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Roberts, Thomas Verdun

Thomas Verdun Roberts was born on the 14th July 1916 according to the 1939 National Register which was taken on the 29th September 1939.   He was baptised on the 26th July 1916 in St. Mary’s Church, Broughton, the son of James Edward & Sarah Ann Roberts, Meadow View, Broughton, James Edward Roberts was a Labourer.

The Banns for the marriage of James Edward Roberts and Sarah Ann Price were in the St. Mary’s Church, Broughton Parish Registers, and were read by Harry Drew, on the 1st November 1908, and Herbert E. Ward, the other 2 weeks, just as a historical point of view, but then there is a large cross through the entry.  They were then married on the 24th November 1908, in St. Mary’s Church.   James Edward, 28 and a bachelor, was a Labourer living in Broughton, his father Robert Roberts was a Plate-layer.   Sarah Ann Price, 28 and a spinster, also lived in Broughton, her father Edward Price was a Labourer.  Their Witnesses were Edward & Minnie Price.

I have no information about Thomas’s childhood or teenage years, but he is seen, as I said above, on the 1939 National Register mentioned above, with his family.

The 1939 National Register has James Edward Roberts born on the 12th April 1878, a Coal Unloader in the Steel Works.   Sarah Ann Roberts’s birthday was the 11th March 1878 doing “Unpaid Domestic Duties” as most married women with no job were described on this register.   William Price Roberts was born on the 25th May 1907 and an Electricians Labourer in the Steel Works. (I believe William and his brother John* who was born in 1903 were the sons of Sarah Anne’s sister Ellen, who died in 1917 (Flintshire (Mold)    HAW/11A/1).   Thomas V. Roberts born 14th July 1916 was a Bar Dragger in the Steel Works.  Gweneth A. Roberts, had been born on the 18th December 1921 and was a Shop Assistant to a Draper but it was noted it was Heavy work, which normally men in the Steelworks had added to their entry.  The last entry was for Judith O. Price who was born on the 4th May 1931 and was “At School.”   Judith’s entry gives a clue to her marriage to a gentleman named “Price.”   I was able to find a possible marriage of Judith Olwen Roberts and Joseph Price in Chester, in a Civil Ceremony or Registrar Attended.(Cheshire West ROC/102/141).

*I have a copy of the 1939 National Register with John & his family living at The Old Coach & Horses, Hawarden R.D., Flintshire, if you would like it, please get in touch with the website.

I do not have any Service records of when Thomas enlisted or was conscripted, but he was to serve his time with the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment (5th Bn.).

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission History Information:- gives a clue.

On 3 September 1943 the Allies invaded the Italian mainland, the invasion coinciding with an armistice made with the Italians who then re-entered the war on the Allied side. Progress through southern Italy was rapid despite stiff resistance, but the advance was checked for some months at the German winter defensive position known as the Gustav Line. The line eventually fell in May 1944 and as the Germans withdrew, Rome was taken by the Allies on 3 June. Many of the burials in this cemetery date from June and July 1944, when the Germans were making their first attempts to stop the Allied advance north of Rome in this region. The site for the cemetery was selected in September 1944 and burials were brought in from the surrounding battlefields. Assisi War Cemetery contains 945 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War.

Thomas may have been involved with Dunkirk and the Battle of Monte Casino according to the website of his regiment, see below:-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen%27s_Own_Royal_West_Kent_Regiment

Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment – Second World War – Regular Army 

The 1st Battalion was part of the 10th Infantry Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division. Soon after the outbreak of war in September 1939, the battalion was sent to France where it became part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF).[21] Unlike in the Great War the battalion was not immediately in action, and the first few months of the conflict were spent digging trenches and defensive positions in expectation of a repeat of the trench warfare of the Great War. In early May 1940 the battalion was transferred to the 132nd Infantry Brigade of the 44th (Home Counties) Infantry Division, a TA formation which also included the 4th and 5th Battalions.[21] The battalion fought in the Battle of France and the subsequent retreat to Dunkirk soon after, returning to England via the Dunkirk evacuation, but had suffered heavy casualties, including the loss of two rifle companies.[21] After returning, the battalion was again transferred, in September, to the 12th Infantry Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division. It remained in the United Kingdom, mainly engaged in anti-invasion duties, coastal defence, and training for future combat operations until February 1943, where the battalion left for French North Africa, arriving in Algeria in March, to take part in the final stages of the Tunisian Campaign. The battalion, in late April, suffered over 300 casualties assaulting Peter’s Corner and Cactus Farm.[21] The campaign ended in mid-May 1943, with over 238,000 Axis soldiers surrendering. The battalion remained in North Africa, were, due to its heavy losses in Tunisia, it served as a reserve battalion, sending drafts of soldiers to other units as battle-casualty replacements. It remained in this role until late 1943, and in February 1944, the battalion, now up to strength again, was sent to the Italian Front, and fought in the Fourth Battle of Monte Cassino and, after pursuing the retreating German Army, where they helped breach the Trasimene Line, took part in the battles for the Gothic Line.[21] In December 1944, the battalion was transferred to Greece to help maintain order after the German withdrawal and the subsequent break out of the Greek Civil War.[21]

