for Welsh troops to give thanks for victory.

November 1st 1918 “Turkey has chucked in”

October 22nd 1918. Palestine


The first letter after a gap of over a month. Some letters may have been lost but the more important explanation is the “stunt” that GCR refers to in this letter, that is the Battle of Megiddo (Sept 19-25 1918) General Allenby’s final big push that broke the Turkish line and encircled the destroyed the Turking armies in Palestine and precipitated a rapid cavalry led advance on Damascus ands Aleppo and the final armistice between Turkey and the allies on October 31st 1918. GCR’s brigade the 159th, part of the 53rd (Welsh) Division was on the the right eastern flank of Allenby’s army in the Megiddo area to prevent the encircled enemy from escaping into the Jordan valley. The name Megiddo was chosen for the battle by Allenby because of its Biblical significance as Armageddo, the battle however was conducted across a much larger area from the coast to the Jordan and beyond where the Arab army under Lawrence was harrying the Turkish left flank and cutting the railways.

After the battle events moved fast, by September 26th the Division had been pulled out of the line back to Tell Asur about half way between Nablus and Jerusalem and then to Ludd on October 8th. By Oct 26th they were back in Side Bishr near Alexandria. The only suggestion that GCR did not immediately return to Egypt is the undated post card attached, from Beirut.

The History of the 53rd (Welsh) Division (published 1927) ends as demobilization began on December 20th 1918 (but not for GCR). The final pages reflect on their journey from Gallipoli to Egypt and into Palestine, the final paragraph reads:

“The scorch of summer, the bitter, cutting wind of winter, the beauty and grimness of this strange country, the smells and flies, the dignified Bedouin, Polyglot Jerusalem, the astounding Valley of the Jordan; these are ineffaceable memories. Unceasing effort was demanded; toil, sweat, blood; there were hours of depression and hours, too, of strange content, for the whole philosophy of life is found in war, where fate is crude and moves with swifter steps than usual, but men live to regret the good times and happy fellowships. At home, some weep.”

August 28th – September 11th 1918 ‘My dear son Goronwy’

September 2nd 1918 Palestine. ‘They can keep their Mudros and Alex, Port Said, Cairo, Jerusalem and all’

‘Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,

Who never to himself hath said,

This is my own, my native land!

Whose heart hath ne’er within him burn’d,

As home his footsteps he hath turn’d

From wandering on a foreign strand!’

Sir Walter Scott


Dinkums (Australians) had captured Mont St Quentin.

September 1st 1918 Palestine “I was listening last night to a Turk in his own lines singing away…”

August 26th 1918. Palestine. “I am very much afraid that I am awfully windy”

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