Thomas, Edward John

Edward John Tomas was born on the 20th February 1919 according to the UK, British Army and Navy Birth, Marriage and Death Records, 1730-1960 for Edward John Thomas.   He was the son of Robert & Annie Thomas (nee Heggie) who were married in a Civil marriage at Holywell in 1904 (Flintshire (Mold) HOL/30/E29).

I believe that Robert Thomas was recorded twice on the 1901 census, once at his parent’s house at Nant, Flint, Halkyn, Flintshire, where his father Owen Thomas, 49 and a General Labourer on the Estate (not exactly sure which estate) lived with his wife Sarah Thomas, 45, both born in Halkyn and their two sons, William Thomas, 24 and single and Robert Thomas, 19, single and both were  Carters on the Farm, both born in Holywell and all spoke only Welsh.

Also on the 1901 census which shows a Robert Thomas*, age 19, single and a Carter on the farm, born Nant, Flintshire living in the household of William & Annie Roberts and their daughter, Mary and son William ROBERTS at Nant Farm, Coleshill Fawr & Eyton, Flintshire, also there was Annie Heggie, Niece, age 17 years, born Cornist,Flint, Flintshire

*I think that Robert THOMAS was recorded on the two censuses, which happens sometimes, he was recorded as having been at each house on Census night – see the 1901 census for Robert above.  If this is correct, then perhaps that was how Robert & Annie met and eventually married.

In 1901 Annie Heggie’s parents and siblings were living at Sandy Lane Farm, Bagillt, Holywell, Flintshire.   Annie’s father Thomas Heggie , 53, a Farmer on his own account, born in Scotland, was head of the household, his wife, Emma, was 45 and had been born in Holywell.   Their children were Edward, 21 who worked on the farm, I believe with Cattle and Horses, Dinah, 15, Walter, 13 and Kenneth 11, had all been born in Holywell, Flintshire.   Both Edgar 8 and Victor, 3 had been born in Bagillt, Flintshire.   Only Emma was bilingual, the rest of the family spoke only English.

By the 1911 census Robert & Annie Thomas were living at Bridge Houses, Pentre Halkyn, Flintshire. (2 Rooms) with their new family.   Robert, now 28, was a Roadman with the County Council, Annie was now 27 and she tells us that they had been married 6 years and 2 children had been born to them , both still living.   They were both Bilingual.   Their children were Robert Owen, 5 and Gladys May, 3 both spoke only Welsh.   All had been born in Holywell.

The 1921 census (taken on the 19th June 1921) shows us Edward John Thomas for the first time, he is living with his family at Bridge Houses, Halkyn, Flintshire, Wales.    Head of the household was Robert Thomas, 38 years and 6 months and a Ploughman for Edward T. Winter, Farmer, at Cornist Farm, Flint.   Annie Thomas was now 37 years and 4 months and was doing “Home Duties.”  Their son, Robert O. Thomas, was now 15 years and 8 months old.   He was a Farm Servant for the same employer as his father.   Daughter Sarah Thomas was now 9 years and 11 months old, son William Thomas, age 6 years 11 months old were in School “Whole Time,” and had been born in Halkyn, Flintshire.   Edward J. Thomas, 2 years 3 months old had been born in Halkyn, Flintshire.

Edward John’s sister, Gwladys May Thomas, age 13 years 6 months is also on the 1921 census, living at Bridge Houses as well, but with her Grandmother Sara Thomas and two uncles, William & Edward Thomas.

I do not have any information about Edward John’s education or early years, so any information to help tell his story would be gratefully received.

However, by the 1939 National Register, which was taken on the 29th September 1939, we have more of an idea of his life. This source gives us the dates of birth of each person.   The family were still living at 1 Bridge House, Nant, Pentre Halkyn, Holywell R.D., Flintshire.

Robert Thomas’s date of birth was the 3rd December 1882 and he was still working for the County Council as a Workman.    Annie Thomas’s date of birth was the 17th February 1884 and as most married women who did not have a job, was described as doing “Unpaid Domestic Duties.”   Edward J. Thomas’s date of birth was the 20th February 1919, which confirms the date given above, was a Steelworks Labourer.    Myfanwy Thomas’s* date of birth was the 12th December 1927 and she was “At School.”

*I believe that Myfanwy THOMAS married John E. JONES in 1955 (Holywell Vol. 8a Page 1220)

So we know that Edward John Thomas was not in the Navy before the war, but the newspaper cutting  – Flintshire County Herald dated the 19th December 1941, tells us that he had been in the Royal Navy for 2 years, so must have enlisted after the 29th September 1939.   He was to find himself on H.M.S. Repulse as part of the 1,180 crew and to become a huge part of Military history in such a sad way. – From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sinking of Prince of Wales and Repulse – Part of the Pacific War of World War II

The sinking of Prince of Wales and Repulse was a naval engagement in World War II, as part of the war in the Pacific, that took place on 10 December 1941 in the South China Sea off the east coast of the British colonies of Malaya (present-day Malaysia) and the Straits Settlements (present-day Singapore and its coastal towns), 70 miles (61 nautical miles; 110 kilometres) east of Kuantan, Pahang. The Royal Navy battleship HMS Prince of Wales and battlecruiser HMS Repulse were sunk by land-based bombers and torpedo bombers of the Imperial Japanese Navy. In Japan, the engagement was referred to as the Naval Battle of Malaya (マレー沖海戦, Marē-oki kaisen).

