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Jonathan Rawling

  • 20152, Colour Quartermaster Serjeant, 14th Royal Welsh Fusiliers
  • Died of wounds, 21 June 1918, aged 32
  • Buried at Varennes Military Cemetery, Somme, France
  • CWGC registered (Mrs M Rawling, 2 Gwynfron Cottages, Brook Street, Llandudno)

Jonathan Rawling, the son of a plasterer, Jonathan Rawling and his wife Margaret Rawling (née Jones) was born in Llandudno on 8 June 1886. In 1891, the family lived at “Ty Newydd Cottages”, Old Road, Llandudno. Jonathan (junior), who had four siblings recorded, was described as a scholar – he attended St. George’s National School and the school register for 1893 records the family living at “Tanyrallt Cottages”. He left school in March 1998. Jonathan Rawling (senior) died in 1900 and the Census of the following year indicates that the family, now headed by Margaret, lived on Cwlach Road; Jonathan was described as a general labourer. On 2 February 1907, Jonathan married Maggie Davies at Llanrhos Parish Church. Their sons Jonathan and David were born on 1 June 1908 and 6 July 1909 respectively. Both sons were born in Llandudno though in 1911, the family lived at 21 Penn Street, Treharris, Glamorgan, Jonathan being a colliery worker below ground.

Jonathan Rawling returned to Llandudno to enlist into the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. He joined the 14th (Service) Battalion as it formed in November 1914. Jonathan Rawling’s regimental number was 20152. The battalion, formed by the Welsh National Executive, was initially based at Llandudno but moved to Winchester in August 1915 and disembarked in France in December 1915 as part of the 113th Brigade, 38th (Welsh) Division. When Jonathan Rawling entered the theatre of war on 2 December 1915, he held the rank of acting corporal. The division suffered severe casualties in 1916 when it assaulted Mametz Wood during the Battle of the Somme and it did not return to action for over a year when it took part in the Third Battle of Ypres.

Jonathan Rawling must have been a good soldier for he achieved the rank of colour quartermaster serjeant and he was holding that rank when he was wounded by incoming shellfire on 20 June 1918 near the village of Hamel shortly after a raid into German lines. He was evacuated to a casualty clearing station but died the following day of his wounds aged 32. He was buried at Varennes Military Cemetery.

Maggie Rawling married Ivor A Hughes in 1921. The couple and their daughter Annie M Hughes lived in Llandudno in 1939.

 

Reginald Reece

  • L/5838, Officer’s Steward 2nd Class, HMS Victory, Royal Navy
  • Died of illness, 24 October 1918, aged 21
  • Buried at Haslar Royal Naval Cemetery
  • CWGC registered (Son of Mrs D Price [formerly Reece], of Sandy Lodge, West Shore, Llandudno, and of George Price [step-father])

Reginald Reece was born in London on 10 December 1896. Born William Reginald Oscar Reece, he was the son of William Rosenburgy (later Robert) Reece, an American citizen and his wife, Dora Reece (née Zachari). William Reece was a New Yorker who by 1887 had arrived at Bristol (via Chicago and Melbourne, Australia) where he married Dora. The Census for 1891 records the couple living at Islington with their son Lewis. William Reece was described as a general broker. Daughters Dorothea and May (Miriam) were born in 1891 and 1893, the latter at Hastings. The electoral registers for the years 1895-1900 record William Robert Reece as resident at four addresses in Marylebone West – the family’s address when Reginald was born was 28 Loudoun Road. By 1901, the family had moved to Hove in Sussex where William Reece was described as a licensed valuer.

In 1904, William Reece was tried for perjury and fraud at the Old Bailey. As well as evidence of the offence, additional evidence given gave numerous examples of passing dud cheques as well as three occasions of bankruptcy and being in possession of a “second establishment” – a euphemism for the home of a mistress. He was sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment with hard labour at Wormwood Scrubs. On 3 August 1905, William Reece described as a merchant departed Liverpool for Cape Town, South Africa. On US consulate documents dated 1907 and 1909, he claimed that his wife Dora and his children were living at “Breathwaite”, Wilton Road, (Victoria,) London. On the latter, he gave his son Lewis, now resident in Toronto, Canada as his nearest relative. Seemingly, William Reece had abandoned his wife for the Census of 1911 recorded Dora (now called Dorothy) as the “wife” of George Price, a commissioning agent and turf accountant, who lived at 58 St. James’ Street, Brighton. Included in the family were George Price’s sons Thomas and George as well as “Reggie” Price, now aged 14. The marriage index for Steyning, Sussex for 1913 records the marriage of Dora Reece and George C Price. George Price accepted bets at Llandudno and Colwyn Bay, certainly from August 1914 and perhaps earlier. He died at Llandudno on 22 December 1914 at “The Avenue”, Arfon Avenue, Llandudno. Local newspaper reports state that he left a wife and one son (presumably Reginald).

In the meantime (October 1914), Reginald Reece had joined the Royal Navy. Previously employed as a steward, his rank in the Navy was officer’s steward third class. His service number was L.5838 and his initial posting was to HMS Victory (ie Portsmouth). From 5 November 1914 he served on HMS Emperor of India, a recently commissioned battleship of the Iron Duke-class, based at Scapa Flow. From 19 November 1916, he was on the crew of HMS Campanula, a mine-sweeping sloop based at Malta. Reginald was promoted to officer’s steward second-class on 13 February 1917 and remained at Malta until 5 September 1918.

Reginald Reece died of pneumonia on 24 October 1918 at Haslar Naval Hospital, Portsmouth. He was buried at Haslar Royal Naval Cemetery, Gosport. Naval death records record his mother’s name and address as Dorothy Price, “Sandy Lodge”, West Shore, Llandudno.

NOTE

Royal Naval records give Reginald Reese’s birthday as 10 December 1895. However, the birth index for Marylebone registered his birth in the last quarter of December 1896. When he joined the Navy in October 1914, Reginald was still aged 17. Though the Royal Navy accepted boy sailors, they had to be aged 18 before they could go to sea.

 

Arthur Everett Richards

  • 266684, Private, 8th Royal Welsh Fusiliers
  • Died of illness, 25 June 1918, aged 38
  • Buried at Baghdad (North Gate) War Cemetery, Iraq
  • CWGC registered (no family details noted)

Arthur Everett Richards, the son of Edwin Richards and Jane Richards (née Edwards) was born in Burton on Trent on 20 October 1880. In 1881, the family of three lived at 18 Dukes Street, Burton, Edwin Edwards being employed as a baker and confectioner. The family moved to Llandudno for on 22 March 1889, Arthur was admitted to St. George’s National School. In 1891, the family lived at “Longton House”, Old Road, Arthur being a scholar and having four younger siblings. In 1898, Arthur was appointed as a postman and in 1901 the family lived at 6 Victoria Terrace. He was still a postman in 1911, single and living with his parents at “Toxteth House”, Bodhyfryd Road.

Arthur Richards volunteered to join the army on 29 November 1915. He was put into the reserve and given a day’s pay. He was mobilised on 8 April 1916 and joined the 3/6th Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers on 12 April 1916. This was a third line reserve battalion of the Territorial Force that had formed at Caernarvon in May 1915. Arthur had the regimental number of 4253 though this was later changed to 266684. He was administratively posted to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion on 2 April 1917 but embarked the next day at Southampton for Alexandria where he disembarked on 30 April 1917. At Alexandria, he was hospitalised a couple of times with fever but embarked at Suez for Bombay on 25 June 1917 which is the same date that he was officially posted to the 8th (Service) Battalion. He disembarked at Bombay on 7 July 1917 and was attached to No 5 Training Battalion at Kirkee near Poona on 11 July 1917. Arthur left for the 8th RWF in Mesopotamia on 16 December 1917 and joined it on 8 March 1918. The 8th RWF was the first of the regiment’s New Army battalions, formed at Wrexham in August 1914. Before moving to Mesopotamia, it had served in Gallipoli and Egypt.

Arthur Richards was admitted to No 39 Field Ambulance on 16 June 1918 and transferred to No 20 Casualty Clearing Station two days later. He was admitted to No 23 British Stationary Hospital at Baghdad on 21 June 1918 and died there of malaria on 25 June 1918. He was buried at Baghdad (North Gate) War Cemetery.

