Ernest Raymond Lefley was born circa 1922 the son of Ernest & Deborah Leftley (nee Roberts) who had married in St. Mark’s Church, Connah’s Quay on the 3rd of April 1920:-
Ernest LEFLEY, 27 Bachelor, Ironworker, 13, Kirby Grove, Shotton, Hawarden, John William LEFLEY, Labourer & Deborah ROBERTS, 22, Spinster, 9, Lower Brook Street, Connah’s Quay, Isaac ROBERTS (Dec.) Bootmaker.
Witnesses:- Joseph Ellis ROBERTS & Mary EVANS.
Young Ernest’s father’s family were on the 1911 census living at 28, Kirby Grove, Shotton (4 rooms), with his family. Head of the household was William Lefley, 52, a Labourer at the Steelworks, his wife Eliza, 40, had both been born in Ten Mile Bank, Norfolk, so had moved many miles for work, bringing their family with them. William & Eliza tell us that they had been married for 23 years and they had 7 children born to them, all still living, 4 of whom, William, 19, Ernest, 18, Leonard, 16 and daughter Ada, 14,had also been born in Ten Mile Bank, Norfolk. (the boys all had jobs at the Golf Links). The 3 remaining children were Herbert, 10, born in Tyddfen, Carn. Edith, 8 and Edward, 10 months had been born in Sealand and Shotton, respectively.
Young Ernest’s grandfather, it seems, was also in the Army as there is an entry in the Royal Hospital Chelsea Pensioner Soldier Service Records, 1760-1920 which shows, if we have the right William, that he enlisted age 21 in 1880 in the 31st Brigade, his birth date being given as circa 1859 and birth place Hilgay, Norfolk.
The 1939 National Register shows Ernest & Deborah living at 60, North Street, but as can be seen there are six redacted records and we cannot tell if young Ernest Raymond was among those, but according to the R.W.F. Enlistment Register he didn’t join until the 19th March 1942. The war was declared on the 3rd September 1939 and the Register was taken on the 29th September the same year. But on the face of it, it looks as though there may have been 8 children in the household, but of course, the redacted records would have to be applied to have them opened. At some time in the future, I am sure they will be released, probably the 70 or the 100 year rule applies. Ernest Lefley’s birth date was given as the 1st August 1891 and he was a Labourer, his wife Deborah’s birthdate was given as the 6th July 1898. Strangely, 2 children were included, William John Lefley born 6th August 1935, at School, and Brynley Lefley born 22nd February 1939, under school age.
I have nothing on young Ernest Raymond’s life, except that he was a pupil at St. Ethelwold’s Church School in Shotton as his name is recorded on their “Roll of Honour,“ (See below) so if anyone can shed any light on him, the information would be gratefully received, so he can be remembered.
We do know that he was in the 8th Bn. Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment)*
http://rrflondon.2day.uk/siteFiles/files/RRFLondon_RFLocationofBattalions_1246371704.pdf (page 27) when he died.
The Royal Welsh Fusiliers Enlistment Registers tell us that he entered the Royal Welsh Fusiliers on the 19th March 1942 and transferred to the Royal Fusiliers on the 11th December 1943, his documents were sent to Ashford on the 7th February 1944, his entry also tells us that he was “Killed in Italy.” The sad thing when reading these documents, one realises that he had died before his documents arrived at Ashford!! In actual fact he had been with the 8th Royal Fusiliers for just 5 weeks when he was killed, bless him. He was 22 years old.
On the Casualty List (page 8), Ernest Raymond is listed under the Royal Welsh Fusiliers (This was crossed out, and Royal Fusiliers was written) Ernest is shown as having “Died of Wounds” on the 19th January 1944.
On Casualty List 1385, page 19 (List No 1354) (Corrections) Ernest is again put down as Royal Welsh Fusiliers with the addendum – Unit should read:- 8th Royal Fusiliers.
History Information from the Commonwealth War Graves site:-
On 3 September 1943 the Allies invaded the Italian mainland, the invasion coinciding with an armistice made with the Italians who then re-entered the war on the Allied side. Allied objectives were to draw German troops from the Russian front and more particularly from France, where an offensive was planned for the following year. Progress through southern Italy was rapid despite stiff resistance, but by the end of October, the Allies were facing the German winter defensive position known as the Gustav Line, which stretched from the river Garigliano in the west to the Sangro in the east. Initial attempts to breach the western end of the line were unsuccessful and it was not until 17 January 1944 that the Garigliano was crossed, and Minturno taken two days later*. The site for the cemetery was chosen in January 1944, but the Allies then lost some ground and the site came under German small-arms fire. The cemetery could not be used again until May 1944 when the Allies launched their final advance on Rome and the US 85th and 88th Divisions were in this sector. The burials are mainly those of the heavy casualties incurred in crossing the Garigliano in January. Minturno War Cemetery contains 2,049 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War. The cemetery was designed by Louis de Soissons.
* Ernest Raymond died on the 19th.
According to the Graves Concentration Report Form, Ernest Raymond was buried initially in a cemetery referred to by the CWGC, as 12GR/JSA/2017,* when he died, and then was reburied in the Minturno Military Cemetery on the 28th February 1945. *I do not know where that is, I am sorry to say, except that it would be very close to where he died.
Chester Chronicle 19th February 1944
Connah’s Quay & Shotton – Died of Wounds – Mr. & Mrs. Lefley, 60, North-st., Shotton, have received news that their son Pt. Ernest Lefley, died of wounds on January 19th. He was 25 and joined the R.W.F. two years ago. Before joining the Army he worked at Messrs. J. Summers and Sons Ltd.
Looking at the 1939 National Register, he was from a large family and would have been sadly missed, they made sure that his name was put forward to be included on both the Connah’s Quay & Shotton and Hawarden War Memorials.