William was born in Hope, Flintshire in 1894, the fifth of 8 children born to Robert & Jane Roberts of Rhanberfedd Farm, Caergwrle. His siblings were: Mary Jane b.1885, Sarah Ann b.1887, Elizabeth b.1888, Robert John b.1889, Hugh b.1895, Daniel b.1899 and Harriet Doris b.1902
William was first recorded in a census in 1901. He was living with his parents and all of his siblings at the farm. His father, Robert, was a farmer and the family also had a 70 year old servant who worked on the farm.
In 1911 William was still at the farm with his parents and 6 of his siblings. Three of them, including William, were workers on the farm while his elder sister Sarah Ann was an assistant teacher in Hope Primary (then Council) School. The farmhouse was quite substantial as it is listed on the census as having 10 rooms.
Apart from the census returns, records for William are minimal. We know from his WW1 medal Roll Index Card that he was first in the Denbighshire Yeomanry with the Regimental Number 1419. He then became a Private in the Royal Welsh (Welch) Fusiliers – Regimental Number 56762. He was awarded the Victory Medal & the British War Medal.
In an index of ‘Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914-1919’ which is available on Ancestry, it states that William enlisted at Wrexham into the 10th Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, and at the time of enlistment was residing in Caergwrle.
Information on wartimememories.com show that William’s Battalion – the 10th – was raised in Wrexham on 16th October 1914, part of Kitchener’s Third New Army. They trained at Codford St Mary and were billeted at Bournmouth for the winter. After moving to Romsey at the end of April 1915, the Battalion then moved to Aldershot in June of that year for final training. Arriving in France on 27th September 1915, the Battalion then transferred to the 3rd Division with 76th Brigade. In 1916 they were involved in action at the Bluff & St Eloi Craters, then onto the Somme for the Battle of Albert, the Battle of Bazentin helping to capture Longueval, the Battle of Delville Wood and the Battle of the Ancre. In April & May 1917 they were in action at the Battle of the Scarpe and the Battle of Arleux.
In the report of William’s death in the Liverpool Daily Post on 9th July 1917, it says “He had been in the thick of many engagements” which is clear from the information above. It was also noted that he was a ‘quiet & unassuming young man, much respected throughout the countryside, and was also a member of the Presbyterian Church & Sunday School. It was also reported that his brother was wounded while serving with a Canadian Regiment and was at the time in hospital in Ramsgate. His brother, Robert, had emigrated to Canada in 1913 and in 1916 joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He survived his wounds and was medically discharged on 18th March 1918.
Along with his commemoration on the Caergwrle Memorial, William is also remembered on his parents’ headstone in Hope old cemetery.