Percival first appears on a census in 1891. He was aged 1 and lived with his family in Penyffordd near Hope. The family comprised father, Edward aged 37 a coal miner who hailed from Doddleston. His wife was Matilda 34, a Liverpudlian. The children were Sarah Ann 14, Hannah M 11, Richard 8, William 6, Jesse 3 and Percy 1.
Ten years later in the 1901 census the family still lived in Penyffordd. Edward was 47 and still a coal miner, Matilda was 44, Richard 19 was a coal miner as was William 17. Jesse at 14 was a labourer at the brickworks in Hope. Percy was 11, Reuben 9, Sydney 7, Janet 5 and Lily 3.
In the 1911 census we find some big changes. The family was now living at 70 Trilby Terrace Shotton Lane, Shotton. Matilda now 53 was a widow who gives her occupation as ‘housework’. Still living in the family home were Richard 29 who was a ‘doubler ‘ at the sheet mills, Jesse was 23 also in the steel works as a Storekeeper, Percy 21 was a helper in the sheet mills, Reuben 19 was a plumber, Sydney 17 was a ‘switch boy’ Janet 15 helped at home and Lily 13 was at school.
UK Soldiers who died in the Great War 1914-19 accessible on www.ancestry.co.uk gives us all the above regimental details and tells us that he enlisted in Shotton. His medal card tells us that he first served in a theatre of war in France from 19th July 1915.
Percival Bellis in the UK, Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects, 1901-1929 tells us that the Sole Legatees were his mother Matilda and sister Lily, they were paid £6. 6s 4d on the 14th March 1916 and Percival’s War Gratuity of £4.10s 0d on the 3rd December 1919.
There was no Flintshire WW1 Index Card for him, neither “Living”, nor “Fallen”, which may have given more details.
Thanks to Bill Tyrell, who allowed me access to the Minutes of the the Conservative Club Shotton where in a meeting on the 9th October 1916 the committee voted to give financial help to sixteen widows of the area. Mrs. BELLIS, Shotton Lane, Shotton, was one of those widows, they were each given 5/-. Please click on the link to read the names of the others who were mentioned in the minutes.
Percy was mentioned in the book ” Soldiers Died in the Great War. Royal Welsh Fusiliers Part 28″.
Percy is also remembered on the Hawarden War Memorial.
Writing to his mother just prior to going into action, Sergeant Bellis says: – “It has been terrible out here this week, and it will be worse before the week is out, but we have to trust in God to pull us through. Our artillery has bombarded the German trenches since Monday without a stop, and of course you will know what that means. They are still at it, and you can hardly hear yourself speak at times. We don’t know what minute this affair will come off, but you can take it from me that the regiment will be at the finish. It has been raining and thundering terribly, and what with the guns it is enough to deafen one. Well mother I hope you do not get uneasy if you don’t hear from me for a few days, as we will not have much time for writing when they tell us to get over the parapet. If, however, I happen to stop a bullet, you can say, “My lad did his duty,” I know it will be hard if anything does happen, but I am looking forward to see you shortly. I can tell you, mother, it is terrible to see what the Huns have done out here, and you do not realise in England what the war means. I would rather see you all dead than have to suffer as they have made these poor people suffer. They are a treacherous lot. One of the Germans came up to the wire in front of our trenches, and called “Comrades, comrades”, but we had some of his lot before, and we riddled him with bullets. When we went out and picked him up he had a bomb under his coat that would have blown the whole lot in the trench up. Good-night, and God bless you, and keep you safe.” Mrs Bellis’s other son, Sidney, is also serving in France. He is attached to the Royal Field Artillery.
Flintshire Observer 21st October 1915 SERGEANT PERCY BELLIS Apropos of our paragraph concerning the reported death of Sergeant Bellis in our last issue, we have been informed that the family have received the official intimation that he is “missing.” We trust that means that the reports of his death are without foundation.
Addendum – If you would like a copy of the War Diaries for the 9th Bn R.W.F. please contact the website or they can be seen on Ancestry.co.uk.