The War Diary of Augustus William Goldsworthy

Augustus William Goldsworthy (Gus) was born in Monmouth in 1886.  Little is recorded about his early life apart from him having attended Wycliffe breakaway Methodist School in Gloucester. His family were well known in Monmouth and Newport, holding prominent positions in both industry and local government. The family were also very active members of the Wesleyan Methodist movement in South Wales.  Upon completing his education, Gus qualified as a Barrister and was a member of the profession until he enlisted with the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force (CEF) on 25th September 1914. His reasons for choosing to volunteer with the CEF as opposed to one of the local British Army units are not recorded, although by the end of the war in 1918 at least 50% of the CEF consisted of British-born men.

The diary itself gives details of Goldsworthy’s movements during the opening years of the War. His early entries, relating to the initial months of the War, give brief details of his postings between the UK and Europe. The period commencing May 1915 makes reference to the fighting in Ypres Salient at the battle of Festubert, where Canadian divisions were prominent. It was during the fighting in the Salient that the first use of gas was employed by the German Army. An indication of the appalling conditions in Flanders can be seen in Goldsworthy’s entries for May and June 1915:

D331_24 22 May 1915

22 May1915Proceeded to trenches at Festubert, rained all night devil of a fatigue carrying bombs to front line, slept on a manure heap by mistake.

D331_24 23 June 1915

23 June 1915Proceeded to Estaires slept in a field two days there, marched to Ploegsteert [known to the Tommies as Plugstree]. Got into position at Rotten Row. Devil of a march 15 miles ended up carrying two rifles…

It was common for British soldiers to give names associated with home for the different trenches on the battlefields. In this section of the front, trenches were known as Hyde Park Corner, The Strand and many other well known sites in London, showing a strong connection with the city.

An entry during November 1915 gives detail of Goldsworthy’s transfer to the 1st Monmouthshire regiment. The entries for January 1916 describe retuning to France and departing for Egypt and the Suez Canal:

21 January 1916Landed at Alexandria stayed at Winter Palace…joined sporting club played tennis- no parades…

28 January 1916Battalion sailed for France

29 January 1916I proceeded to France with details. 

The reasons for such a short, one week trip to the Middle East are not known, as no details are given in the diary.

The final entries of the diary describe returning to France in February 1916. There are no further entries in the diary, and no additional details amongst our records at Glamorgan Archives. However, from military records we know that Gus Goldsworthy survived the war.  He was seriously wounded, and was awarded the Military Cross, but lived until 1950 and died in Vaynor, Breconshire.

John Arnold, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

The Police in South Wales During the First World War

When the First World War broke out, officers of the Glamorgan Constabulary and the borough police forces of south Wales were recruited to the armed forces in numbers.  As a result, there were many vacancies to be filled, and some of those who were still at home signed up to join the police.  This is reflected in newspaper reports at the time, recorded within the newscuttings books collected and compiled by the Cardiff Borough Police Force:

‘Many citizens have enrolled themselves as special constables at Cardiff and have signified their intention of rendering service gratis’; ‘355 special constables recruited’.  Cardiff Borough Police Force, newscuttings (DCONC/5/46)

‘The number of special constables in Cardiff is around 1100 and 1200. There are 228 vacancies due to many who have joined the colours’.  Cardiff Borough Police Force, newscuttings (DCONC/5/52)

With many men having joined the military, it was an opportunity for women to serve the Police on patrols, in addition the work they already undertook in supervising, searching and escorting women and children that were in custody.  The minutes of the Glamorgan County Council Standing Joint [Police] Committee note:

Police

‘By permission of the Chairman I have made small temporary advances of 10s. per week to the wives of the reservists recalled to the Colours, for their immediate requirements.  Seven of these are stationed in County Police cottages, which must be kept at the disposal of the Police’. Glamorgan County Council, Standing Joint [Police] Committee, minutes (GC/SJ/4/2)

Many of the female officers were wives of those who were serving in the military.  However, although they were seen outside the police station more often than before, the patrols of women officers usually concentrated on preventing women from ‘wandering astray’, both morally and literally, while other duties were undertaken by male officers.

