My name is Keith Barclay. I worked in the colliery when I was fourteen. After training I became a post boy. My job as a post boy was to take timber and put it on the conveyer belt for the colliers to hold up the roof. We used to fill trams of coal, which was hard work. We used to fill ten trams a day.
I decided to leave the pits and join the army, which was an adventure. I joined the South Wales Borderers in June 1949. I was nearly eighteen. I hadn't been away from home before. I was one of nine children. We lived in Pentre. I trained for ten weeks in Brecon. We had to train to use and fire the rifles. We also had to march on the parade ground.
We went to Eritrea, near Ethiopia. I was a rifleman at first, then became a Vickers machine gunner. The main work was to protect the Italian people. We were occupational troops. The Italians had made slaves of the Eritrean people for many years.
I remember being in a platoon in a place called Burrento near the Ethiopian border. We went in single-wing spotter planes to find shifters. We had to drop messages to the nearest patrols on location of shifters. Shifters were bandits or freedom fighters. I felt excited, but it was frightening as well.
In 1951, I decided to go back to the colliery on a Class W Reserve to finish five years service. Out in Eritrea I had been injured. I was in hospital for a while.
Over the years I have regretted coming out of the army and have dedicated my time to the associations. Looking back, I would say that today I am a forces-feeling man, even though I am content with children and family life.