Ralph Messham was born on the 15th January 1919 according to the Hawarden Grammar School Admissions Register. He was the son of Walter & Esther Messham (nee Bellis) who married at St. Mathew’s Church, Buckley on the 12th August 1916: –
Walter MESSHAM, 26 Bachelor, Labourer, 37, Fair Vew, Drury, Ralph MESSHAM, Carrier & Esther BELLIS, 22, Spinster, Post Office, Drury, William BELLIS, Collier (deceased). (After Banns). Witnesses:- Jonathan MESSHAM & Emma IBALL.
Walter Messham was briefly in the Great War for a couple of months.
and also for a few years, called up in 1917 :-
Walter is seen on the 1911 census living at Fair View, Drury Lane, Buckley, Flintshire, in 5 rooms. Head of the household was Ralph Messham, 51 a Carrier on his own account, all the family was born in Hawarden Parish, Flintshire. Mary Messham, 47, tells that 14 children had been born, all still living and they had been married 29 years. Thie children were Margaret H., 17, Albert, 25, Filling in Coal Mine, Walter, 21, Waggoning in Coal Mine, Arthur, 19, Filling in coal Mine, Wm. Edw. 15, a Labourer in Brick Yard, Ralph, 13 a Labourer at Colliery, Jonathan, 12, Fred, 10, Herbert,8 and Robert, 6 were at School.
I do not know anything about Ralph’s early & Teenage years, so any information would be gratefully received. Except of course for the Hawarden Grammar School years:-
Hawarden Grammar School Admissions Register E/GS/1/10
1291/2032 MESSHAM, Ralph date of birth – 15th January 1919, 28, Burntwood, Buckley, Father – Labourer, Date of entry – 18th September 1930,, St. Mathew’s Buckley, School. £6, date of leaving 27th July 1934.
Ralph is not seen on the 1939 National Register (Taken on the 29th September 1939) with the family living at Drury Hillside , Buckley, Flintshire, Wales. This source gives us the dates of birth, Walter Messham was born on the 23rd December 1889, he was a Pipe Setter, Heavy Worker, Earthenware. His wife Esther (Ann) Messham was born on the 5th November 1893 and as most women who did not have a job, are described on this as doing “Unpaid House Duties.” Robert N. Messham was born on the 23rd November 1925 and was “At School.” There are 2 redacted or Closed records, so I do not have any knowledge of who these people are, but are probably children.
So Ralph must have enlisted, or conscripted as young men over 18 were obliged to do so. Although he became a Lieutenant, so may have been in the Army earlier: –
https://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/transformingsociety/private-lives/yourcountry/overview/conscriptionww2/#:~:text=On%20the%20day%20Britain%20declared,had%20to%20register%20for%20service. – Your Country needs you. – On the day Britain declared war on Germany, 3 September 1939, Parliament immediately passed a more wide-reaching measure. The National Service (Armed Forces) Act imposed conscription on all males aged between 18 and 41 who had to register for service.
He found himself in the 75 Anti-Tank Regt. Royal Artillery, please read these websites, they hopefully will shine some light on what Ralph went through.
http://nigelef.tripod.com/anti-tank.htm – BRITISH ARTILLERY IN WORLD WAR 2 – ANTI-TANK ARTILLERY – A description of the anti-tank artillery tactics and gunnery used by the Royal Artillery and the artilleries of British Commonwealth armies. – Updated 14 June 2014
ANTI-TANK REGIMENTS – http://nigelef.tripod.com/regtsumm.htm#atkregt
Regiment – 75 ATk Regt Type – WF Origin/Change – F 11/40 Where – When – With —UK 1941-4 – 11 Armd Div NW Europe 1944-45- 11 Armd Div. Disposal – Disb 1/46.
List of British Army Yeomanry Regiments converted to Royal Artillery
https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205126268 -THE BRITISH ARMY IN NORTH-WEST EUROPE 1944-1945
Casualty List 1 (Page 3) tells us that Ralph had been Wounded on the 4th March 1945.
Casualty List 2 (Page 3) tells us that Ralph was previously reported Wounded 4th March 1945, now reported Died of Wounds.
Excerpt from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website regarding the graveyard where Ralph is buried:-
Allied forces entered the Netherlands on 12 September 1944. Airborne operations later that month established a bridgehead at Nijmegen and in the following months, coastal areas and ports were cleared and secured, but it was not until the German initiated offensive in the Ardennes had been repulsed that the drive into Germany could begin. Most of those buried in GROESBEEK CANADIAN WAR CEMETERY were Canadians, many of whom died in the Battle of the Rhineland, when the 2nd and 3rd Canadian Infantry Divisions and the 4th Canadian Armoured Division took part in the drive southwards from Nijmegen to clear the territory between the Maas and the Rhine in February and March 1945.
Ralph was first buried, probably close to where he died, and on the day he died, at Bedburg, (Map reference 931528 Sh) according to the CWGC Graves Concentration Report Form, this source also states he was Killed in Action. However there is another copy of the Concentration Report Form and this has an alteration on, stating that Ralph Died of Wounds. (Amendments notified to Unit 31st January 1946), then he was with many others, reburied on the 4th September 1945 at Nijmegen Canadian Cemetery, Holland, which is now named Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery, Nijmegen.
I believe that this is Walter’s death, although there is a year’s difference in the date of birth to the 1939 National Register: – September quarter of 1974 – Walter Messham, D.o.B – 23rd December 1888 – (ALYN/D SIDE Vol. 24 Page 8). I also believe that Esther Ann MESSHAM died 6 years before Walter, in the December quarter of 1968, age 75 years (HAWARDEN Vol. 8A Page 487).
However they would have been able to see his name on the Roll of Honour which was dedicated at Hawarden Grammar School on the 3rd February 1951 with a Remembrance Service for the 47* former pupils who died in the 1939 – 1945 World War. As recorded in the Chester Chronicle Saturday 10th February 1951.
*Author’s note, there are 46 names on the Roll of Honour, clerical error by the newspaper.
Ralph was loved and missed by his family and remembered on the Hawarden Grammar School Roll of Honour to be remembered for his sacrifice for our freedom.