The war cemeteries in Iraq and the Basra Memorial are in a state of neglect and until they can be restored, the persons they commemorate are additionally commemorated in the CWGC’s Iraq Roll of Honour.

 

Edward Ernest Riddell

  • 2067, Acting Corporal, Royal Army Medical Corps
  • Died of illness, 3 March 1917, aged 40
  • Buried at Gezaincourt Communal Cemetery Extension, France
  • CWGC registered (Son of Francis Riddell, of Yoxall, Staffs; husband of Alice Riddell, of Scotland St, Ellesmere, Salop)

Edward Ernest Riddell was born on 31 December 1876 at Yoxall, Staffordshire. He had a farming background because the Census for 1881 records him aged four living at Yoxall at the home of his grandmother who is described as a farmer of 30 acres and his father, Francis Riddell, described as a farmer’s son. Edward’s mother, Fanny (née Stackhouse) and his sister Mary were staying with Fanny’s mother at Walsall. Ten years later, Edward and his parents were living at “Bryniau”, Llanrhos, Francis and Edward being described as farmer and scholar respectively. On 25 February 1905, Edward married Alice Thompson at Llanrhos Parish Church. He received a certificate of Sanitary Science, as Applied to Buildings and Public Works in 1909. He took up employment with the Wath-upon-Dearne Urban District Council and the Census for 1911 records him boarding in the town; his wife Alice was living at the house of her sister at “Selattyn”, Queens Road, Llandudno and his parents had retired to Uttoxeter.

Edward Riddell’s service record no longer exists. What documents do exist state that he enlisted at Chelsea, gave his address as Wath-upon-Dearne and that he disembarked in France on 24 December 1914. When he died in France on 3 March 1917, he was an acting corporal in the Royal Army Medical Corps, (Territorial Force), specifically the 11th Sanitary Section of the 1/2nd London Sanitary Company, his service number being 2067. A sanitary section was added to each army division in early 1915, its job to maintain clean water supplies, cooking facilities and billets, de-lousing stations and similar facilities.

Edward Riddell died of malignant endocarditis aged 40 at No 29 Casualty Clearing Station which at the time was at Gezaincourt in the Somme Department, Picardy. He was buried at the nearby Gezaincourt Communal Cemetery Extension.

After the war, Alice Riddell lived in Ellesmere, Shropshire. She died in 1951.

 

Arthur Owen Roberts

  • S4/145194, Acting Serjeant, Army Service Corps
  • Died of illness after discharge, 18 February 1919, aged 32
  • Buried at St. Tudno’s Churchyard
  • CWGC registered (as from June 2019 – see note) (Son of the late Richard and Jane Roberts of Llandudno)

Arthur Owen Roberts, the son of Richard Roberts, owner of the Royal Fish Stores, and his wife Jane Roberts (née Foulkes) was born on 21 January 1887 at Llandudno. Jane Roberts died the following December and the Census of Wales for 1891 records the family living at “Holyrood House”, Lloyd Street, Llandudno; John had three elder brothers Richard, John and William and an elder sister Sarah Edith. Arthur attended Lloyd Street School, transferring to John Bright County School in July 1899. In 1904, the local press reported that Arthur had received senior certificates in composition, English literature, history, arithmetic (with distinction), mathematics (with distinction), Latin (with distinction) and French (with distinction and conversational power). After leaving school, Arthur attended King’s College London and after passing his examination, was appointed in early 1910 to the Education Department of the London County Council. In 1911, Arthur was a boarder at 61 Talfourd Road, Peckham and he was employed by the LCC as a clerk.

Arthur volunteered to join the army on 1 November 1915 and he joined at Aldershot the following day. His home address was 18 Poynders Road, SW. An amazing survivor in his army file is a 100%-correct arithmetic examination paper which is probably the reason why he was enlisted into the Army Service Corps as a supply clerk with a service number of S4/145194. Just a few weeks later on 16 December 1915, Arthur disembarked in France. He was appointed acting corporal on 13 April 16 and acting serjeant on 5 November 1916. In November 1916, whilst working in the Supplies Purchase Branch, Bouches-du-Rhône (Marseille), Arthur was taken ill after having had an operation for a hernia – he had also been exhibiting symptoms of dryness of mouth and thirst. He was evacuated to England and diagnosed with diabetes, his general condition being noted as bad. A medical board dated 28 December 1916 recommended his discharge. Arthur was medically discharged at Southport on 18 January 1917. His intended address on discharge was 8 Lloyd Street, Llandudno. Interestingly, his record indicates that his condition was due or partially due to the stress and strain of active service. Arthur was awarded a Silver War Badge number 45489.

Arthur Owen Roberts died on 18 February 1919 at Llandudno aged 32 from diabetes and heart failure. He was buried at St. Tudno’s Churchyard. A local newspaper revealed that Arthur was about to take his degree with the University of London.

NOTE

The grave of Arthur Owen Roberts was omitted from the Graves’ Registration Report when the Imperial War Graves Commission surveyed St. Tudno’s Churchyard after the Great War. The anomaly and the supporting evidence were forwarded to the service authorities in 2018 and in June 2019 it was adjudicated that Arthur Owen Roberts indeed qualifies for commemoration in the UK National Debt of Honour.

 

Edward John Roberts

  • 310446, Gunner, 1/1st Welsh (Carnarvonshire) Heavy Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery (Territorial Force)
  • Died of illness after discharge, 31 July 1922, aged 34
  • Place of burial unknown
  • Not an official war grave
    • Died after 31 August 1921
    • Named in the Memorial Chapel of Holy Trinity Church

Edward John Roberts, the son of a baker, Charles Roberts and his wife Margaret Roberts (née Evans), was born in Llandudno Junction on 3 July 1888. In 1891, the family resided at 12 Jubilee Terrace, Llandudno. By 1901, the family had moved again to “Penmaen View”, Caroline Street. Edward left Lloyd Street School for work on 14 July 1903. In 1911, Edward was employed as a greenkeeper at a golf links and still lived with his parents, as did his elder sister Kate and her husband Frank Roberts. The family’s address was “Endsleigh”, Clifton Road.

Edward was a gunner in the Welsh (Carnarvonshire) Heavy Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery (Territorial Force). His only known regimental number was 310446 but that had replaced an earlier number in 1917. A soldier with an adjacent replacement number had an earlier number of 772 and enlisted at Bangor into the 3rd line battery, the 3/1st Welsh (Carn) RGA, on 4 May 1915. Edward Roberts’ early service might have been similar. When Edward disembarked in France is unknown but his only unit in the BEF was the 1/1st Welsh (Carn) RGA TF. It is not known when he was discharged.

Edward John Roberts died on 31 July 1922 at 4 Morfa Road, Llandudno. He was aged 34 and his occupation was recorded as a blacksmith. The cause of death was valvular disease of the heart (3 years). The informant on the death certificate was his brother-in-law, Frank Roberts. It is possible that the disease was considered attributable to the service because Edward’s mother applied for and received a pension. However, because he died after 31 August 1921, his grave, location presently uncertain, is not registered as a war grave.

NOTES

Edward John Roberts died too late to be included on the Llandudno Roll of Honour (1921) and the Llandudno War Memorial (1922). He is included as a late addition in the Memorial Chapel of Holy Trinity Church (1924).

Several other soldiers of Llandudno’s war dead died of similar causes to Edward John Roberts some years after being exposed to poison gas on the Western Front. They include

  • John Roberts (mitral valve disease)
  • Daniel Evans (mitral stenosis)
  • John William Jones (aortic disease of the heart)
  • Frederick Newbery (valvular disease of the heart)

It is therefore possible that Edward John Roberts may have been the victim of a gas attack.

