Thomas James Williams was born in Flint in 1862 and baptised in St Mary’s Parish Church on 24th August, 1862 and was the eldest of two children to Joseph Williams and Elizabeth (Jones).
Joseph and Elizabeth married at St James’s Parish Church, Holywell on 19th April, 1862 and both were residents of Greenfield at the time. They soon moved to Duke Street, Flint where Joseph was employed as a chemical labourer.
Joseph died in July, 1872 aged 35 and to make ends meet Elizabeth became a lodging house keeper then gave that up to become a charwoman. She died suddenly on the 14th October, 1896, aged 55, and her death was reported in the Flintshire Observer.
SUDDEN DEATH IN CHAPEL
(Flintshire Observer 22nd October 1896)
A painful sensation was caused in the English Congregational Church on Wednesday night by the sudden death of Mrs Elizabeth Williams, of Chester Street, a woman about 65 years (sic) of age. During the reading of the second lesson, she sank in a state of collapse. Dr J H Williams was sent for, but on arriving found life extinct.
Thomas James had married Kate Morris in 1884 and was a cooper by trade, however the 1891 census found them living in Widnes where he was employed as a general labourer. Ten years later there were back in Flint and he was working as a cooper again at the chemical works. In 1911 they were living at 55, Mumforth Street and they’d had 11 children, one of whom had died.
Thomas enlisted with the 5th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers at Queensferry on the 19th April, 1915 where he underwent a medical inspection. Like many other men he lied about his aged and said he was 44 years 9 months when he was actually 53. He was 5ft 6ins and an expanded chest of 36 ½ins. He was transferred to the 22nd Battalion Rifle brigade on the 2nd November, 1915. He was Home based until the 3rd January, 1916 when his regiment embarked from Liverpool and disembarked at Alexandria, Egypt on the 18th January. He was admitted to a hospital in Cyprus on the 24th April, 1916 with venereal disease and discharged on the 5th May.
On the 4th October he reported sick and was vomiting. W. Snowing, the Staff Surgeon, said in his report. “There were no physical signs in his abdomen, but his mouth was in a very bad condition with rotten and decayed stumps which the doctor considered caused his illness. He recommended him for skilled dental treatment.” Two days later his condition had worsened and was sent to the Hospital Ship “Valdivia.” The following is a detailed report on the circumstances surrounding his death:
“This patient was brought on board the “Valdivia” on Oct.6/16, having been brought by steamboat direct from the R.N.A.S. Station on the island of Thasis.
He brought a report from the M.O. there stating that the man was very debilitated and run down – that the cause of his debility was probably Pyorrhoea Alveolaris and that he was recommended for dental treatment.
On admission he was found to be in poor health with many carious teeth and an unhealthy condition of the gums. His pulse and temperature were normal, he had no cough, sickness or diarrhoea and the only thing he complained of – in addition to the tenderness of his gums, was some pain in the left subcostal region.
On examination a hard tumour was felt in this region, which was considered to be an enlarged spleen.
No history of malaria was discoverable. He was able to walk but remained in bed during Oct. 6th & 7th, getting up only to visit the latrine. He was ordered Quinine ter die and put on Beef Tea Diet. Shortly before 2.a.m. on Oct.8th. he went to the latrine and on returning to his ward shortly after was seen to stagger and fall on to a bed. The Orderly M.O. – Capt. Devlin – was called and he summoned me to see the patient with him. We found him collapsed, with cold skin, pallid face, scarcely perceptible pulse, deep sighing respiration and marked restlessness. A diagnosis of Internal Haemorrhage was made.
An ounce of brandy was given by the mouth, Strychnine Digitalin and Morphia injected hypodermically, hot water bottles applied externally etc. but he was obviously moribund and died in our presence about a quarter of an hour later.
I am of opinion that the cause of death was Internal Haemorrhage.”
His death was reported in the County Herald on the 20th October and on the 10th November appeared the following:
Some three weeks since we recorded the information of the death of Private T J Williams, whose widow and members of the family reside in 20, Chester Street, Flint. Williams was a member of the Rifle Brigade, and in the casualty list published on Monday this week there was chronicled the intimation: – “Died: – Rifle Brigade,- Williams, 1013, T J (Flint)”
The widow of Private Williams has received a letter from deceased’s platoon officer in which he says: “I am writing to you to sympathise most deeply with you and your family in your trouble. It must be very sad for you all that you will never see him again on earth. I understand he passed away on a hospital ship, of dysentery. You may be sure he had every care and comfort. He was a good man and a faithful soldier, greatly liked and respected by his officers and comrades. It was very plucky of him to volunteer for foreign service for his King and country at his age. Shortly before he was taken ill I was talking to him and congratulating him upon keeping so well when so many men had gone down. “Well sir,” he replied, “I put my trust in One above.” Our Chaplain referred to this at church parade yesterday. My home is in North Wales, and some day I may have an opportunity of calling to see you.”
He was buried in Mikra British Cemetery, Kalamaria, Greece (Plot 5, Row C, Grave 3).
He was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal and is remembered on the Flint Town and St Mary’s Parish Church war memorials. He is also commemorated on the North Wales Heroes’ Memorial Arch, Bangor.
Kate died on the 3rd April, 1926, aged 59, and was buried in the Northop Road Cemetery. Her obituary stated “she had contracted influenza and pneumonia developed, to which she succumbed. She was well-known and respected in the town and leaves several children to mourn her loss.”