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Corporal Davies Goes to War

Letters Tell of Crimean Campaign
by Major Francis Jones, C.V.O., T.D., D.L.
Wales Herald Extraordinary
County Archivist of Carmarthenshire

FOR some years in the mid-nineteenth century a dispute about the Holy Places in Jerusalem had been causing irritation between Russia and Turkey. Suddenly, in 1853, Russia moved troops into Moldavia, which with its neighbouring principality of Wallachia, she wished to hold as "a material guarantee" to protect her interests. This step resulted in Turkey declaring war on Russia on 5 October of that year. Britain and France, deciding to intervene on the side of Turkey, moved their fleets into the Black Sea, and on 28 March 1854, formally declared war on Russia. A British army under Lord Raglan then took up position at Varna with the object of protecting Constantinople if need arose.

But the chief theatre was the Crimea. An Allied army some 51,000 strong, under St Arnaud and Raglan landed on 14 September 1854 at Eupatoria, a Russian port on the west coast of the Crimea. As the force advanced southwards it made contact on 20 September 1854 with a large Russian body of troops holding the banks of the river Alma. The battle was confined to infantry and artillery, and in three hours the passage of the river was forced, and the Russians fell back on their formidable stronghold, Sebastopol. Although the town was subjected to heavy bombardment the defences held.

On 25 October 1854 the Russians counter-attacked at Balaclava but were repulsed by British troops. However, the Turks failed to hold their part of the line, and the Russians rapidly poured through, until a single British infantry regiment, the 93rd Highlanders, deployed in double line, brought the enemy to a halt. The cavalry were then committed, both Heavy and Light Brigades, and finally a French infantry regiment. This caused the Russians to retire in disorder which soon developed into a rout.

The next engagement took place on 5 November 1854 at Inkerman. On a misty morning a large Russian force made a sudden attack on the English lines. The fighting was severe and confused but the lines held. The arrival of the French, late in the day, was decisive. This was very much a "soldiers battle", and 8000 British troops helped by 6000 French, had held the heights of Inkerman against a Russian force four times as great.

Sebastopol still held out, and the Allies settled down to a siege. A Russian attack on Eupatoria in February 1855 failed. At last on 8 September the earthworks around Sebastopol were forced, the French capturing the Malakoff Tower while a British storming party siezed the Redan. The Allies then penetrated into Sebastopol itself, and the Russians withdrew to the northern part of the town which they continued to hold until the Peace Treaty was signed in March 1856.

Among British units taking part was the 4th Regiment of Foot. It was later designated as The King's Own Royal [Regiment (Lancaster), and exists today, as the result of amalgamation, as The King's Own Royal Border Regiment (4th, 34th, and 55th). For the part it played in the Crimea the regiment was awarded the battle honours "Alma", "Inkerman", and "Sevastopol".

I am indebted to Dr T. R. Davies of Llanelli for his public spiritedness in depositing in the County Record, Office, a series of interesting letters written by a Carmarthenshire soldier who served in the 4th Foot. There are altogether twenty-one documents, covering the years 1851-1856. Dr Davies has placed the Local History Society, and particulary military historians, in his debt by ensuring the preservation of these interesting missives. We are familiar with Crimean despatches compiled by military commanders, with several books written by competent staff officers, with reports of the distinguished, Dr William Russell, special correspondent of the Times, whose descriptions of the campaign place him in the front rank of military narrators, and with numerous letters written by officers who took part in the fighting. However, very few diaries and letters written by Other Ranks have survived, and this gives an additional interest to the letters printed below, since they illustrate the attitude and experiences of a member of the brave and largely inarticulate soldiery whose devotion to the Colours has resulted in so many acts of heroism.

Not that the writer of these letters was in any way inarticulate. From W William Davies's handwriting, his lively style, and gift for vivid description, it is abundantly clear that he had received a far better education than was usual among Other Ranks of those days. He was certainly a Carmarthenshire man, possibly from the county town where he had many kinsfolk and friends. He held his native land in high affection as his way of sometimes describing his unit as the 4th "Welsh" Regiment, indicates. It is not known when he enlisted. The letters reveal that he was a Corporal in 1851, Lance-Serjeant in 1852, Serjeant in 1854-55, Colour Serjeant in 1856. From his last letters we learn that he intended to purchase his discharge in August 1856, and that is the last we hear of him. Colonel H. J. Darlington, O.B.E., D.L., very kindly helped me by consulting the archives of The King's Own Royal Regiment, but unfortunately no record of Serjeant Davies seems to have survived. Should any readers possess information about Serjeant Davies, as civilian or soldier, I would be grateful if they would communicate with me.

I wish to thank my Assistant Mr Tudor Barnes, B.A., for helping me to transcribe the originals and to check the proofs; also Mr. V. G. Lodwick, B.SC., for preparing the maps.

Smallpox on Board
Argostoli, Cephalonia. 30th March 1851.
My dear Brother, After encountering many exploits since you last heard from me I now take up my pen to write those (sic) few lines with a view of giving you in the best manner I possibly can a routine of my late travels and the many dangers and difficulties that we had to contend with during our time of seafaring according as I told you in my last we embarked on board H.M.S. the Hercules on the 11th of February but owing to contrary winds and the Harbour being rather dangerous we could not set sail until the 15th. We had thanks be to God very good weather and a very fine passage any more than we were very much crowded only think for a moment a whole regiment on board of one vessel. 600 men besides her own Ships Crew the consequence was that we had not left many days until one of our Serjeants took bad with the smallpox he lingered for a few days until the morning we came into Gibraltar where he died he was the only case among the Soldiers but there was afterwards 3 or 4 cases among the Ships Crew in consequence of which we had to remain in Quarantine for 7 days after arriving at Corfu which we thought worse of them all the remainder of the voyage. We arrived at Corfu on the 17th of March (knowing in Ireland as Patrick's Day). I liked the looks of Gibraltar very much but Corfu is still better in appearance but as I had not the pleasure of landing in either places I cannot give you a satisfactory idea of what they are but by what we seen of Corfu it is a very nice place and everything very cheap and as for Argostoli I like it pretty well everything is very cheap especially Wine, Brandy, Rum; and Fruit is also very very cheap and Tobacco and cigars is also cheap but we get very bad Bread.

In consequence of the other 2 Regiments arriving at Corfu before us we got orders to proceed in Detachments sending the Head Quarters to an Island called Tante. My Company the Light left in a Steamer from the vessel on the 26th instant to proceed to Argostoli on Detachment where we are at present along with Captain Edward's Regiment the 30th but its rumoured that we will leave this very shortly to go Elsewhere. I have been with my friend Captain Edwards several times and he has been very kind to me indeed and has been heretofore. I am sorry to say that I am greatly afraid that a great many of our Soldiers will fly in the face of our Great Maker by indulging too much in intemperance which is so often the case among soldiers in this part the drink being so very cheap but I hope that the Lord will still give me that strength and good sense of feeling to guard against all those temtations that He has been pleased to do as He knows that I am now many hundred miles from my kindred and my Home in a Foreign Land but as I have still that confidence in the Great God that I have always enjoyed heretofore that He will guide guard and protect me through all dangers that I may have to surmount. I shall now conclude hoping that those (sic) few lines will meet you and all enjoying good health and accept of my heartfelt wishes and prayers for your welfare and happiness and believe me to remain your affectionate Brother till Death. Direct as follows, To Corporal William Davies, Light Company 4th Regiment, Argostoli Cephalonia Ionian Island. (Write back as soon as ever you can).

