Thomas John Griffiths was born in 1891 in Llanasa, Flintshire. He was recorded on the census of that year living with his parents at Pendre, Ffynnongroyw, Llanasa. Head of the household was Hugh W Griffiths aged 24, a Coalminer who had been born in Liverpool. His wife was Eilizabeth G Griffiths, she was also 24 and came from Holywell in Flintshire. Their only child was Thomas J who was 6 months old.
The next census of 1901 tells a sad story. The family was living at Denbigh Row in Ffynnongroyw, Llanasa. Head of the household was Hugh W Griffiths aged 35 who was then described as a widower. He was a Collier Tug Boat Driver. and was the father of 3 children. Thomas John was 10, George 8 and Louisa was 5. Also listed in the household was Hugh’s mother Catherine who was a 60 year old widow who had been born in Caernarfon. Hugh’s brother David wa sthere too. He was a 20 year old Collier.
In the 1911 census, Thomas John Griffiths was living at the home of his other Grandparents at 2 Meirion Terrace, Ffynnongroyw. Head of the household was 77 year old John Jones and his wife of 54 years was Sarah Jones aged 73. They were both ‘Old Aged Pensioners’. Their grandson Thomas John Griffiths was 20 years old and worked underground as a colliery labourer.
Thomas John Griffith’s Army Service Records have survived and are accessible on www.ancestry.com. They tell us that he enlisted well before the war. He joined up and swore his oath of allegiance on the 22nd March 1912 in Mostyn. His Attestation papers show that he gave the address 2 Meirion Terrace, Ffynnongroyw. He was 21 years and 6 months old and his occupation was Collier at Point of Air.
There was a medical inspection on enlistment which described him as being 5 ft 103/4 inches tall. His chest measured 39 inches with an expansion range of 3 inches. His vision was good and his physical development was deemed to be good. The medical officer signed that he considered him “Fit for the Territorial force”. He was placed in the 5th Bttn of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers.
It’s not very clear as to where he served during the years before the war and in the first two years of the war. He served from the 22nd March 1912. The records show that he became a Lance Corporal on the 11th August 1912 . He was promoted to Corporal on the 18th June 1913. There is correspondence within the army after his death concerning a ‘Bounty’ of £15 that was owed to the next of kin but there was a problem with paying it because communications with the ‘Pay Authorities ‘ in India were delaying matters. We assume from this that he served for some time in India. On the 5th August 1914 he reverted at his own request to Private. In August 1915 he needed medical attention for scabies. Later that year, in December in Royston (Hertfordshire I presume) he suffered from impetigo.
The records tell us that he embarked from Devonprt on the 10th September 1916 and disembarked at Basrah on the 10th October 1916. He joined his unit in Amara on the 21st October 1916. His initial 5 year period of service came to an official end on the 21st March 1917 but he opted to continue in the service. He was embodied at this time into the 8th Bttn RWF. (Wonder if he had any choice?).
The records show that at various stages in 1917 his health was not good. In January he needed attention at a Field Ambulance for a contusion.In April he suffered debility. In August he had sand fly fever. In November he had parotitis (mumps). In December he was “dangerously ill” with Pleural Effusion (fluid around the lungs). He died on the 8th January 1918 of “Acute Lymphatic Leukaemia”.
There is correspondence in the records between the army and Thomas’s family in Ffynnongroyw concerning the receipt of his medals,a commemorative plaque and scroll and his personal possessions. The list of his possessions is poignant and is reproduced here.
2 pencils,1ID disc, 1mirror (broken) 1 Turkish coin, 2 cap badges, 2 religious books, 1 diary, 1 knife, 1 strop, 1 razor, letters, photos. Thomas’s grandfather John Jones signed for these but then he added this PS
” Much regret to find that his watch, ring and several other things are not included in the things forwarded and received. Hoping these will be recovered hereafter. JJ”
After the war the army requested that the family should complete a ‘Living Relatives Form. This was done by grandmother Sarah Jones of 2 Meirion Terrace on the 8th January 1920. It said that Thomas John Griffiths had…
No widow nor any children
A Father – Hugh William Griffiths of Bodlondeb, Ffynnongroyw
A deceased mother – Elizabeth Griffiths
A full blood brother George Griffiths 26 yrs old of Rhewl, Mostyn
A full blood sister Louisa Griffiths who was 24 and lived in Bodlondeb, Ffynonngroyw