Hughes, William Matthew

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William Matthew Hughes

265896, Corporal, 16th Royal Welsh Fusiliers
Killed in action, 22 April 1918, aged 23
No known grave (Pozières Memorial, Somme, France)

CWGC registered (no family details)

For a reason unknown, William Matthew Hughes was not included in the Llandudno Roll of Honour. This omission was corrected on the later War Memorial and on the Marble Tablets in Holy Trinity Church.

William Matthew Hughes was born in Liverpool on 5 September 1894. He was the son of Welsh parents, Hugh Hughes and his wife Janet Ann Hughes (née Owens). Hugh Hughes was a plumber and the 1901 Census records the family living at “Crossfield House”, Clifton Road, Llandudno. William Matthew Hughes attended Lloyd Street School until November 1902 when, according to the register, he left the area. Nevertheless, in 1911 the family was living at 56 Mostyn Street, Llandudno, William (16) being described as a tailor. The register also indicates that in 1911, William had three living siblings: Hugh (9), Gwynedd (2), and Kate (3 months).

On 11 November 1914, William joined the Territorial Force at Caernarvon. The 6th (Caernarvonshire & Anglesey) Battalion had split in September 1914 into the 1/6th for men who had volunteered for overseas service and the 2/6th for home service. William joined the latter with a regimental number of 2706. The battalion moved to Northampton in April 1915 and on 18 June William was appointed acting corporal. The battalion moved again to Bedford in July 1915 and on 25 May 1916, William was appointed acting sergeant master tailor.

The battalion relocated at Southwold in November 1916 and the nearby Hanham Park in May 1917. At about this time, William Hughes was renumbered 265896. The military service act of 1916 not only enabled conscription but deemed that all men in the second line battalions of the Territorial Force eligible to serve overseas. Some whole battalions were sent overseas but others, including the 2/6th RWF TF, were disbanded and their troops posted to other battalions. William’s position as the battalion’s sergeant master tailor no longer existed and he reverted to his substantive rank of corporal when he was posted to No 5 Infantry Base Depot at Rouen in France on 10 June 1917. He was posted to the 16th (Service) Battalion on 26 July 1917 and joined the battalion two days later, just in time for the Third Battle of Ypres.

The 38th (Welsh) Division was held in reserve during the early part of the 1918 German Spring Offensive until 11 April when it joined the front near Bouzincourt. Elements of the division attacked the German positions on 22 April in an attempt to retake some lost territory. Though partially successful, the attempt was costly with half of the battalion being casualties, the vast majority initially recorded as missing. William Matthew Hughes aged 23 was variously recorded as wounded, and as wounded and missing on 22 April though he is officially recorded as being killed in action on or after that date. His mother made enquiries as to his being taken prisoner of war through the Red Cross but this attempt proved fruitless. William Matthew Hughes’ body was never knowingly recovered and he is remembered on the Pozières Memorial Memorial, Somme, France.

Also killed in that action were Corporal George Thomas Langford of the 16th RWF and Private Owen Roberts of the 13th (both qv).

Known memorials:

  • Pozières Memorial, Somme, France
  • Llandudno War Memorial
  • Memorial Chapel, Holy Trinity Church, Llandudno
  • Family memorial, Great Orme’s Head Cemetery

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