 

George Roberts

  • 146835, Sapper, 12th Field Company Royal Engineers
  • Killed in action, 6 September 1917, aged 28
  • Buried at Philosophe British Cemetery, Mazingarbe, France
  • CWGC registered (Husband of Margaret E Roberts, of “West Lynne,” 1 Charlton St, Llandudno)

George Roberts was born at Llandegfan near Menai Bridge on Anglesey in 1888. He was the son of Humphrey Roberts, a stonemason, and his wife Mary Roberts (née Humphreys). George had a younger sister, Grace or Gracie. In 1891, the family lived at “Cefn du”, Llandegfan; ten years later it lived at “Pentre”, Llandegfan. In 1911, the family lived at the same address, both Humphrey and George being described as stonemasons. On 22 February 1916, George Roberts married Margaret Ellen Jones (née Jones), a widow, at the Fron Chapel, Denbigh. George gave his address as 32 Ash Grove, Shotton and his profession as a bricklayer. A witness was George’s sister who signed her name as Gracie Roberts. The couple had four children: Margaret Ellen (1916-1937), John Gwilym (1917-1999), and twins Frances M (1918-1918) and Grace (1918-1983).

On a date unknown, George Roberts was enlisted into the Royal Engineers at Menai Bridge with a service number of 146835. He gave his residence as Llandudno. Little is known about George Roberts’ service with the Royal Engineers though it is recorded that his last unit was the 12th Field Company. At the outbreak of war, this company was attached to the 6th Division of the British Expeditionary Force.

George Roberts was killed in action on 6 September 1917 aged 28. He was buried at Philosophe British Cemetery between Bethune and Lens. Commonwealth War Grave Commission records indicate that George was the only soldier interred at that cemetery killed on 6 September and that there were only 13 deaths from various battalions over the first 12 days of September. This suggests that his death was as a result of an incident rather than in battle.

In 1924, Margaret Ellen Roberts married David Williams. In 1939, the couple lived at 8 Augusta Street, Llandudno with three of their children plus two of Margaret’s children to George Roberts (John Gwilym and Grace). Margaret Ellen Williams died in 1972.

 

Harry Lloyd Roberts

  • PLY/1881(S), Private, Royal Marine Light Infantry
  • Killed or died as a direct result of enemy action, 23 April 1918, aged 28
  • Buried at St. Tudno’s Churchyard
  • CWGC registered (Son of Mr JH and Grace E Roberts, of Roby Mount, Church Walks, Llandudno)

Harry Lloyd Roberts, the son of James Henry (Harry) Roberts and his wife Grace Ellen Roberts (née Lloyd), was born in Llandudno on 9 October 1889. The Roberts’ family owned the grocery business of T Roberts (Royal Dairies) of Roby House, 1 Llewellyn Street, Llandudno. Harry attended a private school until April 1898 when he was admitted to St. George’s National School. The Census of Wales for 1901 indicates that Harry had been joined by three siblings: John, Ettie and Thomas Allan. Thomas died later that year. Harry attended John Bright School from March 1902 and was a member of the Boy Scouts. In 1911, Harry’s parents and his sister Ettie still lived at Roby House though Harry was recorded as lodging in Stoke on Trent, his occupation being a grocer. James Henry Roberts died in 1906 and Harry took over the interests in Llandudno. He was keen on amateur dramatics and was a sidesman at St. Tudno’s Church.

Harry enlisted into the Royal Marines on 9 January 1917. He gave his next of kin as Mrs Grace Roberts of “Roby Mount”, Llandudno. His first posting was to the Recruit Depot at Deal. On 12 February 1918 he joined the Plymouth Division – specifically the 4th Royal Marine Battalion. On 23 April 1918, the division attacked Zeebrugge and Ostend. Harry was on the Zeebrugge raid aboard HMS Vindictive. Harry was wounded in the action and though he was evacuated, he died of his wounds on the day of the raid aged 28. His body was returned to Llandudno and he was buried with full naval honours at St. Tudno’s Churchyard.

 

Idris Roberts

  • Second Lieutenant, 17th Royal Welsh Fusiliers
  • Died of wounds, 3 September 1918, aged 21
  • Buried at Varennes Military Cemetery, France
  • CWGC registered (Mrs JM Roberts of “Bryn Llewelyn”, Penmachno, Betws-y-coed)

Idris Roberts, the son of Walter Roberts, a house joiner, and Margaret Roberts (née Davies), was born in 1897 at Barry, Glamorganshire. In 1901, the family lived at 2 Cardiff Road; Idris, at the time, had three brothers and three sisters. Idris received a scholarship to Barry County School in 1911. After leaving school, Idris joined the Civil Service.

A contemporary newspaper report states that Idris Roberts joined the “London Welsh” in January 1915 (under age at 17). This could have been the 15th (Service) Battalion (1st London Welsh) Royal Welsh Fusiliers that formed in London in October 1914 but more likely the 18th (Service) Battalion (2nd London Welsh) RWF which formed in London in February 1915. The 18th RWF trained at Bangor, converting to a Reserve Battalion at Kinmel Park near Rhyl with many of its volunteers being sent to front line battalions as reinforcements. Circa November 1916, Idris Roberts joined an Officer Training Battalion, possibly the 16th or 17th at Kinmel and on 28 March 1917, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant into the RWF. A few weeks later on 12 May 1917, he married Janet Morgan Jones in the register office at West Derby, Liverpool. Idris claimed to be 22 years of age though he was actually 20, and Janet claimed to be 23 though she was actually 28. Idris gave his address as “The Huts”, Litherland, Litherland in Liverpool being the base of the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion of the RWF. When Idris joined the 17th (Service) Battalion RWF in France is presently unknown though it is recorded that he returned to Penmachno, where his wife and child lived with his parents-in-law, on leave in the summer of 1918.

Idris Roberts died of wounds on 3 September 1918 aged 21. The war diary of the 17th RWF reports an engagement near Morfal on 29 August 1918 though casualties were not given. In any event he was buried at Varennes Military Cemetery which was a few miles to the west of Morfal indicating that he may have been evacuated as far as a casualty clearing station (possibly the 59th) but not to a hospital on the coast.

Janet Roberts married Robert Frederick Jones in 1921. In 1939, the couple lived at Nant Conwy.

NOTES

The Commonwealth War Grave Commission states that Idris Roberts was aged 23 when he died but this is probably based upon the information which he gave when joining up. He perpetuated this discrepancy when he got married because at the age of 20, he was not of age.

Idris Roberts’ connection with Llandudno is uncertain. His father died in Barry in 1925 but his mother died in Llandudno in 1933 (as did his sister Beatrice Richmond in 1969). However, since the Llandudno Roll of Honour was printed in 1921, then Idris must have had an earlier but presently unknown connection with the town.

 

John Roberts

  • 25953, Private, 17th Royal Welsh Fusiliers
  • Later 659157, Labour Corps
  • Died of illness after exposure to poison gas, 17 February 1920, aged 35
  • Buried at Llanrhos Churchyard
  • CWGC registered (Son of Enoch Roberts, of Llandudno; husband of Annie Roberts, of 15 Moore St Newtown, Wednesbury, Staffs)

John Roberts, the son of Enoch Roberts, a stonemason, and his wife Mary Roberts (née Thomas).was born on 24 May 1884 at Llandudno. When John was baptised the following year, the family’s address was entered “Tan-yr-Ogo” in the register. John initially attended St. Beuno’s School but in 1891, he transferred to St. George’s National School, the family’s address being 16 Jubilee Street. The Census of Wales for 1901 recorded the family as living at 7 Jubilee Street – Enoch Roberts was now a bricklayer at the gasworks and John was a mason’s labourer. Eight children were recorded: Ann, Lewis, Ivan (or Evan), John, Jennie, Richard, Robert and Owen. In 1906, John Roberts married Annie Webb and their son Richard was born in January 1909. In 1911, the family lived at 26 King’s Road, Llandudno, John working as a labourer for the Llandudno Urban District Council. Jane Roberts was born in 1912 (she died the following year), George in 1913 and Sarah in 1914.

John Roberts joined the newly forming 17th (Service) Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers at Llandudno at the end of April 1915. His regimental number was 25953. The battalion became part of the 113th Brigade of the 38th (Welsh) Division. John disembarked with his battalion in France on 4 December 1915. John received treatment for dental caries in September 1917 at No 4 Stationary Hospital, Arques. On 26 April 1918 he received a gunshot wound to his lower extremity near Bouzincourt and was evacuated to No 3 Casualty Clearing Station. On 15 July 1918, he was a victim of a mustard gas shell and was evacuated to No 3 Casualty Clearing Station. On recovering, probably as late as September 1918, he was transferred to the 540th Company of the Labour Corps. This was an employment company stationed at Prees Heath, Shropshire. His new regimental number was 659157. He was discharged on 17 April 1919.