Beautiful Damsels, Treacherous Men Argostoli. 2nd June 1851.
My dear Brother, Your kind and affectionate letter came quite safely to hand this morning and very happy to find that it left you and all my old friends in the enjoyment of good health as this leaves me at present thanks be to our Heavenly Father for His infinite goodness and mercy to us at all times. Dear Brother the first time I put my foot on the sunny sores of the Greecian Isles I thought it a very romantic country the people appeared to be black enough to be called Moors but now since I am acustomed to look at them so frequently I think they are quite fair, in fact I am as brown as any Greek myself. As you enter the beautiful Harbour of Cephalonia from the deck of the vessel the mountains views to the eye a most splendid sight from the very side of the water to a great height so that hot as it is the snow is constantly to be seen on the top of those Hills the sides of them are also covered with every description of Trees of the Fruit kind the Orange, Lemon, Fig, Grape, and currants in abundance but if you only saw the natives sorting them with their bare feet you would not use your money for pudding on a Christmas did I say Christmas — excuse me I don't know what I am doing this moment there are two beautiful young damsels looking out of a window and this I don't know whether they have any feet or not but they have fine eyes and hair and you must know they are locked up except on Sundays for fear we should see them they are greatly afraid of us however they can be seen on Sundays walking out under the protection of an elderly person who walks behind them until they return to their houses. The generality of the men are very treacherous they carry knives about them which they would use upon one of us without much ceremony if we should displease them in the least and if they should be found out all that's done to them is to give them viz 8 months imprisonment or perhaps less than that there has been a very treacherous case in Tante where our Headquarters are stationed one of our men was found dead in the road side with his head cut very near clean off and stabbed in several other places about his body and now there is no more about it as if there had nothing of the sort ever happened. The climate is very healthy and warm its principle products are Fruit and Oil which are to be had in great abundance and very cheap and all of every kind. Brandy and Rum can be purchased very cheap the Wine is sold at the rate of 2d. per Quart, Brandy 1s 6d per Quart and Rum 1/- per Quart. Bread is 2 1/2d per 4lb loaf beef 2d per pound in fact everything is very cheap. The inhabitants eat but very little meat their chief subsistance is bread and wine which they take in the same manner as you take Tea at home for Dinner they make use of beans and oil of olive. I must not forget to tell you that I have the pleasure of seeing my Friend Captain Edwards mostly every day and he is very kind to me indeed. His Regiment lays at one end of the Town and my Company the other both close to the water side so that we have a most splendid view of the whole country about and to mend the matter we can go on boating excursions for the most part of the day by paying but very little indeed. I cannot give you a decided answer about my going to the 30th Regiment I might be able to let you know in my next letter. Let me impress upon your memory that whenever you write to me let the letter or letters be posted on 15th of the month as the mail steamer only leaves Southampton but once Home a month for those islands and that on the 19th of every month — I shall now come to a conclusion hoping that those (sic) few lines will meet yours all in the enjoyment of good health and happiness. Please to give my kind love to my sisters and brothers William, Stephen and Eliza and to your Mother and Brother and my most intimate Friends not forgetting yourself. Wishing you and your little Family all prosperity in this life and everlasting life hereafter and Believe me to remain your truly beloved Brother William Davies, Corporal Light Company 4th Welsh Regiment of Foot, Argostoli, Cephalonia, Ionian Island. Mediterranean.

Lower Bulgaria, Yuksakova Plains, 28th July 1851
My dear Brother & Sister. With pleasure I sit down on the ground to write these few lines hoping and trusting they will reach you all enjoying good health and happiness.

We are still lying (The 2nd Division) on the same spot as when I wrote to you last in Lower Bulgaria on tse Plains of Yuksakova 14 miles from Varna. The . . . . also on the . . . . and 12 . . . alongside of a . . . . The Light Division ha . . . . up the country leaving the . . . . miles from Varna. The . . . . was owing to sickness. The 3rd . . . . have lost a great number of men during the last . . . . week from sickness, & the French are also losing good many men & all of the one complaint — cramp, I believe in the inside. My Division (the 2nd) have been very lucky as regards sickness. We have lost but very few men since we have been up here. The 4th or as we are style "Old travelling tinkers" have not lost a man since we have been in Turkey. What lucky dogs we are to — on the march or at . . . . I often see number of men falling . . . . [writes about the rainy weather and thunder of the past few days. He is in Field Marching Order with accoutrements, & knapsack on his back]. I remain your true & affectionate (Brother). William Davies, Sergeant, Light Company 4th Regt. 2nd Brigade 2nd Division, British Forces, Turkey.

A Narrow Escape
Argostoli Cephalonia. 6th May 1852.
My Dear Brother, Your very kind letter came quite safe to hand on the 2nd inst, and very proud I am to observe in its contents, that it left you, Maryann, and the little children, enjoying good health; as this leaves me, enjoying the same great blessing; Thanks be to God.