Those men who did sign up to join the Police needed to be aware that they might still be called up for military service at some point in the future:

‘…the only men belonging to the special police who can regard themselves as exempt from military services are those of 35 and over’.  Cardiff Borough Police Force, newscuttings (DCONC/5/52)

It was estimated that some 60-70% of men who enrolled as special constables in south Wales on the outbreak of war fell within the scope of the above order.

Inevitably, many of those constables serving with the armed forces would pay the ultimate price for their service to the nation:

‘The Head Constable reported that Constable Camfield was killed in action between 14-16 Sep at Soupir, France’.  Cardiff Borough Council, minutes (BC/C/6/49)

‘The Head Constable reported that the following members of the Force had been killed in action, namely, Constable Bert Clements, 34c, Constable Frank Willis, 43c, and Constable Frank Ford, 17b’; ‘The Head Constable reported the deaths of Constable Thomas Lemuel Jones and Constable Walter John Twining. PC Jones was a Reservist of the Grenadier Guards, and PC Twining on 6 Sep rejoined his old Regiment the 10th Hussars’.  Cardiff Borough Council, minutes (BC/C/6/50)

‘The Head Constable reported the death of Lance-Corporal HJ Fisher, of the Welsh Guards, killed in action in France on 16 Sep’.  Cardiff Borough Council, minutes (BC/C/6/53)

‘The Head Constable reported the death of Probationer Constable Milton Horace Wood, a Reservist of the RAMC, who married after leaving the Force, and left a widow and child behind him’.  Cardiff Borough Council, minutes (BC/C/6/55)

‘Welsh Guardsman George Lock ex Cardiff Police killed in action’.  Cardiff Borough Police Force, newscuttings (DCONC/5/51)

Many were wounded and returned to civilian life unfit for Police duty:

‘25 of our men have been discharged from the Army for various reasons.  Of these, five have not rejoined the Force, four have rejoined the Force and then left on account of their health or to obtain more remunerative employment, and 16 are still serving in the Force’.  Glamorgan County Council, Standing Joint [Police] Committee, minutes (GC/SJ/4/2)

As the war went on, more Police officers either signed up or were called up by the military, and despite the earlier mentioned recruitment of civilians, the number of constables would drop to a low enough level for the police to be concerned:

‘The Military Authorities having now further depleted the Police Force beyond the 250 which the Committee deemed indispensable for their general duties (which are very heavily increased), the attention of the Chief Constable was called to the resolution of the March 1917 meeting of the Committee as to the Police not undertaking voluntary work for the Military Authorities, which they expect will be carried out’.  Glamorgan County Council, Standing Joint Committee, minutes (GC/SJ/2/2)

Throughout the War, the Police were expected to continue to carry out their duties of enforcing the law in the areas for which they were responsible. Some new laws were brought into force specifically due to the War, mostly as a result of the Defence of the Realm Act of 1914; one example being the dimming of lights at night:

‘…the Head Constable communicated with those Lighting Authorities, Companies or persons within the City whom he may think necessary, requested them to take steps gradually to diminish their lights from the hours of 10pm to 12 midnight, after which latter hour all prominent lights must be extinguished or subdued in such a manner as not to be visible from above’.  Cardiff Borough Council, minutes (BC/C/6/49)

Other examples included restrictions on the sale of liquor, imprisonment without trial, censorship of printed and spoken word and the movement of aliens; in the latter case they could be Belgian refugees or former German and Austrian residents.  The British publics suspicion of German residents lead to riots, which the Police had to deal with:

‘On the 15th May 1915, anti-German riots took place at Neath, and some looting occurred.  The Neath Police were overpowered, and Supt. Ben. Evans, of the “D” or Neath Division of the County Police, sent three Inspectors, three Sergeants, four acting sergeants, and 12 Constables to their assistance.  With the Assistance of this Force the riot was quelled’.  Glamorgan County Council Standing Joint [Police] Committee, minutes (GC/SJ/4/2)