John Roberts died on 17 February 1920 aged 35 at the Plas Tudno Auxiliary Hospital, Llandudno of mitral valve disease and pneumonia. His address at the time was 26 King’s Road, Llandudno. John’s death was reported by his sister Ann. He was buried at Llanrhos Churchyard. He is officially commemorated with his Royal Welsh Fusiliers details because the Labour Corps was not seen as a particularly heroic corps.

Another daughter, Lilian, had been born in 1917. A local newspaper reporting the death of John Roberts said that he left a widow and four children, presumably Richard, George, Sarah and Lilian. A son, John, was born later in 1920.

On a date unknown, Annie Roberts returned to her home town of Wednesbury, Staffordshire. The 1939 Register records Annie Roberts and her son Richard Roberts living at 19 Moor Street, Wednesbury. Annie Roberts died in 1952.

 

Llewelyn Roberts

  • 21378, Private, 14th Royal Welsh Fusiliers
  • Killed in action, 6 October 1918, aged 25
  • Believed buried at Prospect Hill Cemetery, Gouy, France
  • CWGC registered (Son of Mr and Mrs W Roberts, of Llandudno; husband of Dorothy Roberts, of Mount Pleasant, Penrhynside, Llandudno)

Llewelyn Roberts, the son of a plasterer William Roberts and his wife Eliza, was born at Llandudno on 30 January 1893. Living at “Craig-y-Orsedd”, Maelgwyn Terrace, Winllan Aveue, Llewelyn attended Lloyd Street School and transferred to the new Dyffryn Road School in 1905 which he left in April 1907. In the Census of 1911, Llewelyn was described as a grocer’s assistant.

Llewelyn moved to Sale in Cheshire and at the beginning of 1915, he enlisted at Manchester into the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. He joined the 14th (Service) Battalion that was forming at the time at Llandudno with a regimental number of 21378. The 14th RWF was a formation within the short-lived “Welsh Army” which eventually became the 38th (Welsh) Division. After initial training at Llandudno, the division moved to Winchester in August 1915 but not before Llewelyn had married Dorothy Anne Jones of Penrhynside. Llewelyn Roberts disembarked in France on 2 December 1915. Llewelyn and Dorothy’s daughter Dorothy Eliza Roberts was born at Penrhynside on 27 January 1916.

Having advanced into recently evacuated German trenches on 5 October 1918, the 38th (Welsh) Division found it could advance no further because the Germans had reorganised themselves into another defensive line which ran through Mortho Wood near the village of Bony. The war diary for the 14th RWF describes how on the following day it sent out a patrol to force a way through Mortho Wood but it came back reporting that it was strongly held. No casualties were recorded in the diary but it was on this day that Llewelyn Roberts was killed in action aged 25. Two days later, the wood was taken. After the war, a number of British soldiers, buried to the west of the village of Aubenchuel-aux-Bois, were reinterred at Prospect Hill Cemetery, two miles to the south. Some of the bodies were unidentified though one is believed to have been Llewelyn Roberts. A special memorial in the shape of a headstone is engraved with Robert Llewelyn’s details plus the words, “Believed to be buried in this cemetery”.

After the war, Dorothy Anne Roberts lived at her parents’ home of No 1 Mount Pleasant, Penrhynside. She died in 1979.

 

Llewelyn Rathbone Roberts

  • 6679, Private, 2nd Royal Welsh Fusiliers
  • Killed in action, 9 September 1914, aged 34
  • Buried at La Ferte-Sous-Jouarre Communal Cemetery, France
  • CWGC registered (no family details noted)

Llewelyn Rathbone Roberts was born in Llandudno on 18 November 1880 to Edward Roberts, hotelier at the Albert Vaults, Madoc Street, Llandudno and his first wife Jane (née Davies). The Census of Wales for 1881 reveals that Llewelyn had two elder sisters and two elder brothers all born at Colwyn Bay: Emma, Jane, Ellis and Hugh. Another brother, Robert Edward was born in 1884. Jane Roberts (senior) died in 1886 and Edward Roberts married Mary Anne Checkley in 1889. In March 1890, Llewelyn was registered at St. George’s National School. The Census for Wales in 1891 indicates that Edward Roberts had remarried – Llewelyn was recorded as a scholar. Ten years later in April 1901, Llewelyn was living with his stepmother, Mary Anne, now widowed and described as a lodginghouse keeper at “Lincoln Villa”, Trinity Street (now Trinity Avenue). He was a joiner and carpenter.

Later that year, Llewelyn Roberts joined the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. His engagement would most likely have been for a number of years with the colours followed by a period in the Reserve. He enlisted at Wrexham which was the depot of the regiment and his regimental number was 6679. It is not certain whether he served with the 1st or 2nd Battalions.

In 1906, Llewelyn was transferred to the Reserve and became a postman at Oswestry, transferring to Llandudno in 1908. The 1911 Census records him living with his stepmother at “Lincoln Villa”. Later that year, he married Ada Annie Ryman in Staffordshire.

On the outbreak of war on 4 August 1914, the 2nd Battalion of the RWF was stationed at Portland in Dorset. Llewelyn was undoubtedly recalled and the battalion landed at Rouen on 11 August. The battalion fought at the Battle of Mons and later at the Battle of the Marne, and it was during the latter engagement when Llewelyn Roberts was killed in action on 9 September aged 34. He is buried at La Ferte-Sous-Jouarre Communal Cemetery, France.

Ada Roberts married Thomas Assinder in 1920. She died in 1950.

 

Norman Adair Roberts

  • 265672, Private, 1/6th Royal Welsh Fusiliers (Territorial Force)
  • Killed in action, 6 November 1917, aged 24
  • Buried at Beersheba War Cemetery, Israel
  • CWGC registered (Native of Bethesda, Bangor. Son of Thomas and Sophia Roberts) (see note below)

Norman Adair Roberts was born in Tyldesley, Lancashire in 1893. He was the son of Thomas Lewis Roberts, a clerk, and his Bethesda-born wife Sophia Jane Roberts (née Williams). Norman’s siblings were Bertie and Ellen Elizabeth. Thomas Roberts died in 1898 and his widow, Sophia married Trevor Roberts later that year. The Census of Wales for 1901 records Norman living at the home of his grandparents, William Enoch and Ellen Elizabeth Roberts, at 6 Station Road, Bethesda; the same census records Sophia living at Dwygyfylchi with her children Bertie, Ellen (Nelly) and William. In 1911, Norman, a shoemaker’s apprentice, was still living with his grandparents, now at 4 Station Road, Bethesda, whilst Sophia, her husband Trevor and their other children lived at 10 Alexandra Road, Llandudno. It is apparent that Norman Adair Roberts was brought up by his grandparents at Bethesda.

Enlisting at Caernarvon on 3 October 1914, Norman Roberts, of 4 Station Road, Bethesda, joined the 6th (Carnavonshire and Anglesey) Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, (Territorial Force). With a regimental number of 2084, later 265672, he initially served with the 1/6th front line battalion, at Bedford from May 1915, but when that battalion sailed for Gallipoli in July 1915, Norman remained at Bedford with the 2/6th RWF. In November 1915, he joined the 3/6th Battalion before joining the 1/6th on 23 April 1916, embarking from Devonport on the same day and disembarking at Alexandria on 3 May 1916. He joined his battalion at Wadi Natrun (50 miles north-west of Cairo) on 14 May 1916.

On 6 November 1917, just after the Battle of Beersheba, Palestine, Norman Adair Roberts was killed in action aged 24 and buried at Beersheba War Cemetery.

NOTE

Norman had named his grandmother, Ellen Elizabeth Williams as his next of kin and there is correspondence in his record as to who should receive his medals, scroll and war plaque: his grandmother at Bethesda or his mother at Llandudno. His grandmother is the named contact in the CWGC records and she probably sanctioned the “Native of Bethesda” entry even though he was born in Lancashire.

