Thomas, David (Dai)

Newspaper cuttings from the County Herald 28th July 1916, which I found by accident, previously I had no idea of Dai’s name, and scrolling through the newspaper looking for someone else, these cuttings suddenly came up, Serendipity?


Friends in the Connah’s Quay and Shotton districts will regret to learn the sad intelligence of the death of Sergeant Dai Thomas, of the Welsh Regiment, Cardiff, and who was a native of Cwmavon, South Wales.    He was killed in France on the 7th inst.   He was well known in Liverpool, where he was for years a member of the ‘A’ Division Detective Staff of Liverpool City Police.   Shortly after the outbreak of the war he joined the Army, and soon obtained the rank of Sergeant.   He was an all–round athlete, and an international Rugby player.   He relinquished his duties in the Liverpool Police Force to undertake duties at Barry Station, near Cardiff, and where his uncle, Mr. Roblyn, was stationmaster.   He was a member of the Welsh Congregational Church, Connah’s Quay, where his father and mother now reside at Glanmorfa, High Street.   The widow is a daughter of Mr. Woods, an ex-mayor of Aberavon, South Wales, and where she has been residing, but is at present visiting Mr. & Mrs. Thomas at Glanmorfa. —  The members of the Rehoboth Welsh Congregational Church, Connah’s Quay, passed a vote of condolence with Mr. & Mrs. Thomas, the widow and her little child, and relatives, in the sore bereavement they had sustained.   The Rev. R. Owen, pastor of Rehoboth, at the service in the church, paid very eloquent and deserved tribute to the memory of the deceased soldier, who had met his death when fighting for his King and Country.

David was the son of William & Martha Thomas and on the 1891 census the family were living at 15, Somerset Place, Michaelstone Super Avon, Glamorganshire.   William, 27 was a Steel Smelter and had been born in Sportpwynt, Llanboulty Parish Carm, although in later censuses he is born in Whitland, Carm., as was his wife Martha, 25, and their children, daughter Hannah E., 5, who spoke both English & Welsh, (as did her parents), and son David, 2, who spoke only Welsh.   Son Willie, 1, was born in Cwmavon, Glam.

The 1901 census shows the family had moved to 3, Ynys – y – Evans Ter., Havod- y -porth,Margem, Glam.   William, 37 was a Foreman Steel Smelter, Martha was 35.  Daughter Hannah Eleanor, 15 and single was assisting in Domestic work at home.   Sons David, 12, Willie, 11 were in school, as was their sons Johnnie, 9 and Henry James, 8.   Daughter Morwen, 4, son Brynmore, 2, and Wynford Granmer? 6 months had all been born in Cwmavon.

1911 sees the family in Deeside, living at Maesgwyn, Bridge Street, Shotton, Flints, N. Wales,except for David.   Father William, 47, is still a Steel Smelter and his wife Martha 45 tell us that they had been married 25 years and 11 children had been born to them, 8 of whom were still living.   Sons Willie, 21, single and also a Steel Smelter, Johnnie, 19, single and an Assistant Grocer, Brynmore, 12 and W. Graeme? 10 were in school.  Daughter Morwen G, 13 was also in school.   There was a Grandchild living there as well, Brenda Rees, 4 at school.

So now we know that the family were in the district and that is why Dai’s name was added to the memorial.  They did move to Glanmorfa, High Street, Connah’s Quay by the time the Army was contacting them.   I do not know yet where Dai was on the 1911 census.

The Stationmaster referred to in the newspaper cutting of Dai’s death states a Mr Roblyn in Barry (Stationmaster) I have found one, a Mr. Henry Roblin (sic) in the 1911 census, living at 5, Welford St., Barry, Glam. (Welford Street, is a short distance from the Barry Station), is this him?   Henry was a Railway Agent (Stationmaster) and on the 1901 census gave his place of birth as Whitland.  His wife was Emily and they had 2 children Charlotte and Ewart.

I found a marriage of a David Thomas and a Frances Mary Wood in Liverpool in 1912 (Liverpool Vol. 8b, Page 179).    I wrote to the Liverpool Register Office on the 23rd November 2015 to confirm/deny the marriage and this is their reply:- Hi Mavis – I can confirm that the Brides father is Henry, – this was the name of Frances Mary’s father – Henry Wood.  In 1911 Frances Mary was living at 12, Cwmavon Road, Aberavon and an Assistant in the Confectionary business of her father.

