An entry in the family Bible has shown that George Vincent’s date of birth was the 18th April 1896.
The census for 1911 gave the family address as Penyffordd Hope Station. George Vincent’s father, Ithel, was a coal miner, aged 42, who was married to Rose Hannah, aged 39. The eldest son, William (20) was described as a house painter. Thomas John (19) was a railway porter and Ithel (17) was a railway checker. George Vincent himself was aged 14 and had apparently left school but had no stated occupation at the time of the census. This census also gives details of his younger siblings Margaret (12), Edward (10) Maria Rose (8) and Emily (5) who were still at school. The family had additional young members Arthur (3) and James (1) who were too young to be scholars.
A report from a newspaper, in the possession of the family, states that prior to enlisting he had been employed at HM Factory (Probably the munitions works at Queensferry). He was also a member of the United Methodist Church Sunday School.
The website of Clwyd Family History Society includes details for George Vincent Davies and provides further information of him being in ‘A Battery’ of the 241st Battallion. ‘Soldiers who died in the Great War 1914-19’ corroborates much of the information already accessed for George Vincent. However, the site does confirm that he enlisted at Caergwrle and gives his regiment as ‘Royal Horse Artillery and Royal Field Artillery’. Both were sections of the Royal Artillery, their close association being explained by the importance of horses in pulling heavy guns and shells to the Front. His battalion is given as ‘Territorial Force’, which corresponds to the ‘T’ alongside ‘RFA’ on his Medal Index Card (MIC).
The family is in possession of one of George Vincent’s letters from the trenches. Soldiers’ letters were carefully vetted by a junior officer so that the harsh conditions of the trenches were not revealed to the folk back home. Dated 27th October 1916, George Vincent’s letter confined itself to discussing the weather, his father’s good crop of potatoes and the well-being of other members of the family, including a new baby girl, who was starting to talk. (The flyleaf of a family Bible revealed this newcomer as Eleanor, who was born in December 1914). He re-assured his mother and father that he was ‘A1’ apart from having a ‘bit of a cold’. He stated that it had rained for a week – the closest we get to a reference of the appalling quagmire of Ypres.
Roll of Honour Cards located in the County Record Office in Hawarden under the reference of D/DM/181 include the card for George Vincent, which was completed by his father on 23rd September 1919. It gives the relevant address as 3 Wrexham Road. There is no entry for his period of service but the card does give the chilling details of his death: “Killed in action (gassed) at Battle of Ypres – Sept 11 1917.”
Family members of George Vincent have done considerable research into the history of George Vincent and they have visited his grave in the cemetery at Vlamertinge in Belgium. The final and tragic part of George Vincent’s story is to be found by Googling the details of his battalion with the date of his death. The details that follow have been corroborated by other sources, including information received as a result of the visit by family members to the cemetery.
It would appear that enemy reconnaissance had identified the location of the battery to which George Vincent was attached and subjected it to bombardment. George Vincent was with other comrades of A/241 when a gas shell exploded in the entrance of the dugout in which they were sheltering. Eight soldiers were killed in the same event on 11th September 1917 and their graves form a line in the cemetery at Vlamertinge. The grave of George Vincent is the seventh from the left. Three more of their comrades died later of the wounds received and are buried in other locations.
Members of the family came together, on 30th September 2014, for a moving reunion as part of the commemoration of the centenery of the outbreak of the First World War. The reunion was held at Castell Alun High School. A film clip may be viewed at: https://vimeo.com/channels/hopeparish/111187216
I would like to express thanks to all family members for their guidance and for allowing me to see artefacts relevant to the story of George Vincent. The story of a soldier, who died at the age of 21, is a moving one and family members have done an excellent job to preserve his memory. The family grave, which is in Hope Cemetery, has been restored and the inscription contains a reference in memory of George Vincent.
George Vincent Davies is also named on the Greenfield, Hope and Penyffordd Memorials