Watkin, Ben Gerald Noel

Ben was born at Ffynnon Derwen, Mold on the 22nd April, 1889 and was the fourth of five children to Ben Watkin and Elizabeth Rebecca (Hughes).

Mr Watkin was a self employed Draper and Clothier, carrying on business at the Lion Shop, High Street, Mold.

He died on the 3rd May, 1898, aged 44, from typhoid fever and pneumonia, at Tyddyn Farm, Rhesycae, the residence of his mother.

His widow, and the children, returned to Flint, the home of her birth, to become licensee of the Raven Inn, where her parents had been since the mid 19th century.

Ben was educated at the County School, Holywell where in 1907 he was awarded, by the Central Welsh Board, the Senior Certificate in:- English Composition, English Language (with distinction), English Literature, History (with distinction), Arithmetic, Elementary Mathematics, Latin, French and Chemistry. He then attended the University College of N. Wales, Bangor, where he gained his colours in Cricket and Boating, and was a member of the Officer’s Training Corps. On the outbreak of war, having just returned from Greece, where, on the island of Ithaca he had spent about nine months as professor of English at Ecole Stathatos, a school of Commerce and Navigation, he at once applied for a commission, although he was expecting a Government post in Africa. He was gazetted 2nd Lieutenant in the Special Reserve, Royal Field Artillery in August, 1914, and trained at Ballincollig, Co. Cork.

2 Lt Ben Watkin

2 Lt Ben Watkin

On 3rd January, 1915, he commenced a course in connection with Aeroplane work at Hilsea, but three days later, receiving notice to hold himself in readiness to leave for Southampton, he returned to Ballincollig, where he received final orders, and left Cork on the 8th January for France and was drafted immediately to the fighting line. On the 25thJanuary he was wounded in the hip by shrapnel bullet while in command of his section in the height of the action. He was removed to a hospital at Bethune, where he died from the effects of his injuries two days later.

The Rev A E Bysham, one of the Chaplains to the British Expeditionary Forces, wrote to Mrs Watkin, under date of 27thJanuary, and said he was sorry to state that the Lieutenant was brought to the Bethune Hospital and passed away that afternoon at 1.30. The letter also contained the following sentences – “His pluck and bravery won the admiration of all who came into contact with him. It will soften your grief to think that, like our Master, he laid down his life for others.”  Then a postscript:- “He says I am to bury him in Bethune Cemetery.”

He was conscious almost to his last moments and the Chaplain stated that he dictated a letter to be forwarded home, and which the Chaplain enclosed in his letter. The Lieutenant’s words in his dying moments were – “I am sorry to leave you like this, but remember the old saying of the Greeks, “Whom the gods love die young.” Then alluding to his injury he said:- “I got my wound in the height of the action. The doctors at first did not think it very serious. I knew it was bad from the first, because I felt it had touched the stomach.” In other sentences he finally refers to those at home not to grieve after him, and to putting trust in God; and then there is added:- “My only hope is that I shall proceed to the happy hunting ground which my imagination used to conjure up for me.”

Learn more about the other soldiers on the Flint Memorial

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