You tell me that you would like to hear a little account of the manners and customs of this part of the World. So I shall just give you a brief description of the Island of Cephalonia together with the manners and customs of its Inhabitants. The Island it is said to be about one hundred miles in circumference — very mountainous. There is but one Town on the Island which is called Argostoli but there are numerous Villages on the sides of the Hills scattered about here and there but very thinly inhabited chiefly by Greeks. The Town of Argostoli is exceedingly clean but badly built with one narrow street containing several neat Shops and Coffee houses. It has two moscks whose white minarets are seen at some distance from the distant Villages and from the Sea. The number of its Inhabitants may be about 6 or 7 hundred Chiefly Greeks, Maltese, Italians, and jews. There is a most splendid Fort on the top of one of the Hills built by the Venitians in the Year 1790 and well constructed being a hollow square of massive walls with Towers at the angles protected at the back by a single moat. The battery ranges along the northern and western walls and the embrasures with the mouths of their enormous cannons look like the entrance of small caverns to the eyes of those sailing by. At one end of the Town there is a splendid Bridge Crossing the River with 20 arches and 3/4 of a mile long and on the centre of it is a monument erected to the memory of Sir Charles Napier (then Commandant and Resident of the Island) and glory of the British Action. The other side of the Bridge for about 2 miles in nearly a straight line to the south leads up through a beautiful Valley of Thymbre so called from the stream that runs through its whole length. The southern bank of the Valley is formed by another root of the mountain which spreads in successive chains from the south east to the north west over the whole of the eastern portion. Nothing can be more agreeable than frequent rambles along the banks of the beautiful stream that runs here. The Peasants of the numerous Villages whome we frequently encounter ploughing with their mules or driving their creaking wicker cars laden with faggots from the mountains or driving their flocks of broad tailed Sheep and long horned Goats which swarm over the neighbouring Hills. The People are very distant they cannot a bare the sight of an Englishman especially the male sex who always keep their women pretty close they will not even allow them out of doors by themselves for fear they should take a fancy to an Englishman. They therefore when they go out to walk have 3 or 4 old maids walking at the distance of 4 yards behind them so you can plainly see what little chance I have towards having a few words with my fancy "Mot" the external appearance of them does not promise any personal beauty their form is unwidely (sic) and flaccid but their large black eyes surmounted with an arched brow on the forehead of dazzling darkness. The other parts of their faces are of a regular make and of polished smoothness. They Celebrate their Marriages and Chapelfeasts with loud merriment discordant music and songs night after night is kept awake by the Pipes, Tabors, and Fiddles of their moonlight dances. On any particular day they walk in procession through the Town carrying with them the Images of all the Saints and our blessed Saviour nailed on the Cross with the Virgin Mary at his feet lighted wax candles are likewise carried as if it was night and all the Papa's singing at the same time and every now and again stop and bless themselves by going through all kinds of motions. I don't suppose you know what I mean by Papas. They are Priests dressed in a long black gown with long hair and beards. If You were only here for about a month or so you would be either amused or annoyed at them I am quite sure you would be deaf for the past few days with the ringing of the Chapel bells which are so numerous and make such a dreadful noise. I think I told you before that the low class of People were very treacherous carrying with them knives or some instruments of the like. I had a very narrow escape with them for my life about a month or 2 back when I was in the act of coming home from Town rather late in the evening when 2 or more of those ruffians came in the rear of me and struck me down quite senseless with sticks and stones when I recovered myself the brutes were gone too far to catch them. The worst blow they gave me was on the side of my face and made my eye quite black but now I am allright again enjoying capital good health Thanks be to God. I have been informed there has been an awful murder taken place on an Island called Dengo where 30 of our men are on Detachment. You are well aware that Soldiers are fond of Drink and equally fond of kicking up a row no matter what part of the World they are in and so by all accounts it has been the case here no less than 3 poor Soldiers were murdered. Yes stuck in several places in their bowels with knives or some other instruments of the like but Thanks be to God the murderers were taken and put in Gaol until they take their trial which I am longing for hard and fast — They say that the murderers are people thats transported from some of the other Islands, a comical way of transporting, I believe that the Funeral was attended by all the more respectable people of the Island and the Soldiers wore black crape and a bunch of white Ribbon on their arms etc. I think I have told you all about Cephalonia so I shall come to a conclusion hoping those few lines will meet one and all of you enjoying good health give kindest love to Maryann and the little Children and my particular friend's and accept the same yourself give a kiss for me to the little Children and tell them that I very often think of them when I am rambling over the sunny shores of the Grecian Isles which is many hundreds of miles from them and my native land but I must put my whole trust in the Lord and no doubt but he will carry me safe through all difficulties and dangers that I may have to go through and bring me back safe again to my own native land that I may pass the remainder of my life happy with those that cherished my early days — You must excuse this as indeed I am on Guard and it is rather late and I am a little tired; writing these last 2 or 3 hours. So good night and God bless you's all. I Remain Your truly beloved Brother, William Davies, Corporal Light Company 4th Regiment of Foot, Argostoli "mail".

The Ruin of Soldiers
Cephalonia. 5th July 1852.
My Dear Brother, Your very kind letter came quite safe to hand on the 2nd Inst. and very proud I was to observe in its contents that it left you, Maryann, and the little children, enjoying good health and this leaves me enjoying the same great blessing thanks be to God. I have nothing strange to inform you this time as I told you all I knew in my last concerning the Island. So what can I say but that the hot weather has set in and has caused a number of my Company to go to Hospital with the Greek Fever owing to our quarters being on the top of a Hill of considerable height and the rays of the Summer's Sun reflects more upon us than what it did when we lazed at the Barracks in Town — My opinion is that the most men that gets sickness here are they that indulges themselves too much in drinking this confounded Wine which is so cheap that Soldiers really make beasts of themselves and get horrified and sent to Hospital and no doubt is the ruin of nine Soldiers out of ten. I witnessed a scene on Guard a few days ago — a drunken man was brought prisoner to me in that state that I thought he was mad — he pulled off every attom of his clothes and commenced to eat paper and wood as fast as if he was eating plum pudding and had he not being stoped he would of done himself harm.

You must know that we are not allowed out of Barracks during the heat of the day which is exceedingly hot that I often say to myself if I ever live to go Home (which I hope and trust I will) my friends will not know me being so black, they will say he is not an Englishman or a Welshman he cannot be just look at his colour. Why he must be a Greek, or a Turk or a Spaniard, but no matter I will be every bit as good as them that are as white as snow and perhaps better than numbers of them and will be able to relate about different parts of the World and show sceneries of Foreign Countries which I am daily drawing and put them in my scrap book and shall carry them with me to every part of the World that I may chance to go to and no doubt that they will be very pleasing to some of my Country to cast an eye upon. I shall now conclude as I have nothing more to say at present but I hope those few lines will reach one and all of you enjoying perfect good health and happiness and may God bless you all — give my kind love to Maryann and the little children (and a kiss) and all Relations and accept the same yourself from your affectionate Brother William Davies, Corporal, Light Company, 4th Regiment, Argostoli, Cephalonia, Ionian Islands, Mediterranean.

Tante, 6th December 1852.
My Dear Brother, Your very kind letter of the 14th October came quite safe to hand but not until it was too late to write an answer by return of post — you must know that my Company left Cephalonia on the 11th October for Tante to join the Headquarters of our Regt. there stationed — indeed I was very sorry for leaving Cephalonia on account of Captain Edwards whose kindness to me is beyond expression. I like Tante much better than Cephalonia was it not for the Duties and Fatigues been so very hard particularly on non-commissioned officers. Its nothing but mounting Guards and Piquets besides doing a variety of fatiques that we have not scarcely a moment to ourselves indeed if you believe me I am sick and tired of soldiering and wish to God I could leave and try some other calling as you say in a civil life. You must know that I have 17 years and 8 months more to serve although I am 7 years and 4 months listed 4 of them years are boy's service which do not count.

