1916: A Beddgelert Soldier’s Letter

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First Night Under Fire.


Private Bob Thomas late of Cwmcloch, Beddgelert, in a letter to a friend dated October 31st from France, says: –

“ I have been over here about six weeks now. I can’t say I enjoy it; but I don’t grumble. It’s good to see a bit of the world and to see what war is like. I always wanted to come out here, but I must confess there have been moments when I felt sorry I have had to come. I have now an idea of what war is like.

The first day I went into the firing line Fritz gave us a lively time. I shall never forget that first day. It was a Sunday. When we got within range of the German guns I was a bit nervous, especially when the shells dropped around us in the trenches. I kept my eye on an old soldier and soon found out what was the best thing to do. I soon found the truth of the old proverb “Example is better than precept. ‘

Next day, about five p.m., Fritz started shelling again, and I thought my time was up. If somebody was to tell me before I came out here that things are as terrible as they actually are out here I would never have believed them. It simply rained shells that night. Thank God for that old soldier who stood near me. He heartened one as he stood there like a statue, never moving only to dodge the shells.

My courage nearly failed me that night; but that old soldier standing near me helped me to stand firm and copy his example. Well, Fritz got tired of it in about half an hour. I expect he thought we were all dead. We came off with surprisingly few casualties. I was none the worse, only half buried twice. A piece of shrapnel went through my steel helmet, but it did not hurt me; its force was checked.”


Source: The Cambrian News and Merionethshire Standard, published 1 December 1916


1916: Saved by a Gift

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Private Griffith Pritchard Davies, Beddgelert, of the Lancashire Fusiliers, was saved from death by his cigarette case during the offensive in France. A piece of shrapnel rebounded from the case, taking part of his arm away. The case was presented to him by a Beddgelert friend when the soldier was home at Whitsun, and Davies, in accepting the gift, jocularly remarked, “Perhaps this will save my life.”

Private Evan Harris, Borthygest, Portmadoc, of the Welsh Fusiliers, and Private David John Williams, Beddgelert, of the Liverpool “Pals” have been killed in action, and Regimental Sergeant-Major Simms, Portmadoc, of the Welsh Fusiliers, has been dangerously wounded.

Published by Liverpool Echo, 15 July 1916