Home leave

Home leave wasn’t always possible for those at the front, however welcome a respite from the fighting it might have been, if there just wasn’t the time available to get home and back again.

Bedford wasn’t as far from Wales as some other postings and soldiers recorded in their local newspapers taking home leave from their billets or camps in Bedford, whether to visit family or to attend weddings or funerals, include, towns listed alphabetically:

Aberaman in May 1915, Private D T Lewis, of the 5th Welsh, expecting then to be drafted shortly to the front; in June 1915, Private Tom Jones, of the 5th Battalion, Aberdare Territorial Force, who came home to attend the funeral at Treharris of a comrade who died of sunstroke on a march; Privates Will Barry, Harold Beynon and William Henry Williams, all of the 5th Welsh; in August 1915, Private Alf Smith, of the 5th Welsh.

Aberayron in July 1916, Driver Daniel Jenkins, of the 2/1st Cardigan Battery, Royal Field Artillery; in December 1916, Driver Daniel Jenkins, and Sapper Dannie D Evans, of the Royal Engineers.

Abercwmboi in June 1915, Private A V Carey, of the 1/5th Welsh, was home at 75 Jenkin Street, looking well, and Private James Howells, of the 5th Welsh.

Abercynon in January 1916, Private Wilfred Bowden, of the 5th Cheshires; in January and June 1916, Sergeant Cecil Rees, of the 3rd Monmouthshire Regiment; in July 1916, Private John Ellis Jones, of the Royal Field Artillery.

Aberdare and district in July 1915, the Aberdare Leader of 10 July 1915 reported under the heading ‘The 5th Welsh and the Dardanelles’ that over 100 members of the 5th Welsh Battalion, stationed in Bedford, had come to the valley on six days leave. They looked well and exceedingly happy but were weary after a long 11 hour train journey, and a few had to tramp and carry their kit on to Cwmdare and Hirwain that night. The 5th Welsh Battalion, the Welsh Regiment had been greatly strengthened. Some of the older members had returned to Pembrokeshire while a large draft of the 5th Welsh Reserve had been transferred to Bedford. Colonel Morgan, Mountain Ash, Major Phillips, Aberdare, and Major F N Gray, Mountain Ash, looked well, and training was still very hard. The men home on leave stated that all the 5th Welsh then stationed at Bedford were going out to the Dardanelles in a few weeks time.

Abercrave in November 1916, Private Morgan Watkins, of the Royal Army Medical Corps, on leave for the last time before leaving for foreign service.

Abergavenny in August 1915, Private F Williams, of the Royal Army Medical Corps, attached to the 1st Monmouths, who rendered first aid to two men injured tackling a fire in an oil stores in the town.

Aberystwyth in September 1915, Corporal Edwin Smith, of the 6th Royal Welsh Fusiliers, to get married.

Ammanford in November 1918, Private Trevor Jenkins, of the Royal Engineers.

Bangor in December 1915, an unusually large number of soldiers were home on Christmas leave, including the Welsh (Carnarvon), Royal Garrison Artillery football team from Bedford, which played and won a match against a local team. Following the raw, dull weather which ushered in the holidays, the bright conditions on Christmas Day were a welcome tonic and changed depression into optimism, reported the local paper. Unfortunately, bad weather prevailed again during the football match.

Beulah in July 1916, Privates E R Jones, J I Williams, A Morgan and E W Price, all of the Brecknockshire Regiment and on their last leave, and Driver T D Williams, of the Army Service Corps; in August 1916, Driver Idris Jones, of the Royal Engineers, stationed at Haynes Park, near Bedford.

Brecon in August 1916, a number of Brecon boys in the Brecknock Territorials were at home.

Brynamman in June 1915, Private D J Davies, of the Signalling Section, Royal Engineers.

Builth Road in July 1916, Lance Corporal Leonard Lewis of the Brecknockshire Regiment, before leaving for France.

Builth Wells in January 1916, Lieutenant Reginald J Owen, of the Brecknockshire Territorial Force.

Cardigan and district in July 1915, several members of the Cardigan Battery in training at Bedford prior to their departure on active service. Major J C Rea, the commanding officer, who looked well and hearty, was also home, having recently visited the fighting line on observation duty.

Carmarthen in July 1916, Trooper Glyn Phillips, of the Welsh Horse.

Cefn-y-Bedd in August 1916, Privates W J Brown, A Parry and W Harvard of the Brecknockshire Regiment. Privates Brown and Harvard on return to Bedford left two days later for France.

Corwen in July 1915, several Corwen Territorials, who were suddenly called back to Rushden after spending only forty-eight hours at home, and then to Bedford undergoing a course of musketry drill before going abroad.

