Eric’s father Edward George Welch was the brother of Samuel Welch who paid the supreme sacrifice in WW1, please click on the link to read his story. Edward George himself had enlisted in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers on the 12th August 1914, but he was discharged as not likely to become an efficient soldier on medical grounds on the 12th October 1914, he served 62 days. His Regimental number was 11576.
Their early family history would be the same, but the census of 1901 proved difficult. The enumerator had recorded the family name as ‘Walsh’! Annie was then a widow aged 36, (her husband George had died in 1898 aged 38). She was a ‘laundress’ on ‘her own account’ and she had two boarders living in the house. Her children were Samuel 13, Lenard 8, Edward 6, Minnie 3 and George 2. They were living in Williams Terrace, Saltney Road, Hawarden.
In the 1911 census we learn that Annie 46, had remarried in about 1905. Her second husband was William George Reeks. He was 36 and came originally from Hackney in London. He was working as a ‘pickler’ in galvanising at the iron works. They were living at 55 Nelson Street, Shotton. They had two children together – Florence Elizabeth 4 and Mary Catherine 1. Living with them were step children Samuel 23 a ‘doubler’ , Leonard 17 and Edward 16 both ‘scrap cutters’ (all in the ironworks). Minnie 13 and George 11 were still at school. The household included 2 boarders both ironworkers.
Edward George Welch*, 21 and a Labourer, had married Edith Duncan in St. Nicholas’s Church, Liverpool on the 21st of August 1915 and the Marriage certificate confirms that his father was George Welch, and he was deceased. Edward George was a Labourer, living at Crown St., and Edith Duncan, 21, a spinster, lived at Queens St., and her father was Thomas Duncan, a Carter but sadly he was deceased. Their two witnesses were Joseph & Margaret Duncan.
* He is Eric’s father, so they lost loved ones in both wars.
Young Eric was born in the March quarter of 1920 (Flintshire (Mold)HAW/26A/3), I believe that his parent’s had moved to this area as after their elder son William T.P. Welsh was born in the March quarter of 1916, as his birth was registered in the Wirral (Wirral Vol. 8a Page 649).
The 1921 census of the family are spread over 3 different Schedules, all at two different addresses. First, we have two families living at 55, Nelson Street. Annie Reeks was head of the household and was now 57 years old and was a widow., her son Leonard Welch was 28 years and 11 months old, single, and unemployed. Edward Welch was 26 years and 11 months old, married and a Labourer at the H.M.S. Factory, Queensferry. Annie’s daughter, Kitty Reeks, was 12 years and 1 month old, her father was dead. There were 2 boarders as well.
At the same address, but on a different Schedule was Owen Jones Griffiths, married and 31 years and 6 months old, he had been born in Penmaurmawr and was a Gas Worker for the Gas & Water Works, Widnes. Owen’s wife, Minnie Griffiths (nee Welch) was 23 years and 11 months old and her daughter, Annie Welch was 3 years and 3 months old. Owen & Minnie’s children were William G. Griffiths, 1 year and 9 months old and Marjory Griffiths, 2 months old, both born in Shotton.
Edith Welch (nee Duncan) and Eric were visiting her sister Margaret Gent and her husband Mark, at Admiral Farm, Terrington, St. Clements*. Edith was now 27 years old, and Eric was 1 year and 6 months old.
*Terrington St. Clements is a village and civil parish in King’s Lynn and West Norfolk borough and district in Norfolk, England. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terrington_St_Clement
I do not know about Eric’s early 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 won’t be forgotten.
I also do not know when he enlisted or was conscripted, but he was initially in the Royal Welsh Fusileirs, just like his father and Uncle Samuel, when WW1 was declared, they were among the first to enlist.
There is a Royal Artillery Transfer Register which states that he was transferred, I believe, on the 30th August 1944, then “K.in A” – 13th September 1944, so he was only with the Royal Artillery for 13 days, if I have read this correctly.
His Casualty Card just confirms his place of birth and residence as Shotton, and date of death.
His Casualty List (Page 2), again gives just his date of death and lists him with the Royal Artillery.
Casualty list (Page 36) corrects this and his “Unit should read 60 A. Tk. R.”
Taken from the Commonwealth War Graves Citation:-
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. Following the fall of Rome to the Allies in June 1944, the German retreat became ordered and successive stands were made on a series of defensive positions known as the Trasimene, Arezzo, Arno and Gothic Lines. The site for the cemetery was chosen in November 1944 and it contains the graves of casualties incurred during the advance from Ancona to Rimini, which broke the German’s heavily defended Gothic Line, and in the heavy fighting around Rimini, which was taken by the Allies on 21 September 1944.
So it seems that Eric was to die, possibly in the heavy fighting around Rimini. Please see http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_rimini.html which describes the battle of Rimini (13th – 21st September 1944.) Also http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/operation_olive_gothic_line.html
http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_gemmano.html Battle of Gemmano, (4-15 September 1944)
According to the Graves Registration Report Form the only ones who died on the same day and are buried next to each other are a Lieutenant Ian Kelsey Burge, age 21, Regimental No. 258499, 237 Bty., 60 (5th Bn.The Royal Welch Fusiliers) Anti-Tank Regt, Royal Artillery -Son of George H. and Evelyn A. Kelsey Burge and Eric.
Chester Chronicle 14th October 1944
Connah’s Quay & Shotton. – Killed in Action. News has been received at 39, Green-lane, Shotton, that Bombadier Eric WELCH (24) was killed in action on Sept. 13th. He was at Dunkirk and had since served in the Middle East and Italy.
Eric was well loved and his family put his name forward on both Connah’s Quay & Shotton WW2 War Memorial and the Hawarden WW2 War Memorial so he would be remembered for his sacrifice.
Many thanks to Christine Jones and the Collins Family Tree (Alexandra Collins) on Ancestry.co.uk. https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/114906547/person/210132157066/facts for the photographs.