His full name was Thomas (Tom) Edward Roberts and was born in Flint on 22nd January, 1894. He was the second of eight children to Moses Roberts and Alice (Lewis).
Moses was born in Kelloe, Durham and Alice in Flint and they were married on 21st May, 1892 at St Bridget’s Parish Church, Chester.
Their first residence in Flint as a married couple was 9, Chapel Street but by 1901 were living at 16, Mumforth Street then 10 years later they had moved to 9, Roskell Square. Moses was a chemical labourer and Thomas an ironworker and was unmarried.
At the onset of war Moses lied about his age and joined the 17th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers. He had served in the Army before he was married.
Thomas enlisted in Flint, but it is not known when, and after training was posted to the Balkans (South East Europe), landing there on the 8th August, 1915. The following month he was in the Dardenelles (Turkey) where he sent a letter home to his mother informing her that he was in Hospital at Alexandria, having been wounded in the chest. He asked his mother to inform Mrs Hough, of Johnson Street, that her son Edwin Hough had been wounded in the leg.
“NOT HAD THE BULLET OUT OF HIS CHEST”
(County Herald 8th October, 1915)
Private Tom Roberts, son of Private Moses Roberts, of the 17th Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, now in the South of England, has written home to his parents at Rallt Goch Cottages, Flint. He is still in the Bombay Presidency Hospital, Alexandria, suffering from the effects of gunshot wounds in the chest. The official intimation to the effect also reached his home on Saturday morning. He wrote under date 17th September, and said he had not had the bullet out of chest, where it had been five weeks – A singular coincidence is that Private Tom Roberts is an inmate of the hospital where his father was an inmate after the Nile Expedition in 1884, at El Teb Tamai. At the time Private Moses Roberts was a member of the well known 60th Rifles, and now wears the two ribbons and medals of the Expedition. He is expecting to leave for Egypt.
The following month he wrote another letter home informing his mother that he is an inmate of the 1st Southern Hospital, Birmingham. He was sorry to state that he had been very ill, and when his mother received this letter he would be undergoing an operation. The doctors intended trying to extract the bullets from his chest; but he was afraid they would not get them out. He mentions the names of three Flint soldiers whom he states were killed. He believed about 30 Flint lads had been killed; but he was very glad to say that he was one of the lucky ones to pull through, although they had nearly finished him off. All those who had come out of the battle could thank God for it.
In December, 1916 Private Roberts was wounded in action in France and was transported to the Jericho Military Hospital, Bury, Lancashire where he died on the 29th. The remains were conveyed to his home at Flint, and as they left they were accorded the due military honours.
The funeral took place on Wednesday 3rd January and he was buried in the Northop Road Cemetery (Grave 3, Line 5, North Side). The mourners, who included several local soldiers who were on leave of absence, assembled at the residence together with a selected military firing party, whereupon a procession was formed to the Welsh (St Catherine’s Church), where a service was held. The Rev Jordan Evans, curate, officiated, and the “Rock of Ages” was rendered. The coffin was draped with the Union Jack, and the remains were conveyed to the Cemetery whither the firing party walked with reversed arms. The committal lines were read by the curate, and the remains were interred, the usual volleys were fired over the grave and the “Last Post” sounded. Thus concluded a mournful and pathetic scene which was witnessed by a crowd of people. The chief mourners were the parents, members of the family and the relatives.
He was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal and is remembered on the Flint Town war memorial.
In May, 1942 Moses and Alice celebrated their Golden wedding anniversary which was reported in the Chronicle on Saturday, 23rd May, 1942, and also gave an interesting biography of Moses.
FLINT’S OLDEST SOLDIER CELEBRATES GOLDEN WEDDING
THREE SERVING SONS – TWO MISSING
Flint’s oldest soldier, Mr Moses Roberts, and his wife, who live in Maes y Dre Avenue, celebrated their golden wedding on Thursday. They were married at Chester on 21st May, 1892.
Mr Roberts is in his 80th year and Mrs Roberts is some years younger. They have had eight children and three sons and three daughters survive. There are 18 grandchildren and one great-grandchild, a week old.
Their three sons, Gunner William Roberts, Princes Street, Connah’s Quay, Gunner Moses Roberts, 21, Queens Avenue, Flint, and Gunner Victor Roberts, 36, Swan Street, Flint, are serving with the forces. They are all married with families, and two of them, Gunner William Roberts and Gunner Moses Roberts, who both have four children, are missing in Malaya. Their eldest son, Pte Thomas Edward Roberts, died of wounds received in the Great War.
Mr Moses Roberts joined the old Flintshire Malitia in 1882 and in June, 1883, when 20, was transferred to the King’s Royal Rifles, serving for seven years, and for four years he was on the reserve. The seven years were spent in Egypt and the Sudan, concluding with a short period in Gibraltar. He holds the Egyptian Medal, Bar and Bronze Star.
It was on his return from Egypt that Mr and Mrs Roberts were married, his wife being the daughter of the late Mr and Mrs Edward Lewis, Queen Street, Flint. Following his return to civil life Private Roberts did not lose touch with the Army but joined the Royal Anglesey Royal Engineers Militia, serving for 10 years.
When the Great War broke out Mr Roberts was 51, but giving his age as 31 and three months, he joined the Army and was sent to France. He served two years and 149 days. After nine months in France his correct age was discovered and he was sent back to England where he was retained on Home Defence until discharge on 3rd August, 1917. He holds the 1914 Star, British War and Victory Medals.
He is one of the oldest members of the Flint branch of the British Legion, and he helped to cut the foundations of the local headquarters in Allt Goch Lane.
William and Victor survived the war but sadly Moses Jr did not. He was serving with the 85th Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery and died in a Japanese Prisoner of War camp in Singapore, and was buried in the Kranji War Cemetery there.
Moses Sr died in February, 1945 aged 84 and Alice in March, 1948 aged 75. They lie in an unmarked grave next to Thomas (Grave 4, Line 5, North Side).
Alone on a lonely bed he lay,
None but strangers were near him,
No one to console him on his last sad day,
No mother’s affection to cheer him.
What pain he bore we never knew,
We did not see him die,
But this we know, that he has gone
And never said goodbye.
Sadly missed by Father, Mother, Brothers and Sisters,
Coed Onn Road, Flint.
(County Herald 28th December, 1917)
We who loved you, how we miss you,
As it dawns just a year.
In the lonely hours of thinking,
Thoughts of you are ever dear.
Sadly missed by his sister Harriett and husband in Egypt.
27, Dee Road, Connah’s Quay.
(County Herald 28th December, 1917)
In sad but loving birthday remembrance (January 22nd)
A loving son, true and kind,
A beautiful memory left behind,
We have lost, Heaven has gained,
One of the best the world contained.
Now peace dawns o’er the countryside,
Say will you think of the lad who died,
Oh, quiet hearts will you hear us tell,
How peace was won of the men who fell.
Deeply mourned by his devoted Mam and Dad,
Sisters and Brothers also Brother-in-law Will, in Egypt.
(County Herald 24th January, 1919)