Pitch Wells
Tante is one of the most beautiful and fertile of the Ionian Islands. It retains the epithet of woody bestowed upon it by the ancients from the earliest time presenting to a stranger a rich scenery of leafy verdure. It lies opposite the ancient Town of Elis in Peloponnesus and is about 14 miles long and 8 broad. Its climate is exceeing mild and balmy — flowers are in bloom all the year and trees twice bear ripe fruit in April and November. The imports of the Island is wheat and other grains (chiefly from Odessa on the Black Sea) with manufactured articles, cured fish, British hardware and colonial produce. The exports consists of olive oil, currants, Wine Valonia,1 cotton, soap, salt and woven fabrics. The Trade carried on is principally with Greece, Great Britain, Austria, Russia and on the Italian States. Silk shawls, coarse linen and woollen goods and goatshair carpets and sacking are manufactured on a limited scale. The town lies on the east side of the Island and is a most flourishing and industrious Town. It has a large population amounting to 22000. It had been occupied at various times by various people - Greeks, Romans, Turks, Venetians, Russians, French and finally in 1809 by the English but having been possessed for so long a period by the polished Greeks and Romans and lying between them both few objects of art have ever been discovered, and still fewer remain at the present day, but among its natural curiosities there still exists one that has been noted from the earliest times, viz: the pitch wells. In a valley near the sea is a vast depression shallow and circular resembling the extinct volcano. Scattered through this are various wells from the bottoms of which there is a continuous ebullition of petroleum a substance exactly resembling vegetable pitch and use for all the same purposes. The pitch is collected with large spoons into a pit adjoining the wells and then thrown into barrels the best time for collecting it is Summer when it is exuded in the greatest quantities a circumstance connected with the natural history of the Island has given to these wells a singular interest. Tradition says that the site which they occupy had been a volcano but the Sea having burst through one of the sides had extinguished the fire — before that period this and the neighbouring Island had been free from convulsion's the (elastic?) gases generated by the inflamable matter having escaped through the aperture of the crater as through a safety tube but since that time they have been pent up under the superincumbering mass till acquiring an expansive power which became irresistible they forced their way through every obstruction rending open for themselves various spiracula or breathing apertures and in their potent progress shaking the Island to its very centre. Of these passages the pitch wells were the permanent indications and the petroleum and other inflamable substances were formations of the volcanic matter still existing in the interior and their communications with it was ascertained by the singular fact that every shock of an Earthquake was preceded by the more violent ebullition of these wells which always indicated to the inhabitants like natural barometers the rise and fall of those dangerous gases and warned them of the Earthquake. This was the case the inhabitants say in the violent concussion which shook the Island in 1514 which was so terrible that it split the mountain at the back of the town on which the Fortress was built from top to bottom. Since that time there have been besides minor shocks seven great Earthquakes and at such intervals as to form something like regular periodical events so that the (Tantistes?) affirm that they expect the return of a violent earthquake about every forty or fifty years which period it takes for the explosive gases to accumulate. The recorded periods of the violent earthquakes in Tante are as follows:— 1514, 1593, 1664, 1710, 1742, 1767, 1791, 1809. The aspect of the country is very beautiful. Olive groves and currant vineyards clothes the smiling valleys while . . . . full flower though the Winter begins to cover all the hills and makes a very . . . . and flowery scene. We are often attracted by a large and glittering mass which shines resplendant at a great distance we find it to consist of agglomerated fragments of selenite or sulphate of lime forming into very brilliant crystal .... forming a rich metallic lustre. This fossil abounds in the island. The valley inland is the segment of a circle surrounded on three sides by abrupt and rugged ridges of hills, on the fourth the remainder of the circle can be traced by rocks rising above the water as if the sea had at some period burst in and destroyed the continuity leaving at intervals the larger and stronger masses and carrying away those which had made less resistance. Within this circle the ground is nearly level constiting of a marshy soil abounding in aquatic and palustuc (sic) plants but appearing to be stained and dark as if from some mineral exhalations or impregnated waters. In this marsh are several wells or pits of which we often examine as we pass by. It is about 9 feet in diameter and surrounded by a dwarf well. The water is about 2 feet below and one foot deep, the surface covered with a scum which reflects various irridescent colours of which the blue and green are very vivid. A dark blue substance is continually forcing its way from the bottom and boiling up in large globules which as they ascend enlarge till near the surface they burst liberating a quantity of gas which the peasantry often inform us is highly inflamable, but we have not the means of trying. Sometimes the globules are transparent and assumes a singular brilliancy ascending to the surface and bursting while a coating of dark bituminous matter in which they are invested is thrown off. This dark substance was the petroleum or rock pitch which being specifically heavier than the water remain below covering the sides and part of the bottom. The brilliant globules disengage from it is pure naphtha or rock oil which forms a light oleaginous stratum above reflecting beautiful various colours. The intervening water is sweet and fit for use but strongly impregnated with a taste like tar water and is prescribed in various dyspeptic complaints. A circumstance which marks the extensive ramifications of those wells and that their course is not confined within what remains of the present water is that on the surface of the sea at some distance the same substances are found within a circumscribed space as if they had issued from a similar well at the bottom of the sea or had a communication with those on the land by subterraneous passages. The ground on which we stand sometimes does not appear firm but when we stamp upon it the whole surface seems to shake and tremble for a considerable distance. I think I have told you all I know about Tante perhaps I might be able to tell you something about Malta in course of a short time as we fully expect to be going there about the beginning of March or sooner. I shall now conclude by wishing you one and all my Dear Relations a Merry Christmas and a happy new year and may God bless you all for that is the constant prayer of your Affectionate Brother, William Davies Lance Sergeant, Light Company 4th "Welsh" Regiment, Tante, Ionian Island, Mediterranean,. Give a kiss for me to the little children and God bless them.

Longing for Home
MALTA. 21st September 1853.
My Dear Brother, Your obliging letter is a fresh proof of your friendship and esteem for me; permit me to tell you as well as I am able how truly sensible I am of all your favours, and that I will endeavour by my conduct to ensure the continuance of them. My prayers are offered up to Heaven for you and my dear friends preservation, nor are you any day, absent from my thoughts. May God preserve you all, and grant you everything you can wish for. How often do I wish, that the views of our friends, had permitted us to continue, as we began our journey through life hand in hand. I long for the coming of the days, when I shall (with the help of God) return to my native land, on no account mor than to meet you, to revisit our old haunts, to see our old friends, to talk over old stories, and compare notes of our more recent adventures. I feel more attachment for you than I did before our separation; and notwithstanding the difference of our destinations in life, I assure you I have no idea of pleasure, or hope of advantage, in which I do not wish you a joint partaker with. I have nothing of any consquence to inform you at present as everything in Malta seems quite dull ever since the Fleet went out - So I shall conclude trusting that the good sense with which Heaven has been pleased to befriend you, ever promote peace and harmoney in your dear family and may that Divine Protection whose care I implore keep you steadfast in the faith of Christianity and guide your steps in the straitest paths of virtue. Give my kind love to all my relations and my respects to old acquaintances. I remain your affectionate Brother Wm Davies, Lce Sergt Light Company, 4th Regt. Malta. Write back as soon as you can.

[At the head of this letter is a coloured picture of "Malta Harbour 24 May 1853", showing the ships Albion, Vengeance, Arethusa, Trafalgar, Retribution, Rodney, Britannia, and Bellerophon, dressed over-all in review order]. (TODO I wonder if this photo can be found in the County Record Office? -- ChrisJones)

Scutari Hospital. 24th January 1854.
My Dear Brother and Sister, Your most welcome letter bearing date 19th December has just come to my hand. I am happy to see by its contents you are all keeping well. Health is the greatest blessing we can have bestowed upon us poor unworthy Sinners. I trust you have ere this reaches you received the box containing my little presents. I told you before what they are.

I have to inform you that I have written to my Regiment for to get me up to join my Regt on the Crimea so I expect an answer very soon to go up. I am tired of staying down at Scutari amongst so many sick and wounded and would rather share the dangers and difficulties with my brave Companions in' Arms on the Field of Battle. I hope sincerely that the present year will bring comfort and happiness to all. Our hopes of ever meeting on this side of the Grave is very dim at present but nothing is impossible with our Heavenly Father. We may meet to be a comfort to each other through life yet should this be denied to us let us ever look forward to a happy meeting in the world beyond the Tomb. This thought alone carries me through the weary trials that is to be met with. The past year 1854 (sic) has been a year of sorrow and sadness to thousands and will long be remembered by all living. It has hurried thousands to an untimely Grave. May it please God to change the heart of that vile wretch who has been the cause of it. I have nothing of any consequence to inform you at present so I shall draw my little letter to an end hoping and trusting those few little lines will meet you and all our relations enjoying perfect good health and happiness as I am happy to say they leave me enjoying the very best of health at present thanks be to God. Give my love to all relations and my kind remembrance to all old acquaintances too numerous to mention. My kindest love and kisses to Maria and likewise kisses to the children. I remain your most affectionate brother, William Davies, Sergt. Lt. Co. 4th Regiment.

