Robert Davies was born in Dyserth in 1898 to Robert and Elizabeth Davies. The family lived on the ‘Bryn’ in Bryn Hyfryd Terrace and attended the Welsh Wesleyan chapel, Mynydd Seion. The 1911 census tells us that Robert was the oldest of six children, although it would appear that a seventh child had already been lost. His father was a lime burner. At the time many village men and boys would have been employed in the limestone quarry on the side of Moel Hiraddug. The remains of the huge kilns where the stone was burnt can still be seen today.
In 1915 Robert answered the call to duty and went to Prestatyn to enlist with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. He went on to serve as a Corporal in the Machine Gun Corps and was killed in action in France on the 12th of October 1918. He was 20 years old when he died and, in all, had served for three years in the army.
Robert’s battalion – the 17th Battalion of the Machine Gun Corps – was formed in February 1918 as part of the regiment of the 17th (Northern) Division. They saw action in the Battles of St Quentin, Bapaume, Amiens, Albert, Havrincourt, Epehy and Cambrai. The latter was followed by the Pursuit to the Selle prior to the Battle of the Selle. The Pursuit to the Selle took place around the date that Robert was killed: the 9th to the 12th of October. Could this have been where he lost his life? The Pursuit to the Selle was an official title given to the actions of the 1st, 3rd and 4th Armies in driving the Germans back to the River Selle.
Throughout October 1918 the German armies retreated through the territory gained in 1914. Casualties remained heavy in all the Allied fighting forces as well as the retreating German army. When the Allies reached a crucial railway line which had supplied the entire German front in Northern France and Belgium for much of the war, the Germans were forced to abandon heavy equipment and supplies thus leading to a demoralised army with decreased capacity to resist. This was part of the Hundred Days Offensive – the final period of the First World War when the Allies launched a series of offensives on the Western Front from the 8th of August until the 11th of November 1918. It was not a unified strategy, rather a rapid series of Allied victories.
Essentially the offensive pushed the Germans out of France forcing them to retreat beyond the Hindenburg Line. An armistice followed which we commemorate every year at 11 ‘o’clock in the morning on the 11th day of the 11th month – November. (battle information from Wikipedia and wartimememoriesproject.com)
The members of Mynydd Seion held a memorial service for him and two other young men from the village who had also been lost around the same time. The full newspaper account can be read under soldier William Morgan Williams whose name is also on the Dyserth memorial.
Robert is commemorated on three more Flintshire memorials: Gronant, Picton and Llanasa. His family clearly did not want his sacrifice to be forgotten.