John H Marsh

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

Name of Memorial / Enw’r gofeb: Sychdyn

Name / Enw: John H Marsh

Regiment/Catrawd: Rgt. 2nd/7th Btn Manchester Regiment (Formerly The Royal Welsh Fusiliers)

Service Rank and Number / Rheng gwasanaeth a rhif: Private 400602 (Formerly 50916)

Military Cemetery/Memorial / Fynwent milwrol: Coxyde Military Cemetery

Ref No Grave or Memorial / Rhif cyfeirnod bedd: I.L.53

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

Medals Awarded / Medalau a ddyfarnwyd: British War Medal, Victory Medal

Date and Circumstances of Death / Dyddiad ac amgylchiadau marwolaeth:

Killed in action in France on 23rd July 1917 aged 25

The Census of 1901 records the family living at ‘Rear Yacht’ Northop. Head of the household was Thomas Marsh 46 a Stone Mason who had been born near Sheffield. His wife Mary was 42 she hailed from Altringham in Cheshire. Their listed children were James 17 an Apprentice Joiner, Arthur 15 was working on a farm, Chas was 13, Thomas 11, Herbert 8, Amy 5, Fred and Reginald 8 months.

The next census of 1911 placed the family in Northop Flintshire. Mary Marsh 52, was by then a widow and Head of the household. Her son Arthur was 25 and was, like his late father,  a Monumental Mason. Wilson was 21 an Ironworker, Herbert was 18 and was a clerk in the brickworks. Amy was 15 and Fred 13.

Herbert married Annie Williams from Sychdyn in the December Quarter of 1914. (District Holywell, Vol 11b, Page 393). They had two daughters, Rosalind and Nellie.

UK Soldiers Who Died in The Great War 1914-19, accessible on www.ancestry.co.uk lists Herbert. It tells us that he lived in Soughton and that he enlisted in Mold. It is this source that tells us he was originally in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers  and that he had an earlier regimental number. It  says too, that he was killed in action. His Medal card also on Ancestry, lists his two medals.

The Register of Soldier’s Effects in which the army calculated monies owed to deceased soldiers, lists Herbert Marsh and says he was killed in action in Belgium. His widow Annie received the 10 shillings and sixpence that was owed.

The following information came from Herbert’s grandaughter Miriam Hogan.

The Marsh family has been traced back to the Penistone/Wortley area of the West Riding of Yorkshire where they were sheep farmers and stone masons. Thomas Robert Marsh moved to relatives (also stonemasons)  in the Tranmere area in the 1870s. In 1880 he married Mary Foulkes, a young woman who lived in Cheshire but whose father James (a joiner) came from Northop. Robert and Mary lived for some time in Yacht Terrace (alongside Plymouth House with which there was a family connection). Mary was known as the unofficial midwife of Northop. All stonemasons have their own mark and the Marsh ‘logo’ was a female and male hand clasped together. The family was closely involved with Northop band.

Robert and Mary had seven sons and three daughters.  John Herbert was born in 1892 in Northop. He played cricket for Northop and also played the violin. A family legend tells of Herbert calling in at the Bridge Inn in Mold on his way to the front and telling his friend prophetically, that he would not be coming back. Before joining the army he worked at the Motor Garage, Chester Road. Mold. In 1914 he married Annie Williams from Fron Fownog, Sychdyn.  Herbert was killed in 1917 leaving his wife and two daughters, Rosalind and Nellie. Rosalind also played the violin and she became a teacher at Ysgol Sychdyn.

The Marsh family from Northop provided several servicemen for the First World War. Herbert’s older brother Edwin Arthur Marsh (Royal Field Artillery 79662) was also killed and he is remembered on the Parish Memorial in the church at Northop and has his own page on this website. Brother Charles was injured in the war, Wilson served in the army and Fred in the navy. (Fred lived in a house named Wortley near the church in Northop)

Both of the Marsh boys John Herbert and Edwin Arthur, are commemorated on a Marsh Family grave in Northop churchyard

Many thanks to John Herbert’s grandaughter Miriam Hagan for supplying much of the biographical material and photographs.

And there’s more.  In September 2016 we received  a letter from Miriam Hogan telling us about a visit she had made to her Grandfather’s grave. In it she says ” The whole experience was more emotional than I imagined and I wrote a short poem to commemorate the event.” 

Here is that poem.

I.L.53

It is because of you that I am here,

And yet we have never met.

A photograph in an upstairs drawer

Fragmented memories of long departed relatives

Your name on a memorial

Have been my only contacts.

And yet from a mother who inherited your clear, direct look

I have followed your footsteps

Along the village streets, to church and to the family grave.

What were you like?

I believe you left home knowing you would never return

Depressed, realistic, psychic ? I’ll never know.

Touching this rough cream coloured gravestone

Is the closest I’ll ever be to you.

Today, you are not just a name and number

In a small military cemetery

I J.H marsh

L Manchester Regiment

53. Died 23rd July 1917

You are my grandfather

Mourned by a granddaughter you never knew

And whose existence you probably never imagined.

War has deprived us of so much

But you are not forgotten lying cold in your Flanders Field

It is because of you that I am here.