Thomas Edwards was born in the June quarter of 1922, (Flintshire (Mold) HAW/29A/45), the only son of William Henry & Sarah Ellen Edwards (nee Davies), who married in the September quarter of 1914 in a Civil Marriage at Hawarden (Flintshire (Mold) HAW/04/98).
William Henry is seen on the 1901 census living with his parents at High Street, Hope, (4 rooms). His father, Thomas Edwards, 45, was a Coal Miner (Hewer) and his mother, Mary, 47, were both born in Kinnerton, Flintshire. Their children were William Henry, 9, and sister Emily ,3, both born in Caergwrle, Flintshire.
William Henry on the 1911 census tells us that he is still living with his parents, Thomas, 55 and Mary, 57, and they tell us that they had been married for 36 years and 9 children had been born, but sadly 5 had died. William Henry, 19 and single was a Plate layer and Emily was 13 years old.
I found William Henry’s WW1 Attestation Papers, (if anyone would like them please get in touch with the website.) This source give the place and time of their marriage, which was at the Zion Chapel, Penyffordd on the 26th September 1914. This also tells us that there was a son, Harry Edwards, born on the 16th November 1914 at Penyffordd. I believe that this is William Henry & Sarah Ellen’s first son, and as Thomas was referred to as their only son on the newspaper cutting, I believe that young Harry died in the June quarter of 1920 age 5 years, so the death of Thomas was particularly hard to bear.
The marriage, although it was a Chapel ceremony, the Superintendent had to attend, so was therefore classed as a Civil marriage. William Henry was demobbed on the 8th March 1919 after serving for 6 months in France from the 17th January 1917 to the 5th July 1917 and also in Salonika from Christmas Day 1917 to the 18th January 1919. He also suffered Dysentry and Malaria.
On the 1901 census Sarah Ellen was living with her family in Penymynydd, Hope. Her father Thomas J. Davies, 40 and a Joiner (Carp.) had been born in Hope, her mother Mary E. was 38 and born in Bagillt, Flintshire. Their children, Elizabeth, 10, Sarah E., 8, George H., 4, Annie, 2, and Beatrice H. 10 months had all been born in Hope.
In 1911 I believe that Sarah Ellen was living, possibly near or at the Broughton Orphanage, as she was living with the family of the Assistant Clerk of the Board of Guardians,- Arnold Kemon Wroe and his wife Clara, both born in Bury, Lancashire and their daughter Clarice Eileen, age 4, who had been born in Hawarden. The address was just “Broughton,” Hawarden.
Sarah Ellen’s family on the 1911 census was living at 8, Cambrian Terrace, Hope Station, Nr. Chester. (4 Rooms). Her father Thomas John Davies, 51, was head of the household and also an Insurance Agent (Insurance Company), born Hope. His wife Mary Ellen, 49 and born in Holywell on this census tells us that they had been married for 28 years and 13 children had been born, but sadly 2 had died.
Their children living at home on census night were Thomas, 25, single and a Grocer’s Assistant (Co-operative Stores), Louise, 23 and single, George Hughes Davies, 14, was a Gardener’s Assistant, Annie Catherine, 12, Beatrice Handel, 10,Bessy, 7, Muriel, 5 were at school, while baby John Harold was 1 year old. All had been born in Hope.
I have no information on Thomas from his childhood or teens to when he enlisted, so any help would be appreciated. However, there is a little in the newspaper cutting from the Chester Chronicle dated the 26th June 1943, where it is stated that Thomas was educated at the local Council School, and before joining the R.A.S.C. was employed by the late Mr. F. Whitttingham as a driver.
Also from the newspaper article, Thomas was William Henry & Sarah Ellen’s only son, they are seen on the 1939 National Register living at 2 Ingledene Vownog Park, Penyffordd, Hawarden, Flintshire. This source gives us the dates of birth, William H. was born on the 10th June 1891 and he was an Iron Foundry Labourer, Sarah E. had been born on the 22nd September 1893 and was described, as many married women were on this register, if they did not have a job, as doing “Unpaid Domestic Duties.” Also in the household was Cecil Platt, born on the 29th February 1928 and was still at school. There was an redacted or closed record, I don’t know who that was.
Thomas may have been conscripted as he was 17 in 1939, he would have been required to enlist or be conscripted the following year.
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.
History Information from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission:-
During the North African campaign, Tripoli was an important Axis base until taken by Montgomery’s forces on 23 January 1943. It then became a hospital centre, and the burials in the war cemetery were almost entirely from the hospitals, which included Nos 2, 48 and 133 General Hospitals from March 1943, and No 89 General Hospital from April 1944. Tripoli War Cemetery contains 1,369 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War, 133 of them unidentified. There are 19 non Commonwealth burials and 7 non world war service burials here.
As Thomas Edwards died in an accident (so the newspaper tells us) he should be on a Casualty List, but I cannot find one for him, so you can apply for his service records here:-
According to the website – Scarlet Finders – http://www.scarletfinders.co.uk/112.html : –
2 British General Hospital – Dieppe 17/9/39 to 17/10/39 then to Offranville; Offranville 17/10/39 to 5/40 then to Le Mans; Le Mans 5/40 to 5/40 then to La Baule; La Baule 7/5/40 to 7/5/40 then to Redon; Redon 5/40 to 18/6/40 then to UK Leeds; Leeds 18/6/40 to 11/1/41 then overseas; El Tahag Camp (Egypt) 3/41 to 12/41 then to Quassassin; Quassassin 12/41 to 9/3/43 then to Tripoli; Tripoli 9/3/43 to 5/12/43 then to Caserta; Caserta 5/12/43 to 1/9/45 then disbanded.
