William (Willie) Jesse Hughes was born in Flint in 1893 and was the eldest of four children to William Henry Hughes and Dorothy (Wynne).
In the 1891 census, Dorothy was living with her mother Mary at 11, Mumforth Street with William listed as a lodger. Mary, who was a midwife, died in April, 1892 and, shortly after, Dorothy and William were married at St David’s Parish Church Liverpool, and continued to live in the same house. By 1911 they had moved to No. 12 in the same street and had had their four children, with William working as a stoker at the local chemical works. At this time Willie was employed as a grocer then in about May 1913 he was working as a size maker at the North Wales Paper Company, Ltd, Oakenholt.
Willie was never married and enlisted in the army at Flint in August 1914. He landed in the Dardanelles on the 8th August, 1915.
Private Hughes was killed by a sniper at Suvla Bay, Gallipoli, 18th August, 1915. He has no known grave but is commemorated on the Helles Memorial, Turkey on Panel 70 to 80.
He is remembered on five war memorials: Flint Town, St Mary’s Parish Church, Flint, North Wales Paper Company, Ltd, Oakenholt (which is now SCA Hygiene Products UK Ltd), the Royal British Legion Club, Flint (this memorial was originally erected in the Paper Mill), and on the North Wales Heroes’ Memorial Arch, Bangor. He was awarded the 1914–15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.
The 17th September, 1915 issue of the County Herald revealed the following:
“One of the saddest stories associated with the present fighting of the Flintshire Territorials at the Dardanelles has just transpired in Flint, where it has aroused feelings of the strongest and the deepest sympathy. At the latter end of last week, Mr and Mrs William Hughes, residing at 12, Mumforth Street, and who had two sons, Privates William and Thomas Hughes, of the 1/5th Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, with that Battalion at the Dardanelles, received the official intimation from the Records Office, Shrewsbury, that their son William had been killed in action. His parents were bereaved at the intelligence; and the youth’s mother is an invalid. On Saturday afternoon the father, who had been grieving at the loss, left home, stating that he intended walking to Lloc, near Holywell, to make known the sad news to his own brother. At a somewhat later hour in the evening, when he was traversing the main road, presumably walking home to Flint, he came into contact with a motor vehicle, and sustained a very serious injury. As soon as possible Mr Hughes was conveyed to the Holywell Workhouse Hospital. He was unconscious, and not regaining consciousness, he succumbed to his injury about eight o’clock on Sunday morning. On Sunday his wife and daughter were awaiting his return home, and it gradually became known that he had met with a fatality, and this increased the sadness of the household.
On the Tuesday night, at the Workhouse Chapel, the Flintshire Coroner (Mr F Llewellyn Jones) held an enquiry as to the death of William Hughes. The foreman of the jury was Mr T W Sibeon. Mr Clement Jones held a watching brief on behalf of the owner and driver of the motor-van involved in the accident.
Mrs Hannah Turner, of 50, Chester Street, Flint, sister-in-law of the deceased, identified the body of that of her brother-in-law, William Hughes, who was 51 years of age, and a stoker at the Chemical Works. A few days ago he heard that one of his sons had been killed at the Front. She last saw him on the Saturday morning, when he said he was going to Lloc, to see some friends there. He left home at 4 o’clock, intending to walk to Lloc and he appeared to be keeping up pretty well after he heard of his son’s death.
William Davies, Glanmorfa Cottages, Bagillt, labourer, stated that on Saturday night at 10.05 he left Holywell, with Edward Williams, to go down to Bagillt. Two motor bread vans passed them just on the turn by the milestone – they were not so close together. They were going at a very modest rate, and had lights. It was a fairly dark night. When they went lower down they saw the cars standing, and he thought something was the matter. Then Fennah called upon him to assist to lift deceased into the car. The driver did not say how the accident happened. When the cars were going down they were on the proper side of the road. When he got on the spot the deceased was on the road, about the middle.
