Thomas William Cliff was born in 1895.
He was recorded living with his family at Marsh Row, Mostyn in the census of 1901. Head of the household was John Cliff 44 a Furnaceman who hailed originally from Staffordshire. His wife Catherine was 40 and she had been born in Llanasa. Their listed children had all been born in Mostyn. Joseph Edward was 17 and a Labourer. Rachael 15 was a Dressmaker. James was 12, Thomas 6, Mary S 4 and Catherine 9 months.
The next census of 1911 finds the family in the same place – 23 Marsh Row Mostyn. John Cliff was 52 and his occupation was listed as Furnace Keeper, Blast Furnace, Ironworks. Catherine his wife of 30 years was 52. She had given birth to 9 children but two had not survived. Listed in the household were Rachael Lloyd Griffiths their 25 year old married daughter. James Cliff was 22 and Thomas Cliff 16 were both Labourers at The Blast Furnace. Mary was 13, Kate 11 and Doris Lloyd Griffiths granddaughter was 7 months old.
UK Soldiers who Died in The Great War 1914 -19 accessible on www.ancestry.co.uk confirms the regimental details above and says that he enlisted in Mostyn. This source tells us he was killed in action in Egypt. His medal index card also on ‘Ancestry’ details his medals and adds that his first theatre of war was The Balkans which he entered on the 8th August 1915. (Gallipoli). The medal card also includes his previous regimental number 978
Thomas Cliff’s Army Service Records have survived and are accessible on www.ancestry.co.uk. The records tell us that he enlisted into the Territorial Force (Royal Welsh Fusiliers) of the County of Flint in March 1912. He attested and signed up for 4 years. He was 17 years and 4 months old and lived at 23 Marsh Row Mostyn. His occupation was Labourer at Mostyn Ironworks. The Recruiting Officer sought a reference from Mr WP Storey an Ironmaster of Mostyn who confirmed that Thomas had worked for him for 2 years and was still working for him. He testified that he had known him for several years and that Thomas was a sober, honest and good character.
Thomas was medically inspected at the time of enlistment and the report says he was 5 feet 7 3/4 inches tall. His chest measured 35 inches with a 2 inch range of expansion. His vision was ‘good’, his physical development was ‘good’ and he was declared to be fit for the Territorial Force. The number he was given was 978. His father John Cliff was named as next of Kin. He signed an agreement with the army that he would subject himself to serving overseas should a national emergency occur.After enlistment 1912 as a reservist he attended Training Camps. There was one in Caernarfon in 1912 and another in Rhyl in 1913.
He was embodied into the regular army on 5th August 1914. On that date 5th August 1914 he was appointed Lance Corporal (paid) but on the 9th November that year he reverted to Private at his own request.
There is a Military History sheet in his records that tells us that he served
‘At Home’ (in the UK) until the 13th July 1915.
He was in the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force from 14th July 1915 until 15th September 1915.
He was then ‘At Home’ between 19th September 1915 until 20th January 1916.
Finally he served in the Egyptian Expeditionary Force from 21st January 1916 until his death on the 26th March 1917.
The records show that on the 14th July 1915 he had sailed from Devonport on the ‘Caledonia’ bound for Gallipoli. On the 30th August 1915 he was admitted to ‘hospital’ by ambulance. Was this the wounding incident reported in the local newspaper?
We know from the newspaper report, that Thomas was wounded in Gallipoli. The Flintshire Observer on 30th September 1915 wrote ..
Wounded Private TW Cliff Mostyn
Private T.W. Cliff son of Mr and Mrs John Cliff 23 Marsh Row Mostyn, has been wounded. He has now reached England and is at the 1st Southern General Hospital Edgebaston. Private Cliff was formerly employed at the Darwen and Mostyn Ironworks.
On the 5th October 1916 he was posted (temporarily? ) to the 3rd Bttn of The South Wales Borderers.
After his death there was correspondence between the army and Catherine Cliff, Thomas’s mother. These exchanges were concerned with the receipt of his medals, a commemorative scroll and plaque and the return of his personal effects. The list of his property included photos, cards, hankerchief, hairbrush, letters and 2 devotional books.
The Army calculated that Thomas was owed £15 when he died. This sum was paid to his mother Catherine.
There is an index card for Thomas in The Flintshire Roll of Honour at The County Record Office in Hawarden. It confirms all the regimental details above and says he served 5 years and that he was killed in The Battle of Gaza. The card was signed by his mother Catherine Cliff on the 2nd October 1919.