Hughes, David Leonard

David Leonard Hughes was born in the June quarter of 1925, and was registered as Leonard David Hughes. (Flintshire (Mold) HAW/33A/39).    He was the son of Harold & Frances Hughes (nee Griffiths).

David Leonard’s father, Harold had been in the Royal Navy and had invalided out the year before, in 1921.   This document tells us that he had been born in Hawarden, Flintshire on the 21st February 1896 and he had been a “Holder in Shipyard” and he had “Fancy Tattooing R. F’arm Marked????.”   His Hair was Fair and eyes – Blue, with a Fair Complexion.   It seems that he was a Boy Recruit from the 12th July 1912 on the “Impregnable” and his last service date was the 4th May 1921 on the “Vivid l,” when he was invalided out of the Royal Navy.     He served in the War as he was paid a War Gratuity.   His Service Record is below.

In 1911 Harold Hughes was living at William’s Terrace, Pentre, Nr. Hawarden, Chester in 4 rooms.   Head of the household was John, 67 and Engineers Fitter (Shipyard) and had been born in Sandycroft, Flintshire.   His wife Margaret, 61 had been born in Pentre, Hawarden, and she tells us that they had been married for 40 years and 10 children had been born to them, but sadly one had died.   Their children were, Thomas John, 34, Single, he had been born in Summerhill, Denbighshire, Jesse, 32, Arthur, 25 were single and had been born in Pentre as had his two younger siblings.  They were Labourers in the Shipyard.   Harold, 15, was single and a Labourer, with Ethel, 19 and single.

The 1911 census shows Frances Griffiths living at 6, King Edward Street, Shotton, Flintshire, all the family were Bilingual.   Head of the household was Hugh Griffiths, 53, a Shipwright, born in Anglesea, his wife, Elizabeth, 51 had been born at Llanwitford.   She tells us that they had been married 28 years and 5 children had been born, all still living.   Their children were Hugh, 24, single and an Ironworker, Mary Ann, 22 and single, Dorothy Jane, 15 and Frances10 had all been born in Shotton, Flintshire.

The following year, 1912, on the 12th of July, Harold had joined the Royal Navy, on the ‘Impregnable’and his last service date was the 4th of May 1921 on the ‘Vivid 1.’   His service number was J18953.

So, when the 1921 census was taken on the 19th of June 1921, he was back home with his family, living at Williams Terrace, Saltney Road, Queensferry (the same house as before, but the address had changed, as they do now and again).    Head of the household was John Hughes now 78 years and 11 months old, he had no occupation, but was ‘At Home.’   Margaret Hughes was now 73 years and 2 months old; she too had no occupation.    Their sons were John Hughes*, 45 years and 3 months old, he was a Fireman on S.S. Taliasion (sic), belonging to Thomas Coppack, Ship Brokers, Connah’s Quay.  Arthur Hughes, 35 years, and 2 months old, a Fitter for Crichton & Co., Connah’s Quay, but was ‘Out of Work.’   Harold Hughes was 25 years and 4 months old; he was a Labourer but he wrote ‘Royal Navy, Out of Work.’

*John (Jnr.) would have known Elsie Elizabeth Pickering (nee  Coppack), who was the daughter of Tom Coppack and who was lost at sea on the S.S. Ceramic in 1942, please click on the link to read her story, 5 people from Connah’s Quay & Shotton and one from Buckley were to be lost on the same ship.

Harold & Frances had married in St. Deniol’s Church, Hawarden on the 21st of  October 1922.   Harold HUGHES, (No age given), Bachelor, Labourer, Pentre, Hawarden, John HUGHES, Engineer & Frances GRIFFITHS, (No age given),Spinster, Shotton,  Hugh GRIFFITHS, Shipwright. (After Banns)

Witnesses:- Alfred Jesse HUGHES & Jane WHITWORTH.

The 1939 National Register, which was taken on the 29th of September 1939, reveals that the family had moved to Walnut Cottage Wilmslow Terrace, Mancot, Hawarden, Flintshire and this source gives us the dates of birth of each person in the household.   Harold Hughes had been born on the 21st of February 1896 and he was a General Labourer, his wife Frances had been born on the 6th of July 1900* and as most women were described, if they didn’t have a job, was doing “Unpaid Domestic Duties.”   Hugh Hughes had been born on the 25th of February 1934 and was at school.   There was one redacted or closed record**, but I don’t think this would have been David Leonard as he was born in 1925, older than his brother Harold.

*On her school Admission Registers (Connah’s Quay), her birthday is the 29th of February 1900. (6, Hotel Street, Shotton.)

+On her School Admission Register (Shotton), her birthday is the 6th of July 1901 (6, King Edward Street, Shotton)

**For individual people, records remain closed for a century after their birth (the 100-year rule), unless it can be proven that they passed away before this milestone.

I do not know about David Leonard’s early life or teen years, so if anyone can cast any light onto this, it would be gratefully received.