The objective of Force Z, which consisted of one battleship, one battlecruiser and four destroyers, was to intercept the Japanese invasion fleet in the South China Sea north of Malaya. The task force sailed without air support. Although the British had a close encounter with Japanese heavy surface units, the force failed to find and destroy the main convoy. On their return to Singapore they were attacked in open waters and sunk by long-range torpedo bombers. The commander of Force Z, Admiral Sir Tom Phillips, elected to maintain radio silence and an alert was not sent (by the Repulse) until one hour after the first Japanese attack.

With the attack on Pearl Harbor only three days earlier, the Malayan engagement illustrated the effectiveness of aerial attacks against even the heaviest of naval assets if they were without air cover. This added to the importance for the Allies of the three United States Navy aircraft carriers in the Pacific: USS Enterprise, Lexington, and Saratoga.[N 1] The sinking of the two ships severely weakened the British Eastern Fleet in Singapore, and the Japanese fleet was engaged only by submarines until the Battle off Endau on 27 January 1942. Singapore itself would fall to the Japanese just a month later on 15 February, leading to the largest surrender in British history.

HMS Repulse (1916) – From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

HMS Repulse was one of two Renown-class battlecruisers built for the Royal Navy during the First World War. Originally laid down as an improved version of the Revenge-class battleship, her construction was suspended on the outbreak of war because she would not be ready in time. Admiral Lord Fisher, upon becoming First Sea Lord, gained approval for her to resume construction as a battlecruiser that could be built and enter service quickly. The Director of Naval Construction (DNC), Eustace Tennyson-d’Eyncourt, quickly produced an entirely new design to meet Admiral Lord Fisher’s requirements and the builders agreed to deliver the ship in 15 months. They did not quite meet that ambitious goal, but the ship was delivered a few months after the Battle of Jutland in 1916. Repulse and her sister ship Renown, were the world’s fastest capital ships upon completion.

Repulse participated in the Second Battle of Heligoland Bight in 1917, the only combat she saw during the war. She was reconstructed twice between the wars; a reconstruction in the 1920s increased her armour protection and made lesser improvements, while another in the 1930s was much more thorough. Repulse accompanied the battlecruiser Hood during the Cruise of the Special Service Squadron on a round-the-world cruise in 1923 to 1924 and protected international shipping during the Spanish Civil War in 1936 to 1939.

The ship spent the first months of the Second World War hunting for German raiders and blockade runners. She participated in the Norwegian Campaign of April to June 1940 and searched for the German battleship Bismarck in 1941. Repulse escorted a troop convoy around the Cape of Good Hope from August to October 1941 and was transferred to the East Indies Command. She was assigned in November to Force Z which was supposed to deter Japanese aggression against British possessions in the Far East. Repulse and her consort, the battleship Prince of Wales, were sunk by Japanese aircraft on 10 December 1941 when they attempted to intercept landings in British Malaya.

Z Special Unit – From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Z Special Unit (/zɛd/) was a joint Allied special forces unit formed during the Second World War to operate behind Japanese lines in South East Asia. Predominantly Australian, Z Special Unit was a specialist reconnaissance and sabotage unit that included British, Dutch, New Zealand, Timorese and Indonesian members, predominantly operating on Borneo and the islands of the former Dutch East Indies.[1]

The unit carried out a total of 81 covert operations in the South West Pacific theatre, with parties inserted by parachute or submarine to provide intelligence and conduct guerrilla warfare.[2] The best known of these missions were Operation Jaywick and Operation Rimau, both of which involved raids on Japanese shipping in Singapore Harbour; the latter of which resulted in the deaths of 23 commandos either in action or by execution after capture.[1]

Although the unit was disbanded after the war, many of the training techniques and operational procedures employed were later used during the formation of other Australian Army special forces units and they remain a model for guerrilla operations to this day.[3],the%20former%20Netherlands%20East%20Indies.


Z Special Unit was a joint Allied special forces unit formed during the Second World War to operate behind Japanese lines in South East Asia. Predominantly Australian, Z Special Unit was a specialist reconnaissance and sabotage unit that included British, Dutch, New Zealand, Timorese and Indonesian members, predominantly operating on Borneo and the islands of the former Netherlands East Indies.

We would particularly like to encourage individual historians researchers or members of unit associations to contribute to the development of a more detailed history and photographs pertaining to this unit and its members.

Please contact ( details on how to contribute.

Also read – Repulse

As you can see it was an historic and devastating event 3 days after Pearl Harbour and the Japanese were able to declare it another victory.  Edward John was one of the 513 men who were killed on the Repulse at 12.33 hours and then 327 men were killed on H.M.S. Prince of Wales at 13.18 hours.

I believe that Edward John’s father Robert Thomas died in the December quarter of 1943 and his mother Annie Thomas died in 1972 as her Probate confirms:-

THOMAS, Annie of 1 BRIDGE House, Holywell, Flintshire died 23 January 1972.    Probate Sheffield 13 March.

I do not know for certain when the War Memorial at Halkyn was built or unveiled, but there was a Memorial Service which was held on Sunday the 30th December 1945, this was recorded in the Flintshire County Herald on the 4th January Edition 1946.   On that day the 5 Servicemen who gave their lives from the Village were remembered, but there was a clerical error, I believe, of the name in the newspaper of James Marcus Parry, this should have read James Marcus D’Arcy.

So we know that Robert Thomas was not alive to attend the service, so would have been hard for Annie to bear that alone.  However Edward John’s family made sure he would be remembered as they put his name forward to be added to the Halkyn WW2 War Memorial.





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