Name of Researcher / Enw’r ymchwylydd: Mavis Williams
Name of Memorial / Enw’r gofeb: Connahs Quay
Name / Enw: Bennett William John
Regiment/Catrawd: 14th Bn Royal Welsh Fusiliers
Service Rank and Number / Rheng gwasanaeth a rhif: Private 20707
Military Cemetery/Memorial / Fynwent milwrol: Thiepval Memorial
Ref No Grave or Memorial / Rhif cyfeirnod bedd: Pier and Face 4A
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 at Mametz Woods 10th July 1916
William John first appears on a census in 1901. He was living with his family at 20 Golftyn Street, Connah’s Quay. The family comprised of father William a 35 year old fisherman. Mother Mary A 34 and the children Joseph D 10, Hannah 8, William J 6, Ivy 4 and Edward 2. The whole family had been born in Connah’s Quay.
The family still lived in the same house ten years on in the 1911 census. William Bennett the father 44 described himself as a ‘pilot’. His wife of 22 years Mary Ann was 44. The children at home were Joseph Davies 20 a labourer, Hannah 17 at home,William John 15 was a labourer, Ivy 13 and Edward 11 were both at school.
There is a card for William in the Flintshire Roll of Honour at the Archive Office in Hawarden. It gives his name and says that he served from 9th January 1915 until his death. There is confusion about the date of his death. He died on 10th July 1916 at Mametz Woods but the 10th August 1917 is on the card.
UK Soldiers who Died in the Great War 1914 -19 accessble on www.ancestry.co.uk gives us the regimental details above and adds that he enlisted in Shotton. This source described William John Bennett as a Lance Corporal but he is listed by the Commonwealth Grave Commission as a Private.
William John Bennett in the UK, Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects, 1901-1929 tells us the sole Legatee was William John’s father, William Bennett who was paid £2. 1s 0d on the 23rd November 1916 along with his son’s War Gratuity of £6. 10s 0d on the 15th August 1919.
William John was mentioned in the book ” Soldiers Died in the Great War. Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Volume 28″. In this book William John is stated to be a L/Corporal.
The battle for Mametz Woods* became one of the most notorious in this bloodiest of wars.4000 men – mostly Welsh were killed or maimed in this event. There is a stunning Welsh dragon memorial facing the woods.
The Welsh poet Owen Sheers wrote a poem after the event in his Skirrid Hill collection: – “This morning, twenty men buried in one long grave, a broken mosaic of bone linked arm in arm, their skeletons paused mid dance-macabre”
Photo taken by Mavis Williams on the 12th April 2015
Bennett, William, named on the Memorial Plaque in St.Mark’s Church, Connah’s Quay.
There is a family grave in Hawarden cemetery that commemorates William John Bennett.