Richard Fennah, Queensferry, said he was a motor driver in the employ of Mr Thomas, the Bakery. He had driven a motor since January 1st. He had been in Mr Thomas’s employment a little over three months. On Saturday last he had been to Kinmel Park, and he left there on his return journey about half past eight, coming back through St Asaph and Holywell. He was alone in the van. There were two vans, and Mr Thomas was driving the first van. As they were going from Holywell, witness went slowly, as he knew what sort of a hill it was, and he put his clutch out and applied the brakes. He was going about five to ten miles an hour. Mr Thomas was 100 to 200 yards in front of him. He saw a man on the right side of the road and he sounded his horn. The man was in the middle of the road, and when he was close to him the man turned round and ran into his mudguard, which must have struck him. He pulled up at once. He shouted to two men who were coming up, and they came to his assistance, and pushed the car back from the deceased, and they lifted deceased into the van. He asked the men where was the best place to take the man, and they said Holywell, so he turned round and took him to the Police Station and from there to the Hospital. It was this side of the Twll Farm where the accident happened, on the straight road. At that time he could see the light of the first car going round the turn in front. The man must have heard him, as he sounded the horn. He had his lights obscured.– By the foreman: The van did not go over deceased, but just touched his thigh. Deceased’s head went against the mudguard, and that knocked him on his back.
Samuel Blythin, New Brighton Terrace, Bagillt, collier, stated that on Saturday night he was coming from Bagillt up to Holywell, and when near the Twll Farm, Fennah shouted for help. Witness went to him straight. The car was close to the body of the deceased, pointing slightly down the road. Deceased was by the right hand front wheel. When he got there he pushed the car back. Deceased was unconscious. He helped get the deceased in the car. Another car had previously passed them on the road about three minutes before the other side of the Twll, travelling at a moderate rate. He did not see the second car until he got near to it and heard Fennah calling to him.
Dr C E Morris (Dr Jones & Morris) stated that shortly after eleven o’clock on Saturday night he saw deceased in the car at the Police Station, and ordered his removal to the Workhouse Infirmary, and came up to see him. He had a fracture on the right side of the skull, bruised back and legs, and was quite unconscious. He did not recover consciousness, and died on the Sunday morning. The fracture would be the result of the fall, there was nothing to show he had been run over, and appearances were quite consistent with the evidence of the driver of the car.– By Mr Clement Jones: If the driver had not been driving carefully he would have gone over the deceased.
The Coroner, in summing up, said from the evidence he thought the jury could not arrive at any other verdict but that the deceased was accidentally killed. Deceased might have got out of the way of the first motor, and then got back to the middle of the road, and not heard the second motor. It was possible he got confused, and got struck by the motor before he could get out of the way. There was nothing to show but that the driver was driving at a most reasonable rate.
The jury at once returned a verdict of “Accidental Death,” and exonerated the driver from blame.– The Coroner agreed, remarking the evidence showed he must have been driving very slowly.– The Jury passed a vote of sympathy with the relatives of the deceased.”
Willie’s brother, Private Thomas Hughes, who was with the Flintshire Territorials at the Dardanelles, wrote the following letter to his mother dated 24th August:
“Dear Mother,– I am very sorry to send the news of Will’s death. He got killed on August 18th. Herbert Price (Swan Street) was with him. I hope you will keep up after this sad news, for you have still another one to try and do his best. I cannot say much. He was buried very decently . . . I shall come back.”
Private W G Davies, of Flint, and of the Machine Gun Section of the 1/5th Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, wrote a letter on Monday, 23rd August, to Mr Robert Cartwright, of 87, Swan Street, Flint. The letter, which was received on Friday afternoon, stated that Herbert Price and himself were at the time in the best of health. Continuing, he wrote:
“But this is a very sad letter for me to write. Poor Bill Hughes has been killed. He was killed last Wednesday morning by a bullet through the head. He lived for about 40 minutes. Herbert was with him at the time, and had just told him to keep his head down. A few seconds afterwards he was shot. He was buried that night a few yards from the trench. Herbert George, and a few more men of Flint buried him. Jack Price, of the Gate House, made a cross and wrote on it, and Herbert put it on his grave. I could not go there myself. We had a lot of work to do to make ourselves safe. I expect by the time you get this letter you will have heard that Arthur Jones has been wounded in the side and shoulder. Sheady was wounded in the arm, but not serious. Poor Povey has been sent to hospital. He was struck deaf and dumb the first day that we went into action. He is being sent to England, home again. I think he will recover his hearing and speech in a few weeks’ time. I hope he does. Bert George was hit in the arm last Friday and has gone to hospital . . . We are at the base for a few hours rest.”
Private Herbert Price, of 65, Swan Street, Flint, who was with the 1/5th Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers at the Dardanelles, wrote to his parents informing them that he was alongside of Private Will Hughes when he was shot. He stated that the body was buried not far from where they were in the trenches.
Dorothy, who was a native of Flint, and was an invalid, died in August 1919, aged about 57, and buried with her husband in the Northop Road Cemetery.