Davies, Benjamin

Name of Researcher / Enw’r ymchwylydd: Peter Redfern Metcalfe

Name of Memorial / Enw’r gofeb: Flint Town

Name / Enw: Davies, Benjamin

Regiment/Catrawd: 10th (Service) Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers

Service Rank and Number / Rheng gwasanaeth a rhif: Lance Corporal No 15183

Military Cemetery/Memorial / Fynwent milwrol: Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Ieper, West-Vlaanderen

Ref No Grave or Memorial / Rhif cyfeirnod bedd: Panel 22

Country of Cemetery or Memorial / Gwlad y fynwent neu gofeb: Belgium

Medals Awarded / Medalau a ddyfarnwyd: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal

Date of Death: 19th February 1916

Date and Circumstances of Death / Dyddiad ac amgylchiadau marwolaeth:

Killed in action in France on 19th February 1916

Benjamin (Ben) Davies was born on 31st October, 1892 at 1:20 am at Bryn-y-Garreg, Flint Mountain (his twin sister Sarah Elizabeth was born at 1:45 am). He was the eighth of nine children to John Davies and Ellen ( Jellicoe).

On 12th October, 1912 Ben’s father, John, died of pneumonia at his home, aged 60, and was buried in the Northop Road Cemetery, Flint.

Halkyn-born Mr Davies was an exceedingly popular resident of the Mountain district, where he was a faithful member of the Welsh Wesleyan cause, and he took a keen and active interest in the work of the church, being always prominent in whatever was a movement for the benefit of the denomination. He was the custodian of all the literature circulated amongst the members of the church, as well as the adherents and exhibited an absorbing concern. He was well read and well versed in all matters pertaining to Methodism, and was also the Treasurer to the Flint Mountain Eisteddfod. He had been employed by Messrs Summers’ Ironworks, Shotton, and previously a check-weighman at the old Flint Colliery.

Another tragedy was soon to befall the Davies family when Mrs Davies, who was born in Neston, Cheshire, died under horrific circumstances on Sunday 4th October, 1914, at Dee View Cottage, Bryn-y-Garreg.

She died as a result of extensive burns from the ankle to the neck when she fell and knocked over an oil-lamp at her home.

The following evening, at Dee View Cottage, the Flintshire Coroner (Mr F Llewellyn Jones) held an inquiry into the death of Mrs Ellen Davies, a widow, aged 60 years of age, who resided at the address named. Mr William Davies, Post Office, was elected as the foreman of the jury. John Davies deposed that he was a son of the deceased and resided at Dee View. He identified the body, which the jury had viewed as that of his mother.

The County Herald of 9th October gave a full report of the inquiry: “Mary Catherine Bellis, living at Bryn-y-Garreg, stated that about five minutes past nine o’clock she was returning home from Flint along the Cwlta Road, which is about 200 yards from here and just at the bottom of the hill I saw Mrs Davies open the door of her house and run out. She was enveloped in flames. She was screaming at the time. She ran up Bryn-y-Garreg Terrace; and then I ran to Richard Hughes’s house. I opened the door and said that the old lady was on fire. He is her son-in-law, and he ran and tried to do what he could for her.

Richard Hughes went out and called for Thomas Williams, of Inglenook, to come to assist him and they both went up the road to look for the deceased, and found her in Mrs Hogg’s house. The house was full of smoke and in darkness and the door partly open. She was sitting on the sofa and appeared to be in pain. Her clothes were partly on fire and he took her to the door; got her outside; asked for some water from Mrs Hogg, and poured it on her clothes to put the fire out. He removed other portions of the fire with his hands.

Then Mrs Annie Owens came up the entry and asked Mrs Hogg for a rig or a cloak. Mrs Hogg handed me a cloak, which I put round the deceased, and then we carried her home and put her to bed.

Charlotte Dennis, who lived next door to the deceased, gave evidence and said that on Saturday night about ten minutes past nine o’clock she heard someone screaming and went out to see what was the matter. I noticed a smell coming from her cottage into mine, and the smell resembled that of a candle having been extinguished. I tried to find what was the cause of the smoke, and I came and put my nose to the door of the deceased’s cottage. Then I said that it was something next door, and they must have been burning something. I went out to the back, and I could not see a light; but I could hear a low screaming. When I got into the garden the screams seemed to be at the top of the garden; and I thought there was some drunken brawl. I went to the gate and said, “Oh, is that Mrs Hogg; there must have been some dreadful screaming.” Afterwards I heard the voices of two men, and a voice “We will throw water over her.” My first thought was, as the deceased had been on fire, for the safety of the cottage, and I rushed back into it to see if it was on fire, because my house is next door. I saw that the kitchen table had been overturned, a chair had been overturned, and the lamp was lying in pieces on the floor. There was paraffin on the floor. There was only a very small fire in the grate. I afterwards saw the men carrying the deceased up the lane to her house. I was with her until 1.30 on the following morning.

