Heartbreaking letter from Barry parents reminds us of the Great War's tragedy

WIRELESS: Ray at his kitchen table

SOLDIER: Ray Evans from Barry

First published in News by

A SERIES of letters from a Barry family during World War One reveal a heartbreaking insight into the grief felt by those who lost their loved ones in battle.

Raymond Evans was a young mining engineer from Barry, whose parents Mary and Theophilus lived in Gaen Street.

Prior to going to war he was working in Cornwall where - through a shared love of the "wireless" - he befriended a man named Richard James Cory, who was not accepted into the military.

Ray Evans died in action on January 12, 1917 aged 23 during a campaign in Kut-al-Amara, in what is now Iraq. It is believed he was hit by gunfire while on night duty, helping to dig a trench.

When Richard Cory wrote to Ray's parents to enquire about his friend he received a response explaining that Ray had died.

These letters are now in the possession of Richard's grandson Tony, and reading them serves as a stark reminder of the tragedy so many families experienced during the Great War.

Excerpts from the letters read: "We, like most parents and friends, had every hope of our dear boy coming home safe one day and I feel sure that having known him only for a few months you will realize what his death has meant to us as a family, only three of us now.

"No parents ever had a better son or sister a nobler or dearer brother, therefore our loss has been greater than we can ever express in words.

"It is hard to submit to the loss of such a promising young life and the worse part of it is he is only one in many thousands and it’s not the end yet. We have tried to be brave for his sake.

"His great trouble was on his last leave nearly two years ago that I should not worry about him.

"He sat down and begged of me not to, but how could we help doing so.

"Even now it seems too dreadful to believe that we shall never see him on earth again.

"His officers wrote very nice letters speaking in the highest terms of him but what we valued more than all this was a letter from a lad who had gone out with Ray and acted as orderly for him for some months.

"He wrote telling us how sorry he was and said our son was one of the best men he had ever met and that all the boys in his platoon simply worshipped him and would follow him anywhere.

"Please thank the kind friends for the messages of sympathy on our behalf."

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