Author: South Wales Miners Library, Swansea University

Provider: Llyfrgell Glowyr De Cymru

Hawliau: Copyrighted

Cyfweliad gyda Thomas, Haydn gan Morgan, Alun ar Ebrill 01, 1974.
Mae'r cyfweliad yn ffurfio rhan o gasgliad Llyfrgell Glowyr De Cymru Prifysgol Abertawe.

1 ffeil sain (23 min. 20 eiliad.)

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Trawsgrifiad

Morgan, Alun: And you'd just be, would only be fifteen, sixteen years old?

Thomas, Haydn: Yes.

Morgan, Alun: So did you join up or were you called up?

Thomas, Haydn: No, called. I joined the Derby Scheme. Do you remember the Derby Scheme came out. They gave you a bob for joining the Derby Scheme, I went to Treharris one Sunday and joined it, so then you were liable to be called up anytime after see.

Morgan, Alun: So you were called up in 1916?

Thomas, Haydn: 1916.

Morgan, Alun: What were your reactions then?

Thomas, Haydn: Oh damn, it was a hard life.

Morgan, Alun: But you know, when you were called up at first, did you think it would …

Thomas, Haydn: Well, yes, in fact I was expecting it in a way of speaking because, he was driving them back see, he was driving them back all the time, and I was expecting it coming off all the time.

Morgan, Alun: Was there something you were looking forward to …

Thomas, Haydn: {In the garrison I} was mind, with the big guns, I wasn’t on the front. I had a chance to go in the Guards of course I was tall enough for the Guards but I thought, no, no, further back, better.

Morgan, Alun: Quite right. So in France you went to was it?

Thomas, Haydn: France yes. I crossed the Somme four times. And the last battle of Somme when we drove him back in August 1918, that was when I got wounded. I was getting wounded in the August and the Armistice was in the November.

Morgan, Alun: What happened when you got wounded?

Thomas, Haydn: I came back practically right away.

Morgan, Alun: How did it happen you know?

Thomas, Haydn: Oh a bomb. It was a funny thing, that night, by night it was of course. We were two sections on these guns you know. Four sections, A,B,C, and D. I was in C and we were on duty that night. We only used to do what they called harassing fire you know by night, they'd give you a point, cross-roads or something like that and then you would fire say a shot every five minutes, a shell every five minutes then. Whether they were landing or not we don’t know but that was that, and we had this warning now that he was coming over, and we could see him, see this fellow now see, but they had made a new road now down below the old road that we were in see. And we were watching this fellow from under the camouflage now, coming over like a lump of silver, a lovely moonlight night it was. And by jingo if another one rode out see with him, dropped a bomb right by the gun, man. I was wounded here and the thigh here, and one fellow from Karacha was it, Karachai he was, he got killed that night, Ted Williams, an awful boy he was. And so I went onto the casualty clearance station and I was there for a while. They injected me and all the rest of it, and slept on the ground that night on a stretcher, old padre came around with a couple o' cigarettes. I didn’t have a ha’penny on me nor a cigarette the night I got wounded. I didn’t have a shirt on to tell you the truth, I had been washing my shirt in the river that day. And we were going back now to the casualty clearance station, four of us in the Ambulance, two down and two up, of course, and a sitting case in front, and I kept on poking this fellow, I thought he'd have a fag on him perhaps see, but when I got to the casualty clearance station he was dead. Well anyhow we were there for that night, and then they took us back to a place called {Estrate I think it was, Estrate} or something like that, it's got a hospital there, got in there. Oh and on the way back man, {aneglur} , I must tell you this one, on the way now in the train, we were in the train about five hours, because I was a stretcher case all time, and I don't know why, why I don’t know, I had no pain or nothing, no pain at all. And there were a couple of Scotsmen sitting underneath me, wounded in the arm and things like that you know, well the nurse was coming round the train now bringing food for them isn’t it, bread and jam it was, bread and butter jam or something. But I was up here now and she came to me and she had a feeding cup see, and she kept giving me this feeding cup and I was starving, so I asked this Jock, Give me a lump of that bread and jam Jock, he gave it me. So I went into hospital not thinking anything you know and lay down that night, sister come next morning, Come on Thomas, picture this morning, she said. And damn I couldn’t understand now what she meant by picture see, but it was an x-ray man. Went down to x-ray, and I had to have a couple of smacks on my arse for that, I couldn’t be quiet, I was lying on my belly you know for them to see, and they were saying see, and I was inquisitive, turning round all the time to listen. A couple of slaps. Well anyhow the following morning, no she didn't take a picture that morning, I'm wrong now, the following morning now, I woke in the morning, they used to wake you about six to have breakfast see, and then there was Australian this side and another fellow this side with a hole right through his leg now {huge} see. And this morning I woke, they hadn’t woke me but I woke on my own, and there was no food on my locker, so this fellow had food on his locker now and he couldn’t eat it. So I gobbled that lot up! About nine o’clock then the sister came in, Come on Thomas out on the stretcher, picture this morning. I didn’t understand then, I was quite innocent you know. Took me out now and into this big hall, there was about a dozen stretchers there, sure to be, and by jingo you could hear a lot of groaning now. So it dawned on me straight away, operation see, and I had eaten this food see. So anyhow, I didn’t say anything about it, I went in, as it was, I thought, kill or cure let’s get into it. Lay me on the table now on my side, and the nurse put a mask over my face. Breathe gently, she said now, breathe normally, she said, but I was foolish enough, took a good one see, thought I was smothering, I hit the mask off see, and I can remember her saying, you naughty boy, and that was all, I had gone, I had had enough. So when I woke up, they told me, they told me before I went, pin your souvenirs on your chest, they said. And when I woke up now, I could hear them around me now, shouting and balling, and this Australian was here, I asked him, Was I keeping much of a row, digger?, I said. No, you had hiccoughs bad, he said. That was the food see, that I'd ate. But I looked now over here and there they were, two little bits they were, they weren’t bigger than my nail, one from each wound. So I was there for a while and then I came back to Southampton. I was in the V.A.D. there, a very tidy place, and I was there until January or February 1919, then I went back to Shoreham-on-sea and I was discharged from there.

Morgan, Alun: A pretty, a very, very grisly business, was it, the First World War?

Thomas, Haydn: Oh yes, awful, I was teasing my boys, of course my oldest boy. You don’t know what it is man, I said, You don’t what war is man, I said. Damn he drove you into the sea, he couldn’t drive us further than Paris, I said. No, it was awful though, an awful lot the First War. It was march, march, march all the time see, you didn’t have these vehicles taking you along and all the rest of it.

Morgan, Alun: And there was a heck of a lot of people killed?

Thomas, Haydn: Oh yes, yes, and on a shilling a day by damn.