The Light Brigade
Camp Scutari (Asia), Opposite Constantinople. 12th June 1854.
Home My Dear Brother and Sister, Your very kind letter dated 8th May, came safely to hand on the 9th instant, and it is with pleasure I take my pen in hand to inform you what has taken place since I wrote to you last. In the first place we have shifted from Bks. to Camp which is by far superior to the dirty, filthy, Barracks that we had to put up with. In the next place the light Division has left here for Varna with a portion of Cavalry and Artillery. The 3rd Division are still at Gallipoli and there are 2 Divisions stationed here, together with the Cavalry and Artillery. The 2 Divisions are as follows, viz. - 3 Batallions of Guards, 42nd, 79th and 93rd Highlanders, 41st, 47th and 49th, 30th 55th and 95th Regts. We are encamped together in one field, the Artillery in another and the Cavalry are some miles from here. We don't know the day or hour we will leave either for Varna or the Storming of Sebastopol. The vessels are in harbour here waiting for to take us away at the shortest notice. All the Troops here have been served out with the Minie Muskets a weapon far superior to the Common Musket. Our provisions are very cheap. They consist of 2lbs of Bread, llb of Meat, 1 pint of Porter, 1 pint of Tea for breakfast and another for supper (daily), the whole amounting to the sum of 7d. a man only. I have to inform you that the Light Company of each Regt. are formed into one Brigade called "Light Brigade", to be employed in the field in skirmishing and storming. So you see there is nothing before us but real hardships, but I don't care so long as I continue in health as heretofore and I have not the least doubt, but I will so long as I put my whole trust in God. It is He alone that is able to carry me safe through all dangers and difficulties that I may have to surmount. The weather here of late has been very fine but very warm at mid-days. Our parades are at an early hour and when we have a field day we parade at 4 o'clock and march out to the country, the Light Brigade being in front in skirmishing order, followed by the Artillery, Infantry and Cavalry and mind you in marching order too — we are home then by 10 o'clock (what a catch to be in the Light Company). We really astonish the Turks (we call them "John Turko"), especially when a Regiment is at the charge cheering making their voices ring in John Turko's ears. When all is over you can hear John Turko saying "Bono", "Bono", "Calo", "Calo", English, which means good. The Turkish women are very fond of us. I think if they could talk English they would run away with us. I went over to Constantinople the other day and one of them followed me through several streets laughing at me the whole time until I went into a Coffee House where she stoped at the door until forced away by a Turk, what a pity we could not understand each other. We had a grand Review the other day for His Imperial Majesty the Sultan of Turkey. The troops were formed in line of Regiments at 1/4 distance column, Colours and officers in front of their respective Regiments, Bands playing "God Save the Queen" and colours lowered as His Majesty passed down the front of the line — we then marched past at 1/4 distance column in quick time. Artillery in front, Infantry in the centre and the Cavalry last — Colours flying in the breeze and the Bands playing "We are off to Russia" — we then marched home to quarters. My dear friends I must now come to a conclusion (as time, paper pens are so very scarce), hoping and trusting those few lines will reach you one and all in the enjoyment of health, wealth and happiness, as I am happy to say this leaves me enjoying the very best of health, thanks be to God. Kiss the little children for me and remember me to all acquaintances and to everyone whom you think has any kindness for me and God Bless You. I remain your affectionate Brother Wm Davies, Sergt. Light Company, 4th Regt., Constantinople.

Defying The Mighty Czar
Camp, Varna 25th June 1854.
My Dear Brother & Sister, In haste I take my pen in hand to scribble these few lines to inform you that we embarked on board the Steamer Medway at Constantinople on the 17th Inst & sailed up the Bospherous at 4 1/2 p.m. the same for Varna. I said before that it was beautiful to gaze on the shores of Europe & Asia as we sailed up between them coming up through the Hellespont, but it was doubly beautiful to gaze on them as we sailed up the Bospherous - The sun gilding on the numerous Castles, glass houses, & private dwellings, the doors & windows of which were crowded with John Turko's & Miss & Mrs Turko's astonished as it were at our haste in sailing up between their shores to tramp upon tyranny under our feet. The fortfications which are situated on the River's banks are certainly numerous & very strong. Some of the guns cannot be seen until you come quite close but those on the Castles especially those at the mouth of the River entering the Black Sea are visible, their muzzles pointing towards the deep black waters seeming as it were to defy an invasion from the Mighty Czar of all the Russians. At sunset we happened to be at the mouth of the River entering the black sea when two guns fired a shot, each one from a Castle on the right in Asia, and another from a Castle on the left in . . . the place echo with their noise & our B . . . save our Little Queen (long may . . . and fell fast so I can say nothing . . . the Country which lay on our left as . . . at Sunrise next morning the woods . . . resounded through every part of the . . . nearly every body to see it and certain . . . most miserable looking place that ever I put my . . . into, & worst than all inhabited by some of the most miserable looking beings that every I saw in my life. They say "The English are fine looking soldiers. What a pity they are Christians". The next day, Monday the 17th we landed & marched to Camp on a large plain where a great battle was fought between the Russians & Turks. On this great plain the . . . French are encamped amounting to the . . . seventy thousand. The very best of . . . between the English and French soldiers . . . . together & their first conversation is . . . . France will be the World (& so they will) . . . the hour we will leave this place to . . . the enemy — it ought to be before I finish . . it is rumoured that the Russians have . . . the principalities of Turkey and are likely to . . . the interior of Russia. The Russian prisoners taken by our navy say that they would rather cut their throats than go back to fight for their own Country. Our troops are in very good health and all anxious for to have a slap at the Russians & return to their native lands to tell their martial story. Our necessaries of life are very poor, not half as good as they were at Constantinople propably owing to the number being together. The French soldiers are much better off than us for when they want any thing they go boldly & take it from the inhabitants & without payment for the same. The English soldiers on the other hand if they take anything they are severely punished. There is an order issued that no British Soldier is allowed to enter the Town except on duty. For my part I should be long sorry before I enter it again for I saw nothing in it but dirty Coffee . . . streets infested with dogs . . . my eye in it was some French . . . taking their goods. French . . . with them so that . . . of them. I have nothing . . . to tell you so I shall draw my letter to a conclusion hoping & trusting in our Heavenly Father that we shall have the pleasure of seeing each other again & that ere long in our native land. & may He bless each one of us to the end of this life & throughout eternity, so prays your true and faithful Brother. Give my love to all our relatives & my dutiful remembrance to old friends both at Carmarthen & the Commons. Kiss the little Children for me & tell them I am quite well & that I often think of them although in a foreign land thousands of miles from dear little Wales. My Cousin Sergt. Morgan is quite well & desires me to send his kind love to all our relations. I remain your true & faithful Brother, Wm Davies, Sergeant, Light Company, 4th Regt. Turkey.

Write back the day you receive any letter from me — Via Marseilles — I have only had one letter from you since leaving Malta. P.S. Excuse the bad writing & the many blunders for I have nothing to put under the paper but the ground.

