Robert Owen Welsh was born on the 26th June, 1898 at 7, Sea View, Flint and was baptised on the 24th August, 1898 at St Mary’s Parish Church, Flint. He was the youngest of six children to Edward (Ned) Welsh and Elizabeth (Bithell). Three of the children died in infancy.
Both Edward and Elizabeth were born in Flint and ad married in 1883. They were living at 6, Castle View when on the 22nd June, 1910 Elizabeth died, aged 58, and was buried in the Northop Road Cemetery.
On his 16th birthday, on the 26th June, 1914, Robert enlisted in the Royal Navy, signing on for 12 years. His occupation was given as “Glass Blower.”
He was 5ft 1ins with a chest measurement of 30ins. He had brown hair, blue eyes, a fresh complexion and had a scar on both his right thigh and right shin.
He served on HMS Powerful which was a Cruiser launched in 1895 and reclassified in August 1912 as a Boys Training Ship based at Devonport. His rating was Boy II. He was a Boy I on the 7th February, 1915 when he was invalidated out of the service with “Acute Rheumatism?” On his service record his Character was given as “Very Good” and his Ability as “Satisfactory.”
His rheumatism must have been in remission for on the 5th July, 1915 he joined the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Again his occupation was a glass blower but he gave his age as 21 years 2 months, which was two years older than he was. His address was given as 59, Fosbrook Street, Boughton, Chester.
Sadly, on the 11th September, 1917, he was discharged due to “Vascular Disease of the Heart,” which was probably brought on by the rheumatism. It was discovered in March 1916 at Whittington Camp, Staffordshire when he became short of breath after a march. His medical report stated, “It was not the result of, but aggravated by ordinary military service.” He had served 2 years and 69 days.
His military character was described as “Very Good,” and went further to say “A steady, sober, honest, reliable man. Prior to enlistment he was employed for 12 months by Mr Colestoff, Glanstoff Workes, Flint.”
He was granted a pension but died at his home, at 3, Castle Street, on the 11th February, 1919. He was buried with his mother.
He was a member of the “Flint Castle” Lodge of Oddfellows and when the funeral took place the following Saturday his remains were followed to the grave by a number of the members of the Lodge.
He did not qualify for any service medals but was remembered on the St Mary’s Parish Church, Flint war memorial.
He had made a will and left £81. 10s. 4d. (which would be approximately £5,000 in 2020).
On the 13th June 1919 the County Herald reported the following: “On Whit-Sunday there was used for the first time a magnificently worked altar cloth, the gift of Mr and Mrs Bithell, 39, Mumforth Street, Flint, in loving memory of the late Mrs Elizabeth Welsh, and her son Robert, who died for his country. Those who are capable of judging say that the gift is certainly the most handsome that is in the possession of any church in the Diocese.”
Robert’s father, Ned, died suddenly on the 30th June, 1928 aged 71. His obituary is as follows:
“The death occurred rather suddenly on Saturday afternoon last of Mr Edward (Ned) Welch, aged 71 years, who resided with Mr and Mrs Godfrey Welch, 55, Mumforth Street, Flint. The deceased, who was a native of Flint, was very well known and highly esteemed. He was pre-deceased by his wife about 18 years ago and is survived by two sons and two daughters. For nearly fifty years he was employed by the United Alkali Company Ltd, and was one of their pensioners. He left their service owing to an unfortunate accident, which necessitated the amputation of a leg. For many years he was a member of the Flint Castle Lodge of Oddfellows, and on news of his death being received, the flag at the Oddfellows Hall was flown at half-mast. Deceased was also a highly respected honorary member of the Flint Borough Working Men’s Club. The funeral took place at Flint Cemetery on Wednesday and was largely attended. A service was held at the house, and also at the Parish Church, conducted by the Rector, the Rev T J Davies, B.A., who also officiated at the graveside. At the cemetery the Oddfellows’ burial service was read by the Mayor of Flint (Alderman James Griffiths, JP).”