John Roberts was the son of William and Hannah Roberts of 81 Brunswick Road, Buckley. John was born in Leeswood near Mold in 1884 and prior to the war was a Miner Hewer in the local collieries following on from his father his brothers William, Vincent and Thomas. Vincent was killed in an accident at Bolsover Colliery, Mansfield in1928. We are not sure when John joined the Army but on 28/6/15 he landed in the Dardanelle’s (8th Battalion). He served in the 2nd Division from 19/8/15 to 25/11/15 whence it became the 33rd Division. We are not sure of the dates but after the Dardanelle’s John returned to Buckley on leave and decided after the horrors of war he had seen he was not returning to his regiment and subsequently deserted.
The Army sent MP’s from the camp at Saighton Chester to bring him back but John enjoying a pint in The Ship public house, employed lookouts and was able to escape their clutches and hid in the Padeswood woods area but to no avail as he was quickly rounded up and sent back post haste to France.
We are not aware of the conflicts he was involved with in France but we do know that the Welsh Fusiliers were defending High Wood in July 1916 when the Germans made a big effort to capture the Wood.
The Welsh Fusiliers were defending High Wood in July 1916 when the Germans made a big effort to capture the Wood. John and another Fusilier from Drury near Buckley were retreating under heavy fire from the Germans when John was hit in the back and killed. We know this because the soldier from Drury survived the war and on his return contacted William and Hannah to describe to them how John had died. He confirmed that as they were running through the Wood with the Germans in pursuit John said “We are not going to get out of here alive ” just as the bullet hit him. The date was 20 July 1916 and he is buried in Caterpillar Valley Cemetery Longueval, France.
He was in receipt of the Victory Medal, British War Medal and the 1915 Star.
His younger brother William was also in the war and survived only to suffer trench foot for the rest of his life.
From War diary
2nd Bttn RWF diary Date : 20/07/1916 Flat Iron Copse, Bois-Des-Foureaux The Battalion was heavily shelled from 3 am to 8 am then intermittently until noon, when we were under orders to go up to High Wood ( Bois-Des-Foureaux) which the Brigade had only been able to partially capture. The Cameronians, 5th Scottish Rifles and 20th Royal Fusiliers, sustaining heavy losses. High Wood was reached about 2 pm, and our attack succeeded in capturing and clearing the woods, including the Strong Point in the NW corner. Owing to the presence of machine guns in the SWITCH, a defensive line was dug 100 yards within the N edge of the wood. At about 9 pm the OC 20th Royal Fusiliers reported that the enemy was counter attacking the defensive line. At about 10 pm the enemy heavily shelled the edges of the wood. A draft of 98 other ranks joined. Casualties 2nd Lieut G. R. Heastly killed, Lieut R. J. A Bowles, wounded; died of wounds Captain R. von R. Graves, Captain P. Moody, Lieut G.E.B Barkworth, Lieut N.O. Parry, Lieut R Gambier Parry, 2nd Lieuts A.G. Lord, A. M. Roberts, G.W. Lowe, & H. L. Crockett wounded. 29 Other Ranks killed, 180 Other Ranks wounded & 29 Other Ranks missing.
John is remembered on a family grave at Bistre.
In loving memory of
Beloved daughter of W & H Roberts
Who died March 26th 1917
Aged 23 years
Also Pte John Roberts RWF
Killed in action July 20th 1916 in France
Aged 32 years
Greater love hath no man than this
That he lay down his life for his friends
Also Hannah Roberts
Mother of the above
Died Aug 20th 1923
Also the above
Died Oct 30th 1943
In his 87th year
Also William their son
Who passed away Sept 18 1948
In his 62nd year