A Village Called Balaklava
Before Sebastopol. 27th October 1854.
My Dear Brother and Sister, I hardly know how to begin informing you what little news I have to give you — however I shall begin with saying on the 17th inst our Light Batteries opened fire upon Sebastopol and the outworks (mud batteries) and have up to this date continued firing and happy I am to say that we have nearly silenced the whole of the enemy's batteries, blow up several magazines and set the Town on fire many times but the people inside have managed to put it out in a very short time. On the morning of the 25th the enemy about 25,000 attacked our rear close to a small village called Balaklava where our Store Ships, Provisions and General Hospital are guarded only by a few weakly men — intending off course to make a fine bob as they thought but they were greatly taken in — but will it be believed when I am telling a real fact that the Turks (our Allies) ran away from their guns (a Seige battery) which were taken by the enemy but they did not keep them long before our Cavalry retook the guns and made a most daring charge upon the enemy's Cavalry ten times their number (and under a cross fire from the enemy) but with great loss of life. It was a most splendid sight that ever a man saw to see our brave fellows dashing through the enemy's ranks fighting 10 to 1 and driving them like dust before the wind — we could see the enemy falling in hundreds. It is a great pity that we have not more Cavalry for we should do much more execution. I am afraid that I shall not be able to say much more as our time is so very precious — we never take off our clothing and accoutrements and as for washing and clean clothes is a thing entirely out of the question. We are one night throwing up intrenchments another night on outlying piquet and very often surprised by the enemy. They come upon us one night as French Patrols but we soon found them out - we gave them a volley and took many prisoners. I wish to God it was all over for I am sick and tired of such work. It is expected daily that we are to storm Sebastopol, the hour we know not — some say tonight.

I am sorry to say that I cannot write any more at present as the mail is off directly, so goodbye all, may God bless you all. Give my love to all our relations and my kind remembrance to all old friends, and tell Mr Thomas of the Royal Oak that I can't write to him by this mail as she is off now in 10 minutes. Kiss the little children for me and give my love to Maria. I cannot say that I am quite but am much better than I was a few months back. W.D. Sergt. Light Company 4th Regt.

Address. Via Marseilles, To Mr. John Roberts (mason) near the Magazine Row, Lammas Street, Carmarthen, Carmarthenshire, South Wales, England.

Scutari, Constantinople. 24/11/54.
My Dear Brother & Sister, Many thanks for your very kind letter bearing date 13/10/54 which only came to my hands a few days ago containing the good news of your being all well at Home. I wrote to you all about 8 or 9 days ago informing you that I had taken bad the second time (owing to my going to my duty too soon) and had been sent down to Scutari Constantinople for the recovery of my health where I am at present writing those few lines hoping and trusting they will reach you all quite well.

I cannot say that I am now on the Battle Field as I did some time back when I laid down my weary head to rest amongst the dying and wounded of many nations and no shelter over me save the Canopy of Heaven which I must say was the cause of many a poor fellow's death —but have to say that I am still in Hospital (with the Diarrhoea) but I am getting round now exceedingly well. It leaves for a few days and then all of a sudden it comes on as bad as ever and I am obliged to keep in bed. I believe that my Regt. have been greatly reduced since I left, we have lost our Colonel and 4 other officers killed and 5 or 6 wounded and about 200 men killed and wounded besides the great number that are sick and not able to move.

I have nothing more of any consequence to inform you at present more (sic) give my kindest love to all our relations and my best respects to all old acquaintances. Cousin William is here in Hospital very ill poor fellow. He desires his kind to you all. I remain, your Affectionate Brother William Davies Sergt. Light Company 4th Regiment, Scutari Constantinople.

My kisses to the children which are much larger than this [here follows drawings of four lips] Don't laugh too much or you will hurt yourself. Give my kind love to Maria.

Shared Dangers at Alma
Scutari Hospital, 4th December 1854.
My Dear Brother and Sister, Many thanks for your very kind letter dated 1/11/54 which I got quite safe a few days ago informing me of your all being quite well in dear Little Home. How delighted I am to hear such good news from you and may that news be always the same until called to the World unseen towards which we are hastening fast.

I am happy to inform you dear Brother that I am getting round all right again and expect to be out of Hospital in a few days more and go up and join my brave Companions in arms on the Crimea where once I shared their dangers on the Field of Battle — Yes and under the Colours of my Regiment. I omitted telling you before that I was one of the Sergts of the Colours Division of my Regiment at the Great Battle on the heights of Alma that everlasting renowned place so that I can boast of having fought under the Colours of my Regiment at a Glorious victory over the enemy.

I have no news to give you more than what you can learn by the newspapers so I shall wish you all good night and goodbye but I hope not for ever.

Give my love to all our dear relations and my kind remembrance to all old friends too numerous to mention. Cousin William is getting round pretty fair too — he sends his love to you all.

I remain, Your affectionate Brother, William Davies, Sergt, Light Company, 4th Regt.

Direct to Scutari.

Oh by the by don't forget my love to Maria and kisses to the children and big ones. Write back as soon as you can. W.D.

Scutari, Constantinople, 31st December 1854.
My Dear Brother and Sister, Yours dated 30th ult came safe to my hands yesterday morning. It gladdened my very heart to hear it left you all enjoying good health and I am happy to say those few lines leaves me enjoying the same great blessing thanks be to our Heavenly Father for His tender mercies to us at all times. I quite forget whether I told you in my last that I was out of Hospital and doing very well — all that is the matter with me now is a slight touch of the Diarrhoea — our Cousin William is much better and has gone on board of Ship (yesterday) to proceed to England for the recovery of his lost health. I have the little box with the articles I before mentioned ready for starting by the next Steam packet that leaves for dear old England — So you must be on the look for it. I don't know by what conveyance it will reach Carmarthen I suppose by the Train I shall pay all expenses for its carriage before leaving here — all I dread is that you won't get it — I would rather than £5 you would. The box contains the following articles, viz — (Two pairs of Turkish Slippers — the largest size for Sister Achsah - the other for one of your little Children - Two caps the Red one for my Uncle Davies the blue one embroidered for little Stephen. Two Shawls fastened to paper — one for Sister Achsah the other for Maryann — Two or 3 Handkerchiefs for my Grandmother and Aunt — a Tobacco bag for you and 2 pipes one for brother John the other for you and lastly a knife that I took from a Russian Officer in the midst of Battle on the heights of Alma where thunder cannon spoke aloud — keep the knife for my sake — You can say it's a knife a brother of mine took from an enemy of his upon an eastern land fighting for the land and flag of liberty that flag that has waved a thousand years - What I am going to say now is a subject I wish not to be made known to anyone. Previous to my coming out of Hospital to do duty the General Doctor detained me and made me Ward Master of the Hospital with the allowance of 1/6d per day, making my daily pay 5/4d. I have a neat little place to myself with a bed, table and chair in fact I have everything that I require. I may say I am quite comfortable but how long this comfort may continue I can't tell - I am very well liked by all the Medical Officers who are above me. I know that Sister Achsah will be delighted to hear this good news — don't you think so to ? I have nothing more to say at present more than I hope we shall meet in dear little Wales before the end of 1855. Give my kindest love to all our Relations and friends and God bless you all. I beg of you to write as soon as you can to let me know whether you have received the box with the sundry little articles. I received the Newspaper all right a daybefore I received your letters. You really make me laugh about my dear Maria. Give her my warmest love.

I remain, Your affectionate Brother, William Davies. Sergt. Light Company 4th Regiment, Scutari.

I open this to say that I have put the box containing the aforesaid articles in the Packet Office and received a certficate for the same which is enclosed in this letter. If you don't get it very soon you better apply to Mr E. Jones, 60 South Castle Street, Liverpool and get him to forward it to you — He is the agent to Mr Grace, Constantinople.


