Name of Researcher / Enw’r ymchwylydd: Mavis Williams
Name of Memorial / Enw’r gofeb: Connahs Quay
Name / Enw: Hughes, Robert John
Regiment/Catrawd: 1st Bn Welsh Guards
Service Rank and Number / Rheng gwasanaeth a rhif: Private 825
Military Cemetery/Memorial / Fynwent milwrol: Brandhoek Military Cemetery
Ref No Grave or Memorial / Rhif cyfeirnod bedd: II. F. 6
Country of Cemetery or Memorial / Gwlad y fynwent neu gofeb: Belgium
Medals Awarded / Medalau a ddyfarnwyd: British & Victory Medals and 15 Star
Date of Death: 21st June 1916
Date and Circumstances of Death / Dyddiad ac amgylchiadau marwolaeth:
Killed in Action 21st June 1916, age 29.
Robert John Hughes was born in Henllan, Denbighshire in 1886 (Corwen/01/59), the son of Thomas & Jane Hughes, (nee Williams) who had married in St. Sadwrn’s Church at Henllan (I have a copy of the marriage, if anyone wants to see it). He was the eldest of 9 children.
He is first seen on a census on the 1891 census, where the family were living at Llindir Street, Henllan, Thomas, 30 a Stonemason Journeyman, born Trefnant was the head of the household, his wife Jane, 29 and the rest of the family had been born in Henllan. Their sons were Robert John, 4, and Jesse, 3, their sister Mary was 1 year old.
For some reason, Robert John is not with the family on the 1901 census, but there is a sighting of a Robert Hughes age 14 a “Yard man on Farm,” but born in Llanwrst. His family were living at 2, Denbigh Street, Henllan. Thomas was now 40 and still a Stonemason, his wife Jane was 39. Their children, now increased, were Jesse*, 13, Mary, 11, Hugh, 9, Edward, 7, Thomas Wallace, 4 and William, 1 made up the family. Jane’s mother Mary, a widow, 70 was with them, she had been born in Cefnmauadog, Denbs.
Again, on the 1911 census Robert John was missing from his family home and they had moved again, this time to Bryn-y-ffynon, Henllan, Trefnant, S.Q and they were all bilingual. Thomas, 50, was still a Stonemason, but on the Parish Registers on the baptism of his children he is also a Parish Clerk. (I have the Baptisms of all the children if you want to contact the website.) He tells us that he and Jane, 49, had been married 24 years and 9 children had been born, all still living. As on previous censuses, the family had grown, William 12, Margaret, 9 and Selina, 7 were at school. There was a boarder, William Owen Jones, 26 and a Groom, born in Denbighshire.
On the 1911 census he was living as a Boarder with Mary Dodd, 67, a widow, born in Ireland, at 6, Waterloo Street, Connah’s Quay, he was now a Police Constable and age 24, but single. I cannot find any evidence of when and where his training took place, but he was stationed at Shotton, as PC 32 by the time he enlisted at Shotton. The census form was filled in and signed by Robert.
Robert J Hughes in the British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920 tells us that his first Theatre of War was France and he entered that on the 17th August 1915.
Robert John Hughes in the UK, Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects, 1901-1929 tells us that the Legatees were his father Thomas, who was paid on the 29th September 1916 and his War Gratuity of £5 was given to his Brother Edward on the 15th October 1919.
Robert John Hughes in the UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919 tell us that his birth place was Henllan, Denbighshire and he enlisted in Shotton.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission additional Information: – Son of Thomas and Jane Hughes, of Henllan, Trefnant, Denbighshire.
The War Diary of the 1st Bn Welsh Guards tells us that on the 21st June the 1st Bn Welsh Guards were to be the battalion holding the Left sub-sector. HQ being LA BELLE ALLIANCE and it is at this place that the War diary describes the action, sadly the writing is very hard to follow, but it seems on that day the casualties were – 2 killed and 5 wounded, so we can suppose that perhaps Robert John was one of those 2 killed.
Viv & Eif Williams were in Belgium for the unveiling of the Welsh War Memorial there when they were in conversation with someone who was connected to the Police and they gave them this below:-
WW1: Remembering officers from North Wales – 04/08/2014
North Wales Police have today (Monday, August 4) marked the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War with a small service outside its Headquarters in Colwyn Bay.
Chief Constable Mark Polin led the commemoration, which involved officers and staff, by reading out the names of the 14 police officers who lost their lives.
Chief Constable Mark Polin’s speech was as follows:
“A hundred years ago today PC 19 Thomas Charles Orris, based at Bangor received a telegram from London. The message would have been addressed to L/Cpl T.C. Orris followed by the word ‘Mobilise’ and signed by the ‘Officer Commanding 2nd Bn. Gernadier Guards’. PC Orris had only joined the Police three months before, having been a soldier for several years and still being a reservist he was the first police officer from North Wales to go off to war. “He may have believed, as many others did, that the war would be finished by Christmas but PC Orris was killed only 4 months later in France, aged 27, without seeing his next Christmas. “In 1914, the area we now police was served by five separate constabularies for Anglesey, Caernarvonshire, Denbighshire, Flintshire and Meirioneth. In total 104 officers from across the five constabularies served during the war. Chief Constable Mark Polin said: “It is important that we all take time to come together and remember the great sacrifices made by the many people who gave their lives.
