Name of Researcher / Enw’r ymchwylydd: Mavis Williams
Name of Memorial / Enw’r gofeb: Connahs Quay
Name / Enw: Roberts, Robert John
Regiment/Catrawd: 16th Bn Royal Welsh Fusiliers
Service Rank and Number / Rheng gwasanaeth a rhif: Lance Corporal 18881
Military Cemetery/Memorial / Fynwent milwrol: Ovillers Military Cemetery
Ref No Grave or Memorial / Rhif cyfeirnod bedd: XIII. D. 3.
Country of Cemetery or Memorial / Gwlad y fynwent neu gofeb: France
Medals Awarded / Medalau a ddyfarnwyd: British War & Victory Medals and 15 star
Date of Death: 24th August 1918
Date and Circumstances of Death / Dyddiad ac amgylchiadau marwolaeth:
Killed in Action 24th August 1918
On the 1891 census John Roberts was seen for the first time, living with his family at Quay Road, Primrose Hill, Connah’s Quay. This is the only census where Robert John was referred to only as “John.” They lived in a 4 roomed house and they family spoke only English. Head of the household was Edward Roberts, 54, a Mariner of the seas and had been born in Hawarden. His wife Elizabeth, 37 and all the rest of the family had been born in Connah’s Quay, they were sons Josiah, 8 and John, 6, with daughter Elizabeth 3 and son Edward 1 year.
The 1901 census see the family living at 26, Primrose Hill, but Edward may have been away at sea, as he is missing. The family had grown and Elizabeth, 46 had given birth to 3 more children. Sons Robert J., 16, daughter Elizabeth, 13, sons Edward, 11 and William, 9, daughters Elsie, 7 and Maggie, 4.
In the 1911 census Elizabeth is shown as a Widow, but, lucky for us, she wrote down that she had been married 30 years, 7 children had been born and were still living, this was all crossed out by the Enumerator. Son Robert J., 26 a Stock Taker in the Corrugated Sheet Works was single. Son Edward,21 and single also worked there. Daughter Margaret, was 15.
John ROBERTS, may have been Robert John, because he fits, as the newspaper cutting said his Mother, Mrs. Roberts had received news that a L/Cpl. John ROBERTS, had been K.I.A. and her address in the newspaper was Church Street, Connah’s Quay.
Flintshire Observer 3rd October 1918
News has been received by Mrs Roberts of Church Street, Connah’s Quay, of the death of her son Lance-Corporal John Roberts, killed in action in France, after serving for more than three years. His work as a signaller was recognised in August, 1917, when he received a certificate signed by Brig.-General L. Price Davis, and endorsed by the Major-General, testifying that during the action of July 31st 1917, and the following days he maintained good communication between Company and Battalion H.Q., often under heavy fire. Twelve months ago his captain assured him that he had recommended him for recognition, and again two months ago, and he was expecting to hear further of this at the time of his death. Capt. J. Griffiths, the O.S. of his battalion, has written to his mother, expressing regret at the loss both to his family and his company, and says it is the greatest loss he has had, as Lance-Corporal Roberts was such a capable signaller, and a most cool and fearless soldier in every attack. He was shot whilst sending a message, and died doing his duty like a brave British soldier.
His Flintshire WW1 Index Cards (Connah’s Quay F 56) – Roberts, Robert John. 21, Church Street, Connah’s Quay, Flintshire. Reg. No.18881 16th RWF. L/Cpl. States period of Service:- 1st December 1914 – 24th August 1918. Written in beautiful script was “Certificate received Distinguished during action, July 31st 1917 & the following days recommended again. Killed in Action 24th August 1918.” W.M.Fitzpatrick stamped his signature on card. No date. No family member signed it.
John Roberts in the UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919 confirms the above information and tells us that he was born and resided in Connah’s Quay, but enlisted in Llandudno, Carn.
John Roberts in the UK, Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects, 1901-1929 – Legatees:- 4th March,1919 -£3.1s 5d left to mother Elizabeth and brother Joseph H., £3 1s 4d to brother, William, sister Maggie, brother Edward, sister Elizabeth Jones and sister Elsie. His War Gratuity of £17 10s.0d was paid on the 24th December 1919 to his mother Elizabeth.
Excerpt taken from the War Diaries of the 16th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Pages 110 – 113 – The entry for the 31st July 1917 was a long one, so have only extracted a couple of small quotes that might relate to John:-
” The Liaison Patrols kept touch in the first instance, and on the right for the whole of the way, but on the left this Patrol had to hang back, as the 16th Batt.R.W. Fus. reached the Black line before the Guards on the left. Connection was re-established at once on the Black line.”
And lower down:-
“Runners proved the best means of communication, but the Forward Station was found to be of no use whatever. Battalion Runners need most careful training before an action. It is considered that the Brigade or Battailion Headquarters Signallers should remain in their positions taken up before Zero hour. More messages would be received and it would be easier to send back messages from forward positions by Runners.”
There was no mention of the men killed or wounded that day, unlike other days when this was recorded.
War Diary for the 24th August 1918, the day of his death:-
“Barrage opened at 1.0 am and attack progressed well. ‘B’ Coy captured 1st Objective – La Boiselle. ‘A’, ‘C’ & ‘D’ Coys passed 2nd Objective and took up position about x.14.b and d.
Considerable trouble was experienced after daybreak by concealed Machine Guns and snipers behind our new line.
Casualties – Officers Lieut. J. Mostyn Wd at Duty
2/Lt H.J. Owen Killed
O.R’s 11 killed 46 wounded.
At 4.30 pm Battalion moved off in pursuit of enemy. 16th R.W.F. on Right, 14th R.W.F. on Left and 13th R.W.F. in Reserve
The advance was continued with little opposition to Western outskirts of Contalmaison where we were held up by enemy M.G’s and T.M.”
Robert John is also mentioned in the book “Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914 – 1919 Volume 28”