George Ryles was born in Rhyl on 24th March, 1892 and baptised on 16th May, 1892 at St Thomas’s Parish Church, Rhyl. He was the eldest of two children to Thomas Ryles and Elizabeth (Walters).
Thomas was born in Rhyl and Elizabeth in Shrewsbury and they were married in 1892 in the St Asaph Registration District.
They were living at No 2, Naylors Court, Rhyl at the time of the 1901 census but by 1911 Mr and Mrs Ryles appear to have gone their separate ways. Thomas, a self employed chimney sweep, was living on his own at 22, Queens Court, Rhyl and Elizabeth was living with her daughter and husband, James and Margaret Grant, at 9, Mount Street, Flint. George, meanwhile, was boarding at the home of a John and Flora Kitchen at 7, Hill Street, Flint and was employed as a changer at the artificial silk works. When the war began he was living with his mother at Little London Cottages, Cornist Road, Flint.
George enlisted in Shotton with the 8th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers and served in the Balkans from 28th June, 1915.
It was reported in the County Herald on 22nd October, 1915 that Private Ryles had been invalided home but there was no reason given. However the newspaper did report the following on 26th November.
THANKS OF THE SOLDIERS TO PEOPLE OF FLINT
ADVANTAGES TAKEN OF THE “COUNTY HERALD” FACILITIES
We are pleased to mention that we have received letters from soldiers acknowledging the kindness, collectively, of the people of Flint. The soldiers who belong to Flint have been made aware of the efforts of the “County Herald” to further their interests in the matter of comforts; and we would wish to state that notwithstanding the work of some people in the Borough the thanks of the soldiers are due to the residents who have contributed to the respective funds. Much can be related upon this matter, but for the nonce [sic] it is preferable that the soldiers and sailors who belong to Flint should receive the parcels which are the gifts of the Borough and not of anyone particular individual, however he might have been devoted to the work.
The following letter speaks volumes:-
“Alma Park Military Hospital, Manchester, 22/11/15.
Dear Editor,- Would you be so kind as to allow a small space in your valuable paper to tender my sincere thanks to the residents of Flint for the Christmas present which I received on Saturday last in good condition. The contents of the parcels were just the things which the lads at the Front would appreciate and I wish the people of Flint every success for their kindness and noble work they are doing for the boys, which I am sure will never be forgotten. I should also like to inform you of Sergeant-Major Hughes, who is an inmate of this hospital, and is a Flint man. He is progressing very favourably.
I remain, sir, very sincerely yours,
(12794) Pte G Ryles, 8th Batt. R.W.F., Alma Park Military Hospital, Manchester.”
He recovered and went home on several days’ leave returning to rejoin his regiment in the first week of January.
On the 15th August, 1916 news reached Flint of casualties which was reported in the County Herald three days later.
Up to Tuesday morning this week there was a comparative lack of information in the whole of the Borough regarding any further possible casualties. Considering the size and population of the Borough the war has exacted more than the average toll in casualties, but the number cannot be compared with some other districts in England, where the number of casualties has been greater.
It was stated on Saturday that Private George Ryles, of Little London, Flint, and who is a member of the 8th Battalion of the RWF, had been wounded; and that Sapper J G Grant (his brother-in-law), of Cornist Cottages, and of the Royal Engineers, had been sent to hospital, suffering from the effects of shock.
Two weeks later it was revealed that George has not been wounded and that he was quite well.
Sometime later he was transferred to the 17th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers and while serving in France he was killed in action on 28th March, 1918.
DEATH OF A LOCAL SOLDIER
(County Herald 5th April, 1918)
Mrs Ryles, of Little London Cottages, Cornist Road, Flint, has received intimation that her son, Private George Ryles, has been killed in action. Deceased, prior to his enlistment, was employed in one of the local factories. He joined the Army in the early stages of the war, and saw service at the Dardanelles and on the Western Front, where he took part in several engagements. He was injured in one of the trenches owing to an accident, and recovering from the effects he was sent out again to rejoin his battalion. He was well respected by his comrades; and the sympathies of friends are extended to his bereaved mother and relatives.
He was buried in Erquinghem-Lys Churchyard Extension, France (Plot II, Row H, Grave 36).
He was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal and is remembered on two war memorials – Flint Town and St Mary’s Parish Church, Flint. He is also commemorated on the North Wales Heroes’ Memorial Arch, Bangor.
Thomas, of Greenbank, Rhyl died in 1931 aged 61 and Elizabeth died on 17th December, 1935 at Chester Royal Infirmary and was buried in the Northop Road Cemetery, Flint.
FLINT WOMAN’S DEATH
(County Herald 27th December, 1935)
A Flint woman’s death under an anaesthetic was described at an inquest at Chester Royal Infirmary on Wednesday last to the Chester City Coroner (Mr David Hughes). The woman was Elizabeth Ryles, aged 65, of Cornist Cottages, Flint, widow of Mr Thomas Ryles, chimney sweep.
James Gregory Grant, Lache Park Avenue, Chester, said Mrs Ryles was his mother-in-law. She had been suffering for three years, and a minor operation was performed. For some time recently she had been an out-patient at Chester Royal Infirmary, and had received radium treatment. She saw Dr Woodruffe at the Infirmary on Tuesday, and an operation was decided upon.
Dr E W Stout, house surgeon at the Royal Infirmary, said the woman was suffering from a form a cancer of the right ear. He administered an anaesthetic of chloroform and oxygen, and owing to her condition and age he took every precaution. When the woman was on the operating table he failed to feel her pulse, and informed Dr Woodruffe, who was to perform the operation. Artificial respiration was carried out but without avail.
Dr H L W Woodruffe, consulting surgeon, said he saw Mrs Ryles twelve months ago in the out-patients’ department. She was then suffering from cancer of the skin of the right ear, but she was not, in his opinion, a very good subject for an operation. He therefore referred her to the radium department, and radium treatment was carried out. About three weeks ago Dr Pattison, of the radium department, wrote to him to say that the radium treatment was doing no good. Mrs Ryles was suffering such pain that something had to be done, and all that he could do was to try to burn away the growth. It was necessary to use chloroform, although it was known that it was a dangerous anaesthetic. She seemed to have taken the anaesthetic quite well, but four minutes after the operation began Dr Stout told him that he could not feel her pulse. Witness listened for her heart, but could not hear it. He at once began artificial respiration, and injected camphor into the heart muscle, but there was no return of the pulse. Artificial respiration was continued for ten minutes without result. The cause of death was the action of chloroform on a previously irritated heart muscle.
The Coroner: In view of the woman’s suffering, it was necessary to have an operation? – Yes. One had to take what one recognised as a risk.
Dr Woodfruffe emphasised that the responsibility for the choice of the anaesthetic was his.
The Coroner, in returning a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence, remarked that Dr Woodruffe had supplied him with an interesting and detailed account of the operation, and he was satisfied that all that was possible had been done for the woman.
In sad but loving birthday remembrance of my dear son, Pte George Ryles.
Could I, his mother, have clasped his hand,
The son I loved so well,
And kissed his brow when death was nigh,
And whispered George, farewell.
Dear George, I will never forget the words
You said to soothe my pain,
Don’t worry, mother, was your last farewell,
I will soon be home again.
From his broken hearted mother, E Ryles.
(County Herald 26th March, 1920)
In loving birthday remembrance of my dear brother George.
This is a sad day to recall,
This is the day remembered by all,
Gone and forgotten by some you may be,
But always remembered, dear brother, by me.
From his sister and brother-in-law, Madge and Jim.
(County Herald 26th March, 1920)