Another problem the Police had to deal with was the antagonism between pacifists and those who supported the War. On one occasion this led to extraordinary scenes at a hall in Cardiff:

‘Scenes were witnessed in Cardiff when protesters against the peace policy of the National Council for Civil Liberties stormed the Cory Hall and forced the delegates to abandon their meeting. A meeting had been held previously to take steps to prevent the holding of the conference. A procession was arranged and when they arrived at the Hall, where they were unopposed by the police but met resistance, but were able to gain entrance and soon the delegates lead by Mr Ramsay Macdonald MP beat a retreat. There were no arrests’.  Cardiff Borough Police Force, newscuttings, (DCONC/5/52)

After the war had ended, Police officers who had served in the military began to return to their previous work, taking over from the volunteers who had been working in their place:

‘The strength of the Force is 627, being 101 below authorised strength of 728. There are also 74 members with the Private companies, including five Weights and Measures Inspectors.  I herewith append a schedule showing the number of men who have returned to the Force from Active Service, and their state of health:  No. of men returned unfit for further Military Service 57. No. of men returned to the Force upon demobilisation 198. No. of men passed as ‘Fit for Police duty’ and now serving in the Force 169. No. of men placed ‘Upon probation to come up before the doctor for re-examination’ 35. No. of men placed ‘Upon Light duty’ and to come up for re-examination 14. No. of men who have returned, unlikely to completely regain their health, who have now made a start in another profession 34. No. of men who have died since returning to the Force 3’.  Glamorgan County Council Standing Joint [Police] Committee, minutes (GC/SJ/4/2)

With so many of the Police offers killed or wounded in action, it is unsurprising that the Constabulary was below full strength during the immediate post-war period.

Andrew Booth, Relief Records Assistant

A Tommy’s Story: Arthur Cornelius Hobbs

The Collection at Glamorgan Archives includes extensive records covering many aspects of the First World War.  These range from official government policy and directives, both local and national, to documents reflecting the consequences for the general population of total war on home front. This short piece describes the typical documents an ordinary soldier might have collected and retained as a record of his time spent serving in the forces during the war of 1914-18.

The records of Arthur Cornelius Hobbs do not describe any major battles, nor do they provide a diary record of the progress and set backs of the War; but they do record and document army life at the front.

Arthur was born in Morebath, Devon in December 1875, where he worked as a fish curer.  No records are held at the Archives describing his life prior to his joining the colours and reporting for duty on 4 August 1916.  A copy of the notice ordering him to do so can be found amongst his papers.  It should be noted that, by this point in the War, the army was no longer comprised of volunteers; able bodied men within certain age groups were legally required to serve in the forces. Arthur, in common with other recruits, would have been aware that the enthusiasm displayed by the volunteers of 1914 at the outset of war had all but disappeared with reports of the appalling number of causalities sustained during the first two years of war.  This was particularly relevant in August 1916; the Battle of the Somme was entering its second month and the British Army was suffering its greatest ever losses. Although Arthur was not at the front during this period, when one looks at his photographs one cannot help but be impressed with the steadfast nature of the images considering the reports of the catastrophic events at France and elsewhere.

D1207

Arthur’s papers include a number of greetings cards celebrating both Christmas and birthdays, together with examples of the British Army’s love of paperwork! There are indents for rations, including bread, cigarettes and whale oil, along with receipts for the issue and return of equipment. Among the more interesting of Arthur’s papers is a programme for the 85th Field Hospital’s production of Aladdin, and a ‘French Made Easy’ card with useful phrases, such as ‘Which is the way to Paris?’

Arthur Hobbs survived the war.  He returned home, moved to Whitchurch in Cardiff, and worked in a variety of jobs, including as a coal foreman, before retiring in March 1938.  He was also a District Commissioner of Scouts for South Wales. He died on 6 December 1939 aged 63.