Territorial Army

The 5th Battalion of the regiment, recruiting from Bromley, had virtually the same service history as the 4th, with the exception that, when the 44th Division was disbanded, the 5th Battalion was transferred to the 21st Indian Infantry Brigade, now serving alongside two battalions of the Indian Army, of the 8th Indian Infantry Division. With the rest of the division, the battalion fought in the Italian Campaign, alongside the 1st (until it was sent to Greece) and 6th battalions for the rest of the war, and landed in Taranto, Italy on 24 September 1943, shortly after the initial invasion. The battalion fought in the Moro River Campaign and later the Battle of Monte Cassino, the Gothic Line and the final offensive.[24]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Monte_Cassino – Battle of Monte Cassino 

The Battle of Monte Cassino (also known as the Battle for Rome and the Battle for Cassino) was a costly series of four assaults by the Allies against the Winter Line in Italy held by Axis forces during the Italian Campaign of World War II. The intention was a breakthrough to Rome.

At the beginning of 1944, the western half of the Winter Line was being anchored by Germans holding the Rapido-Gari, Liri and Garigliano valleys and some of the surrounding peaks and ridges. Together, these features formed the Gustav Line. Monte Cassino, a historic hilltop abbey founded in AD 529 by Benedict of Nursia, dominated the nearby town of Cassino and the entrances to the Liri and Rapido valleys. Lying in a protected historic zone, it had been left unoccupied by the Germans, although they manned some positions set into the steep slopes below the abbey’s walls.

Repeated pinpoint artillery attacks on Allied assault troops caused their leaders to conclude the abbey was being used by the Germans as an observation post, at the very least. Fears escalated along with casualties and in spite of a lack of clear evidence, it was marked for destruction. On 15 February American bombers dropped 1,400 tons of high explosives, creating widespread damage.[6] The raid failed to achieve its objective, as German paratroopers then occupied the rubble and established excellent defensive positions amid the ruins.

Between 17 January and 18 May, Monte Cassino and the Gustav defences were assaulted four times by Allied troops. On 16 May, soldiers from the Polish II Corps launched one of the final assaults on the German defensive position as part of a twenty-division assault along a twenty-mile front. On 18 May, a Polish flag followed by the British Union Jack were raised over the ruins.[7] Following this Allied victory, the German Senger Line collapsed on 25 May. The German defenders were finally driven from their positions, but at a high cost.[8] The capture of Monte Cassino resulted in 55,000 Allied casualties, with German losses being far fewer, estimated at around 20,000 killed and wounded.[4]

The Casualty List 1499 (Page 13) shows that Thomas was one of 4 men Missing believed Killed on the 27th June 1944.

The Casualty List 1505 (or 1565) (Page 5) shows that Thomas was “Previously reported Missing believed Killed 27th June 1944 now reported Killed in Action.” (Previous List No. 1499.)

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission Graves Concentration Report Form tell us that Thomas Verdun Roberts was first buried, possibly on the day he died, at a location only referred to by the CWGC as NSGR/DGE/2063 MR 762975 and the reburied at Assisi British Empire War Cemetery, as it was known then, on the 16th March 1945, with many others who died circa Thomas ‘s date of death.

The Roberts family were neighbours to the family of Stanley Carr NAYLOR , who lived at Meadow view, Stanley Carr was to lose his life on the 21st January 1944 and is buried in Hawarden.   Please click on the link to read his story.

Thomas Verdun Roberts was very sadly missed by his family, they made sure that he would be remembered for perpetuity by adding his name to the War Memorial at Hawarden.

 

 


Learn more about the other soldiers on the Hawarden Memorial

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