Name of Researcher / Enw’r ymchwylydd: Mavis Williams
Name of Memorial / Enw’r gofeb: Connahs Quay
Name / Enw: Bithell Thomas
Regiment/Catrawd: 14th Bn Royal Welsh Fusiliers
Service Rank and Number / Rheng gwasanaeth a rhif: Private 20852
Military Cemetery/Memorial / Fynwent milwrol: Rue de Bacquerot No 1 Military Cemetery Laventie
Ref No Grave or Memorial / Rhif cyfeirnod bedd: II. G. 20
Country of Cemetery or Memorial / Gwlad y fynwent neu gofeb: France
Medals Awarded / Medalau a ddyfarnwyd: Victory, British War and 1915 Star medals
Date and Circumstances of Death / Dyddiad ac amgylchiadau marwolaeth:
Killed in Action 5th June 1916 aged 28yrs
Thomas was born about 1888 in Mostyn in Flintshire. There is a possible recording of Thomas Bithell (4 years old) in the census of 1891, living with a family of Lloyds at 17, Holywell Road, Flint. He and another Bithell boy, John Joseph, age 6 were classed as Nephews (both had been born in Flint). However, neither his mother Eliza nor his sister Martha Ann were listed. Thomas’s father William, 33 and an Engineer (Seas) was on the vessel “Albert” which was at Mostyn docks on the night of the census in 1891.
Thomas was listed in the 1901 census living at Nine Houses, Shotton, Flintshire aged 13. The rest of the family was recorded as father, William a Ship Engine Driver (seas) aged 45 and mother Eliza 35 originally from Mostyn. The children listed were Martha A 15yrs, Thomas 13, Margaret E 10, Elizabeth M 8, John W 6 and Fanny 3.
In the 1911 census the family was still living at the same address. William the head of the household was 54 and a steam ship Engineer working for Coppack Brothers. His wife of 26 years was not at home. The form records that she had given birth to 16 children, 8 of whom had died. The children listed were Mary Ann a daily servant,Thomas 23 a labourer at Summers & Sons – steel works, John 16 a machinist, Alice 16, Fanny 13, William 10, Stephen 10, Ernest 7.
There is a record card for Thomas in the Flintshire Roll of Honour at the County Archive Office in Hawarden. It gives the address as Nine Houses Brook Road Shotton, regimental details as above and states that he served from 22nd January 1915 until his death. The card was signed by Eliza Bithell- his mother. The reverse of the card has the name of the cemetery in France (see above) and has the name Agnes Maude Brooks (formerly Bithell) of Toby’s Cottages Brook Road Shotton. Thomas’s wife.
Thomas married Agnes Maude Costello in 1914. After his death she remarried in 1920 to an Alfred Brooks in a Civil Marriage at Holywell (HOL/45/29)
UK Soldiers who died in the Great War 1914 -19 accessible on www.ancestry.co.uk states the regimental details as above and adds that he enlisted in Shotton.
Thomas Bithell in the UK, Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects, 1901-1929 tell us that the sole Legatee was Thomas’s wife Agnes Bithell who was paid £2. 2s 8d on the 1st August 1916 and Thomas’s War Gratuity of £5. 10s 0d on the 9th September 1919
His medal card tells us that his first Theatre of War was France and he entered it on 2nd December 1915.
County Herald 7th July 1916
Thomas was mentioned in the book ” Soldiers Died in the Great War. Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Volume 28″.
Thomas was named on 2 other memorials – the Hawarden Memorial and the memorial screen at St Ethelwold’s Church. Somebody made an effort to ensure he was remembered.
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. BITHELL, Nine Houses, 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.