1915-2015: Abergele & District Commemorations: Frederick William Jones

Private 27433 Frederick William Jones. 2nd Battalion, Welsh Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1st Division. Killed in action, 25 September 1915, Battle of Loos, aged 30. No known grave. Commemorated panel 77 and 78, Loos Memorial, Loos-en-Gohelle, Pas de Calais, France. Not commemorated in the Abergele district.

Born Abergele. Son of the late Frederick and Elizabeth Jones. He married Maud Walsh, of 5, Fortescue St., off Prescot St., Liverpool, and they had young children when he enlisted in Liverpool in February 1915. Given his enlistment date, it is likely that he had been in France for no more than a month when he was killed at Loos. For more details of the day he died click here.

1915-2015: Abergele & District Commemorations: The Battle of Loos claims four more local men

Abergele’s darkest day of the war, 10 August 1915, had seen the deaths of five local men at Suvla Bay, Gallipoli. However, the town and district was blissfully unaware of the scale of the tragedy until late September when the first, often contradictory, reports of men missing, wounded or killed began to filter through. As the community began to brace itself for the worst it was also unaware that the town’s second worst day of the war had just occurred. On 25 September 1915 four local men had fallen at the Battle of Loos: David Williams, John (Jack) Edwards, Daniel Owen Lloyd and Frederick William Jones. Two days later the same battle would claim the life of a fifth local man, John Owen Gilmore.

Over the coming days detailed biographies of the men who fell at Loos will be released on to the site. To assist in making sense of their stories a very brief outline of the battle as it affected the Abergele contingent may prove useful.

The Western Front had long been locked in the stalemate of trench systems. This suited the Germans who were happy to hold on to their territorial gains in a defensive posture whilst they concentrated on defeating Russia in the east. The French were keen to take advantage of this fact and, with significant British support, launch an assault to break the deadlock. The British part in this wider battle would be an attack north of Lens through a generally flat mining area in the vicinity of Loos. The attack of six divisions would be accompanied by an intense smoke barrage and the first British use of chlorine gas. The battle would generally not go well and resulted in over 60,000 casualties, nearly 8,000 of which were fatalities.

Amongst the battalions of the six divisions scheduled for the battle was the 2nd Royal Welsh Fusiliers. John (Jack) Edwards of New Street, Abergele, and David Williams of Manchester Cottages, Towyn, were just two of a number of local men in the 2nd Royal Welsh Fusiliers, 19th Brigade, 2nd Division. Jack had been with the battalion in France from the very beginning. David had originally been with 1st RWF and been wounded almost immediately in October 1914. When he returned to duty he was posted to 2nd RWF, a battalion that had already suffered the loss of Geleites John Thomas Jones, Fred Edwards and William Henry Hartley Higgins.

2nd RWF’s 19th Brigade attacked on the left along the banks of the La Bassee canal following the detonation of two huge mines which had the effect of alerting the Germans to the impending assault. The two craters created by the mines had the added effect of forcing the advancing troops into a narrow and concentrated formation. They were such an easy target that there were reports of Germans openly standing on their trenches to pour rifle fire into the British units. Machine guns mowed through the massed ranks and to add to the horror there were also casualties being taken from British gas blowing in the wrong direction. 2nd RWF were not in the leading waves but as those had been decimated orders for the Welshmen to attack were passed on; they were to carry out what was effectively a suicidal reinforcement of failure. B and C companies, were to lead the assault. Both David and Jack were in B Company. They were both to die within seconds of going ‘over the top’ as described by eyewitness Captain Blair of the 2nd RWF:

The Battalion attack was a forlorn hope. About 8 o’clock the officers blew their whistles and over we went. B Company on our left. I saw no shells bursting over the German trenches, so, the morning being bright and sunny, the German riflemen and machine-gunners took their toll of us undisturbed. C Company may have gone 40 yards and then the line just fell down. Half of B Company fell in 30 yards.” [The War the Infantry Knew, Capt. J. C Dunn, 1938, p.157-158]

Having witnessed the slaughter of B and C companies the RWF held back the planned follow up by A and D companies. Around 120 men had fallen in seconds, nearly 50% of the strength of the two companies that had gone ‘over the top’. David and Jack were amongst the casualties. Many of the wounded lay out in no man’s land until darkness. Thirty five bodies were recovered and identified, including those of David and Jack, and they were buried in nearby Cambrin cemetery during the night.

