Roberts, John

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John Roberts

659157, Private, Labour Corps
Formerly 25953, 17th Royal Welsh Fusiliers
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 was born on 24 May 1884 at Llandudno. He was the son of Enoch Roberts, a stonemason, and his wife Mary Roberts (née Thomas). 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 records the family living at 7 Jubilee Street – Enoch Roberts was 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 the Census of 1911 records the couple and a son, Richard Roberts (b 1909), living at 26 King’s Road, Llandudno – Robert worked as a labourer for the Llandudno Urban District Council.

John Roberts’ service record no longer exists but the best evidence has it that he 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 August 1916 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 Fusilier details because the Labour Corps was not seen as a particularly heroic corps.

The birth index for Conway records the following births of children with a surname of Roberts and a mother’s maiden name of Webb: Jane E Roberts (1911-1912), George Roberts (1913-?), Sarah Blodwen Roberts (1914-1999), Lillian Roberts (1917-?) and John Roberts (1920-?). Assuming that these are the children of John and Mary Roberts, then it would appear that John Roberts was on leave at home in 1916. A local newspaper reporting the death of John Roberts said that he left a widow and four children.

On a date unknown, Annie Roberts returned to her home town of Wednesbury, Staffordshire. The 1939 register records Annie Roberts (b 10 April 1883) and Richard Roberts (b 5 January 1909) living at 19 Moor Street, Wednesbury.

Known memorials:

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

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