 

Owen Roberts

  • 205066, Private, 13th Royal Welsh Fusiliers
  • Killed in action, 22 April 1918, aged 23
  • No known grave (Pozières Memorial, Somme, France)
  • CWGC registered (Son of John Griffith Roberts, of “Penrose”, 31 Winllan Avenue, Llandudno)

Owen Roberts, the son of a council labourer, John Griffith Roberts and his wife Emma (née Owen), was born in Llandudno on 10 October 1893, In September 1900, Owen was admitted to Lloyd Street School, the family’s address being recorded as Back St. George’s Crescent. In 1901, the family, including Owen and his brother, John lived at 1 Fern Villa, Back Mostyn Street. Emma Roberts died in 1906 and later that year, Owen was transferred to John Bright School. The following year, John Griffith Roberts married Ellen Owen. In 1911, John Griffith Roberts, Ellen Roberts and John Roberts lived at “Warberry”, Claremont Road; Owen Roberts lived with his aunt at “Ormes View”, Clifton Road, employed as an assistant to Mr L A Cocker, chemist, at 68 Mostyn Street.

In November 1914, Owen Roberts joined the Denbighshire Hussars Yeomanry, attesting at Llandudno. His regimental number was 1035, later 215071. The Denbighshire Hussars almost immediately split into the 1/1st DH for overseas service and the 2/1st for home service. Owen joined the latter, serving near Newcastle upon Tyne from January 1915. He was hospitalised in No 1 General Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne in July and August 1915. In April 1916, the regiment moved to East Anglia, replacing the 1/1st regiment that had been posted to Egypt. It returned to Northumberland in July 1916 at which time it was dismounted and converted to a cyclist brigade. A date unknown, Owen Roberts was promoted to lance corporal (unpaid). In 1917, The passing of the Armed Services Act in 1916 deemed that units of the second line Territorial Force could be sent overseas; otherwise, individual soldiers could be transferred to other front line units. As a consequence, Owen Roberts, reverted to the rank of private and disembarked in France on 29 September 1917, destined for No 5 Infantry Base Depot at Rouen. He was posted to the 10th (Service) Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers with the new regimental number of 205066. He joined the unit on 9 October 1917. On 28 December 1917, Owen was evacuated by No 7 Field Ambulance and No 43 Casualty Clearing Station (Boisleux) to No 7 Canadian General Hospital at Étaples. He joined No 6 Convalescence Depot at Étaples on 19 February 1918 and No 14 Convalescence Depot at Trouville two days later. On 25 March 1918, he joined C Infantry Base Depot at Rouen and the 13th (Service) Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers on 5 April 1918.

Owen Roberts was killed in action on 22 April 1918 aged 23. The 38th (Welsh) Division had been held in reserve during the early part of the 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. Owen’s body was never knowingly recovered and he is commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial, Somme, France.

Also killed in that action were George Thomas Langford and Corporal William Matthew Hughes (both qv) of the 16th RWF. Owen’s brother John fought with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and survived the war.

 

Richard J Roberts

  • 54513, Private, 16th Royal Welsh Fusiliers
  • Killed in action, 31 July or 2 August 1917, aged 26
  • Buried at New Irish Farm Cemetery, Belgium
  • CWGC registered (Son of Richard and Elizabeth Roberts, of “Sandycoombe” Tywyn, Deganwy, Llandudno, Carnarvonshire)
  • Deganwy casualty

Richard J Roberts, the son a labourer, Richard Roberts and his wife Elizabeth was born at Tywyn, Deganwy on 15 September 1890. The following year, the family including Richard’s twin sister Elizabeth lived at “Stablan”. Richard and his twin attended Deganwy Infants’ School, transferring to the National School in 1897. By 1901, the family’s address had become “Stable Cottage” and it had been joined by Gwladys, Robert, Diana and Catherine. Richard left school in July 1904 and still lived with his parents in 1911.

At the beginning of December 1915, Richard J Roberts volunteered at Llandudno to join the Denbighshire Hussars (Yeomanry), a former part-time cavalry regiment in the Territorial Force. By the end of 1915, the Denbighshire Hussars had split into three regiments: the 1/1st which had become dismounted in November 1915 (sent to Egypt in March 1916); the 2/1st which had formed in 1914, remaining in the UK (converted to a cyclist unit in July 1916); and the 3/1st which had formed as a third-line training unit in 1915. Richard Roberts’ regimental number was 1709 and he probably joined the 3/1st DHY. In circa September 1916, Richard Roberts was compulsorily transferred to the Royal Welsh Fusiliers with a Territorial Force service number of 11195. His new battalion is uncertain though it may have been the 2/4th RWF TF at Aldeburgh. On arrival in France, Richard was posted to the 16th RWF with a new number of 54513. The battalion’s war diary records the arrival of 35 other rank reinforcements from the 4th (Res) RWF (ie the 2/4th) on 5 November 1916 though whether Richard Roberts was in this particular draft is not confirmed. The 16th (Service) Battalion RWF had been formed in Llandudno in November 1914. It moved to Winchester in August 1915 and landed in France in December 1915. At the end of July 1917, the battalion was at the front line in Belgium, seven kilometres north of Ypres.

There is uncertainty about the day on which Richard Roberts was killed in action. According to official records, he was killed on 2 August 1917. However, within the CWGC documentation is a Grave Concentration Report that states that he was killed on 31 July 1917, the first day of the Third Battle of Ypres, otherwise known as the Battle of Passchendaele.  After the war, bodies were recovered from the battlefields and makeshift cemeteries and “concentrated” into permanent cemeteries. Richard’s body was exhumed from a marked grave, with his details and a cross, a little to the south-east of the village of Langemarck, close to the new front line achieved on 31 July. However, by 1 August, the 16th RWF had been withdrawn from the front line to a support position where it remained until 4 August. The most likely explanation is that Richard Roberts was initially reported as missing, his death being confirmed on 2 August which remained the official date of death, despite contrary evidence coming to light. He is presently interred in New Irish Farm Cemetery.

 

Robert Roberts

  • 45017, Private, 1/5th Northumberland Fusiliers (Territorial Force)
  • Killed in action, 26 October 1917, aged 32
  • Buried at Poelcapelle British Cemetery, Belgium
  • CWGC registered (no family details noted)

Robert Roberts, the son of a stonemason, David Roberts and his wife, Hannah Roberts (née Roberts), was born in Llangwstenin on 12 April 1885. In 1891, the family lived at Greenfield Cottage, Llanrhos. In March 1893, the register of Lloyd Street School records Robert’s address as Bodarfon Row, Llandudno. Robert left school in February 1898. In 1901, the family including three girls and three boys lived at “Dalefield”, Oxford Road, Llandudno; Robert Roberts was employed as a printer. In the Census for 1911, Hannah Roberts was now a widow and described as a lodging house keeper, Robert being a printer (compositor).

Several soldiers named in this volume served with the Northumberland Fusiliers including Robert Roberts (45017), William Glyndwr Owen (45003), Donald Goulding Evans (44954), William Davies (NF) (44946) and David Hobson (44976). The service of those named with the NF was not a coincidence for all had previously served in the Army Cyclist Corps with the 3/1st (Welsh) Divisional Cyclist Company, (Territorial Force). Robert Roberts joined the unit at Stockport circa November 1915.

The Conway Marriage Register records that Robert Roberts married Eliza Jane Jones in early 1916.

Cycle companies and battalions had enjoyed a brief naissance early in the war but as the war, especially on the Western Front, became a war of attrition, there was little need for bicycle troops and, instead, a huge demand for reinforcements for the infantry. Robert Roberts and his brothers in arms were first posted to the ACC Training Centre at Chiseldon then compulsorily transferred to the Northumberland Fusiliers, landing in France on 13 December 1916. All five soldiers were posted to the 19th (Service) Battalion (Pioneers). David Hobson was later wounded and evacuated to England. The other four including Robert Roberts were posted to the 1/5th Battalion (Territorial Force) a few days before the Second Battle of Passchendaele

Robert Roberts was killed on 26 October 1917 aged 32 when the 1/5th NF participated in a disastrous diversionary attack during the subsequent battle. Robert was buried near where he fell and that area became the Poelcapelle British Cemetery after the Armistice with exhumations being brought in from surrounding battlefields and smaller cemeteries. Though Robert Roberts has a headstone, the precise location of his grave is not marked.

