Welsh Regiment Badge The First Glamorgan Bantams - 17thwelsh.org.uk
Rev. Captain David Edwin Davies BA - Gazetted Chaplain 22nd May 1917
France    June 1916 to February 1918

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Captain David Edwin Davies BA (1878 - 1947) - Non Conformist Battalion Chaplain - Page 2
His letter to his future wife, Leta

In France with the YMCA, the 17th & 18th Battalions The Welsh Regiment
& Battalions of Other Regiments

On Active Service
With the British Expeditionary Force
Y.M.C.A.
In the Field
30.1.18

My dearest Leta,

For the first time since my return from leave, I have a billet all to myself and that means a little peace and quietness and above all the opportunity to write what I hope will be a decent letter - so just prepare yourself for a budget. First, many thanks for yours of 24th and 25th, which awaited my return from the trenches this afternoon, and to which I shall return later on.

You have already received the two notes of yesterday afternoon - had no time to write at length, so sent those notes lest you should be wondering what was taking place. As you know, the soup kitchen is in working order and as it is intended to serve the 4 battalions of this brigade, all of the chaplains are expected to take an interest in it. Tonkin had already been up for the best part of a week - that is - while the battn. to which he is attached was in the line. Yesterday, they went out, so he naturally desired to be out with them and my turn came. The great trouble in these moves is the question of kit - what to take on the line and what to leave behind. After considerable thought I decided to bring up my valise. You will probably wonder why any time should be spent to decide such a simple question - the reason is - well - fairly obvious, and may be summed up in one word - livestock! No one is anxious to carry any passengers in his valise - and they are rather numerous in the dugouts. Fortunately, if all goes well I shall be out again on Saturday, so have no fears in that direction!

You talk about air raids. We caught it rather badly the night before last. I was then with the details, ie the stores and transport about 6-7 miles away from here, and as it was a lovely night, Fritz decided to pay the district a visit. Out little hut escaped fortunately and so did the camp in that spot, others however did not do so well - still - there is always this consolation, it might have been very much worse!

Am very cosy here. The hut is one of what is usually described out here as a baby elephant type - roughly 9ft by 9ft with a headroom of 6 ft in its highest part - fairly well sandbagged all round - tho a direct hit from a small shell would soon smash the whole place - so - am hoping no direct hit will strike it! A fire place, in which at the present moment a nice fire is burning, adds to the comfort of the place while a bed, table and stool complete the furniture!! It has been built well into the side of a ravine and forms one of a number of similar huts in which the battn., are at present residing. The only drawback which a lady would find is the presence of mice and rats - this morning for example a little mouse amused me very much. She had evidently made up her mind that I was a new tenant and decided that it was her bounden duty to examine all my possessions - a duty she fulfilled in a most praiseworthy manner. Candles, soap, sponge, paper, razor - everything was examined most carefully - but she did not give me the verdict!

Went round the line with the doc this afternoon - my word - we were a sight for sore eyes on our return! While on our way, a sudden turn in one of the trenches revealed a glorious sunset - which compelled us to stop for some minutes to admire its beauty. Strangely enough we both came to identically the same conclusion - that the scene would have been even more enjoyable if, instead of present company, we each had a lady friend! Naturally, he was thinking of his wife (I think I told you about him before); I was thinking of you. And that brings me back to your letters. Am sorry you found my reference to your holidays etc was not sufficiently clear - so must make another attempt, tho how to manage it I do not know. If you were only by my side I do believe I could do it every so much easier. - but to express it on paper makes the whole thing so cold and formal - the very opposite to my desire. You say in your letter of 25th that you are glad to have my photos - as you feel you have something of mine with you and you often wish I could be with you in reality - that gives me a little courage - a quality I sadly need just now! My question very simply is this - will you have me altogether - in actual fact - for better for worse - for richer for poorer - until death us do part? I have little to offer you in the shape of worldly goods, you know well what a minister’s life is - its problems and its difficulties. I cannot promise you a bed of roses - but my love is yours and my whole being is at your service - more I cannot say - chwi wyddoch beth ddywed fy nghalon.  You will perhaps want to know why I did not ask you when on leave - or why I am not waiting until my time is up before offering myself to you? The answer is this - when at home my feeling was to wait until my time expired, lest something might happen which would put an end to my career. Since my return however, I had a chat with one of our officers concerning a mutual friend who had fallen at Bourlon Wood and some words he used rather altered my view of things, and I feel you ought to know my position in regard to yourself - what is your answer?

That explains my enquiry re holidays - because if your reply is in the affirmative, which needless to say I hope and pray it may be, I should like to have a word with you about them - all that however must remain unsaid until you give your answer.

By the same mail I received a letter from my secretary which settles the future very decidedly as far as my plans are concerned. Mr. Cadman, who fills the pulpit during my absence has handed in his resignation to take effect the end of March - so - if spared my duty is clear - I must return to Brook St. Of course it will be hard to leave Mathias. He and I have been such close chums all along, and much toi my surprise he gave me to understand that the Senior Chaplain of the Army to which we are attached had formed a high opinion of myself and sincerely hoped it might be possible to keep me “on the strength”. All this is most encouraging, but in face of the letter already referred to - it is out of the question for me to think of staying on beyond the appointed time.

I started this off before dinner - am just going to finish it off. Another glorious night - tho am afraid our patrols will not be over joyful as a bright moon gives the show away much too easily! As it is, the machine guns are busy - judging by the row they make, while every now and then the artillery lets fly - so that between one and the other it is quite exciting I assure you. I notice in your second note you finish off so as to get to bed - well - here everyone sleeps in his clothes - the only articles of clothing removed are coat, boots and socks. If the letter of the law were observed even that is contrary to regulation, which will give you some idea of our position. It is very amusing for all that - we have two battalion headquarters in the ravine connected by a light railway and trench boards - men constantly pass and repass in front of my door, and as it is somewhat slippery owing to the frost at night and the thaw by day, the expressions one hears are not always parliamentary! As for me, I bumped into one or two in coming from the mess after dinner tonight. Oh no - no whiskey or rum - altho’ it seemed so much like it.

My people say they have sent me a paper containing a report of a meeting in which the Rev. James Jones [ie her father - cmh] gave an explanation of his attitude towards the church and the war - but it has “gone west” otherwise would have been tempted to send you a cutting in case you might be interested. Am very sorry myself as it was a really good church No. I will not try your patience any further or there will be nothing for me to say tomorrow - so goodnight.

Peiddwch a’n cadw yn hir heb eich atebiad - os na fydd gennych amser I ysgorfenu (ysgrifenu -? GGD) llawer. Bydd yr atebiad yn ddigon! Oer a ffarfol ydyw y gernau yn edrych wrth ei darllen - ond - fel y dywedais - chwi wyddoch beth ddywed fy nghalon. Os caf fyw I ddychwelid gwnaf lefaru yn ddigon eglws y pryd hwnw!

Fel hofer
D.E.

By Kind Permission of Ceridwen Harris, of London, Ontario, Canada - Edwin's and Leta's granddaughter

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(1 - Family & Timeline), (2- Letter to Leta), (3 - Hymn Sheet), (4 - Signatures) (5 - Send Off),  (6 - Diary Pg1 & Evan Matthias)  (7 - Diary Pg 2) (8 -Misc Images)