Using www.ancestry .com we can view the 1901 census and see that Edward Thomas is 5 years old and is living with his parents, William 43 and Sarah Ann Roberts nee Jones 40 in Cymau. William is a coal Miner. The other children in the family are Lucy 12, Price 8, Emma Jane 3 and William who is ten months.
In the 1911 census the family now live in the Gwalia Caergwrle. The head of the family, William is now 53 and a coal miner Hewer. Sarah Ann is 50 years old and has been married for 27 years. The couple have had 8 children, six of whom have survived. Price is now 18 and a colliery Labourer. Edward Thomas is 15 years old and a butcher’s errand boy. Emma Jane is 13 years old and at school.
Edward’s military records are available on ancestry.com and start with a Short Service Attestation record which was dated 11th December 1915. He is listed as being 20 years and 5 months old, 5 Feet 6 Inches tall, with a chest measurement of 36 ½ inches when fully expanded and has a weight of 137lbs. He has no distinctive marks, is not married and his next of kin is listed as Sarah Ann Roberts, Gwalia Caergwrle. On 26 January 1916 he joins the Corps 21st RWF and had military training at Kimnel park, where he is listed in May and June 1916. It seems he was promoted to Lance Corporal on 26th May 1916
On the 6th July 1916 he embarked on ship at Southampton bound for Rouen and was posted to the 2nd Battalion RWF on the 8th July. There are two further reports of his action in the field on the 21st and 28th July, however on the 3rd November 1916 he is listed as missing and a record of official acceptance of his death in military service is made the same day. His total Military service was 328 days.
A form detailing Edward Thomas’s blood relatives, Price Roberts age 26, and sisters Alice 34, Mary ? 33, Lucy 31 and Emma 22, the form is witnessed for Sarah Ann Roberts by the Rector of Hope Church, Hew Jones on the 29th August 1919
A receipt for Edward Thomas’s British and victory medals is signed by his mother in December 1920. Also there is correspondence between the No 2 infantry records office at Shrewsbury and Sarah Ann concerning his memorial scroll and Kings Message.
Information passed down through the family from Emma Davies nee Roberts;
Edward fondly known as “Ted” was reported to have said prior to enlisting for the war that he didn’t want to hold a gun. He was therefore given the duty of a “runner” and he had to deliver messages between trenches which of course was an extremely dangerous job to have to do.
News was given to the family that he was missing in action. Teds Mother (my Great Grandmother Sarah Roberts) refused initially to believe he was dead and always hoped he would return home, however his body was never found and due to the nature of his role believed him to be dead.
I went to look at the Caergwrle memorial however could not find his name and thought possibly this was due to him being missing in action however on visiting Hope Church and looking at the War Memorial there I noticed there was the name of an Edward Roberts and by his name was missing in brackets. My family have always attended Hope Church through the generations and I am sure my Great Grandmother would have wanted her son included on the memorial and remembered.
Unfortunately I have not been able to find a photograph of Ted in his uniform but the photo I have of him is the one my Gran (Emma) always kept on her mantelpiece and spoke about him often and losing him truly devastated the family (he was the youngest of eight children).
As my sons came to that age it made me realise just how young he was to have to go away from home and have to go through and witness such horrific things his bravery has never ceased to amaze me.
Karen Gittins (Nesbitt)
L Cpl Edward Thomas Roberts is listed on the Thiepval Memorial, his body was never found.
The 2nd Battalion RWF was a communications troop being responsible for messages between the trenches, officers and HQ. Radio was in its infancy at the start of the war, messages could easily be intercepted so telephones and telegraphy were the most used message communications during ww1; however the wires used in these systems were frequently broken by bullets, bombs and shrapnel. When these systems failed the troops, officers and command posts had to resort to the use of ‘runners’. A runner was used to literally run a hand written message between locations and return with a response or receipt to indicate the message had been delivered. This was an extremely dangerous job as it required the runner to climb out of the trench and run in exposed areas with no shelter, a prime target for snipers and machine guns.