Poverty rather than patriotism led Horace to war

Horace Maynard was one of nine children who lived with his widowed mother in Ferry Road

The story of Horace Maynard - brought up in grinding poverty, he was worried about his family back home in Grangetown as he fought. His family still have the last letters he wrote back before he was killed at the Somme on July 18th 1918.

Horace's father John - a seaman - died in 1908, aged 63,when Horace was 12 and his mother was left with nine children at home. The family were plunged instantly into poverty. Horace, like his siblings, had to work as soon as he was able to if the family were to escape the Workhouse. In 1911 he was employed as an errand boy. Poverty, rather than patriotism, made him enlist in the 16th Welsh (Cardiff) Battalion in 1914. In December 1915 he went to fight in France. He eventually rose to the rank of Lance Corporal in the 2nd Welsh Battalion. His promotion came about probably because thousands of soldiers died and there were fewer experienced men left to promote. He died of wounds after the Second battle of the Somme in July, 1918, aged 23.

In his last two letters home - reproduced below - his main concerns were that his mother was getting his soldier's allowance and the future happiness of his favourite sister, Annie, who was soon to be married.

He is buried at Varennes Military Cemetery near Albert, the Somme.

His family were too poor to visit his grave and it remained unvisited until his nephew John Maynard went to pay his respects there in 2010.

Copy of letter Horace Maynard wrote on 8th July 1918 - 10 days before he died - to his friend Horace Partridge, who married his favourite sister Annie two months before

Dear Horace

Am just taking the pleasure of answering your most kind and welcomed letter which I was very glad to receive, also to hear you are getting on quite well and am pleased to say I am in the pink at the time of writing. You say that you are still in the same place but have asked for a nice job well done kid and I hope you will have the luck to be able to keep it and it is not such a bore to you now - yes I got your last letter alright but I say Horace please do not put Welch Rgt on addressing the envelope to me just put 38th Btl MGC as I am afraid your letter got delayed through it so please take notice.

You say you have not heard from Doll - well neither have I but I am hoping to every day and I guess it is all off with the pusher as I have not heard from her for 8 weeks so I am all on my lonesome now but still smiling Horace, and I am proud to know that you and all your people speak so highly of my Sister and I too reckon you are a very lucky fellow and I can tell you that Annie was always my best pal for a good many years and will always be though we're far apart

I'll tell you Horace you you can trust anyones life in her hands and it will be alright and she will stand by you in anything at all but I will have a long way to go to find her equal.

Well Horace I don't think there is any more news so will conclude with best of luck and kindly remember me to Doll if at any time you should drop her a line so Good-bye-ee for the present

from Your Old Pal Horace

Copy of letter written by Horace Maynard on 11th July 1918 to his mother Mary Ann Maynard, a week before he was killed:

My dearest Mother

Just a few lines to let you know that I received your parcel quite safe but in a very bad condition thanking you very much for the same hoping that these few lines will have the pleasure of finding you all well and in the best of health as I am pleased to say leaves myself and all the boys in the pink at the time of writing.

Well Mother I don't know whether you put any cigs in the parcel or a letter as I never received them being as the parcel was all burst when I received it but I still think I got the greater part of the thing.

Well how have you got on about my allowance affair. I hope it has gone through alright as I have heard no more about it lately and what sort of weather are you getting over there as we are having it rather wet at times but lately we have been having some beautiful weather . I have received a letter from Lottie [an older sister] the same time as your parcel and she is quite well.

Well Dear Mother I fear that there isn't any more news for the present and will close with past love and kisses from me

Your loving Son Horace xxx

Thanks to John Maynard.

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