Peter Henry Blackwell was born circa 1893 the son of Peter & Sarah Catherine Blackwell, Grocers, living at Fiji House, Llanasa, Flintshire on the 1901 census. The census shows Peter Henry, 8, appearing for the first time. Head of the household was father Peter ,52 a Grocer/Shopkeeper who had been born in Dyserth, Flintshire. Peter Henry’s mother, 46 had been born in Flint, Flintshire. Their eldest son on this census was Thomas W., 19 and an Apprentice to his father as a Grocer. Daughter Annie, 18, was a dressmaker, Mary L., 13 and Peter, 8 made up the family, all the children had been born in Llanasa, Flintshire. There was an older son, Zechariah, not on this census, who had been born in Flint circa 1877. There was also a servant. The whole family were all bilingual.
The 1911 census sees the family still living at Fiji House, but sadly father Peter had died age 60 in the March Quarter of 1911, the census was taken on the 2nd April 1911. (Flintshire (Mold) WHIT/23/71).
Sarah Catherine, 55, was now head of the household and was keeping the family business going as a Grocer and employer. She tells us that she had been married for 34 years, 6 children had been born, sadly 1 died, this was crossed out by the Enumerator as Sarah was a widow, but it helps build a picture of the family. Thomas William, single, 29 and was assisting in the family business, as was Peter Henry, single and 18 years old. John Herbert Jones, single, 17 was a visitor and described as a Grocer’s Apprentice, born in St. Asaph, also a 17 year old General Servant, Dorothy Jones.
Peter Blackwell enlisted in February 1915 and went to France in November of the same year. The local newspaper, the Prestatyn Weekly, reported on 12th August 1916 that there were “perplexing rumours” concerning him “since the big push” but “We hope for the best”. However, the following week it reported that he had been killed in action the previous month. He was 23 years old.
Anne Parry, one or the Researchers for this website, quite coincidentally and whilst dealing with a quite separate matter, came into contact with Cliff and Emily Williams who live in Bristol. It turned out that Emily is the Great Niece of Peter Blackwell. The couple have researched his story and this is what they have told us. Their e mail to Anne (September 2015) is printed in full below.
Hello again Anne,
-Cliff here. Your order arrived safely on Friday and will receive our very best attention next week.
Emily has asked me to write a piece about her late great uncle who was killed in action on July 10th 1916 at Mametz Wood, France.
‘Peter Henry Blackwell lived with his family in Fiji House, Ffynnongroew and the family operated a grocery shop in the village.
Peter was called to arms early in the 1914-1918 World War 1. He enlisted at Holywell.
He served in the 14th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers and was a Corporal.
On July 10th 1916 his Battalion was involved in the infamous storming of Mametz Wood, which was heavily defended by crack German Panzers. He was listed as missing, killed in action on that day.
He would have been buried in one of a number of mass graves in the Woods.
His name appears on the Thiepval Memorial.
My wife Emily, is the Grand-daughter of his brother (who was her beloved ‘Taid’).
I married Emily in 1964 and she often described conversations with her late Taid , where he would tearfully tell her that his younger brother had been killed in the war. Taid himself had been exempt from service for health reasons.
This was all she knew about the story until she saw a piece in the ‘Bristol Evening Post’ detailing how WW1 records could be discovered. From that she learned that he had served with the 14th Battallion RWF and that he had been killed in France. Since learning this, (I believe it was in the 1990s) Emily has sent a ‘Cross Memorial’ every year, which is displayed with thousands of others, in the lawns outside Westminster Abbey.
Since 1984, Emily and myself have run the business ‘Memories On Video’ which is mainly concerned with copying old cine films on to DVDs. We were delighted to receive orders from Nick Fear, who it transpired, is a professional guide for the ‘War Graves Services’ and regularly conducts tours of the Battlefields. (www.nickintime.co.uk) .
When he heard Emily’s story, he did considerable research for us and eventually provided us with the detailed circumstances which led to the terrible Mametz Wood debacle. He even provided copies of the hand written battlefield notes for that action, from which we conclude with certainty that Peter Henry Blackwell was indeed killed in action there, on July 10th 1916.
In July 2014 Nick Fear advised us that the National Theatre Of Wales was doing a ‘re-enactment’ of the events of Mametz Wood …based on the very day of July 10th 1916!! Emily and I attended a matinee of that excellent presentation, it was very moving- in the extreme!
I conclude this piece by telling you that on July 10th 2015 I was able to take Emily, Our daughter Deborah and our son Jonathan, together with his wife Emma on our pilgrimage to Mametz Wood. We saw some wooden crosses placed around the Welsh Dragon Memorial, which faces Mametz Wood- including some marked by Flintshire families. We entered the woods, which was adorned with Welsh flag bunting and we saw several wreaths and many very poignant messages left by previous pilgrims. Emily read a tribute, which I was able to record on camera, which is now one of our own treasured ‘Memories On Video’
Cliff Williams. (www.memoriesonvideo.co.uk)
Philip Blackwell who provided us with the framed memorial photograph and the ‘Death Penny’ is not a relative. He is a collector of medals and other military memorabilia connected with the Blackwell name. We’re very grateful to him.
There is a Flintshire WW1 Index Cards ( Ffynnongroyw F 1) at Hawarden Record Office for Peter Henry Blackwell which tells us his Army Service was 1 year 6 months and confirms his regimental details above. The card was signed by M.L. Williams on the 24th October 1919.
Peter is also remembered on the Bangor Memorial Arch – http://www.bangorcivicsociety.org.uk/pages/arch/DSCF4394.htm