I asked her how it happened and she said it was a pure accident and she fell. I said “Why didn’t you run into my cottage?” and she said “I did not like.” She conversed with me, and she said, “I have been breaking my heart about my children.” I understood she referred to her three sons who had enlisted to go to the Front.

Dr J H Williams, of Flint, said he was summoned per telephone about ten o’clock on Saturday night, and he was at the house of the deceased about a quarter past that hour. Deceased was in bed and suffering from extensive burns – the most extensive burns he had ever seen – practically all over her, with the exception of the head. The burns extended from the ankles to the neck. She died on Sunday morning as a direct result of the burns.

The jury returned a verdict that the deceased died from burns accidentally caused.

The funeral took place the following Wednesday afternoon. At the residence the service was opened by the Rev D R Thomas (Welsh Wesleyan), of Flint, and the Reverend Gwynfryn Jones (Welsh Wesleyan), Flint Mountain, engaged in prayer. The remains were then conveyed to the cemetery where the ministers again officiated at the graveside; and the beautiful hymn, “Bydd myrdd o’ryfeddodau” was sung.”

Ellen is buried with her husband and their son Peter, of 60, Maes-y-Dre Avenue, Flint, who died in 1947, aged 69.

After the death of his parents, Ben moved in with his sister, Mary Ellen, and her husband, Richard Hughes, at Rock Cottage, Flint Mountain. He never married and his occupation is not known. He enlisted in Shotton in August 1914 and landed at Boulogne, France on 27th September, 1915.

He was killed in action in France on 19th February, 1916.

He has no known grave but is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Ieper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium on Panel 22. He is remembered on the Flint Town war memorial and was awarded the 1914–15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal. He is also commemorated on the North Wales Heroes’ Memorial Arch, Bangor.

Ben’s sister, Mary Ellen, received the following letter dated 20th February, 1916:

DEAR MADAM,– I’m not sure whether you’ve heard that your brother Private Benjamin Davies, was killed yesterday, as a result of shell fire. His death was instantaneous. I’ve felt the news very much, for as Chaplain in the Battalion, I was very fond of your brother. He was such a nice lad, and a good lad. You need no doubt but that he is safe for evermore. I saw your other brother today, and while he naturally feels it he is holding up as well as you could expect. Please allow the consolations of religion to have their influence, and I believe them to be substantial, and particularly so when they have to do with us so gentle, so Christian-like a character as your brother, Benjamin. Please accept my expression of very deep sympathy with you.

Believe me to be,

Sincerely yours,

D. C. WILLIAMS (Chaplain), Attd. 10th R. W. F.

Private Joseph Hamlet Davies, of the same Battalion, and the brother of Private Ben Davies, writing to his sister, Mrs Richard Hughes, under field post office, dated the 22nd February, said he hardly knew how to let her know of Ben having been killed on the 19th. He had only been talking to his brother a few minutes before, and he was not further than 10 yards away from him when he was killed by a shell. Another young man who was near his brother was also killed and four others were wounded. He asked his sister to try and bear up, as he must do so. Ben was killed instantly. He didn’t see Ben after he was killed, but their Sergeant Major informed him that he was buried very shortly after he was killed, and that he was buried quite respectably. He had received her letter and he noticed she stated that she saw Private Campbell when he was home. He told her that he had been killed also. Private Davies made further reference to the terrible fighting which was proceeding at the time he was writing.

IN MEMORIAM

A light from our household gone,
The voice we loved is still’d,
A place is vacant in our home
Which never can be filled.

Sadly missed by Brothers and Sisters. Rock Cottage, Flint Mountain.

(County Herald, 23rd February, 1917)

Days of sadness still come o’er us,
Tears of sorrow often flow,
But memory keeps our loved one near us,
Although he fell two years ago.

Rock Cottage, Flint Mountain.
(County Herald, 22nd February, 1918)

‘Tis sweet to think we’ll meet again,
Where partings are no more,
And that the one we loved so well
Is only gone before.

Aunt, Uncle and Cousins. Runcorn View, Halkyn.

(County Herald, 22nd February, 1918)