Author: South Wales Miners Library, Swansea University

Provider: South Wales Miners' Library

Rights: Copyrighted

Interview of Lewis, Henry by Egan, David on 4th December 1972.
The interview forms part of Swansea University’s South Wales Miners’ Library collection.

1 audio file (5 min.)



Egan, David: What about the, you know, the war now, I mean, was there much debate within Carmel and within the other Chapels in Abercrave on whether the war, you know, on what line a Christian should take about the war?

Lewis, Henry: Yes there was, but you see the point was, everybody had come now that if you, that people wouldn't, if you wouldn’t fight them that the Germans would be here, and they'd be ruling. In the First and Second war, that's the reason. There was a big Chapel, {unclear} a big preacher John Williams {unclear} Brynsiencyn they used to call him then, now he was made, what do you call, in the war you see

Egan, David: conscientious objector?

Lewis, Henry: No, priest

Egan, David: I see

Lewis, Henry: and there was a lot of talk then that he should not have been appointed, but the point was I remember alright. Now you see miners at that time, didn't have to go, Lloyd George decided now that they needed miners. But I remember here a recruiting meeting in the Church Hall here and a funny thing about it you see, the Vicar at that time in {Abercrave} , he was young enough to go himself, but he was on the platform recruiting people to go you see. And I was one of those thinking I was clever, said I'd join, but I was told after this by other people not to be silly. So I didn’t go. But I remember alright, there was a cousin of mine from {Lanelli} , and we were great pals and he sent to tell me now that he was called up you see to the Navy, and that he was going from Swansea, certain date, asked me if I'd go down to meet him. So you know the, what you call by Vetch by there, what do you call that place now, the Drill Hall in Swansea, that's where they were signing up see, so of course now I went now behind my cousin in the queue, went to sign up to go to the Navy. So he went first and they asked him from where he was, Llanelli, and they said, Right, {and they sign him} so my turn came, so the Sergeant or PO of the Navy, turned and asked me now what part are you living, Abercrave, Abercrave, he said. What's our work? Miner, I said What the hell you wasting my time he said, bugger off, so I had to go, so that, or else no doubt I'd have gone with my cousin into the Navy see, but that's the way it happened. He stopped me and, I was glad mind, because I remember at that time people going from here you know, come on boys it will be over by Christmas time, it’s only an outing we'll have. But twelve months after these people were saying how silly they had been, going. But there it is and to me see, the war spoilt everything.

Egan, David: The war, you went down to Port Talbot didn't you in 1916-17?

Lewis, Henry: Yes, that's it and the end of the war I went over to Port Talbot to live see.

Egan, David: But that was, was that because, I mean there was …?

Lewis, Henry: No, slackness now, anthracite had gone you see, {unclear} well now, {unclear} Port Talbot a lot of work there, and many of the people from Abercrave went to work to Port Talbot at that time you see.

Egan, David: Yes, I was going to ask you, did they go to other places as well?

Lewis, Henry: And other places you see

Egan, David: Did all three pits close eventually?

Lewis, Henry: Well I’ll tell you now, beginning of the war it went slack here you see, because the anthracite coal wasn't for boats and things you understand.

Egan, David: Steam coal they wanted?

Lewis, Henry: Steam coal they wanted. {Put it up by there} So I went up, I had an uncle and aunt in Ebbw Vale, went up to Ebbw Vale to work. I was up there about six months I think, you know. But I remember at that time, I was up there, all the chapels in Ebbw Vale had turned English you see, and there was few of us Welshmen there, about a hundred I think, we had a Chapel of our own. What do you call, it didn't count whether you were Methodist, Independent or what, it was Welsh you see, it was a Welsh Chapel.