I sent an email to the Port Talbot Historical Society Thursday 19th November 2015:- Hi, I am researching the soldiers on the Connah’s Quay & Shotton Cenotaph (Flintshire) and I am wondering if you could help me with the story of a David (Dai) THOMAS who was a sergeant on the Welsh Regiment. Apparently he married the daughter of a Mr. WOODS, who was a past Mayor of Aberavon. I want to tell his story and haven’t much to go on except that he was a well known Rugby player and worked as a detective in Liverpool City Police before the Great War. His uncle was a Mr. Roblyn who was the Stationmaster of Barry Station.
Any help would be appreciated. Many thanks in advance, Mavis Williams

Rely – Hi, thank you for your email.  I have not been able to locate any information on this, sorry, other than info I have on Mr Woods.   Mr Henry Wood was Mayor in 1898 – 1899, he was a baker and confectioner from Aberavon and served as a Liberal member of the Borough Council being notable for his patent honesty and reliability. Never short of an apposite word in the Council chamber, he had a distinguished year of office. A faithful member of Zion Bible Christians Chapel, he was the son-in-law of William Whitelaw, the former Mayor. Sorry I cannot help any further.

Kind regards, Damian Owen.

Webmaster and Photographic Secretary, Port Talbot Historical Society.

Regarding his Rugby career, at first I thought that “our” Dai was the same man as this soldier and Rugby Player, Dick THOMAS (Edward John Richard ‘Dick’ THOMAS, (14 October 1883 – 7 July 1916) who was in the same Battalion – 16th Welsh Regiment (38th Division) and who died on the same day in the same place, MEMETZ WOOD??????  No he had a different Regtl. No. 24093, he was a CSM but did die on the same day and the same battle with the same regiment the 16th Bn Welsh Reg.

Later life of “Dick” Thomas – During World War I, Thomas was posted to France as a member of the 38th (Welsh) Infantry Division, 16th Battalion, and as a Company Sergeant Major was killed in action in the taking of Mametz Woods. He is commemorated at the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.   Another Welsh international died in the same military action, wing player Johnnie Williams.

They both were International Rugby Players, both in the same regiment, different numbers, but quite close and they are both sergeants, and both die on the same day.!!!!!

This is truly remarkable, that 2 Sergeants, albeit one was a C. Sgt. Major, and the other a Sergeant, both were at MEMETZ WOOD and both died on the 7th July 1916 fighting for the 38th Div. 16th Bn. Welsh Regiment and both named THOMAS and both Rugby Internationals!!!!!!   Both were commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.   Richard THOMAS (Dick) had enlisted before Dai THOMAS, as his number was 24093, whereas Dai THOMAS’s number was 24219, 126 men between.

I have transcribed the WAR DIARY of the 16th Bn WELCH REGIMENT – 7th July 1916:- 

7th July 1916 – 8.30 am.   Bn, under orders, drawn up on their own side of slope facing MAMETZ WOOD in lines of platoons with a 2 platoon fromtage.   11/SWB in support.  10/SWB in reserve.   Our Artillery ceased firing at wood at 8.30 am, & first lines of BN. proceeded over the crest of the slope, but came instantly under heavy Machine Gun frontal fire from MAMETZ WOOD, and enfilade fire from FLATIRON COPSE & SABOT COPSE & the German System, which ran between MAMETZ WOOD & BAZENTIN LE PETIT WOOD.   Bn suffered heavily & had to withdraw to their own side of crest.  Bn. made two more attacks, but position was much too exposed for any hope of success, & orders were received to cease operations.  11/SWB attempted to approach the wood through a gulley running between CATERPILLAR WOOD & slope mentioned above, but Machine Gun fire drove them back.   Our losses:-  6 Offs. killed, 6 wounded, 268 OR’s killed, missing wounded.   Weather very wet, this adding greatly to exhaustion of troops.   Bn received orders to return to their Bivouac.   Moved off 10.30pm.   Arrived 4am 8th.

8th July 1916 – Roll Call at Noon.   Letter (crossed out) Verbal appreciation on behaviour of troops from Brig. Genl. EVANS read Communicated to Battalion.

David Thomas in the UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919 confirms the regimental details above and tells us his birthplace was Whitland, Carm. And he enlisted in Barry.

David Thomas in the UK, Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects, 1901-1929 tells us the sole Legatee was his widow Frances M. who was paid his War Gratuity of £9 on the 6th October 1919.

David Thomas in the British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920 tells us that his first Theatre of War was France and his date of entry therein was 4th December 1915. Also a note – Oi/c REES. Shrewsbury requests insts. Re disposal of medals  of 1st January 1921.

No Flintshire Index Card neither “Fallen” nor “Living” as far as I can see.

I was contacted by Huw Rollinson via the website in September 2019 regarding his Great Great Uncle Dai (David Thomas) and he sent me photographs, (below) for which I am so grateful as they bring him back to ‘Life’ a little, seeing the man makes him more real.

Learn more about the other soldiers on the Connahs Quay and Shotton War Memorial

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