Author: South Wales Miners Library, Swansea University
Provider: South Wales Miners' Library
Interview of Jones, Goronwy by Egan, David on 1st October 1972.
The interview forms part of Swansea University’s South Wales Miners’ Library collection.
1 audio file (4 min. 50 sec.)
Egan, David: What about, moving on now to the outbreak of the First World War. What can you remember about reaction to the outbreak of the war amongst the men in the pit and generally in Ynysybwl?
Jones, Goronwy: Reaction to the war?
Egan, David: Yes. I mean, was there a great feeling of patriotism?
Jones, Goronwy: Oh, yes there was. There was nothing against the war,
Egan, David: There wasn't at all?
Jones, Goronwy: No, only with certain individuals, Johnny Morgan and a few of those, Johnny Morganâ€™s brother. But you know what it was, the old flag, the old Union Jack, and the youngsters were proud to march behind the flag.
Egan, David: Can you remember any recruiting meetings?
Jones, Goronwy: No, no. Kitchenerâ€™s poster, of course, Your King and Country Need You, and so on.
Egan, David: What about, was there a great rush of colliers to the forces? I mean, I know in some places there was a great problem. There wasnâ€™t enough, the management were continually looking for labour because so many men had gone off initially to fight?
Jones, Goronwy: Allright. Well, I donâ€™t think there was a great rush. Of course, conscription came in, you see, in 1916.
Egan, David: What about, I think the Admiralty asked all the pits to work an extra hour. Can you remember doing that? Steam coal for the Navy?
Jones, Goronwy: No, no.
Egan, David: You didnâ€™t work an extra hour?
Jones, Goronwy: No. I canâ€™t remember anyway.
Egan, David: Can you remember any changes? I mean, the war producing any changes, sort of in the pit or in the community?
Jones, Goronwy: No. Well, of course, everybody was patriotic then you see.
Egan, David: Was there any intensification of work? Was the management more on your back because there was a great drive to get coal to the navy, I mean?
Jones, Goronwy: I donâ€™t know. I wasnâ€™t here after â€˜16,see. I wasnâ€™t here after that.
Egan, David: You went in 1916? You werenâ€™t conscripted were you? You went voluntary, did you?
Jones, Goronwy: I went voluntary, aye.
Egan, David: You saw it coming? You saw conscription coming, didn't you?
Jones, Goronwy: Oh I knew it was coming, see, and Iâ€™d rather go to the navy than go to the army.
Egan, David: Was it, can you remember there being any great price rises in food and everything during the first few years of the war?
Jones, Goronwy: I donâ€™t know. I canâ€™t say that I can, no.
Egan, David: So, you went off to the Navy then, you were three years in the Navy?
Jones, Goronwy: Yes.
Egan, David: Did that have any impact on you?
Jones, Goronwy: Well, I realized, of course, when I was in the Navy, as time went on, what the hell was the purpose of it all, you see.
Egan, David: You were saying about the impact on you of being in the Navy?
Jones, Goronwy: The longer you were there, you realized, of course, that the futility of war. Of course, it hadnâ€™t worked off really because you were so young, isnâ€™t it. You had just come out of the Navy, you didnâ€™t realize it. But when you came out of the Navy, and you found out the same conditions prevailing in your mining village as what before you went.
Egan, David: Where did you see service? Where did you say?
Jones, Goronwy: Oh, I was minesweeping, yes.
Egan, David: Off the north coast?
Jones, Goronwy: Faroes, Hebridies, May Island. Faroes up towards Denmark and Norway that way.
Egan, David: On the same ship, was that?
Jones, Goronwy: No. Yes, in minesweeping.
Egan, David: Were there many colliers from South Wales with you?
Jones, Goronwy: I donâ€™t remember. No, only me. There were collier boys from other parts of the country, I suppose, but there was nobody with me.
Egan, David: What about, youâ€™d done about three years in the pits, I mean, it was a completely different way of life?
Jones, Goronwy: Oh aye, yes.
Egan, David: Was it easier?
Jones, Goronwy: In the Navy? Much, much easier, much easier. You did your duty and you had your time off and so on, and although I was very young I was drinking my beer just the same, and my rum ration.
Egan, David: So you came back, as you said?
Jones, Goronwy: I came back and I started back in the pit again, and I remember the first night I started there. The whole place was alive and I was afraid. I was more frightened there than I was frightened in the Navy, I can tell you. I thought the damn place was coming in on top of me. And there was a boy from the Army with me, Arthur his name was. We didnâ€™t do any work, we were afraid, because there is movement in the earth at night, you know. When you are working nights, you can feel the earth, feel the ground moving.