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Speed, Robert

There is some confusion about this soldier’s details.

Robert was probably the first Deeside soldier to die in the war. He died before Benjamin Dutton, who died on the 29th December 1914. Benjamin, however, was the first local soldier to have his funeral locally

Robert  appeared on the 1891 census living at Merllyn Farm Kelsterton Connah’s Quay. His family comprised  of William Speed (head), a farm labourer who had been born in Cheshire and his wife Elizabeth was 48 also from Cheshire. All the children listed had been born in Flintshire. They were Mary A 20, Ellen E 14, Cicelia 12, Robert 8 and Charles 4.

The 1901 census  was transcribed badly. The name Speed was spelt Speice and the family lived in Prodigal Lane, (next to Cheshire Farm), Kelsterton, Connahs Quay. The father,William, 60 had been born in  Roughill ( or Roug Mill) Cheshire and was then listed as an Estate Labourer.  Elizabeth his wife 58 had been born in Eccleston, Cheshire.  Ciselia 22 was a Domestic Servant, Robert18 was a Brick Works Labourer and Charles 14 was a Cattle Man on a farm They had all been born Aston Flintshire.  There were two Grandchildren Nora R  9, Dumb, and born in  Connah’s Quay and Mary P  5 born in Aston Flintshire.

In the 1911 census the family was living at 19 Primrose Street Connah’s Quay. Elizabeth Speed, 68 was a widow and head of the household. Living at home were Cissie Speed 32 a laundress, Robert Speed 28  a single man and an ‘ash wheeler’ in the iron works. Mary Powell Speed a grand daughter was 10.

UK soldiers who Died in The Great War 1914-19 accessible on www.ancestry.co.uk  usually an accurate source, seems to have got things a bit wrong with Robert Speed’s details. His name, regiment and number confirm those listed above. It says he resided in Kelston Somerset (Was this a case of someone misreading Kelsterton in Flintshire? ) It says he enlisted in Connah’s Quay (seems a long way to come from Somerset). It gives his death date as 23rd December 1914 which does not match other sources.

His medal card tells us he was Acting Sgt and that he was Killed in Action on 30th October 1914.

His Commonwealth War Grave Certificate confirms the regimental details at the top of this page and that he died on 30th October 1914.

Another source which confirms his date of death as 30th October 1914 is Robert Speed in the UK, Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects, 1901-1929 and this tells us that the sole Legatee was Harry Chester who was paid £10. 13s 11d on the 4th June 1915 and his War Gratuity of £6 on the 11th July 1919.  It does not state his relationship – another mystery – who was Harry Chesters?

Two conflicting newspaper reports below:-

County Herald  20th November 1914 Page 5 Col 6

THE 2nd BATTALION RWF IN BELGIUM

“AWFULLY HARD TIMES”

REPORTED DEATH OF FLINT SOLDIER

Private Morris has written to his wife at Castle Villas, and his letter is of a most cheery tone. The letter was dated November 9th, and indicates that the Regiment, the 2nd Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers, was in Belgium. Etc, etc…..

He states that he does not see the other men from Flint until night time; and they were happy under all the circumstances with the exception of one case. One of the men named Robert Speed, who hailed from the neighbourhood of Rockcliffe Lane, Oakenholt, Flint, where he resided some years ago had been ill, and in a later letter Morris states that he had died.

County Herald 20th November 1914 Page 5 Col 7

A FLINT SOLDIER SHOT DEAD

It will be remembered that on Saturday last information reached Flint from some of the soldiers at the Front, and Mrs Roberts, of 57, Swan Street, has received a letter from her husband, Private Edwin Roberts, of the 2nd Battalion R.W.F. The communication contains an excision by the military Censor. He states that he is in good health and spirits, but “fed up” with the work. He was sorry he had not written before, but they had been in the trenches three weeks and had not been able to send a line. He says:- “Will Owens has turned up; but Robinson is still missing. I am very sorry to tell you that Bob Speed has been shot dead.” (Here follows the Censor’s excision).

The death of Speed at the Front was mentioned in a letter which reached Mrs Morris, of Castle Villas, on Saturday last.

Robert is also remembered on the Hawarden War Memorial.

CQ Speed R 001

Many thanks to Peter Metcalfe for sharing the photograph


Learn more about the other soldiers on the Connahs Quay and Shotton War Memorial

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