Amongst the men tasked with digging the graves and burying the dead was Griffith Morris Lloyd [1] of Grenville Terrace, Rhuddlan Road. Griff had begun the war with 1st RWF but had been shot in the leg in October 1914 and posted to the 2nd RWF in January 1915 upon his recovery. No longer as mobile as before he was now one of the battalion cooks (under the command of another Abergele man, the Quartermaster Harry Yates [2]) and had mercifully sat out of the disaster of earlier that day. As he laid the dead to rest he was no doubt anxious for news of his brother, and fellow professional soldier, Company Sergeant Major Daniel Owen Lloyd. Dan was in 1st RWF and they had been involved in the assault on the opposite flank of the Loos battlefield. Griff would not find out for several days yet, but his brother was dead. Dan’s 1st RWF, of 22nd Brigade, 7th Division, had also suffered significant casualties despite having a generally more successful day. They had taken the German support trenches and hampered the movement of German reinforcements. There is little evidence available to describe Dan’s final moments, though later reports indicate that he was ‘pumped up’ (to use a modern phrase) before the battle, convinced that either death or glory lay ahead. Dan’s body was recovered, but his final resting place was subsequently lost.

Elsewhere on the battlefield was Frederick William Jones of the 2nd Welsh. Although no longer a resident of the district, Fred had been born in Abergele.  The battalion war diary (edited) describes how the day unfolded for the 2nd Welsh.

The 2nd Welsh were in reserve to the attack [and] moved off at 3:30am and took up position for the battle in some old French trenches just in front of Vermelles. It was a wet day and the wind was still about …. we never for a moment thought they would use gas …. the clouds remained stationary and seemed to drift back instead of forwards. At about 8:30am the smoke and gas cleared a little and then we saw men go charging over the ridge and out of sight. We thought everything was going well but there was still a lot of rifle fire which we could not understand. We heard no news at all until 11:00am when we received orders to move up to Le Rutoire Farm and dropped into a trench there and waited for about an hour. Whilst we were here we saw a great many of our wounded and an astonishing number of men suffering from our own gas. At about 12:30pm we received orders to support the Munsters in an attack to the south of Hulluch. We came under fire immediately from the Germans. Suddenly the fire from our right slackened and at last stopped altogether and a German bearing a white flag came towards us. We then captured 160 men and five officers. The Welsh were now able to advance rapidly as there was no fire except a few snipers who were active in Hulluch. We eventually reached the Hulluch – Lens road and then halted and lined the road. We remained on this road until 6:00pm and then we were ordered to withdraw to a line of German trenches about 700 yards behind us.

Presumably Fred fell between 12.30 a.m. and the moment of the German surrender descried above. He has no known grave.

Later that day the recently formed Guards Division arrived in the battle area. This included John Owen Gilmore, formerly of Mount Pleasant, Abergele who was a Private in the 1st Battalion Scots Guards. The following afternoon the Guards moved into the original British trenches and began developing plans for an attack on Hill 70 the next day. The 1st Scots Guards would be at the forefront of the assault near an area known as the chalk pit. The attack of 27 September was launched in the face of gas and artillery and many men fell. One contingent pressed on and became engaged in hand to hand fighting for an area known as Puits 14 bis. This group held on to their prize for much of the day and only withdrew during darkness having suffered enormous casualties. Overall over 470 Scots Guards, about half of its fighting strength, had become casualties in a day. John Gilmore was amongst them. It is not possible to tell in which phase of the battle John fell, but his body was never recovered and it is thus likely he was part of the small band that tenaciously tried to hold Puits 14 bis.

[1] Griff Lloyd would survive the war. He enlisted 14 October 1912 and was thus already serving when the war began. Began the war in the 1st Battalion, landing with them 6 October 1914 at Zeebrugge, having returned to Southampton from Malta. He was shot in the leg 21 October 1914 during fighting near Ypres and returned to 3rd Western General Military Hospital in Cardiff in the UK – shrapnel was removed under chloroform. Home address at that time of 2, Granville Terrace. He was transferred to the 2nd Battalion January 1915 on his return from his wounding. Home on leave July 1917. Remained in the army after the war. In WWII he was Platoon Sergeant to 2 Platoon, A Company, 1st Battalion, Denbighshire Home Guard.

