James Tudor Hughes was born in Gronant, Flintshire in 1890 and was the eldest of three children to Thomas and Elizabeth Hughes, but one child died in infancy.
The 1891 census found James and his parents living at Terfyn, Gronant with Mr Hughes listed as an unemployed farmer. By the 1901 census James had a 9 year old sister named Margaret Jane and the family were living at Gronant House, High Street, Prestatyn where Mr Hughes was running his own grocer’s shop. The 1911 census was pretty much the same except Mr Hughes was now a grocer and baker with James “assisting in the business.”
James enlisted in Rhyl on the 14th June 1915 with the Army Service Corps. The battalion landed in France on 1st July 1915 and James died of Meningitis at Rouen Hospital. He was buried in St Sever Cemetery, Rouen in Plot A, Row 19, Grave 3.
Printed in the Prestatyn Weekly of March 25th 1916 was a cheerful and optimistic letter from James Tudor:
We are glad to hear from Private J. Tudor Hughes, son of Mr and Mrs Thomas Hughes, Gronant House, Prestatyn. He writes from France “What do you think of the big battle that has been fought at Verdun, tremendous is it not? But nothing compares with what is coming shortly, wait and see.
I am fairly itching to be at home to see all the alterations that are taking place, I shall need a guidebook to take me around Prestatyn. Oh, I forgot to tell you that I received the Prestatyn Weekly this morning. I would not like to miss it for the world. I am sure the price of the paper will not cause the Editor to discontinue printing it. It is one of the chief things the Prestatyn boys look forward to.
I think it will not be very long before the war is over, and the boys will be home again. I was talking to someone the other day, and he really believes it will be over by July. Well, let us hope so, I do not think anyone would be more pleased than myself.
I am still “in the pink.” The cakes are A 1, and you may be sure I sampled them as soon as I received the parcel.
However, in France, things were not going at all well for James Tudor. The very next edition of the paper, April 1st 1916, under the heading “He went at duty’s call,” there was the following report:
As we go to press the sad news comes that Tudor Hughes, the only son of Mr and Mrs Hughes, Gronant House, has been killed in France. Only on Saturday last, his parents heard by wire that he was seriously ill. He was 26 years of age.
The Matron of the hospital wrote on March 29th;
Poor lad! He had not a chance, and could not be operated upon. He lay unconscious for two days, and died quite peacefully on the 28th. He came to us on the 16th and had every care and comfort here. We have two specialists who were in constant attendance, and a clergyman visited him often. He had meningitis, so one could do little except make him comfortable. God knows best, and took him home. He will be buried tomorrow in the Sainte Severe Cemetery with our officers and men with full military honours, and I will put flowers and a wreath on his grave. I am so sorry for you all.
Yours truly, T. O. Beamish, – matron.
There is a card for Tudor in the archives at Hawarden which gives the details that he enlisted on June 14th 1915, and served for 9 months. It is signed by his father Thomas Hughes.
From the website Register of Soldier’s Effects, Mr Thomas Hughes received a sum of £36 2s 4d on May 25th 1916, and in 1919 a war gratuity of £3.