Oral History collection: Charles Henry Mew (born 21 Nov. 1885) interviewed by J.R. Alban about Military experiences in WW1, serving mainly in 14th Battalion, Welsh Regiment ('Swansea Battalion') and Royal Welsh Fusiliers, 9th and 17th Battalions.

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 216 TH 36A-B
  • Dates of Creation
      10 Aug. 1976
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      1 audio recording

Scope and Content

Track 1. [00:00:00] General: John Auburn introduces Charles Henry Mew of 78 Beaconsview Road, Clase on 10/08/1976. [00:00:42] Transport: Early life and moving to Swansea in 1906, describing being fairly itinerant for a number of years, travelling looking for work on Railways and tramways. [00:03:22] First World War: Describing personal and more general perception of the outbreak of First World War. [00:05:51] First World War: Discussing the circumstances that led to him joining the Army in December 1914. [00:07:45] First World War: Describing going to Union Street in Swansea to sign up to the Swansea 'Pals' Battalion and his wife's reaction. [00:11:32] First World War: Recalling receiving 'the King's Shilling' and a rail travel pass to the training camp in Rhyl. [00:12:58] First World War: Describing travelling to Rhyl by train and the early training. [00:15:47] First World War: Recalling the later training, physical exercise and weapons training at Winchester. [00:19:27] First World War: Remembering route marches around North Wales in the Summer of 1915, including being met by the battalion band. [00:21:07] First World War: Describing leaving Rhyl and going for further training in Winchester and becoming a sniper (along with 3 others, Murphy, Guy and Cullis). [00:25:49] First World War: Recalling snipers duty at the front-line, which included intelligence gathering. [00:30:22] First World War: Remembering the armour that the snipers used and receiving enemy fire. [00:31:27] First World War: Memories of leaving Winchester and landing in France (Rouen) before going to the front-line in Belgium in December 1915. [00:33:05] First World War: Arriving at the front-line and undertaking further instruction with a regiment from Worcester. [00:34:36] First World War: Recalling thigh-high boots in the trenches to try and keep the water out of them. [00:35:45] First World War: Remembering the geographic location of the first trench he was in. [00:36:36] First World War: Recalling the Germans shelling a nearby church and churchyard, disturbing the recently buried as a result. [00:37:26] First World War: Remembering 'Hellfire Corner' an exposed area that was very dangerous. [00:38:17] First World War: Describing the 'line' at Neuve Chappelle which was not continuous but held in a series of 'islands'. [00:40:05] First World War: Recalling an incident when they overslept and came under machine-gun fire trying to get into an 'island'. [00:42:33] First World War: Remembering being on a charge for oversleeping. [00:44:26] First World War: Describing trying to keep rations safe from vermin, but how rats would climb on the sleeping men to get at the rations. [00:45:31] First World War: Describing the rations the men received and making Tea from rainwater. [00:48:11] First World War: Recalling the comradeship of the battalion. [00:48:57] First World War: Describing moving location to the Somme at Mametz Wood. [00:50:33] First World War: Describing the trenches and 'going over the top' at Mametz Wood. [00:56:29] First World War: Recalling shooting a German who was about to shoot a comrade in the back. [00:59:12] First World War: Coming across a machine-gun nest in Mametz Wood and getting caught in a shell-blast (continues in next recording).

Track 2. [00:00:28] First World War: Charles Henry Mew continues retelling getting caught by a shell-blast in Mametz Wood. [00:02:12] First World War: Recalling how Lieutenant Strange saw him wounded and ordered him to retreat. [00:03:12] First World War: Meeting another wounded soldier, Harry Brown, at the edge of the wood, and coming under German machine-gun fire when trying to retreat. [00:06:31] First World War: Recalling his treatment in hospital in Rouen, being marked 'T.B.' meaning 'to Blighty' and being repatriated to Stratford-upon-Avon. [00:09:30] First World War: Following the convalescent home, Mew describes losing touch with his former comrades and joined the 9th Royal Welsh Fusiliers. [00:11:40] First World War: Joining the Royal Welsh Fusiliers at Ypres and describing the trench there. [00:13:20] First World War: Coming under German artillery fire again, describing the dugout taking a direct hit and burying him and 8 others alive. [00:16:52] First World War: Being rescued from the collapsed dugout, repatriated to Leicester and how he was injured. [00:21:47] First World War: Recalling the times he'd seen his wife since joining up. [00:23:03] First World War: Describing the pay arrangements in the army and how money was spent. [00:25:21] First World War: Following recovery from the 2nd wound, Mew describes being posted to Limerick for 2 weeks and Irish nationalist tensions. [00:27:59] First World War: Joining the 17th Royal Welsh Fusiliers on return to France and seeing action again at the Somme. [00:29:58] First World War: Describing a failed attack, ending up by being surrounded and taken prisoner by the Germans. [00:31:43] First World War: Recalling what happened when taken prisoner. [00:36:15] First World War: Describing conditions in the P.O.W. Camp in Munster, Alsace. [00:38:10] First World War: Transferred to another P.O.W. camp, and the paucity of rations there. [00:41:12] First World War: Describing the conditions at the second P.O.W. camp. [00:42:01] First World War: Recalling the death of a comrade in the P.O.W. camp and the funeral arrangements. [00:44:34] First World War: Describing working in the P.O.W. camp. [00:45:26] First World War: Remembering hearing about the war ending, the subsequent prisoners disobedience and being released from P.O.W. camp in December 1918. [00:53:44] First World War: Landing in Hull on 02/12/1918 and being sent to Swansea shortly after and being 'demobbed' by post at a later date. [00:55:14] First World War: Attending Swansea 'Pals' and P.O.W. reunion dinners in later life. [00:57:14] First World War: A story about having some Rum in Mametz Wood (end of recording).