Hughes, Robert Samuel

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Robert Samuel Hughes

20723, Private, 14th Royal Welsh Fusiliers
Died of illness, 10 February 1916, aged 32
Buried at St. Venant Communal Cemetery, France

CWGC registered (Husband of Winnie Hughes, of 7, Prospect Terrace, Great Orme, Llandudno)


Robert Samuel Hughes was born at Holywell, Flintshire on 10 June 1882. He was the son of Alfred Hughes, a labourer and sometime stone sawyer, and his wife Elizabeth Hughes (née Williams). He had a brother Herbert William Hughes (b 1876) and a sister Eunice Beatrice (b 1878). Robert Hughes attended Holywell National School (though not continuously) from March 1885. The school registers recorded the family’s address as being “White Houses”, Greenfield. In July 1889, it was recorded that he (now aged 7) had been moved to Liverpool. Whether the family moved to Liverpool at that time is as yet unknown but in 1891, it was recorded as living at 4 Foundry Yard, Greenfield; Alfred now worked for a manufacturer of mineral water and Robert was recorded as being a scholar. It appears that the family may have moved again for in 1893, Eunice Hughes died aged 14; the family’s abode in the burial register was 11 Lord Street, Garston, Liverpool. The Census of Wales for 1901 records Alfred and Elizabeth Hughes living as boarders at 68 Mostyn Street, Llandudno and Robert Samuel Hughes as a boarder at “Albany View”, Lloyd Street, Llandudno. Robert (18) was recorded as a confectioner/breadmaker.

On 26 October 1905, Robert married Winifred Alexandra Lewis at St. George’s Church, Nailsworth, Gloucestershire. According to the licence, Robert was a confectioner and both were residents of Forest Green. Robert claimed to be 25 years of age though in fact he was only 23. The couple’s first child, Victoria Alexandra was born on 27 December 1908 at Forest Green. According to the baptism register for Nailsworth, St. George (7 February 1909), the family’s address was 56 Hilton House, Llandudno, Robert being described as a manager of a skating rink. Though Robert’s surviving family understand that he was the manager at the Hippodrome, he probably only had seasonal work there for the roller-skating rink at Llandudno had opened in March 1908, closed for the winter in October 1908, and reopened in April 1909. (The General Manager was a Mr Crawford and the Resident Manager was a Mr a Callis, both Americans satisfying the latest craze for rollerskating.)

Robert and Winifred’s second child, Alfred Mostyn Hughes, was born at Llandudno in 1910; the baptismal register for the Parish of Llandudno records that when Alfred was baptised on 25 November 1910, the family’s address was “Milford Villa”, James Street and that Robert was again described as a confectioner. Curiously, in the Census for Wales of 1911, Robert was described as a labourer at the gasworks, employed by the Llandudno Urban District Council, the family living at 1 Prospect Terrace, Great Orme, Llandudno. Robert is remembered as a bell-ringer at Holy Trinity Church.

Circa December 1914, Robert enlisted into the Royal Welsh Fusiliers at Llandudno. His service number was 20723. He was taken up by the 14th (Service) Battalion which had formed at Llandudno on 2 November 1914. The battalion moved to Winchester in August 1915 and landed in France in December 1915. On embarkation, Robert Hughes was listed in a roll as a lance serjeant, a corporal carrying out a serjeant’s job. Lance serjeants wore three stripes

Robert Hughes died aged 32 on 10 February 1916 at No 32 Casualty Clearing Station at St. Venant of diabetes. He was buried at St. Venant Communal Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France. He is remembered with the rank of private; how he lost his appointment as a lance serjeant is unknown.

Robert’s brother Herbert joined the 14th RWF shortly after Robert joined. Though he had previously served for eight years in the Militia, Herbert’s engagement in 1914 lasted for less than one day.

In 1920, Winifred Hughes married John Roberts. She died in 1963.

Known memorials:

  • Llandudno Roll of Honour
  • Llandudno War Memorial
  • Memorial Chapel, Holy Trinity Church, Llandudno

Note. A family photograph of Robert, Winifred and their two children, almost certainly taken in 1915, shows Robert in army uniform complete with his (lance) serjeant’s stripes.

Winifred, Victoria, Alfred and Robert Hughes.

Winifred, Victoria, Alfred and Robert Hughes.

3 comments to Hughes, Robert Samuel

  • Linzi

    I am the great grandaughter of Alfred Mostyn Hughes, the little boy in the photo. Thank you so much for writing this, I am researching my family tree and as Alfred died when I was around 13 I knew nothing of his parents. This find is fantastic for me 🙂

  • Barbara Burman

    I am the granddaughter of the above, Barbara Burman, nee Kok. My sister is Jennifer Fossi who lives in Llandudno, I live in Montreal. My mother, Victoria, said they had little to do with their paternal grandparents as they were from Colwn Bay and were Welsh speaking. My Maternal Grandmother, Samuel’s widow died in 1963, not 1978. Incidentally, my Granmother Winifred, maintained that Samuel never had Diabetes, and certainly, it would have been known when he enlisted. So his death from whatever, remains a mystery. As war records were destroyed in world War 11 bombings, we will never know the true facts.

    • admin

      Thanks for contacting me. A record exists of Robert Samuel’s effects which states that he died of diabetes on 10 Dec 1916 at No 32 Casualty Clearing Station. 32 CSS was at St Venant, between Arras and Calais. It is still possible to buy a death certificate though I did not do so in this case because of the cause stated in the Effects’ Register. Robert Samuel was not the only Llandudno soldier who reportedly died of diabetes. Medical examinations were only cursory and whilst the illness has been known since antiquity, the first insulin treatment was in 1922. It could be that he developed type 2 diabetes as an adult.

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