48 British General Hospital – Leeds 10/41 to 5/42 then overseas; Quassassin (Egypt) 7/42 to 8/42; Gebeit (Sudan) 8/42 to 1/43 then to Quassassin; Quassassin 1/43 to 2/43 then to Alexandria; Alexandria 2/43 to 3/43 and then on to Tripoli; Tripoli 3/43 to 6/44 then to Cancello; Cancello 6/44 to 7/44 then to Rome; Rome 7/44 to 8/45; Graz 8/45 to 9/46.
133 British General Hospital – Cairo (Helmiah) 8/41 to 11/41 ; Bardia, North Africa 2/42 to 3/42 and then to Sidi Barrani; Sidi Barrani 3/42 to 5/42 then to Capuzzo; Capuzzo 5/42 to 7/42 then to Sidi Bishr; Alexandria (Sidi Bishr) 7/42 to 8/42; Dinshall Damanton Delta 8/42 to 10/42; Alexandria 10/42 to 12/42 and then to Tolmbat; Benghasi 12/42 to 2/43 and then to Tripoli; Tripoli 2/43 to 4/43 then to Ben Gardare; Ben Gardare (Tunisia) 4/43 to 5/43 and then to Sousse; Sousse 5/43 to 6/43 then to Moascar; Moascar 6/43 to 11/43 then to Taranto; Taranto 11/43 to 1/44 then to Turi; Turi (nr. Bari) 1/44 to 6/44 then to Andria; Andria 6/44 to 9/44 then to Gravina; Gravina 9/44 to 10/44 then to Barletta; Barletta 10/44 to 12/44 then to Brindisi; Brindisi 12/44 to 7/45 then to U.K.; Crookham 8/45 to 2/5/46 then disbanded.
So looking at those Hospitals, 133 British General Hospital would not be one of the hospitals that Thomas would have gone in as they were out of Tripoli by April 1943.
British Army during the Second World War
Excerpt from the above:- Infantry division
During the war, the British Army raised 43 infantry divisions. Not all of these existed at the same time, and several were formed purely as training or administrative formations. Eight regular army divisions existed at the start of the war or were formed immediately afterwards from garrisons in the Middle East. The Territorial Army had 12 “first line” divisions (which had existed, generally, since the raising of the Territorial Force in the early 1900s), and raised a further 12 “second line” divisions from small cadres. Five other infantry divisions were created during the war, either converted from static “county” divisions or specially raised for Operation Torch or the Burma Campaign.
Infantry Division Structure.
The 1939 infantry division had a theoretical establishment of 13,863 men. By 1944, the strength had risen to 18,347 men. This increase in manpower resulted mainly from the increased establishment of a division’s subunits and formations; except for certain specialist supporting services, the overall structure remained substantially the same throughout the war. A 1944 division typically was made up of three infantry brigades; a Medium Machine Gun (MMG) battalion (with 36 Vickers machine guns, in three companies, and one company of 16 4.2-inch mortars); a reconnaissance regiment; a divisional artillery group, which consisted of three motorised field artillery regiments each with twenty-four 25-pounder guns, an anti-tank regiment with forty-eight anti-tank guns and a light anti-aircraft regiment with fifty-four Bofors 40 mm guns; three field companies and one field park company of the Royal Engineers; three transport companies of the Royal Army Service Corps; an ordnance field park company of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps; three field ambulances of the Royal Army Medical Corps, a signals unit of the Royal Corps of Signals; and a provost company of the Royal Military Police. During the war, the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers was formed to take over the responsibility of recovering and repairing vehicles and other equipment. A division generally had three workshop companies, and a recovery company from the REME.
Royal Army Service Corps
The Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) was the unit responsible for keeping the British Army supplied with provisions. The exceptions were weaponry and ammunition, which were supplied by the Royal Army Ordnance Corps.
https://www.forces-war-records.co.uk/units/4495/royal-army-service-corps – Unit History: Royal Army Service Corps
Chester Chronicle 26th June 1943 – PENYFFORDD
Death Follows Accident.
Mr. & Mrs. W.H. EDWARDS, 2, Vounog Park have received news that their only son, Driver T. EDWARDS (21) was seriously injured in an accident in Tunisia and has since died in hospital. Tommy was educated at the Council school and before joining the R.A.S.C. was employed by the late Mr. F. WHITTINGHAM as a Driver.
It seems that William Henry was alive to suffer the death of his only son, as I believe he died in the December quarter of 1958.(Hawarden Vol. 8a Page 474).
There is a possible death of Sarah Ellen Edwards in 1968, (Hawarden Vol. 8a Page 596). The certificate would have to be purchased to confirm or deny. Sarah Ellen too would have suffered her son’s death.
Tommy was well loved and Tommy’s family made sure his name was put forward to be added to the Penymynydd & Penyffordd WW2 War Memorial so he would be remembered for perpetuity.