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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

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Gallipoli

Evacuation of Gallipoli, January 7/8 1916

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From the Illustrated London News January 15th 1916

imageThe evacuation of the peninsula had first been mooted in mid October; General Hamilton was opposed suggesting a 50% casualty rate. This prompted his replacement by General Sir Charles Munro who promptly made plans for evacuation. ANZAC and Suvla Bays were evacuated between December 10 and 20th. The final evacuation was from Cape Hellas where GCR was serving with the Greek Labour Corps. This was conducted over the night of January 7/8. The preparations and the deception techniques were so effective that there were only 3 casualties. GCR used to tell of how rifles were placed along the trench line set to fire once enough sand or water had dripped into a can attached to the trigger. The effect was to convince the Turks that the trenches were still occupied well after they had been abandoned.

Photo from awm.gov.au in the public domain

 

 

 

 

 

December 1st 1915

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Private GC Roberts 3144
C Company
1/5th Welsh Regt
159th Brigade
attached 53rd & 54th Division Base Detail
Lemnus M.E.F. Camp.
December 1st, 1915
Dear Dad and Mam

Just a few lines to let you know that I am still alive and kicking and am in the pink. I hope all of you at home are the same. The only thing that is wrong with me at present is a touch of indigestion, but I hope I will get rid of this very soon. We have had very cold weather here for the last four or five days, but it is improving again today. What sort of weather are you having at home just now a bit rough, I should think. I have got to wish you all a Very Happy Xmas and a prosperous New Year, but I am very sorry indeed at not being able to be at home with you all this Xmas, but I hope you will all enjoy yourselves as you usually do at Xmas, and don’t forget to hang a stocking up for me and keep the “trysor y person” by when I come home which I hope will be before long. I hope this war will be over by next Xmas anyway. I have not received a letter yet, but hope to in the course of a week or two. I will jump for joy when I do get one. I would be very glad if you could send me a pair of warm woolen gloves as it gets bitter cold out here in a short time, in fact we have had some bitter cold weather here. I thought that we would have very little winter out here but I see I am disappointed. I lost all my kit when I got wounded at Suvla I was for a long time had to wash my only shirt in the sea and wait till it dried and then put it on, but I have a change of shirts and plenty of socks now also s Cardigan jacket which I am very thankful to have. I hope Mailys and Dyfan are alright, give them my best love. I must now close with the best love and wishes to you. Hoping to hear from you soon
I am
Your loving Son
Goronwy

 

Comment

The cold weather refers to the major blizzard that hit at the end of November costing many lives and significantly reducing the numbers fit to fight in many units. Not just an understatement but also appropriate self censorship; it wouldn’t do for the Turks to find out how badly the Allies were affected by the weather.

“trysor y person” is according to my sources in Wales, best translated as“the persons treasure” or perhaps gifts or my goodies. GCR would not enjoy these for another 4 years.

 

 

 

August 18th 1915

Pte GC Roberts 3144
C Company
1/5th Welsh Regt
159th Brigade
53rd Division
Mediterranean Expeditionary Force
August 18th, 1915

Dear Dad and Mam

Just a line to let you know that I am getting on alright and have been discharged from hospital and am at present at a convalescent camp. I hope that you are all alright at home. I may tell you that I am anxiously waiting for a letter from you. It is time I had one now. I hope you are receiving my letters alright. Have written several times. It is very little I am allowed to put in the letter. I hope I will be able to be home for my Christmas dinner this year. Give my love to all. Hoping you are all in the best of health. I am alright, my foot does not spoil my stomach. Give my best love to all. Hoping to hear from you soon.
I am your loving son
Goronway

August 18th #1 August 18th #2 August 18th #3

 He didn’t actually get home for Christmas dinner until 1919.

 

August 16th 1915

August 16th # 1 & 4 August 16th # 2 & 3 August 16th # 2 & 3 - Version 2 August 16th # 1 & 4 - Version 2

Pte GC Roberts 3144

C Company

1/5 Welsh Regt

159 Brigade

53rd Division

Mediterranean Expeditionary Force

August 16 1916

Dear Dad and Mam

Just alive to let you know that I am getting in the pink. My foot is much better by now and I will be able to jump quite as good as before because there are no bones broken. I am having a decent time and the sisters here are very good to us. They are much more homely than our English. I forgot to tell you I am in an Australian hospital. I may tell you I have great reason to be the thankful to God that I only had it in the foot, because I was in a warm corner when it happened. I hope this war will soon be over. There is a great difference in soldiering out here and soldiering in England you are apt to get hurt here, but still I am not at all down hearted. I shall be very pleased when I receive a letter from you have not had one yet. Give my love to Dyfan and Mailys hope they are getting an alright. Hope Mailys will pass her Juniors and that Dyfan enjoyed being in camp. Give my love to Jon, Mag, and Nain Jones. I was speaking to a chap from Jack Jones Regiment, he is alright. I have written to you several times hope you have received them. Please let me have a word as soon as you can. I have no more to say at present. Close with best love to all.

I am

Your loving Son

Goronway

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