Ernest Price Wellings was born in Manchester in 1896 and was the eighth of 10 children to William Wellings and Elizabeth Price (Jones). William was born in Cross Houses, Shropshire and Elizabeth in Preston Gubbals, Shropshire. They married on 31st August, 1879 at St. Chad’s Church, Shrewsbury.
William was a joiner by trade and found work in Manchester for a while until they moved to Flint in the early 1900s. Soon after the 1911 census he took over the license of the Windmill Tavern (known as the Cake Tavern) in Nant y Flint. Ernest at this time was employed as a grocer’s assistant.
He served overseas and was wounded in the arm at some point, which caused it to wither, and was discharged on 5th February, 1919 “in consequence of his being no longer fit for war service.” He had served 4 years and 44 days and was awarded the Victory Medal and British War Medal.
After he was wounded he dictated a letter to his mother from France dated September 22nd (presumably 1918):
My dear Mother
Just a line hoping it finds you well. I expect by the time you get this letter I shall be in Blighty. The wound is in the right arm that is why I can’t write myself. I am under good care and happy.
Best love to all at home
Your loving son Ernest
Mr Wellings took an interest in local politics and in October, 1920 put his name forward as a Labour councillor in the forthcoming elections, but the result is not known.
Ernest, meanwhile, was sent on a training course by the Ministry of Labour to the Government Instructional Factory, Newtown, Montgomeryshire under the National Scheme for Disabled Men. Sadly, on the 25th June, 1921, he died in a tragic accident.
FLINT EX-SERVICEMAN DROWNED
(County Herald 1st July 1921)
Ernest Wellings, Windmill Tavern, Nant, Flint, was drowned while bathing at Newtown, Mont., on Saturday. Wellings was a trainee as carpenter at the government instructional factory, Newtown. He and a chum named Hayes went bathing in the Severn. Hayes got into the water first and swam down the stream about 30 yards. Finding Wellings struggling in deep water Hayes made frantic efforts to save him but failed. Wellings served four years with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. The inquest was held on Monday, when Hayes stated that he went into the water first and swam down the river, leaving Wellings on the bank. Shortly after he heard a gurgling sound and turning round saw Wellings struggling in deep water. He swam to him as quickly as he could, and when he got to the spot Wellings had sunk. He dived and took hold of the man’s wrist, and tried to pull him up, but failed. He then dived again and tried to get hold of the man by the body, but he himself was seized in the clutch of the other and had great difficulty in extricating himself. He was quite unable to say how he himself struggled to safety, as he was exhausted, not being a very good swimmer. A verdict of accidental death was returned.
His body was returned home, but his family were not allowed to see it, and was buried in Halkyn Churchyard and has a military headstone.
D Felix Davies, manager of the factory, wrote a letter to Mr Wellings dated 5th July:
Dear Mr Wellings
I was very shocked on my return to Newtown to learn of the fatal accident which occurred to your son. After meeting you here on the occasion of your visit as a member of the Local Technical Advisory Committee, I took particular note of his progress. He was one of the best type of men we have had at the Factory and his attitude was in every way an example to all. I need not assure you that I personally feel the deepest sympathy over this tragedy and this sympathy is shared by all connected with the training scheme for this area.
Ernest is not remembered on any war memorial however, he is commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.