William Hughes

Name of Researcher / Enw’r ymchwylydd: Eifion & Viv Williams

Name of Memorial / Enw’r gofeb: Halkyn Memorial

Name / Enw: William Hughes

Regiment/Catrawd: 157th Field Coy. Royal Engineers

Service Rank and Number / Rheng gwasanaeth a rhif: Sapper 108728

Military Cemetery/Memorial / Fynwent milwrol: Bucquoy Road Cemetery, Ficheux

Ref No Grave or Memorial / Rhif cyfeirnod bedd: 11.A.3

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

Medals Awarded / Medalau a ddyfarnwyd: Not found yet

Date and Circumstances of Death / Dyddiad ac amgylchiadau marwolaeth:

6th September 1917 Died of wounds (Shell gas) Not sure if he was wounded by the shell itself or the gas it contained. Possibly both.

William was born in 1883 in Halkyn. We believe he was the third child of George and Charlotte Hughes. The 1891 census records the family living at Bryn Pentre Halkyn. The father George was a stone quarryman aged 43 and his wife was then 41.  Five chldren listed were John 14, Thomas 12, William 8, Mary E 6 and Jane 3.

By the next census of 1901 the family still lived in Halkyn. George was a widower. There were four children at home Thomas was single, 22 and a quarryman like his father. William was single,18 and a carpenter. Mary was 16 and Caroline was 9. (John would have been 24 and had probably left home but Jane would have only been 13 so we don’t know what happened to her.)

By 1911 the census tells us that the family had shrunk to just three of the children living at the same place. Thomas was 32 and a leadminer and was now head of the family. William was 28 still single and a joiner. Caroline was 19 and single. We learn the house had 3 rooms.

Soldiers who died in the Great War 1914-19 accessible on www.ancestry.co.uk tells us that he enlisted in Holywell, Flintshire.

William has a card in the Flintshire Roll of Honour at the County Archive Office in Hawarden. It gives regimental details and the address Bryn Cottage, Pentre Halkyn. It says he died of wounds received at Arras and that he had served 2 years. The card is signed by Caroline Hughes -his sister.

William’s service record has survived and is accessible on www.ancenstry.co.uk Much of it is illegible but we have picked out the following details.

He enlisted on 11th December 1915 and signed his Attestation papers when he was 33 years and 6months old at Chatham on 30th March 1916. He was 5 ft 7 1/4inches tall. His next of kin was named as his brother Thomas.

Thomas was asked to sign an acknowledgement that he had received William’s possessions after his death. These possessions were letters, religious book, photos, cigarette case, purse, match box, razer and unbelievably, one set of false teeth -broken.

A casualty form in his record is very difficlt to read but it records one disciplinary incident of 1st March 1917 when ‘after being duly warned, absent from duty from 5.00am to 5.20am (20 minutes) and was awarded 3 days CB’ (Confined to Barracks).

On the same form are the chilling words 6.9.17 Died of wounds (shell gas).

A medical history form records that he had septic teeth. (hence the dentures??)

He had an army certificate of proficiency in carpentry.

On one form we can make out the words ‘no medal awarded’ but the rest on the page is illegible.

It seems that his sister Caroline was awarded a small pension. It seems to have been 7/- but it’s not clear whether that was a weekly pension nor how long it was to go on for.