After the war, Robert Roberts’ effects were received by his widow, Eliza. A claim for a pension made by Eliza after the war indicates that the couple had no children.

 

Robert Griffith Roberts

  • Sapper, Royal Engineers

Robert Griffith Roberts appears on the three main Llandudno memorials and is annotated as a sapper in the Royal Engineers by the town’s Roll of Honour. He is also listed on the North Wales Memorial Arch at Bangor. No further details about Robert Griffith Roberts have been discovered.

 

Thomas Edward Roberts

  • 26349, Private, 17th Welsh Regiment
  • Killed in action, 4 August 1917 aged 26
  • Buried at Gouzeaucourt New British Cemetery, France
  • CWGC registered (no family details noted)
  • Penrhynside/Llanrhos casualty

Thomas Edward Roberts, the son of a stonemason, William Roberts, and his wife Catherine Roberts was born at Llanrhos in 1890. The Census for the following year records Catherine Roberts as the head of the family and married, though there is no record of her husband William Roberts. Six children are named: Ann Ellen, Robert, Mary, Willie, John and Thomas – the family lived at “Tan-y-fron”, Llanrhos. Ten years later, the family lived at “Haulfaw”, Penrhynside, Catherine Roberts was now recorded as being widowed, and the children still living at home were Robert, a bricklayer, John and Thomas Edward. Interestingly, it was noted that Thomas’ elder brother by three years, John, was born in Chicago, USA – a fact not noted on the 1891 Census. In 1911, the three youngest sons, William, John and Thomas were lodging at “Ewryn View”, Penrhynside, Thomas Edward being employed as a market gardener.

Thomas Roberts and William Wood (qv) joined up at Llandudno in 1915. Because both were short in stature, they were enlisted into the 17th Welsh (Service) Battalion (1 Glamorgan) which had been formed in December 1914 as a Bantam Battalion before moving immediately to Rhyl. They received the consecutive regimental numbers of 26349 and 26350. The battalion moved to Rhos-on-Sea in February 1915 and then Prees Heath in July. Two months later it moved to Aldershot. Delays in training caused by the weeding out of very undersized and unfit men delayed the training programme and it finally landed in France in June 1916 as a component of the 40th Division.

Thomas Edward Roberts was killed in action on 4 August 1917 aged 26. On that day, the 17th Welsh was in the Brigade Reserve in the Villers-Plouich Sub-sector, just north of the village of Gouzeaucourt; the war diary does not record any casualties. He was buried about a kilometre south-west of the village. After the war, his body was reinterred at Gouzeaucourt New British Cemetery.

 

Thomas Hugh Roberts

  • 34674, Private, 17th Royal Welsh Fusiliers
  • Killed in action, 10-12 July 1916, aged 31
  • No known grave (Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France)
  • CWGC registered (Son of Mary Roberts, of “Oaklands”, Caroline Rd, Llandudno, and the late Samuel Roberts)

Thomas Hugh Roberts, the son of Samuel Roberts and Mary Roberts (née Griffiths), was born at Llandudno on 16 December 1884, When Thomas was baptised on 11 February 1885, the family’s address was “Evelyn Cottage”, Caroline Street, Llandudno, Samuel Roberts being described as a labourer. In 1891, Samuel Roberts was now described as a pier porter and Mary Roberts as a lodging house keeper. The family had moved to “Oaklands”, Caroline Street. In March 1893, Thomas was admitted to Lloyd Street School and remained there until March 1899 when he left for work. In 1901, the family lived at the same address and Thomas was described as a draper’s assistant. However, by 1911, Thomas had left home and gone to live in London. His address was 34 Eastbourne Terrace, Paddington; he was described as a draper.

Thomas Roberts volunteered to join the army on 1 November 1915. He enlisted at Holborn into the 18th (Reserve) Battalion (2nd London Welsh) of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. His service number was 34674. He gave his address as 29 Bywater Street, Chelsea. The battalion had formed at Gray’s Inn in February 1915 as a Service (New Army) Battalion and moved to Bangor in June 1915. However, in August 1915, it was converted into a Reserve Battalion and moved to Kinmel Park, its subalterns and men being destined to reinforce other battalions which had suffered heavy casualties.

Thomas Roberts left Folkestone for Boulogne on 28 May 1916. He held for a while at the 38th Infantry Base Depot at Étaples and proceeded to join the 17th Royal Welch Fusiliers at Chelers on 16 June 1916; he was posted to B Company the following day. The 17th (Service) Battalion had been in France since December 1915, part of the 38th (Welsh) Division.

Thomas Hugh Roberts’ tour of duty was a short one because he was killed in action between 10 and 12 July 1916 during the attack on Mametz Wood, Battle of the Somme, aged 31. His has no known grave.

 

Thomas Pierce Roberts

  • 5666, Private, 2/6th Royal Welsh Fusiliers
  • Later 51958, 87th Lab Coy, Labour Corps
  • Died of wounds, 7 December 1917, aged 41
  • Buried at Hermies Hill British Cemetery, France
  • CWGC registered (no family details noted)
  • Deganwy/Llanrhos casualty

Thomas Pierce Roberts was the son of Ellen Pierce and an unknown father. He was born at Deganwy in 1876, being baptised on 16 November at Llanrhos. His name was recorded as Thomas Pierce and the family address in the baptismal register was Ty’n-y-Fron, Eglwys Rhos (Llanrhos). No census record for 1881 for Thomas Pierce has come to light though his mother, Ellen, was recorded as living at “Penrhyn”, Eglwys Rhos and employed as a dairy maid. In 1890, Ellen Pierce married John Roberts at Llanrwst. The following year, John Roberts, his wife Ellen, and Thomas Pierce, now known as Thomas Roberts, were living at 5 Brookland Terrace, Llanrhos. Both John Roberts and Thomas were recorded as general labourers. John Roberts died in 1905 and in 1911, Ellen Roberts and her son Thomas Roberts lived at the same address, Thomas being a general labourer in the building trade.

In 1916, Thomas, now known as Thomas Pierce Roberts, was conscripted into the Royal Welsh Fusiliers at Wrexham. His only known battalion in the RWF was the 2/6th, the second line battalion of the Carnarvonshire and Anglesey Battalion, (Territorial Force) which had formed in September 1914 for home defence. His regimental number was 5666. In March 1917 he was transferred to the 22nd Infantry Labour Company of the King’s (Liverpool Regiment) with a regimental number of 77285 which, at a date unknown, disembarked in France. The Labour Corps was formed in 1917 and absorbed the labour companies of the infantry regiments. Thomas Roberts’ new regimental number was 51958 and his unit was now designated as the 87th Labour Company, Labour Corps.

Thomas Pierce Roberts died of wounds on 7 December 1917 aged 41 at the 100th Field Ambulance (2nd Division). He was buried at Hermies Hill British Cemetery. Hermies, a small town in the Pas de Calais had been taken in April 1917. Thomas died after receiving medical attention in the field but before being evacuated. How he became to be wounded is unknown though the date and the location is consistent with the last day of the Battle of Cambrai.

 

William Roberts (1st RWF)

  • 53834, Private, 1st Royal Welsh Fusiliers
  • Killed in action, 2 November 1916, aged 20
  • Buried at Berks Cemetery Extension, Ploegsteert, Belgium
  • CWGC registered (Son of Griffith and Elizabeth Ann Roberts, of 12 Tyn-Y-Coed Terrace, Great Ormes Head, Llandudno)

William Roberts, the son of Griffith Roberts, a joiner, and Elizabeth Ann Roberts (née Williams) was born at Bangor on 1 April 1896. In 1901, the family, including William’s two sisters, Elizabeth and Winifred, lived at 2 Pen-y-Ffrith, Great Orme’s Head, Llandudno. In September 1904, William transferred from the Great Orme Infants’ School to St. George’s National School. In 1911, the family was living at the nearby 5 Pen-y-Ffrith, William being described as an errand boy for a chemist. Elizabeth was described as head of the family and married, Griffith Roberts (possibly) being employed as a colliery repairer at Aberfan.

