Abel Austin Roberts was born in the Holywell Registration District in the December quarter of 1923 (Holywell Vol. 11b Page 319). He was the son of Thomas Samuel & Cordelia Roberts (nee PEERS), who were married in a Civil Ceremony in the Holywell Registration District in 1919. (Holywell Vol. 11b Page 283).
Thomas Samuel Roberts had been born in Northop Hall, and he is seen on the 1911 census living at Woodbine Cottage, Northop Hall (2 rooms), with his parents, Abel & Ellen Roberts. Head of the household Abel Roberts, was 54, a Mining Contractor and had been born in Hawarden, Flintshire. Ellen Roberts,58, tells us that they had been married 16 years and 1 child had been born to them. This was Thomas Samuel, age 11 and at school.
The same 1911 census sees Cordelia Peers, age 13 years, living at South View, Northop Hall (8 rooms) with her parents William & Ann Peers. William,59, was head of the household and he was a Coal Miner (Hewer) who had been born in Hawarden. Ann, 57, had been born in Northop Hall and she tells us that they had been married 41 years and 13 children had been born to the, sadly 1 had died. The rest of the family had also been born in Northop Hall, the eldest on the census was William George, 28, single and Stone Setting Labourer (Builder’s Labourer). Rowden, 24 and single was a Blacksmith (Underground at Colliery). Osborne, 20 and single was a Collier Labourer below Ground. Leonard,16, was a Colliery Labourer above Ground. Daughters’ Violet, 25 and Cordelia, 13 made up the family.
So the first time we see Abel in any documents is on the Hawarden Grammar School Admissions Register E/GS/1/10 : –
1805/2636 ROBERTS, Abel Austin, Date of birth 4th December 1923, Westcote, Northop Hall, father – Clerk, date of entry – 17th September 1935, Northop Hall Cl., £7, date of leaving 26th October 1938 – Transferred to Preston Grammar School.
It seems that the family moved to Preston in the October of 1938 and they are seen again on the 1939 National Register (Taken on the 29th September 1939) where they are living at 14 Belmont Avenue , Preston C.B., Lancashire. This source gives us dates of birth, Thomas Samuel was born on the 3rd August 1899 and was a Cost Accountant, his wife Cordelia had been born on the 31st August 1897 and as most women on this register, who did not have a job, were described as doing “Unpaid Domestic Duties.” Abel A.Roberts was born on the 4th December 1923 and was “At School.” There were 2 Closed or redacted Records, who may have been Abel’s siblings, but they could not be disclosed because of the 70 or 100 year rule. Any help with his family would be gratefully received.
So he was age 16 when War was declared, and I don’t know anything about his youth or teenage years, but he would have been in the age range of conscription in 2 years, at 18 years old –
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.
Perhaps that was when he did join the Services, but found himself in the 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry, Royal Armoured Corps. Then there was the Normandy Landings of the 6th June 1944, but the 1st Northampton Yeomanry, Royal Armoured Corps were part of the 33rd Armoured Brigade, and Abel landed on Gold Beach on the 12th June with them, (see below) The History information of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission tells us: –
The Allied offensive in north-western Europe began with the Normandy landings of 6 June 1944. Most of the burials in Hottot-les-Bagues War Cemetery were brought in from the surrounding district, where there was much heavy fighting through June and July 1944 as Commonwealth forces tried to press on from Bayeux in an encircling movement to the south of Caen.
Also – Taken from:-
World War II – 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry.
Sherman of 33 Armoured Operation Charnwood (Photo below)
Crew from the Northamptonshire Yeomanry Eating rations during Operation Totalize (Photo below)
During World War II, 1st Northants Yeo (TA) initially remained in the United Kingdom and from 1941 – 1942 was part of the Coats Mission, the plan to evacuate the Royal Family in the event of a German invasion.
In 1944, now as a part of the 33rd Armoured Brigade, the unit participated in the Invasion of Normandy, landing on Gold Beach in Normandy on 12 June. The brigade also included the 1st East Riding of Yorkshire Yeomanry and the 144 Regiment RAC. The Brigade’s role was to support any infantry who were in need of armour support, therefore it rarely fought as one entity. One of the occasions when the Brigade did undertake an operation on its own was at Le Mesnil-Patry, Rots on 11 June 1944. Further battles they were involved in were around Caen, including Operation Charnwood on 7 July, the battle to capture Caen. On 16 July 1944, it was involved in Operation Pomegranate, where it come under the command of the 59th (Staffordshire) Infantry Division.
On 8 August 1944, it was involved in Operation Totalize, a planned breakout from the Caen Salient. It was during Operation Totalize that Joe Ekins, a Sherman Tank gunner of the Northamptonshire Yeomanry, gained recognition for killing the renowned German tank commander, Michael Wittmann, the 4th top scoring tank ace in history, near St. Aignan de Cramesnil, France. The regiment was briefly attached to the 51st (Highland) Division for the actions around the Battle of the Bulge The Regiment was reformed and re-equipped with LVT 4 Buffalo amphibious armoured fighting vehicles for the Rhine crossing and was placed under the command of the 79th Armoured Division.
Naval & Military Press. – https://www.naval-military-press.com/product/1st-and-2nd-northamptonshire-yeomanry-1939-1946/ – 1st AND 2nd NORTHAMPTONSHIRE YEOMANRY 1939-1946 – Book.
Casualty List (Page 30) tells us that Abel was Missing believed Killed on the 27th June 1944.
Casualty List (Page 14) tells us that Abel was previously reported Missing, believed Killed, now reported Killed in Action on the 27th June 1944.
Abel Austin Roberts was probably buried the day he died, as the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Graves Concentration Report Form tells us that he was first buried at Onchy (Place and Map Ref. 1/500000 7F/1 794.665), then on the 22nd February 1945, he was reburied at Hottot-Les-Bagues War Cemetery. (see below).
Although Abel Austin Roberts had left the school in 1938, they remembered him and his name is on the Roll of Honour. The Roll of Honour 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. I hope that his parents were there to see it.
*Author’s note, there are 46 names on the Roll of Honour, clerical error by the newspaper.
He will be remembered for Perpetuity for his sacrifice to make sure we had our freedom.