16th August 2020. (V J Day) Moving rededication of the Buckley War Memorial in the Hawksbury Memorial Garden. New names have been added. Lovely ceremony. Thanks to Pam Willoughby for photos.
The Buckley War Memorial in the Garden of Remembrance at Hawkesbury commemorates those who fell in two world wars. The Memorial was dedicated on 9th September 1951. The Right Hon. Lord Kenyon unveiled the Cenotaph, and the Service of Dedication was conducted by the Lord Bishop of St. Asaph. The Salute was taken by Brig. H.S.K. Mainwaring, Lord Lieut. of Flintshire. The Band of the 4th Btn. The Royal Welch Fusiliers was in attendance. The British Legion collected money from the community for the memorial after WW2.
When it was dedicated in 1951, the Memorial commemorated 114 Buckley men who fell in WW1. Most of the names corresponded to names placed on memorial plaques in St. Matthews and Bistre churches in the early 1920s. To commemorate the 75th anniversary of V.E. Day in 2020 the Royal British Legion and Buckley Society cooperated to renovate the Memorial. We were able to add the names of 25 men from WW1 and 9 from WW2 as well as two from other conflicts. Many of these men had been identified on this site on the Buckley Soldiers not on the Hawkesbury Memorial page for WW1 and on the Buckley Soldiers WW2 page.
The Hawkesbury Memorial Working Group responsible for the renovation consisted of: Councillors Carol and David Ellis (Project Leader); the Royal British Legion (Buckley Branch); Buckley Society; Victor Lamb; Gwenno Eleri Jones (FCC); Steve Blackwell of Blackwell’s Stonecraft.
In line with national statistics for British forces, about one in nine who served in the war would die. Many more were injured but their sacrifice is much less well documented than for those died.
The locations where soldiers died remind us that this was truly a world war. Two Buckley men, Henry Thomas Asbury and Charles Davies died in Russia. At least 20 died in the Middle East, in Egypt, Mesopotamia and Palestine, and 4 died at Gallipoli. Of course, most losses were on the Western Front, and the great memorials in France and Belgium bear many Buckley names; 10 and 7 respectively on the Menin Gate and Tyne Cot Memorials at Ypres, 7 at Thiepval on the Somme, and 5 at Arras.
The first Buckley soldier known to have died was William Stanley Roberts on November 16, 1914 at Ypres. From then until the Armistice and beyond a Buckley man died on average once every 10 days, but some months coinciding with major offensives were more deadly than others. In August and September 1915, nine died at Gallipoli and Loos. Four men died on 25 September 1915, three with the Royal Welch Fusiliers at Loos. In July and August 1916, 17 died mostly on the Somme. Five died in March 1917 in Palestine, four on one day, 26 March. From June to November 1917, 26 died, mostly at Ypres. The deadliest period of all was in the last months of the war when 26 died between August and November 1918 (including 12 in October), mostly on the Western Front.
More than half of those who died served in the Royal Welch Fusiliers, but in all about 30 regiments are represented. Only a handful were officers, but many won medals for gallantry, including a Victoria Cross (Fred Birks, awarded posthumously at the Third Battle of Ypres in 1917); at least 12 Military Medals, including Albert Spencer killed on the Somme in 1918; a Croix de Guerre (Oliver Rowlands, killed in France in 1918); and a Distinguished Service Order (Charles Blackburne drowned on the Leinster in 1918).
In an age of large families, there were many instances of brothers serving, and inevitably several cases of brothers being lost. Thomas and Elizabeth Ellis of Mold Rd had 4 sons serving and lost two, Arthur and John. Thomas and Mary Emma Jones of Brunswick Rd. lost two sons, Arthur and Herbert Jones, killed five weeks apart in 1917. Gordon and Percy Messham were sons of Edward and Mary Ellen Messham of Dobshill. Percy and a cousin, Edgar Messham were killed 8 days apart at Ypres in 1916 and are buried in the same cemetery.
In terms of numbers, no sacrifice matched that of the Connah family of Spon Green. Benjamin and Margaret Connah gave 7 sons to the Colours and three were killed, Alexander, John and James. Another brother lost a leg and another was severely wounded.
Considering an extended family, the name Iball appears six times on the Hawkesbury Memorial (Albert, Charles, George, Llewellyn, I. J., and Thomas), plus James is on the Bistre Memorial. Charles, George, and James were brothers, sons of Peter and Martha, living in Doncaster but born in Buckley. Iball is a uniquely Buckley name; in 1881, every one of the 71 people with the Iball name in England, Wales and Scotland lived in Buckley. In statistical terms the number of Iball men who died was about five times greater than would be predicted based on population. Not to be ignored, the Hawkesbury Memorial bears the names of Albert Iball and William Harold Iball killed in WW2.
The number of children who lost fathers cannot be known, but some cases were recorded in the County Herald: John Warburton of Mold Rd. left a wife (Maria) and 7 children, the eldest 14; William James Collins of Brunswick Rd. of Ewloe Place a widow and 5 children; Leonard Lovelock of Ewloe Place a widow and 3 children; Edward Shone of Park Rd. a widow and 2 children; A. Davies of Nant Mawr a wife and 6 children, the oldest 13; Percy Messham of Drury a widow and 4 children; Joseph Parry of Aberdovey Terrace a wife and 5 children.
Buckley at the time of WW1 was much smaller than today and much more noticeably a number of separate neighbourhoods. The impact that must have been felt by small communities is illustrated by the following approximate numbers: Mold Rd. (from the Cross to Pren y Brigog) 18 died; Brunswick Rd. 15; Lane End and Spon Green 13; Ewloe Place, Common and Liverpool Road 11; Mynydd Isa 6; Nant Mawr 6; Drury and Burntwood 5; Church Rd. 4; Alltami 4; Mill Lane 3..
The story of Fred Birks is well known and has been covered in several previous articles in the Buckley Magazine. Fred was not the only Buckley native who emigrated and later returned to Europe to fight. Other emigrants who were killed included Reuben Stanley (Canada), John Wilcock (Canada), Amos Smith (Australia), and Reginald Arthur Hughes (Canada).
Sources and Acknowledgements
Biographical information for individuals has been drawn from various sources including: the Commonwealth War Graves Commission; the Soldiers Died database; the County Herald newspaper; the County of Flint Index; other published sources; and various personal communications. Information originally published in the Buckley Magazine in 2004 has recently been considerably augmented by the efforts of Graham Caldwell, Dave Vickers, Barbara Forbes and Carol Shone
Many Buckley soldiers from both world wars are commemorated on the Buckley at War website.
Link to The Buckley Society
Research is an ongoing activity and additional information submitted via the contact link at the top of the page is always welcome.