Since William Roberts enlisted into the Royal Welsh Fusiliers at Caernarfon and had a regimental number of 2342, then he probably signed up for the 6th (Carnarvonshire and Anglesey) Battalion of the Territorial Force around November 1914. The first line 1/6th RWF went to Gallipoli in July 1915 and the second line 2/6th RWF, to which William would have been posted, moved to Northampton in April 1915 and to Bedford in July 1915.

William Roberts transferred from the Territorial Force to the Regular Army in mid-1916, possibly on compulsion as a result of Army Order 204 where members of the TF were deemed to have agreed to serve overseas. On arrival at an infantry base depot in France, in around August 1916, William still retained his old TF number, but this was changed to 53834 and he was posted to the 1st Battalion RWF. This was in the same draft of reinforcements that included Percy Thomas (qv) on 10 August 1916. He was killed in action on 2 November 1916, aged 20 and buried at Berks Cemetery Extension, Ploegsteert, Belgium. The plot in which he is buried is contemporary with the date of death and not a reburial. There was no major action at that time in that area.

 

William H Roberts (13th RWF)

  • 16069, Private,13th Royal Welsh Fusiliers
  • Killed in action, 1 August 1917, aged c 27
  • No known grave (Menin Gate Memorial, Belgium)
  • CWGC registered (no family details noted)
  • Penrhynside casualty

William Roberts, the son of a labourer, John Roberts and his wife Hannah Roberts (née Williams) was born at Llangystenin in 1890. He was baptised on 26 October at Llandudno. In 1891, the family lived at Pant-y-wenol, Craig-y-Don; William had four other siblings: Ann, Frederick, David and Margaret. Ten years later, the family, now including another son Robert, lived at “Tyddyn Bleuen”, Penrhynside. In 1911, like his elder brother David, William was employed as a quarryman. In 1914, William (as William H Roberts) married Ethel Jones.

In early October 1914, Raymond Jack Leslie Smith (qv), Arthur Edward Evans (qv) and William Roberts enlisted into the Royal Welsh Fusiliers at Conwy. They joined the 13th (Service) Battalion (1st North Wales) at Rhyl with the consecutive regimental numbers of 16067, 16068, and 16069 respectively. This Service Battalion had been formed at Rhyl on 3 September 1914 by the Denbigh and Flint Territorial Force Associations but responsibility was transferred to the Welsh National Executive Committee for incorporation into the proposed “Welsh Army” and moved to Llandudno. The Welsh Army never materialised and the 13th RWF eventually came under the orders of the 38th (Welsh) Division.

William and Ethel’s son, Thomas Christopher Roberts, was born on 20 December 1914.

The 38th Division moved to Winchester in August 1915 and William disembarked in France with his battalion on 1 December 1915.

The couple’s daughter, Annie Roberts, was born on 19 November 1916.

William Roberts was killed in action on 1 August 1917 aged c 27. This was the second day of the Third Battle of Ypres, otherwise known as Passchendaele. In the days leading up the offensive, the 13th RWF had been progressively brought up to the front line and went into action a little north of Ypres. This was the first time the battalion had seen action since the disastrous attack on Mametz Wood a year previously. William Roberts’ body has no known place of burial and he is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial.

 

William Roberts (24th RWF)

  • 201605, Private, 24th Royal Welsh Fusiliers (Territorial Force)
  • Died after discharge, 24 June 1921, aged 28
  • Buried at Llanrhos Churchyard
  • CWGC registered (Son of William Hope Roberts and Margaret Roberts, of 3 Victoria Terrace, Trefriw, Carnarvonshire. Born at Deganwy, Carnarvonshire)
  • Llanrhos casualty (also possible Llandudno candidate)
    • Born Deganwy
    • Died Craig-y-Don, Llandudno

William Roberts, born at Deganwy on 26 September 1892, was the son of a joiner, William Hope Bruce Roberts and his wife Margaret Roberts (née Roberts). In the Census of Wales taken the previous year, William, his wife and two sons, John Richard and Edward Robert, lodged at 8 Pleasant Terrace, Craig-y-Don, Llandudno. John, Edward and William are recorded in the admissions register of the National School, Deganwy in October 1897; their address was given as Marl Road. In 1901, the family lived at 2 Sefton Terrace, Deganwy; William now had two sisters: Olwen Mary and Elizabeth Anne. The family lived at the same address in 1911; William Roberts (junior) had originally been written into the census return but his name was crossed-out; there is no clue as to William’s occupation and no other census return has been found for him.

William Roberts served with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers in the First World War, his only known regimental number being 201605. This number was issued in 1917 to the 4th (Denbighshire) Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, (Territorial Force) and replaced an earlier number which would have been between 9645 and 9699 – issued around 1 May 1916. William Roberts was posted to the 24th (Denbighshire Yeomanry) Battalion, (Territorial Force). The 24th RWF had started life as the 1/1st Denbighshire Yeomanry (Hussars), a cavalry regiment in the Territorial Force. The regiment had been dismounted (effectively becoming foot-soldiers) in November 1915 and had been sent to Egypt in March 1916 to guard the Suez Canal. It was decided to convert the dismounted yeomanry regiments to full infantry battalions and the 1/1st Denbighshire Yeomanry had reformed as the 24th (Denbighshire Yeomanry) RWF (TF) on 1 March 1917, reinforcements being required to bring the battalion up to infantry strength. William Roberts may have been one of these reinforcements, disembarking circa July 1917. As part of the 74th (Yeomanry) Division, the battalion saw action in Palestine from October 1917. In April 1918, the battalion received orders to be transferred to France and it was billeted near Abbeville by 18 May. William’s medal roll indicates that he spent three occasions at an infantry/yeomanry base depot indicating that he may have been wounded. His date of discharge is unknown.

William Roberts died of pneumonia and cardiac failure at 10 Pleasant Street, Craig-y-Don on 24 June 1921 aged 28. The death certificate describes him as a butcher’s manager. His father was present at his death. William Roberts was buried at Llanrhos Churchyard on 28 June. His effects (£177 10s) were received by his father.

NOTES

The William Roberts commemorated on the Llanrhos War Memorial could be either:

  • William H Roberts (13th RWF) of Penrhynside (previous); or
  • William Roberts (24th RWF) (this) who had a Deganwy upbringing and died at Craig-y-Don, both in the Parish of Llanrhos – his death may have been too late to have been included on the Llanrhos and St. Paul’s Church memorial.

Since he died at Craig-y-Don, William Roberts (24th RWF) may have been eligible for commemoration on the Llandudno Memorials.

 

William James Roberts

  • M/17128, Carpenter’s Crew, HMS Anchusa, Royal Navy
  • Killed or died as a direct result of enemy action, 16 July 1918, aged 23
  • Body not recovered for burial (Plymouth Naval Memorial)
  • CWGC registered (Son of Mr and Mrs John Elias Roberts, of Pen-Y-Ffrith, Gt. Orme, Llandudno)

William James Roberts was born on 26 December 1894 at Llandudno. He was the first of eleven children born to John Elias Roberts, a joiner, and his wife Ann Roberts (née Humphreys). William attended St. Bueno’s Infant School and in 1898 transferred to St. George’s National School. The family lived at 14 Pen-y-Ffrith Terrace, Great Orme though by 1911, William and his brothers Robert and Griffith were lodging with their uncle, also William James Roberts, at “Anglesey Villa”, Tyn-y-Coed Road, Llandudno. William was described as a grocer’s assistant.

Unlike many of his contemporaries, William Roberts joined the Royal Navy and his period of engagement began on 19 November 1915. His stated occupation was as a joiner – perhaps it was this trade that enabled him to join the Royal Navy as a carpenter. His number was M/17128 and he trained at HMS Vivid II, a shore establishment at Devonport. He was transferred to HMS Anchusa on 30 May 1917. The Anchusa was a Flower Class sloop which had been recently built to resemble a cargo ship but was in fact a Q-ship. Anchusa served with the 2nd Sloop Flotilla out of Buncrana, Co Donegal. The ship was torpedoed by the U-54 of the coast of Ireland on 16 July 1918 with the loss of 79 lives.

