William was born on 31 July 1894 (date from Hope CP school admission register). He was named after his father William Griffiths and his maternal grandfather Alexander Storrrie
His father William was a joiner, born in Hope in 1867. His mother was Mary Jane Storrie born in Wavertree, Liverpool to Scottish parents in 1867.
- In the 1891 census Mary was a housemaid at Meadowslea in Vownog Hill, Penyffordd, which later became Meadowslea Hospital, a tuberculosis sanatorium.
- Later that year they were living at 31 Nevada Street, Bootle (her parents home) and they were married on Xmas Day 1891 in Bootle Church.
- Their first child, Mary Culbert Griffiths (1892-1918) was born in Bootle and baptised there. The name Culbert was her maternal grandmother’s surname.
- By 1894 the family moved back to Hope, living in Middle Lane. They remained there until at least 1900. During this time the family grew with the births of William Alexander Griffiths (1894), Arthur Edward Griffiths (1897), and Elsie Griffiths (1900).
- In the 1901 census the family, including young William’s great Aunt Elizabeth Griffiths was living Cemetery Road, Hope. Florence was born in 1902.
- On 24th April 1906 young William started at the Hope CP School which had just opened.
At that time the family was living at White Cottage, Hope Village, and they were still there at the time of the 1911 census, and in 1913 when Ernest Rowland (the youngest child, born in 1906) started at Hope CP School.
- Young William’s mother Mary Jane, died in May 1907, aged 42 years, and was buried in Hope on 18th May.
- In the 1911 Census William was an unmarried coal porter, living with his widowed father, and all 5 siblings. They were still living in White Cottage which despite the size of the family consisted of only 3 rooms (which included the kitchen but not the scullery or bathroom).
William’s father died in 1915.
William’s service records do not appear to have survived but the site “UK Soldiers who Died in the Great War” (accessed via www.ancestry.co.uk) states that he was a private in the 15th Battalion Welsh Regiment, and that he had enlisted at Shotton.
Flintshire is unique in having a near complete set of record cards, one for each person who served in the forces in WW1, compiled in about 1919. William’s card was signed by E A Griffiths, and we must assume that this was his brother (christened Arthur Edward but who was always known as Edward Arthur). This card for William states that he was in the 4th Battalion Welsh Regiment. This apparent conflicting evidence might just mean that he was transferred between regiments during the war but we have no proof of this. The card states that his length of service was 16 months which indicates that he enlisted in May 1917.
We have no record of where William fought, although we do know where his battalion was during his period of service. We do not know where, or exactly when, he was injured.
A comment on a Rootsweb forum page states that the 15th Welsh Regiment fought in the following areas:
- July/August 1917 the Attack on Pilkem Ridge
- September 1917 to March 1918 the Division was engaged in Trench Warfare near Armentieres.
- April 1918 to July 1918 the Division was involved in “Stationery Warfare”
- 19th July 1918 until 5th August 1918 the Division was resting near
- August and September 1918 from Ancre to the Nord Canal.
- September 1918 and October 1918 – “Canal Du Nord to the Selle”.
- October and November 1918 “From the Selle to beyond the Sambre”.
More specifically www.forcesrecords,com states that the 15th Battalion was engaged in the following action:
- Battle of Pilkem, The Battle of Langemark.(July/August 1917).
- First Battle of Bapaume, 24-25 March 1918,
- Battle of Havrincourt, 12 September 1918,
- Battle of Epehy on 18 September 1918,
- Battle of the Beaurevoir Line, 3 – 5 October 1918.
- Second Battle of Cambrai 27 September to 11 October 1918,
William died in the 83rd General Hospital, Boulogne. The nature of his injuries are not known. This base hospital was originally the 13th Stationary Hospital, established in October 1914 in the immediate aftermath of the first Battle of Ypres. In the spring of 1917 this hospital was renamed the 83rd (Dublin) General Hospital, so called because of the large number of Irish doctors seconded there. This hospital specialised in maxillofacial injuries, and developed two specialist units – one for jaw injuries and one for eye injuries.
Base hospitals were sited near docks. Casualties arrived by ambulance train from casualty clearing stations and could be triaged to specialist units, or patients could be evacuated to hospital ships in the harbour.
For a fuller history of the 83rd General Hospital, Boulogne see: https://www.rcpe.ac.uk/sites/default/files/jrcpe_45_3_harbison_0.pdf
For an excellent description of nursing in casualty clearing stations, base hospitals and hospital trains see Edith Appelton’s diaries published as “A Nurse at the Front” and now available online at http://anurseatthefront.org.uk/
Terlincthun Cemetery is about 3km from Boulogne, and was used mainly for burials from the base hospitals.
It is not clear where William’s family was living after the war or where William would have considered his home had he survived the war. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission entry for William states that he was the son of Son of William & Mary Jane Griffiths, (who were long deceased) of Cemetery Road, Hope (an address where the family had lived 20 years before). However the Flintshire record card states in 1919 that William’s address was East View, Hawarden Road, Caergwrle. This may have been the family home at that point.
William is also commemorated on the Hope memorial. His family history is on http://person.ancestry.co.uk/tree/70118846/person/42211435950/facts.
Sadly, the records state that his sister, Mary Culbert Griffiths, died in September 1918 aged just 26, and was buried in Hope on 4th October 1918 – the day that William died in France.
Thomas Alexander Storrie (his cousin on his mother’s side) was the Chief Engineering officer (Merchant Navy) on the cargo ship SS Jura when it was bombed and sunk in the Atlantic Ocean () by Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Kondor aircraft of the Luftwaffe with the loss of 17 crew on 9th February 1941. He was aged 57, and is remembered on the Tower Hill in London.