68, South Castle Street

30th Jany 1855

Customs and Forwarding Agent

In reply to your favour of the 21st inst. I beg to state upon your Forwarding me the receipt for the Box from Sergeant Davies, I will forward the same to you, upon the arrival of the Steamer.

John Roberts, Esq., Stone Mason, St David's Church, Carmarthen, South Wales.

I remain, Yours &c, (Sgd.) Edwd Jones


[Written on back.] "No 2 Duplicate (Original sent to Mr. Jones) Constantinople Jany 4th 1855.

Received from Sergt Wm Davies for Shipment on board the Steamer "British Queen" for Liverpool, viz one small box said to contain Turkish Slippers.

Addressed. Mr John Roberts, Carmarthen, South Wales. care of Mr E. Jones, 68 South Castle Street, Liverpool. To be forwarded for Clr E. Grace, Agent, W. Davies. William Rees.

In The Advance Trenches
Camp before Sebastopol. 4th March 1855.

My Dear Brother and Sister, Since my last to you circumstances are entirely changed. I have left Scutari and have arrived safe at my Regiment in Camp before Sebastopol. There is a sensation I think felt by any Soldier who has been absent for a period from his Regiment that is not so easily described as might be imagined. He feels as it were returning to intermix with a large circle of friends whose merry society has been a long time enstranged and such were my feelings on my arrival at my Regiment although I knew that my duty would be more severe than that which I had lately been performing — however duty must be done no matter how hard it may seem. My Regiment furnished the Piquet last night in the advance Trenches. I was one of the number - it seemed rather unpleasant for it snowed the greater part of the night so you may imagine he who walked in a Ditch at night and the snow constantly falling on him cannot feel very comfortable but thanks be to the good people of England they have not forgot that it is cold here. I wish they had thought of it a little sooner, it would have saved the lives of many brave men who died through nothing else but want of warm clothing; however we have no cause to complain now. I am this moment enveloped in a large Sheepskin Coat together with great Cowhide boots that reaches to my knees besides an oilcloth (overall) the whole surmounted by a fine Saleskin Cap that covers my ears and neck leaving me in a manner proof against any weather. I have just returned after been as near Sebastopol as could with safety venture for the purpose of taking a long look at a Town that the world is talking about and certainly I must say it is a very pretty Town and very large and its numerous fortifications in position and strength exceed anything I ever saw so astonishingly beautiful is the whole Town and situation that were it not for the Cruel Despot who rules its inhabitants surely humanity could not doom such a place to destruction but such is war. I cannot help reflecting when I walk a hundred yards from my Camp and find myself in the midst of a Russian hurrying ground with as many as one hundred and fifty in one grave all who have fallen by the sword since we pitched our Tents on these heights. It is melancholly indeed when you consider that those people were fighting the cause of a Cruel Monster and blind to every precept of truth were easily led to do wrong. Now our works are as far advanced as
[remainder of letter missing].

Enemy Came In Thousands
Camp Before Sebastopol, 27th April 1855.

My Dear Brother & Sister, Yours dated 29th Ult came to my hands quite safe a few days ago. I have nothing of any consequence to inform you at present. I think I told you in my last that the Siege had reopened on the 7th Inst and is continued up to the 22nd Inst. We are losing many lives daily in those Trenches of ours through stealing our way nearer to the Town by making new Trenches & Capturing huts from the enemy and I fear we shall lose many more before we complete our work which is the Capture of Sebastopol. I think I told you before that our very advance trenches in front of our Batteries are not more than 20 yards from the Russian Sharp Shooters who are hidden in Stone huts annoying us every minuete (sic) with volleys of Musketry. I should rather call those huts little fortresses for such are they when you come to examine them more closely being bum [bomb] proof as we call them.

On the Night of the 19th Inst our Light Divison were on duty in the Trenches — the night was rather dark and windy. Some time about the hour of 11 o'clock our few but brave and daring fellows crept on their hands and feet and succeeded in putting the enemy out of 2 of their huts or fortresses by the point of the bayonet and in a very short time our Sappers & Miners made a Trench from ours to the captured huts. The enemy done all they could to put our men out of the huts or retake them as they have done to our Allies the French, but the British Motto is Death before dishonoured, (sic) and I am proud to say we keep the huts in spite of all the forces they bring against us. The loss in this affair on our side was 6 officers and 40 non comd officers & Privates killed & wounded, but I have no idea what the loss on the side of the enemy must have been. I know it was greater than ours. The following night my Division relieved the Lt Dn in the Trenches. We had hardly relieved them when the enemy came upon us in Columns of thousands intending to drive us before them like a flock of Sheep, but as said before we would have died covered over with glory with victory's seal on each brow rather than yield an inch of the ground that our Comrades had won & fought for a night previous. We received them with a volley from our Musketry bringing Death through their thronged ranks their loss must have been very great as they were greatly exposed to our fire and the loss on our side was but trifling. My Regiment's loss was 2 killed one of which in my own Company, & 19 wounded 4 of which in my Company.

Duty is much harder upon us now than what it has been, in consequence of having so many trenches to defend. We are on duty in the trenches every alternately 24 hours and it takes us nearly 2 hours to go & 2 more when we come home — making 28 hours on duty under arms, and all the time we are in the trenches we keep up a brisk fire from our Musketry through small port holes made by sand bags placed on the top of the Gabions annoying the enemy as much as possible.

Dear Brother, I must draw to a close as my time is getting very scarce — it is now after Tatoo and nearly Lights Out as we call it. I have made enquiries about your Cousin C. Wilson of the 34th Regiment. They tell me he never came with the Regt to the Crimea, but left behind Sick. I am told he is now with the Depot. I am glad you like the contents of the 1 Box so wel, but I am sorry to find that there were but one handkerchief out of the 3 in the box. I placed 2 of those handkerchiefs in the largest size Slippers (one in each slipper) and the 3rd was in some other part of the Box. However dont go to any pother about it. You pay the money & I shall make it good to you very shortly. When I paid the money for the carriage of the 1 Box at Constantinople I was told there would be nothing to be paid when it would reach you. However don't mind it.

I can say nothing more only accept of my affection love — You and all our relations, & my kind remembrance to all old acquaintances and may we all live long & happy. I remain Your affectionate Brother, William Davies Sergt. Light Company 4th Regt. Crimea.

Good night & God bless you all. Write as soon as possible — W.D.

Gunfire Lit The Night
Camp before Sebastopol. 4th May 1855.

