Thomas (Tom) Charles Roberts was born on the 21st September, 1873 at 33, Holywell Road, Flint and was baptised on the 23rd November, 1873 at St Mary’s Parish Church. He was the eldest of five children to Thomas Roberts and Martha Elizabeth T (Wood).
Thomas (nicknamed Bass) was born in Flint and Martha in Didsbury, Lancashire and they were married in the first quarter of 1871 at St Alban’s Parish Church, Liverpool. They resided at 1, Evans Street, Flint and Thomas was employed as a Chemical labourer. He died in April, 1890 aged about 45 and was buried in the Northop Road Cemetery.
By 1891 Martha and her family were living at 55, Swan Street and Thomas Charles was working as a general labourer.
On 3rd August, 1896, at the Holy Trinity Parish Church, Chester, Tom married Ellen Johnson of Flint. They were to have 14 children, seven of whom died in infancy and are buried together in an unmarked grave in the Northop Road Cemetery.
Martha died at her residence, 36, Swan Street, on the 14th November, 1910, aged about 64, and is buried with her husband and their son, John, in an unmarked grave. According to her obituary Martha was “well known and respected by a large circle of relatives and friends.”
By the 1911 census the family were living at 66, Swan Street and Tom would soon leave the Chemical works in Flint to work at the Shotton ironworks.
Tom enlisted in Wrexham in September, 1914. His regiment landed in France on the 27th December that year and, like Private Robert Jones, he also would have been involved in the famous Christmas Truce of 1914.
In the County Herald on 10th December, 1915 it was reported that Tom had arrived home the previous week on several days’ leave. “He was accorded a hearty greeting by his friends. Roberts has been in several of the exciting incidents in France with the 2nd battalion, and although having had numerous escapes of injury he has suffered from rheumatism in consequence of the inclemency of the weather, and the trying experiences in the trenches. When he left the Battalion to journey home all the Flint men who were with it were quite well and in the best of spirits. Roberts returned to the Battalion at the end of the week, where no doubt he will convey the best wishes of several Flintonians for the safe return of their soldier friends.”
He died on the 10th June, 1918 from wounds received in action and buried in Esquelbecq Military Cemetery, France (Plot III, Row B, Grave 2).
His death was reported in the County Herald on 21st June, 1918.
DEATH OF A FLINT SOLDIER
HERO’S LAST WORDS
The sad intelligence reached the Borough on Sunday morning that the death had occurred at the Front of another of its best known soldiers, in the person of Private Thomas Charles Roberts, of 66, Swan Street, and it created quite a gloom amongst a fairly large circle of relatives and friends. The information was to the effect that Private Roberts was very seriously wounded, and that he was immediately conveyed to a hospital, where it was observed his condition was hopeless, and where the last words he uttered were, “God bless my wife and children.” A communication states that the remains of the hero were duly interred after an impressive religious ceremony. The deceased, who was 44 years of age, was one of the natives who had devoted a large portion of his life to military training, and was one of the few now remaining local men who gained the Volunteer Decoration for twenty years’ service as a member of the old Royal Welch Volunteers. At the time of the outbreak of hostilities he became a member of the National Reserve, and in September 1914, he volunteered for active service. He had, therefore, seen much service in the battles at the Front. He was home on leave towards the latter end of last year; and it may here be said that he was greatly respected by his comrades and numerous friends in the Borough.
Having been so long in the army, he was expecting his discharge to enable his return to civil life, and in view of this he wrote recently requesting the riband of his long service Volunteer Decoration to be forwarded to him, presumably that he might submit it to the Military Authorities where he was located. He leaves a widow and four sons and three daughters to mourn his loss, to whom the sympathies of the residents of Flint are extended in their sad grief. His eldest son, Sergeant Owen Roberts, is on active service.
On Sunday evening, in the Parish Church, the Rev Canon W Ll Nicholas, the Rector, paid a touching tribute to the memory of Pte “Charlie” Roberts.
He was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal and is remembered on two war memorials – Flint Town and St Mary’s Parish Church, Flint, and his wife Ellen’s headstone in the Northop Road Cemetery (Grave 10, Line 5, Upper West Side A Section). He is also commemorated on the North Wales Heroes’ Memorial Arch, Bangor.
In October, 1929 Tom and Ellen’s son, Dan, died at the age of 17 after an illness of about seven weeks. He was a member of the Church Sunday School and Young Men’s Guild. The funeral was held at the Parish Church and there was a large number of the general public present.
Ellen died on the 30th September, 1937, after an illness of two years, and is buried in the Northop Road Cemetery with her son Dan.
The one I loved is now laid low,
His fond true heart is still,
His vacant place remains to me
That none can ever fill.
Friends may think that I forget him,
When at times we’re apt to smile,
Little knowing what grief is hidden
Beneath the surface all the while.
I often sit and think of him,
His name I often call,
But there is nothing left to answer
But his photo on the wall.
From his loving wife.
(County Herald 11th June, 1920)
To-day recalls sad memories
Of a dear one laid to rest,
And those who think of him to-day
Are those who loved him best.
From his loving Children.
(County Herald 11th June, 1920)