Edwards, Robert John

His medal sheet indicates that he was part of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force in 1916 and that he would have received the British War Medal and the Victory medal recognising his service. He lived with his mother and father at Garneddwen cottage, Lixwm, Flintshire. The cottage still stands today and is located on the outskirts of the village.

His father Robert was a long line of the Edwards family who had lived in Ysceifiog which was the location of the parish church and the next village to Lixwm. His mother was Susannah Jones who hailed from Ruthin and she married her husband Robert in September, 1880. The 1911 census data records that Robert and Susannah had had twelve children but that two had died as youngsters but that ten had survived up to that point. Robert senior and his eldest son Thomas who was 29 in 1911 were lead miners and almost certainly worked in the lead mines that stretched from Ysceifiog to Rhosesmor. Two younger sons worked as farm labourers and Robert John and his two younger sisters attended a local school. All are recorded as being able to speak both Welsh and English. Susannah, Robert John’s mother, died in 1917 – the year before her son was killed in action in France.

Robert died on 1st September, 1918, while serving with 2nd battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers as an infantry soldier involved in the Second Battle of The Somme. It is likely that with his unit he fought in the second Battle of Bapaume commencing on 31st August.

The background evidence states that the success of the Allied forces in first halting the German Spring Offensive and then pushing it back at the Battle of Amiens gave the Allied command increasing confidence that they could turn the course of the war in their favour.

With gaps appearing in their line the German Army were forced to retreat back to the old Hindenburg Line, thus abandoning all of the territory won earlier in 1918. In V Corps, 38th (Welsh) Division had continued their advance from the River Ancre.

The area known as Delville Wood was captured on 29th August as the Division moved on through Lesboeufs to the outskirts of Morval. Attacking unsuccessfully on 30th August, the Divisional Artillery put down a heavy bombardment throughout 31st August in preparation for a further attack on 1st September.

The Order of Battle states the 115th Infantry Brigade advanced on Sailly-Sallisel with 2nd Royal Welsh Fusiliers on the left and 17th Royal Welsh Fusiliers on the right. The 2nd Royal Welsh Fusiliers came under heavy enfilade fire from their left and 10th South Wales Borderers in support turned to help them but both battalions suffered badly. The attack of 17th Royal Welsh Fusiliers came to a halt and the 113th Infantry Brigade were sent up in support and the village was successfully captured during the day.

On 2nd September, 115th Infantry Brigade moved through 113th Infantry Brigade to attempt an unsuccessful advance beyond Morval and Sailly-Sallisel. The Germans withdrawing during the night, both 113th Infantry Brigade and 115th Infantry Brigade were able to advance during the early morning of 3rd September to reach a position between Mesnil-en-Arrouaise and St Martin Wood

Robert has no known grave but his memory is commemorated at the Vis-enArtois memorial on the straight main road from Arras to Cambrai about 10 kilometres south-east of Arras. The Memorial bears the names of over 9,000 men who fell in the period from 8 August 1918 to the date of the Armistice in the Advance to Victory in Picardy and Artois, between the Somme and Loos, and who have no known grave. They belonged to the forces of Great Britain and Ireland and South Africa.

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