Beloved Brother and Sister, Yours of the 17th ult came safe to my hands yesterday evening — I am glad to find by it that it left you all still enjoying good health as I am most happy to say I am enjoying excellent health thanks be to God. By your last it appears you never received the letter I sent with the little account of the sortie made on the night of the 22nd of March - however you seem to know what happened without my saying any more upon the subject. Since my last the Siege has ceased but I have no idea why — and another thing I cannot conceive what object our authorities can have in view in sparing anything belonging to the enemy — why if I had anything to do in it I would blow their Shipping out of the water and make ashes of the Town — why if such work as this continues we shall be here for ever wearying — wearying — yet miserable life. It is strongly reported that my Division with some French Divisions are going to Eupatoria. (The Highland Brigade are gone under Sir George Brown, late in command of the Light Division) embark at Balaklava landing at Eupatoria and fighting our way up to the hills on the northern side of Sebastopol so as to cut off all communication between Sebastopol and the interior part of the Country thus starving the defenders of Sebastopol or the doomed City and not till then do I believe shall we put our feet within the walls of the Town that the world is talking about so. On the night of the 2nd inst. the French made a Sortie upon the Russians on our left that is on the left of our Batteries and came off victorious after capturing the Flag Staff Battery. The French were repulsed once but made another attack and succeeded in being Masters of the Battery (and are now). It is stated the French lost 200 killed and wounded and the loss on the side of the enemy much greater. My Regiment was on Piquet the same night — it happened not many hundred yards from us. The firing was most terrible on both sides and although it being a dark night we could see the movements of both French and Russians by the Flash of the Guns. The clouds even appeared as on fire all in a blaze. You would be astonished really astonished if you were but to come up and take a walk through our Batteries and trenches — they are that numerous that you would lose yourself for hours - much more numerous than the streets of Carmarthen — then our Camps would actually remind you of a large City in England and a stranger to stand on the top of one of those hills could look around and behold the Sons of England and France, Soldiers whose courage needs no description, would fancy never lose the sight of the beautiful yet splendid sight to the eyes of man. The weather still continues beautiful and the men enjoying very good health. I have nothing more of any consequence to tell you at present so I shall conclude with best love to you all — and many kisses for the Children.

Dread of Winter
Camp before Sebastopol. 1st August 1855.

My Dear Brother & Sister, In reply to your very kind and affectionate letter of the 3rd Ult. I am most happy to hear it left you all all right and I am also most happy to tell you that I am (as the old saying goes) toll-lol. I dare say you have read all the particulars about the 18th June in the Papers, so it is not worth detailing, let it suffice to say that we could not win — however, since then we have done nothing worth detailing but advance our works nearer to the Russians, so we have only two things to think about which is to attack Sebastopol at once or invest the north side which would cut off the communication with the interior Russia and thus compel them to surrender through want of food or provisions. I must tell you that we all dread the approaching of winter although we are much better prepared than we were for the last, yet the very thought of it brings fresh to our memories the dear friends that died through sickness brought on by the inclemency of the season or actually perished in the snow on the heights of Inkerman. True, it is that such was the melancholly effect last winter had on our brave Soldiers and such must occur again if we are to be here another winter. It may not be as it was but there is no doubt but it will thin our ranks considerably.

The Railroad from Balaklava is now completed as far as the front of our position, so when supplies of provisions or ammunition are required they may be conveyed in a much shorter time and with less fatigue to men and horses than last winter's fatal mode of conveyance caused.

I am sorry to find you have but a small share of earth from the Quarries in front of the Redan, so I enclose in this a little earth from the heights of Inkerman where the hottest or sharpest work took place between the Russians and British. I am at a loss what I can tell you in this as everything seems very dull.

Give my best and warmest love to all our dear friends too numerous to mention and accept of the same yourself, and God be with you and protect you all is my fervent prayers. I Remain your affectionate Brother William Davies.

Direct To Colour Sergt. William Davies Light Company, 4th Regt., 2nd Division Crimea.

'My Wound Is Healed'
Camp, Sebastopol, 8th December 1855.

My dear Brother and Sister, Your very kind letter came safe to my hands a few days ago. I am glad to find by it that it left you all well and I am also happy to tell you that I enjoy the same great blessing thanks be to God my wound is quite healed up and I am able to write a little but not quite so well as I used to. Everything is so very quiet here now since we have left off fighting that I scarecely know what to say except I commence talking about road making what we are constantly employed at herein. We have all become Engineers on a small scale but not quite perfect yet. Our wooden huts also require a vast deal of repairs which they are daily undergoing. The explosions on the 15th Ult. which by this time you have read all about shook the huts of our Division considerably in fact there are none of them now waterproof except those that have undergone repairs. One of the shells during the explosion fell through the roof of one of our huts and exploded inside blowing the hut to pieces and killing one of the Band who was inside at the time with many others but did not succeed in getting out of the way quick enough. We are quite differently situated to what we were 12 months ago in every respect. The wooden huts are much better than the Tents we had to live in last winter on the heights of Inkerman with the enemy close to our Camp. We feel the comfort I assure you of our present situation having a pretty good supply of warm clothing and not very hard duty to perform. The enemy still continue to send an occasional shell from the north side of the harbour to the Town for which they are always paid back threefold and on . . . I shall send in this many a small Russian relic got [torn] Sevastopol. I dare say you will have many . . . at it, coming from a place where many brave . . . have fallen. I have nothing more to say at present, I shall conclude with my affectionate love to you all. I remain Your affectionate Brother Col. Sergt. Wm. Davies. Light Company 4th Regt. Crimea.

Addressed to. Via Marseilles To Mr. John Roberts mason near The Magazine Row, Lammas Street, Carmarthen, Carmarthenshire, South Wales.

Among The Distinguished
Camp near Sebastopol, 7th April 1856.

My Dear Brother and Sister, Doubtless you are as proud as many more like myself, of Peace having been at last proclaimed; and possess the fond hope of seeing each other once more, in dear little Wales, and that soon, soon.

By your last I find you have seen my father, and Uncle. I am glad to hear, they were quite well. I suppose my father has not given up his old corrupt habits that of Drinking. He seems to have quite forgotten me; but thanks I have a Father in Heaven, who has been with me, on the Battlefield, in sickness and in sorrow.

I am told that something is to be given to all those mentioned, as having highly distinguished themselves at the Assault of the Redan, the 8th September last, where my name is amongst that number.

I intend leaving the Army as soon as the Regiment arrives home. I have sufficient money in the Regimental Savings Bank to purchase my discharge — speaking truly I would rather humble myself to the life of a beggar than lead the life of a Soldier. I have had a long trial of it and ought to know the difference.

I don't know how soon my Regt. may leave the Crimea but for what Station we are going to I can't tell. I hope its straight home.

The Allies and the Russians are allowed to visit each other's Camp by means of papers. Two Russians sang a song in my hut a few days ago after cracking a few bottles with the men. They seem to be perfectly satisfied with Peace and say there's nothing like peace. Some of the Russian women visiting Sebastopol have cried most bitterly, and even some of their men — seeing their once dear homes, now in complete mass of ruins.

I have nothing more to say at present - My love to you all and may God bless you.

I remain, Your affectionate Brother William Davies, Col Sergt., Light Company, 4th Regt., Crimea.

Home And Rags
Aldershot Camp, 19th July 1856.

My Dear Brother and Sister, I would have written to you before this were it not that we have been much knocked about. I wrote to Sister Achsah the first day we landed giving her a brief description of my voyage which I dare say you have read so its no use of me writing the same over again — suffice it to say that we are safe at Aldershot Camp after being reviewed by the Queen. We are also under orders for to embark at Liverpool for Dublin at the shortest notice.

I am going to purchase my Discharge next month but what I am going to do I don't know — Perhaps you could do something towards getting me into the police or any some other situation even selling Rags in the Streets.

I have nothing more to say at present so I shall conclude with my kindest love to you all and God Bless you. I remain, Your affectionate Brother William Davies, Colr. Sergt., Light Company, 4th Regt.
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Historian.CorporalDaviesGoesToWar moved from Home.CorporalDaviesGoesToWar on 11 Sep 2005 - 21:19 by ChrisJones - put it back
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