 

Kenneth Robinson

  • Lieutenant, Royal Army Medical Corps, attached 12th Manchester Regiment
  • Killed in action, 25 September 1915, aged 31
  • Buried at Ridge Wood Military Cemetery, Belgium
  • CWGC registered (Son of James Robinson, MD, and Jane Drennan Robinson, of Ivonhurst, The Firs, Bowdon, Cheshire. MB [London]. Native of Dunscar, Bolton, Lancs)

Kenneth Robinson, the son of James Robinson and Jane Drennan Robinson (née Gunn) was born at Dunscar near Bolton on 9 October 1883. James Robinson was a doctor at Dunscar. Kenneth was educated at Bolton Church Institute and Wellingborough School. He studied medicine at Manchester University from 1900 and obtained his MB (London) in 1907. On graduation, he joined his father’s practice but moved to Llandudno where he was a partner to Dr William Nichol. His address was “Ordavia”, Abbey Road.

In January 1915, Kenneth Robinson volunteered to join the Royal Army Medical Corps. He received a commission in March 1915 and some rudimentary training at Torquay with the 53rd Field Ambulance. The 53rd Field Ambulance was part of the 17th Northern Division, disembarking in France on 14 July 1915. Shortly after, Kenneth Robinson was attached to the 12th (Service) Battalion of the Manchester Regiment.

Kenneth Robinson was killed in action on 25 September 1915 aged 31 whilst proceeding from the shelter of the headquarters’ dugout to dress the wounds of an injured soldier. A contemporary newspaper report states that a bullet entered his back and penetrated a lung. The war diary of the 12th Manchester’s does not mention any casualties for that day. Kenneth Robinson was buried at Ridge Wood Military Cemetery, about three miles south-west of Ypres.

 

John Rowland-Ellis DCM and Bar

  • 37443, Serjeant, 55th Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps
  • Killed in action, 22 October 1917, aged 35
  • Buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium
  • CWGC registered (as John Ellis – Husband of Lizzie Ellis, of 76 Cornwallis St, Stoke-on-Trent)

John Rowland-Ellis (aka John Rowland Ellis, John R Ellis, John Ellis), was born at “Plas Llewelyn”, Llandudno on 13 April 1885. He received the same name as his father, a medical student at Edinburgh University, and his grandfather, a chemist (Ellis John R, Llewelyn Street, Llandudno) and churchwarden to the Rector of Llandudno Parish. His mother was Jane Isabella Ellis (née Dalglish). The Census of Scotland for 1891 records the family, John (father), Jane, John and Jessie Gwendoline living at Main Street in Gifford, East Lothian; His father was a general practitioner. No census record for John or his father can be found for 1901, but his mother Jane and his sister Jessie are recorded at Hanley in Staffordshire, Jane being the matron of a rescue shelter. On 12 September 1905, John, as John Ellis, married Lizzie Bailey at St. Mary’s Parish Church, Tunstall. John gave his address as 21 Havelock Street, Stoke-on-Trent, his occupation as a car conductor and his age as 22 though his actual age was 20. Lizzie Bailey also claimed to be 22 though she was actually 23. The couple’s daughter, Isabel Nora Ellis was born on 11 August 1906. In 1911, the young family, now using the surname Rowland-Ellis, lived at 70 Cornwallis Street, Stoke on Trent; John was described as a tramway motorman. The same census records John’s parents and sister also living at Stoke on Trent and also using the surname Rowland-Ellis; his father was now described as a medical assistant.

John Rowland-Ellis enlisted into the Royal Army Medical Corps at Tunstall and had a regimental number of 37443, a number issued in September 1914. He disembarked in France on 27 July 1915 with the rank of serjeant. John Ellis was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal twice. The first was gazetted on 20 October 1916: “For conspicuous bravery and devotion when leading and directing stretcher-bearers, under a heavy fire, for thirty-six hours. On one occasion he volunteered to go for and administer first aid first-aid in the open, under very heavy shell fire, before the stretcher parties could advance.” The second, gazetted on 26 July 1917 read, “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty, in leaving a trench at great personal risk to rescue two men who had been wounded by enemy snipers at close range. He was steadily fired upon the whole time. One of the men was hit a second time and killed before he could be brought to safety.”

John Rowland-Ellis was killed in action on 22 November 1917 aged 35 whilst serving with the 55th Field Ambulance. The 55th FA was part of the 18th (Eastern) Division and took part in many of the significant actions on the Western Front. John Ellis was buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Poperinge, Belgium.

Isabel Nora Ellis married Frank Ferriday in 1929. Ten years later the couple, their son Robin and her mother Lizzie Ellis lived at Cheadle, Staffordshire.

 

Walter Francis Rudge

  • 5728, Private, 8th Royal Welsh Fusiliers
  • Died of illness whilst a prisoner of war, 8 August 1916, aged 22
  • Buried at the Hote-el-Americain Prisoners’ Cemetery, Mosul, Iraq (Basra Memorial)
  • CWGC registered (no family details noted)

Walter Francis Rudge was the son of a butcher, George Walter Rudge and Mary Ann Rudge (née Keeton). The couple had married in Aston in 1885 but settled in Llandudno shortly after, living at 23 Jubilee Street. Walter, born on 6 November 1893, attended Lloyd Street School, St. George’s National School and Dyffryn Road Council School which he left in February 1908. In 1911, Walter lived at home and was employed as an assistant to his father.

Enlisting at Llandudno on 26 August 1914, Walter joined the Special Reserve of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers with a service number of 5728. He was posted to the 12th (Service) Battalion, then forming at Wrexham. Moving to Tenby, the 12th RWF was part of K4 – Kitchener’s fourth new army. However, because of the need to reinforce other battalions, K4 was broken up and the 12th RWF became a Reserve Battalion, at Kinmel Park in April 1915. Between 8 June and 3 August 1915, Walter was appointed as an unpaid lance corporal. In November 1915, he joined the 8th (Service) Battalion of the RWF at Gallipoli. After the evacuation from Helles on 8/9 January 1916, the battalion was sent to Egypt to guard the Suez Canal. On 12 February 1916, the battalion moved to Mesopotamia to join the force being assembled to relieve the besieged garrison at Kut al Amara.

Walter Rudge was reported missing on 16 April 1916 during an abortive attempt to relieve Kut. He was later reported as a prisoner of war. Prisoners taken by the Turks were sent to prison camps in Turkey by barge, lorry, train and forced marches, suffering extreme hardship. The ultimate destination for many was a notorious prisoner of war camp at Afion Karahissar. On 10 February 1917 Walter Rudge was unofficially reported as having died whilst a prisoner of war. Initial notification of death was received from the Ottoman Red Cross. It is recorded in his service record that he died at Afion Karahissar of diarrhoea on 8 August 1916 aged 22. This information is also stated on Walter Rudge’s UK death certificate.

A contradictory entry in Water Rudge’s service record indicates that he died at Mosul. Mosul was a waypoint on the route taken by prisoners being sent to Turkey and a hospital had been set up there for those who were too ill to travel. The hospital was run by a doctor of the Indian Army who wrote: “I lost nearly 100 British soldiers in that melancholy hospital in a period of a few weeks that summer. I had them all buried by a local priest of the Greek Orthodox Church at a place called the Hote el Americain, a bare hillside two miles south-west of Mosul and I put up two memorial stones and filled in the official ‘acte de deces’ for each man.”

The acte de deces (death notice) confirms that Walter Rudge died of diarrhoea at Mosul on 8 August 1916 and was buried at Hote el Americain. The records of the War Graves Commission support this version of the events. After the war, the graves could not be identified or marked so the officers and men in them were commemorated on panel 62 of the Basra Memorial.

NOTE

In 1997, the Saddam Hussein regime demolished the Basra Memorial and rebuilt it some 20 miles away in the desert. Because of the political situation, those named on it are now additionally commemorated on the CWGC’s Iraq Roll of Honour. Sadly, panel 62, which held names of prisoners of war who died at Mosul and in Asia Minor, including Walter Rudge, is not intact and is presently fragmented at the foot of the surrounding panels.

 

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