The War journal of Thomas Harding – 1

Tom Harding
Tom Harding

One day a neighbouring farmer asked me to help his man to take a young horse which he had sold to Pontogloch to meet the buyer. He gave me 10 shillings for the journey and 3/6d for expenses.

On the way his man, George Evans, and I decided to go to Bettws to see the local troop of Yeomanry at drill.

We arrived at the village Inn rather early and got into conversation with the S.S.M. and agreed to join if he thought us suitable. The Bettws troops were top dogs in all sports in the camp, so on the arrival of several members of that troop we went on the air gun range for a try out. After George and I had beaten all comers we were promptly signed and ordered to appear at the Drill Hall, Newtown, on the following Tuesday to be sworn in and medically examined.

After attending the required number of drills the day came for diring the recruits on the range. Here again I was able to attain marksmanship standard, although I missed winning the cup by a narrow margin by having to fire without a practice, owing to our late arrival caused by one of our party going over the hedge off his bicycle at the bottom of Dolreol pitch.

… and then, after a month at home…

The short time between camp and mobilization passed quickly. I have no recollection of anything happening during this period. The first indication I had of the impending war was when I met Mr. G. WIllians of Hendau on my way to Adfa. He stopped me and upbraided me for being such a naughty boy as to join the army, telling me I had ruined my good name for ever. He finished up by telling me war was likely to be declared at any day.

The next morning while turning hay in the triangle plot at Cerrigllwydion I was presented with a foolscap envelope marked “Mobilisation” by Ben Davies the postman, whose face was as white as a sheet. I put the envelope in my pocket, intending to finish the row before opening it, but Ben said I had better look now as it was important. I had already guessed the contents, and felt only a thrill at the prospect of adventure…

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