Cwmbach in August 1915, Private Tommy Phillips, of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers; in July 1916, Private David Jones, of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers; in July 1917, Driver John Henry James, of the Royal Engineers.

Cwmaman in July 1916, Lance-Corporal David John Thomas, of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers.

Cwmtwrch in November 1915, Private Lewis, of the Royal Engineers; in July 1916, Private Ivor Watkins, of the Royal Field Artillery.

Cwmtwrch/Cwmllynfell in February 1916, Lieutenant Tom Lewis; in June 1916, Privates Albert Martin and A Williams, of the Royal Horse Artillery.

Denbighshire in December 1915 many of the Welsh soldiers, of whom the 5th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers form part, are to have six days Christmas leave.

Devil’s Bridge in October 1915, Gunner Richard Messer of the Cardigan Battery, Royal Field Artillery, in training in Bedford.

Goginan  in July 1916, Private Tommy Green and Private Morgan Jones, both of the Cardigan Battery, and both looking exceedingly well, military life seeming to have had a beneficial effect on their health and physique.

Harlech in August 1915, Sergeant Richard Williams.

Hay in December 1915, Lieutenant R Trevor Griffiths, of the 2/1st Battalion, the Brecknockshire Territorial Force.

Llanybri in March 1916, Private William Lewis, who joined the forces soon after the outbreak of war. After going through the usual period of training at Bedford and elsewhere, he proceeded with his regiment to the Dardanelles, where he had to go through terrible hardships, recorded the Carmarthen Journal and South Wales Weekly Advertiser of 24 March 1916. After being there for some time he was invalided home suffering from dysentery. For some months he was in hospital in England, and last week he came home for a few days’ leave, and his old friends were proud of the opportunity to give him a great welcome. To show their admiration of his gallant conduct, a collection was made in Llanybri and district, and the sum of four guineas was handed to Private Lewis. He left on 20 March to rejoin his regiment. It is the sincere wish of all that he may live to see the end of this cruel war, and return to his home and to his old pursuits.

Llangollen in May 1916, Captain-Surgeon Fred Drinkwater.

Llandovery in June 1915, Privates Gay, Tom Jones, and Tommy Manning and Gunner Thomas Henry Evans (attached to the Cheshires), all of the 1/4th Welsh. Quite a number of Llandovery boys had left Bedford for a six days’ visit to their native town, the Herald of Wales of 19 June 1915 recorded; in July 1915, Privates Jack Jackson and W R Thomas.

Llanwrtyd Wells in July 1915, Private Richard Morgan of the 1/4th Welsh; in March 1916, Lance-Corporal Fred Davies.

Llangwyryfon in January 1916, Private Thomas Edwards, of the 1st Cardigan Battery, Welsh Brigade, Royal Field Artillery.

Machynlleth in November 1915, Lieutenant H G Stewart Williams, of the 2/7th Royal Welsh Fusiliers.

Mountain Ash in June 1915, Private Charlie Owen, 5th Welsh, and Private Albert Thomas.

Nantymoel in July 1916, Private David John Richards, who returned home to be baptised.

Penycae in December 1917, Private Fred Howells.

Pontardawe in August 1916, Gunner D G Williams, prior to removing to Salisbury Plain.

Rhigos in April 1916, Reverend J Edwards BA CF, serving as chaplain to the Welsh troops at Bedford. Captain Edwards had previously been Congregational minister at Portmadoc and resigned his ministry to take up his new duties.

Trallong in August 1916, Private W Jenkins, one of the first to join the forces from that district, having enlisted aged 17 years and in training at Bedford.

Trevaughan in June 1915, Private R Thomas, of the 4th Welsh, to attend his cousin’s funeral; in August 1915, Daniel Richards, of the Royal Field Artillery, to attend his father’s funeral.

Ystalyfera in August 1915, Driver W J Davies, of the 1st Glamorganshire Battery, Welsh Howitzer Brigade; in September 1915, Private W J Davies  of the Royal Field Artillery; in August 1916, Private Sam Jones, of the Brecknocks, due to proceed with his regiment to France after training in Bedford; in October 1916, Sergeant J Channing, with a Cavalry unit; in April 1917, Pioneer R E Phillips, of the Signal Service, Royal Engineers.

Ystradgynlais in September 1915, Gunner William Jones, of the Royal Field Artillery; in January 1916, Privates Thomas John Lake and Arthur Thomas, signallers with the Brecknocks, expected home that month on their last leave before going into action; in August 1916, Private T J Lake (probably Thomas John above), of the South Wales Borderers, was home from Bedford prior to leaving for India; in November 1917, Private Clancy Evans, of the Monmouthshires.