“We also pay our respects to the Police officers who left our Welsh communities to protect our country, so we could live our lives freely. By reflecting on the sacrifices of the fallen, and the great privileges that we enjoy today, we honour and pay tribute to their bravery, commitment and dedication. By remembering the fallen today, they will all live on forever.”
Many of these young men would never have left North Wales previously and tragically some were not to see home again. Their first, and for some, their only experience of a foreign land would have been a nightmare of mud, blood and horror. Compare this to your first experience abroad and you begin to appreciate the sacrifices they made on our behalf. “As with any war there are examples of heroism and devotion to duty, such as PC 77 Llywelyn Edwards, stationed at Coedpoeth, who was awarded the Military Medal for gallantry and devotion to duty under fire and the impressively named Sgt 11 Oliver Cromwell Davies, stationed at Blaenau Ffestiniog, who was awarded the Belgian Croix-de-Guerre and Meritorious Service Medal for devotion to duty in the field. “But as Churchill said ‘a medal glitters but it also casts a shadow’. We can scarcely imagine what those two men went through to merit those awards and how many other acts of courage and sacrifice went unrecognised and unrecorded. “Of the 104 officers who went off to war 14 were not to survive. That’s almost 1 in 7 who died. It is too easy, being so separated by space and time, to view these 14 men as statistics. But they were police officers from North Wales who wore the same uniform and served the same communities that we do and each of their deaths was a tragedy to the family, friends and colleagues they left behind and each has his story. “PC 8 Albert Jones, stationed at Mold, was killed within weeks of the outbreak of war at Ypres. His name is recorded on the famous Menin Gate.” “Conversely, PC 55 Reginald Pierce from Wrexham, serving with the Royal Welch Fusiliers, was killed the day before the war ended, on 10th November 1918.” “PC’s Harold Davies, David Jones and Robert Jones died soon after the war from their wounds or related illnesses.”
“PC’s Richard Morris of Bangor, William Pritchard of Blaenau Ffestiniog and John Lewis Thomas of Llandudno all serving with the Welsh Guards were killed within days of each other at the battle of the Somme in September 1916. Their graves are unmarked but their names are engraved on the vast Thiepval Memorial in France. 72,000 names are recorded on that monument but poignantly the names of these three men are commemorated on the same stone panel close to each other.” “Of the 90 officers who survived the war, each one re-joined their respective constabularies after the war which is a testament to their strength of character and their sense of duty. And whilst we rightly honour those who fell in the service of their country we should not forget the scars, both seen and unseen that those survivors carried with them for the rest of their service and the rest of their lives. “All across the country, indeed, across the word today, services are being held to remember all those of whatever nationality and background who served and fell during the First World War but I would ask each of you during this minute of silence to reflect solely on the Police Officers from North Wales who served, and particularly on the names of the thirteen officers which I will read out who gave their lives so that we can enjoy the freedom we have today.”
“During the ceremony bugler Mr Bryn Davies, a former soldier with the Royal Welch Fusiliers played ‘The Last Post’ and the flag was flown at half-mast. The details of the 14* police officers from North Wales who died for their country are:
These are “our” men from Deeside:-
- Pte. 825 Robert John Hughes, 1st Bn. Welsh Guards: Formerly PC
32 Hughes stationed at Shotton. Killed in action, aged 29, on 21st June1916. Buried at the Brandhoek Military Cemetery, Belgium, plot II. F.6.
- Pte. 1784 John Gregson Jones, 1st Bn. Welsh Guards: Formerly
PC 74 Jones stationed at Connah’s Quay. Killed in action, aged 25, on
29th April 1916 at Ypres. Buried at Potijze Burial Ground cemetery,
Belgium, plot B.6.
- L/Cpl. P/2934 Harold William Davies, Military Mounted Police: Formerly PC 74 Davies stationed at Connah’s Quay. Joined the army in December 1915. Died aged 25 on 2nd August 1919 of influenza whilst serving in the Army of Occupation. Buried at Cologne Southern Cemetery, Germany, plot IX. C. 16.
Please click on the links to read their stories.
*If you wish to see the whole list, please contact the website and I will send you the list.
Robert John Hughes is remembered on the Henllan War Memorial along with Robert John’s brother Jesse who was also to lose his life, age 29, in the war, so it was a double tragedy when they received the news the following year that Jesse had died on the 28th November 1917. He was also in the 1st Bn Welsh Guards, his Regimental No. being 1491, he enlisted in Birmingham and he is remembered on the Cambai Memorial, Loucerval, Nord, France. His sole Legatee was his mother Jane who was paid £6. 9s 8d p on the 22nd April 1918 and his War Gratuity of £11. 10s 0d on the 9th December 1919
Also on the Henllan memorial is the name William Hughes, but there is no information on him on the Clwyd History Society’s website* where I found out about him, so any information would be be gratefully received.
County Herald 30th June 1916
County Herald 29th October 1915
Any help to tell their stories would be gratefully received.