I also do not know when he enlisted, or was conscripted, but he was to be a Private in the 1st Bn. The Tyneside Scottish, Black Watch (Royal Highlanders).    Thus his fate was sealed as he was to be part of the D-Day landings according to the websites below:-

Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) during WW2 –

WW2 Battalions of the Black Watch (Highlanders) :-

1st Battalion:

September 1939 – June 1940: France

June 1942 – December 1942: North Africa

15 Jan 1943 – April 1943: North Africa

May 1943 – October 1943: Sicily

06 Jun 1944 – May 1945: D-Day

Excerpts from the above:-

After its return to the UK the battalion remained there in training for the invasion of France.

9 June 1944: The 1st Battalion sailed from Tilbury to Normandy.

19 June 1944: They came under heavy enemy shell and mortar fire in the (Wood) Bois de Bavent and suffered many casualties.

July 1944: The battalion was engaged at different times and ways in the great push north to help the Americans close the Falaise Gap*.

*Also read

And also this website, where it describes the conditions and events of the fateful day that David Leonard died, sadly his body was never found, so he is remembered on the Bayeaux Memorial:-


1st Tyneside Scottish July 1944 – 1st July 1944 – at Rauray (War Diary)

04:50 hours. A small reconnaissance patrol, consisting of Mr Allan and 3 Other Ranks returned from BRETTEVILLETTE. They reported none of our wounded still in the farm and little enemy interference. Tank noises had been heard.

05:30 hours. C Company reported “hotting up” by Machine-Guns and mortars from QUEDEVILLE (889642).

06:40 hours. C Company reported being attacked by infantry and tanks and five minutes later B Company also reported infantry and tank attacks. The rest of this great day’s action is contained in the attached appendices. These consist of the day’s intelligence log, a trace of the Battalion layout, and a general description of the action (See Appendix B below).

(As many readers will know, the book “Breaking the Panzers” by Kevin Baverstock provides a uniquely detailed account of the events of this crucial period. For a graphic description of this vital action I can do no better than refer the interested reader to that volume. It is certainly not my wish to try and compete with that work and I have therefore confined myself to the material provided within the War Diary and the Appendices already referred to. The manuscript account of the action during 1st July has therefore been reproduced as originally written and added, as was the original, to the end of the month’s War Diary as Appendices.)

(The weekly strength state returns were completed as at 1st July and were attached to the War Diary at Appendix A. Unfortunately the copy of this Appendix currently available to the author is so faint as to be unreadable. Efforts will be made to secure a better copy, so that the effects on the Battalion’s personnel strength of these vital actions can be displayed. The same sadly applies to the other weekly strength returns so the same efforts will be applied in respect of those.)

22:00 hours. Battalion HQ and the remaining two Companies of the 11th DLI moved into our position at Rauray.

Our Battalion HQ, Anti-Tank Platoon and Carrier Platoon moved back to A 2 Echelon at Fontenay-Le-Pesnel. B Company and the platoon of D Company that was on the ring contour 110, came out of their positions at midnight.

Please scroll down to 1st Battalion Tyneside Scottish War Diary July 1944 – Appendix B and Appendix D to the War Diary of the 55th (Suffolk Yeomanry) Anti-Tank Regiment Royal Artillery – July 1944.

Short extract from the later (Appendix D) –

A few minutes pause and then another Tiger repeated the tactics of our first, creeping from behind both burning tanks. One round this time was sufficient to cause brewing* up and my own impression is that the shot entered just above the track.”

*Catastrophic kill  – From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A catastrophic kill, K-Kill or complete kill is damage inflicted on an armored vehicle that amounts to complete destruction of the vehicle, rendering it both permanently non-functional and irreparable.

The term knocked out refers to a vehicle which has been damaged to the point of inoperability and abandoned by its crew, but is not obviously beyond the point of repair. While a knocked-out vehicle may be later determined to be irreparable and written off, a K-kill is more obvious and usually involves the destruction of the vehicle by fire and/or explosion. Among tank crewmen it is also commonly known as a brew up, coined from the British World War II term for lighting a fire in order to brew tea. The expression arose because British troops used an old petrol tin with holes punched in the side as a makeshift stove on which to brew their tea. The flames licking out of the holes in the side of the tin resembled a burning tank and thus the expression was coined.

Typically a catastrophic kill results in the ignition of any fuel the vehicle may be carrying as well as the detonation (cooking off, or sympathetic detonation) of its ammunition. A catastrophic kill does not necessarily preclude the survival of the vehicle’s crew, although most historical casualties in armored warfare were the result of K-kills.

This type of kill is also associated with the jack-in-the-box effect, where a tank’s turret is blown skyward due to the overpressure of an ammunition explosion. Some tank designs employ blow-off panels, channeling such explosions outside of the vehicle, turning an otherwise catastrophic kill into a firepower kill.

Excerpt from  CWGC History Information –The Allied offensive in north-western Europe began with the Normandy landings of 6 June 1944. The BAYEUX MEMORIAL stands opposite the cemetery and bears the names of more than 1,800 men of the Commonwealth land forces who died in the early stages of the campaign and have no known grave. They died during the landings in Normandy, during the intense fighting in Normandy itself, and during the advance to the River Seine in August. There was little actual fighting in Bayeux although it was the first French town of importance to be liberated.

David Leonard Hughes gave his life for our freedom, and his family who loved and missed him made sure he was remembered for his sacrifice by adding his name to the Hawarden WW2 War Memorial, so he would be remembered for perpetuity.

Learn more about the other soldiers on the Hawarden Memorial

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