Alun Miles’ Digital Story

A Torfaen at War Digital Story

Alun Miles Digital Story Transcript

My great grandfather was George Miles. He was born in 1882 in Garndiffaith but he married a lady from Blaenavon and they settled there in the early part of the 20th century. He served in what was the 4th battalion volunteer regiment of the South Wales Borderers and in about 1907 as a territorial. But then as he got older he became a full time soldier in the second battalion Monmouthshire regiment. So at the outbreak of war he went to Pembroke camp with the second Mons. Went from there through, I think, South Hampton and into theatre so I think he won the Mons star. They joined the welsh division one of the only territorials to fight with regular soldiers in the welsh division. As he went through the war he became wounded. He got shot in the hip. He was evacuated to Bologne field hospital and then up to Manchester and then he actually stayed for a whole year in England in a VAC, I can’t remember what the acronym means but he stayed up in Leeds recuperating and then he re-joined his battalion. He then went on to fight at Ypres. He got wounded again in 1917; he got shot in the hand. He was put back together again and then he was transferred into what is now the Royal Logistics Core. The story goes that he saw many bad things and he started to go slightly mad. I suppose he had post-traumatic stress and he befriended horses. So they put him with the horses and he basically looked after the horses. Then he returned to Pontypool. He was estranged from his wife after that because he started drinking and he lived just the other side of Blaenavon whilst my great grandmother brought up her 3 sons on her own. He then started working in forge pits in Blaenavon as the collier’s (h)ostler, which looked after the horses or pit ponies. The story goes that my great uncle used to have to go down to the Blaenavon Company to collect his wages or his pension before he did because he would drink it away. He died in the early 1930’s from a stroke in what is now Panteg hospital. So he didn’t have a long life, he died in his late 50’s and you could say that the First World War basically ruined it all for him.

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