Author: South Wales Miners Library, Swansea University

Provider: South Wales Miners' Library

Rights: Unknown

Interview of Nicholas, Thomas by Francis, Hywel on 16th May 1974.
The interview forms part of Swansea University�s South Wales Miners� Library collection.

1 audio file (6 min 30 sec.)

Loading…

Transcription

Nicholas, Thomas: So instead of going back to the colliery where we left, see, we only come back there to fetch our things, and we got a job in the Scotch pits, and now, the funny part of it, within a week, the {call} out started. What it was, now, the army wanted more men, and they decided, each colliery, according to the amount of people working there, give a grant of men, see, to be called up. Now, Jebbs and Llwynon they was giving five, see.

Francis, Hywel: Five each?

Nicholas, Thomas: You couldn’t split one in half, see, so one of the collieries had three, and one had two. And I was unfortunate now, see, because I’m in two collieries, I’m coming back to Llwynon, and I’ve just left the Scotch. Meeting on a Sunday night, in the Labour Room in Tonypandy, and the gallery, oh long gallery down, and me and my mate now, we were at the top of the gallery, see, and all the old men on the platform, they were in favour of assisting in the {call} out, and I was shivering. I crawled down to the front, now, in the railings, and caught hold of the railings. They were going to put it to the vote, whether they assist or no, and I moved an amendment that they don’t, and here’s what I told them. I said, “I don’t know why you ask for volunteers, or you ask, see, for a quota. If everyone that spoke in favour, see, was to voluntary go, you’re never too old to die, and you’re not too young to die if you believe about it, and according to what you all stated, you all believe in the war.” I said, “If you’ll volunteer, it will save all the younger element here being in the hat”, see.

Francis, Hywel: In the hat?

Nicholas, Thomas: To pick in the hat, pick out, to pick out, see, to be compelled to go because they were unlucky that their names came out of the hat before the other fellows.” I said, “If you’ll all join I said, because you believe in it, it’ll save all that, and the Miners’ Federation wouldn’t need to assist. They’d have them all by voluntary wouldn’t it”. As soon as I sat down, talk about seconder, all the bloody lot, all the youngsters was up to second it. Then, I was known then, going through the valley, never wore a cap, everybody was pointing at you, “There he is”.

Francis, Hywel: It was carried was it?

Nicholas, Thomas: It was carried that we wouldn’t assist. Now, I comes back now, to Llwynon, and now I’m in Llwynon when it comes up in Llwynon, and oh, they was going to put the names in the hat, they were going to do this, that. They were going to get the quota because the Miners’ Federation had decided it, and we had to give three, Jebbs had to give two. So I says to them, “Look here now, don’t put my name in the hat, put my name on top of the list.” I would do my duty, as I feel it. “You put my name on top of the list.” They put my name on the top of the list, see, sent it in, see, and when I had that, I gets a letter now, a military letter now, for me to go to the Y.M.C.A. I think it’s St. Mary Street, Pontypridd, see, I was being called up, I’m in the quota up there now, I’m called up. I took no notice of it. They never called me up in Llwynon, because I’m almost sure that the captain in charge here knew who it was, see, and he never sent papers to me. Until about a month after that I’d had this letter from Pontypridd, and in the letter it says to go to Pontypridd, to be examined, see. I wouldn’t go; I chucked it in the fire. The next thing, I’m back in Llwynon now, cushy now, nobody bothering now. A letter comes asking me to call at the Drill Hall, its nothing at all to do with {unclear} they wanted to see my exemption papers. Nothing to do with the call up it says in, the what you call it. Would I call at the Drill Hall in Neath. My reply was this. “I work at Llwynon Colliery, a collier’s train comes down at four o’ clock. Give me time to bath, see, and have my food, and you can come down and meet me at 17 {Lever} Street to discuss the thing.” And do you know this; I’ve never had a reply since, never had a reply. I’m telling you now; my life has been built on that, and I’ll tell you I’ve enjoyed it, I’ve always been in the fight.