John Arnold, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

Belgian Refugees in Glamorgan

When the First World War began in August 1914, one of the first groups of people to be affected were the citizens of Belgium. Fearing persecution by the invading German army, some 250,000 decided to leave the country and relocated to the United Kingdom, the largest influx of refugees in British history. Some of those found new homes in the South Wales valleys.

The local parishes and chapels had a part to play with regards to helping the refugees:

Proposed by Councillor D. Bayliss that the council should recommend to the Public Meeting that as many persons as possible in the Parish should subscribe a certain sum weekly, to maintain a family of Refugees during the period of War. Carried. St Brides Minor Parish Council (P78)

It was proposed by Councillor D Lewis that they allow rates to be free on the Belgian Refugee House. Carried. St Brides Minor Parish Council (P78)

Mr Brown gave particulars of the offered apartments in Albany Road & after consideration Mr Roberts proposed and Mrs Farrar seconded that the house in Albany Road be taken subject to the Belgian Relief Committee agreeing to furnish same. Carried. Roath Park United Reformed Church (D601/7)

The local authorities would take ultimate responsibility for the welfare of the refugees. They would have to deal with a variety of issues. One area to be dealt with was the health of the refugees:

He reported that he had received a warning from the Authorities that a case of small pox had occurred at the Earls Court Refugee Camp for Belgians and he had therefore visited the refugees from that camp who were at Angelton Cottage and found a child there with suspicious symptoms. He had called on the Medical Officer who had instructed him to report on the case on Monday next.  It was moved by Mr R. John seconded by Mr W.A. Howell and Resolved that, if the case proves to be small pox, the Clerk be instructed to give twenty four hours notice to the Hospital Committee to clear the Small Pox Hospital ready for its reception. Penybont Rural District Council (RDPB/C/14)

Hospitals

Letter from the War Refugees Committee asking that the recent Belgian refugees be treated locally and free of charge, as many were sick, convalescent and suffering from nervous shock, infectious disease etc. and were, in the most, entirely without means. Resolved that the council are prepared to deal with local cases in their Accident and Surgical Hospital and Infectious Diseases HospitalBarry Urban District Council (BB/C/1/20)

Most local authorities tried to help the refugees by reducing or completely removing the cost of accomodation and other expenses:

…that the Collectors be instructed not to collect rates from premises occupied by Belgian Refugees…  Llantrisant and Llantwit Fardre Rural District Council (RDLL/C/13)

Resolved that the Belgian Refugees in Penarth be allowed to use the Baths free of charge. Penarth Urban District Council (UDPE/C/1/4)

There were also other ways that the authorities tried to help the refugees, either themselves or through voluntary groups:

The Chairman submitted a letter he had received from the Central Committee asking the Council to organize another Christmas Day collection for the relief of the Belgian Children.  Resolved that the Council support the movement and that the following members be requested to make the necessary arrangements for their respective wards…  Ogmore and Garw Urban District Council (UDOG/C/1/11)

The Deputy Clerk reported that arrangements had been made for a visit of the Belgian Artistes to Porthcawl on Friday next and that the use of the Pavilion had been granted free of charge by Mr Conrad. Porthcawl Urban District Council (UDPC/C/1/10)

That public meetings be held in the various parts of the District with a view to making arrangements for housing and for providing for the comfort and maintenance of the Belgian Refugees. Mountain Ash Urban District Council (UDMA/C/4/12)

Library

The Librarian stated that Mr H Stanley Jevons had sent a number of French books on loan for the use of the Belgian Refugees. Cardiff Borough Council (BC/C/6/50)

A letter was read from Mrs Marychurch, applying for work for a Belgian Refugee as Book Repairer or Binder. Cardiff Borough Council (BC/C/6/50)

One task for the local authorities was to help the Registrar’s office document Belgian and other refugees. By early 1915 the local authorities had ascertained the following numbers of Belgian refugees in the whole of Glamorgan:

Male over 16 – 408; Female over 16 – 505; Male children – 212; Female children – 202; Total – 1327.  Glamorgan County Council War Distress Relief Committee (GC/WD/1)

It is worth noting that not every Belgian left for the UK; many stayed, and some charity work in the UK was for the benefit of those who were still in Belgium:

The National Committee…have for some time been £30,000 short each week of the amount necessary to provide the irreducible minimum of one meal per day…may I beg that you will give this appeal your most sympathetic consideration. Cardiff Incorporated Chamber of Commerce (DCOMC/1/8/18)

Within a year of the war ending in November 1918, 90% of the Belgian refugees in Britain had returned home. Those who stayed became part of British society, disappearing from the nation’s view, and so the story of the Belgian refugees was soon forgotten.

Andrew Booth, Relief Records Assistant

The Rest, Porthcawl during the First World War

In 1862, Dr James Lewis had opened The Rest for Invalids, Convalescents and Scrofulous Patients at Nottage, near Bridgend, Glamorganshire, which consisted of three cottages in his possession. The aim was that people who had been injured or had become ill would have somewhere to recover from their ailments, benefiting from the fresh air of the sea, diet and exercise. It was planned that The Rest would move to much larger premises. Dr Lewis had been in contact with Florence Nightingale about how such a building should take shape in 1871.

DXEL-5-1 004

A design was selected for construction near Porthcawl in 1874, but shortly afterwards it became clear that the funds required would not be raised, due to the collapse of the iron industry and the falling price of coal. A scaled down version was authorised in 1876 and completed in 1878. The rising popularity of The Rest throughout the 1880s meant the facilities were no longer large enough, and in 1893 a new extension catering for female patients was opened. A new wing for the hospital opened in 1897, then a further extension for children was opened in 1900, and finally another extension was opened in 1909, so that The Rest finally looked like it should have done in the 1870s. In 1913 The Rest Committee purchased the Dunraven Hotel in Southerndown, and it would deal with women and children.

The idea of The Rest accommodating convalescing soldiers and sailors had originally been proposed during the Boer War, although the War Office turned the offer down. Only a few months after The Rest at Southerndown had opened, the First World War began. Again, The Rest Committee offered to take wounded and invalided soldiers in to both Rests, but the Secretary of State for War already had over 20,000 beds at the disposal of the military and the war was only expected to last until Christmas, so again turned down the offer. Instead, the first victims of war to be admitted to The Rest in Porthcawl were Belgian Refugees.

Belgian Refugees

By the 5th of November 1914, 29 male refugees had been admitted to The Rest in Porthcawl. At the end of November, the Red Cross was requesting the use of the Southerndown Rest. This was agreed to, on condition that the matron was always in control.

In January of 1915, with the war lasting longer than was originally expected, the local military authorities requested the billeting of over 180 recruits of the 1st Welsh Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps, and the Rest Committee agreed to it. After moving to the Southerndown Rest, the Belgian Refugees left at the beginning of March 1915, with the exception of two who stayed on as staff members.

At the end of 1915, the St John Ambulance Association applied for the use of The Rest in Porthcawl as an Auxiliary War Hospital. The Rest was placed at their disposal until the end of the war, although the Association was expected to pay at least part of the cost of maintaining the facilities. This meant that it was not used for civilian patients during this time, and the soldiers and sailors did not pay for a ticket as the civilians had done.

Soldiers 1917

In 1916, more beds were provided and a field hospital in the grounds of The Rest in Porthcawl was considered, although it was not constructed. By the end of the war in November of 1918 nearly 2500 British, Australian, New Zealand and Canadian casualties had received treatment at the two Rests, of which the Southerndown continued to receive civilian patients.

In 1919 both Rests returned to receiving civilian patients, as had been the case before the war. The Rest at Southerndown was sold after the Second World War, while The Rest at Porthcawl closed at the end of 2013.

Andrew Booth, Relief Records Assistant