Author: South Wales Miners Library, Swansea University

Provider: South Wales Miners' Library

Rights: Copyrighted

Interview of Jones, William Rosser and Jones, W. R.Mrs by Francis, Hywel on 4th July 1973.
The interview forms part of Swansea University’s South Wales Miners’ Library collection.

1 audio file (10 min.)



Francis, Hywel: Were you ever tempted to volunteer in the First World War?

Jones, William Rosser: Volunteer for what?

Francis, Hywel: To fight.

Jones, William Rosser: To fight?

Francis, Hywel: A lot of miners volunteered didn’t they?

Jones, William Rosser: Just a minute now …

Jones, W. R.Mrs: He doesn't always catch you. Did you volunteer to fight?

Francis, Hywel: Oh yes, oh yes. In which way do you mean now?

Jones, W. R.Mrs: Join up – the Forces

Jones, William Rosser: Oh, the Forces! Oh yes, oh yes. Now I’ll tell you the reason I didn’t go in the First World War, will that be alright? Well now, you just imagine now, we had no insight to the political things as they are today, then. The enemy was your enemy, put it that way, all the boys were joining up. Well what would you do with your friends now, you be honest now, what would you do with your friends now? And this was the way they used to do it see. They'd have a band, and at that time it was the old Ferndale Prize Band that used to come up to the Hall here, and you had eminent men of that time, see, on the stage. And I remember one, always, Remember Belgium, remember Belgium. Well now, the band would play and create an atmosphere and there they would walk up onto to the stage to sign on. Little did we know what was in store, see, but at that time, for myself, I’m only speaking for myself now mind, at that time my father was taken into hospital in Cardiff. Now my friends went, and I wanted to go with them, no good me saying I didn’t, I did, but I went down to see him now, the early part of 1914, or August 1914, and he said to me, Now look, he said see, Tom gone, Frank gone. Yes, I said, they've all gone. Well now look, he said, Don’t go until I come out, don’t go until I come out. All right Dad, I said, all right, I won’t, right.

Jones, William Rosser: Well now, in due course things were beginning to alter now, you was now having a call-up whether you wanted to go or not, now you were having a call-up now, and you had to go down to Pontypridd now, in front of an army of doctors. There was a doctor for this and a doctor for that, and so on, and so on, and so on. Well now, for myself, see, old Dai Ben Davies, remember old Dai Ben, Dai Ben and myself went down together and he was a big hefty bloke, I was only short little chap you know. In we went and now I’d got a bad foot see, a flat foot then, with this left foot see, and I was going around now and everybody had stripped see, tied a towel around, a shirt around the middle of himself see, with the sleeves tied in a knot in the back of you, see, then you was going from this doctor to that doctor all the way around, until you was coming now to the final doctor, who was Doctor Armstrong, Treorchy. Jones, W.R.. Yes sir. Walk to the side of the building there. So I walked across now, Right, he say, Now come back, let me see your foot. I showed him my foot, Now look he said, From now on, he said, See that the inside of your tapping, is thicker than it is on the outside, so that it will throw you back, he said, like that, see. You’ve got a bad foot there, he said, see. Well now, we were waiting for our cards now see, to denote then what you were, A1, A2, B or whatever you may be, see. Well now, the majority was A1, as long as you could breathe you was A1, and when I went to have my card I was B2, owing to flat foot. That’s what saved me from going to the Army, see, but my poor mate he went, poor dab, and I suppose if this was all right I would have gone too.

Francis, Hywel: He was killed was he?

Jones, William Rosser: Yes. I’d have gone too there is no doubt about it, and he was one of many of our mates here at that particular time. When they formed afterwards the bantams, they called them, see. Now we had an M.P. here then by the name of D. Watts Morgan, you’ve seen the name? Well now, many jokes were said about poor old Dai Watts see, here is one of the jokes, the bantams were walking now, and going down now and they wanted to go to Hannah Street and instead of Dai saying Right Turn. Turn into Hannah Street boys, he said. {unclear} what you call over it see

Francis, Hywel: He couldn’t tell right from left?

Jones, W. R.Mrs: No {unclear} so

Jones, William Rosser: But, aye, aye, the military side, I don’t know what he was made …

Francis, Hywel: Colonel?

Jones, W. R.Mrs: Colonel

Jones, William Rosser: Colonel D. Watts Morgan, that’s right man. Colonel D. Watts Morgan.

Francis, Hywel: In what way did all this recruiting affect the colliery?

Jones, William Rosser: Well, the colliery owners stepped in see, they stopped a lot of recruiting there now, and that's what was given to us now, was an exemption card, with your name on it, Exemption Card on the outside, and that was stopping you now getting called up or if …

Francis, Hywel: Was the work more intensified during the war?

Jones, William Rosser: I wouldn’t say intensified.

Francis, Hywel: Were there many strikes?

Jones, William Rosser: Very little, very little.

Francis, Hywel: {unclear}

Jones, William Rosser: And I can remember going away, you were having leave then on the same basis more or less as the army. You would ask the manager there for permission to go for your holidays like you know. And I remember three of us going to Clevedon, and in Clevedon at that particular time, but we didn't know before we went mind, in Clevedon at that particular time there was a big hospital, full of wounded soldiers in their blue uniforms, and you felt uncomfortable, see. But we were approached by some women who wanted to know why wasn’t we in the army, we could do nothing else but show our exemption cards, and that was in our favour all the time like, see, that they had to have so many miners, as well as soldiers, see. So that exemption card then was the key of covering you.

Francis, Hywel: Were there any conscientious objectors in Maerdy?

Jones, William Rosser: In Maerdy now, wait a minute now.

Francis, Hywel: I would imagine that Noah Ablett would have been one?

Jones, William Rosser: In the political sphere there’s no doubt there was, but I can’t bring one to name now, as a political, as a conscientious objector, but there were some, but I can’t bring them to name now at the moment.