Eric was born in Hope and christened John Eric Edwards in Hope Parish Church on 24th December 1893. His parents, John Henry Edwards and Mary Roberts were married in St Asaph in February 1891.
In 1891 Eric’s parents were living on Rhyddyn Hill, Caergwrle with their oldest son, Charles.
By 1901 they had moved to Brynygaer, Caer Estyn and their family had expanded to 6 children. John H. Edwards was 35, a joiner/carpenter, Mary was 38, Charles was 10, Herbert was 9, Edith Eleanor was 9, John Eric was 7, George Leonard was 5 and Frank was 9 months. John and Mary were both born in Gresford, but the children were all born in Hope.
In 1911 the family were living at Rhyddyn Hill, Caergwrle. John Henry Edwards was 46, a builder, Mary was 48, Herbert was 18, a wheelwright, Edith Ellinor was 18, a dressmaker, John Eric was 17, clerk at a corn mill, George Leonard was 15 and Frank was 10. This census also tells us that John and Mary had been married for 21 years, and that Mary had given birth to 6 children, all of whom had survived.
Eric’s military records are missing, but we learn from his Medal Card, which can be viewed at Ancestry (ancestry.co.uk), that he was first in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and later transferred to the South Wales Borderers. He arrived in France on 18th October 1916. The South Wales Borderers Regimental History by CM Atkinson records that on 21st November 1917 the Battalion moved up to the front line around the area of Doignies. The next day they were to relieve the 62nd Division in the Bourlon Wood Sector. They started to move in the evening of the 22nd November, relieving the 62nd by midnight, moving via Graincourt. There is a slight discrepancy in the records as some state that Eric was killed in action on 22nd November 1917, and others that he was killed in action on 23rd November 1917.
I have been unable to find any record of him receiving the M.C.
There is an index card for Eric in the Flintshire Roll of Honour at the County Record Office in Hawarden which tells us that he was first in the 13th Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Under the heading Special Remarks re Service it says:
“While training at Rhyl made Sergeant. Oct 15 attached to 12th Welsh Regiment at Kinmel Park. France Oct 1916 as 2nd Lieut.
Killed 23 November 1917 at Taking of Bourlon Wood.”
This index card was signed by W. Forster who signed a number of the cards.
In the Supplement to the North Wales Guardian dated 14th December 1917, the following was reported:
News has reached Caergwrle that Lieutenant Eric Edwards of Rhyddyn Hill has met with his death while leading his men. Originally in the North Wales Pals, he transferred to the South Wales Borderers. Much sympathy is felt with his parents, who have three other sons with the Forces, all on active service in various parts of the War Arena.
His brother Sapper Charles Henry Edwards survived the War. He enlisted on 22nd October 1914 and joined the 5th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers. He transferred to 53rd Welsh Division Signal Company, Royal Engineers in January 1916. He was finally discharged at the end of 1918/beginning of 1919. He served in Gallipoli, Salonica, Egypt and Palestine.
A rather poignant letter was sent by Charles in December 1918.
I Sapper Edwards C.H. 452590 late 53rd div Sig Coy having been transferred to class W on Sept 6th last for shipyard work, and having done close on four years with the colours, I Sapper Edwards would like to know if it is possible for you to arrange my discharge and forward my gratuity pay before Christmas as I have had to lose a bit of time through sickness and the money would be acceptable, as I have not been home for four Christmas’s. If possible, kindly forward on to 10 Albert Villas, Green Rd, Poole, Dorset.
My permanent address: Rhyddyn Hill, Caergwrle, Nr Wrexham, N. Wales.
I wonder if he made it home for Christmas?
His younger brother George Leonard Davies also survived the war having seen action in India and Salonika. In December 1918 he was hospitalised with Malaria and Dysentery.
His youngest brother Frank enlisted in August 1918 but does not appear to have seen any action.
Eric is also listed on the Hope War Memorial.