[2] Harry Yates MC was one of the ‘characters’ of 2nd RWF. He was born the son of a blacksmith on 3rd May 1868 at 24 Mary Street, Ashton under Lyne and later married an Abergele woman and became a Welsh speaker. Enlisted 4 March 1887 and served in Egypt. Hong Kong, India and China including the Boxer Rising, culminating in the Relief of Pekin on 14 Aug 1900 where Yates was a colour-sergeant. He was gazetted Honorary Lieutenant and Quartermaster on 27th January 1912. Home on leave January 1915 staying with his brother in law William Roberts at Bodgwilym, Castle Place, and he was also in Abergele in August 1918. He was the uncle of Abergele soldiers John Evan and Thomas Owen Roberts and attended the former’s wedding in Abergele in September 1915. Mentioned in dispatches 1 January 1916 and 15 June 1916. Awarded the Military Cross for gallantry in 1918.  He was the only officer to serve with the 2nd RWF from the beginning to the end of the war. After the war he returned to UK as a major QM 29th May 1919 and was able to greet his wife ‘heartily and unblushingly’ at the returning parade in the Depot town of Wrexham. At some point between 1919 and 1922 his wife died. He retired from the army 4th April 1922. In early 1925 he applied for a post as Recruiting Officer having been unemployed for eleven months whilst living in Liverpool. He was not appointed. At some point between 1922 and 1929 he remarried and a son, Ivan Alexander Yates, was born 22nd April 1929. He died suddenly on 14th November 1946 aged 78.

1915-2015: Abergele & District Commemorations: Joseph Heber Owen

Private 12477 Joseph Heber Owen. 8th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, 40th Brigade, 13th (Western) Division. Killed in action, 16 August 1915, Gallipoli, aged 21. No known grave. Commemorated panel 77 to 80, Helles Memorial, Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey.
Not commemorated in the Abergele district. Prestatyn War Memorial.

Born c.1894 in Abergele, Joseph was the son of the Wesleyan Minister, Joseph Owen, and his wife Susannah. Other than being born in Abergele, Joseph’s connections to the town were few. By 1901 the family had moved to Llanasa near Prestatyn. He enlisted in Rhyl and lived in Prestatyn. His medal index card records that his death was later ‘accepted’ as 16/08/1915 indicating that he was initally listed as missing for some time afterwards.

Joseph was the ninth and last Abergele men to fall in the Gallipoli camapaign (see here for more details).



1915-2015: Abergele & District Commemorations: Frederick (Fred) Williams

Private 2697 Frederick (Fred) Williams. 1/5th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, 158th Brigade, 53rd (Welsh) Division. Killed in action, 10 August 1915, Suvla Bay, Gallipoli, aged 21. No known grave. Commemorated panel 77 to 80, Helles Memorial, Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey. Also commemorated on the Abergele War Memorial and Abergele Town Memorial.

Son of William and Mary Williams, of 14, Bryntirion Terrace, Abergele. Born Wrexham, enlisted Flint, lived Abergele. A Grocer’s Assistant in 1911. Enlisted early January 1915 with Trevor Roberts (Glasfryn). Brother of George Trevor Williams (killed in action 27 May 1918).

At first, following the events of 10 August, what had happened to Fred was not clear (for background details to the events of 10 August 1915 see here). The confusion which followed may have stemmed in part from the fact that he was reported as wounded on the day of landing at Suvla Bay on 9 August by an Abergele comrade in the 1/5th Battalion, David Evan Parry [1], which was not really possible. However, at the time, Parry’s news matched what Fred’s family were told when the War Office sent a letter that stated that he had been hospitalised in Alexandria.

A short while later, in the third week of September, Fred’s status was corrected and he was officially listed as ‘missing’. Anxious to have news of her son’s condition, and confused by the mixed messages, Fred’s mother wrote several times to the hospital but without response.

Fearful of Fred’s silence as well as the hospital’s, she wrote again to the War Office. At the very end of October 1915 the War Office replied that Fred was now listed as ‘wounded and missing in action’ and not, as previously stated, in a hospital in Alexandria.

The strain on his parents must have been intolerable, and it is impossible to imagine their reaction to a house visit by Reverend Jenkins, the Vicar of Abergele, on 20 December 1915. The Reverend Jenkins had just received a letter from his nephew, Lieutenant David Lewis Jenkins, who was an Officer in Fred’s battalion. Lieutenant Jenkins [2] stated that there was no doubt that Fred had been killed. The Vicar took it upon himself to inform the family of this news.

What probably made things worse for them was the fact the War Office were sticking to their claim that Fred was ‘wounded and missing in action’. Most of the men who had gone missing on 10 August, such as Tom Furnish and Johnny Vaughan of Abergele, were declared dead eleven months later, but this was not the case with Fred. He was still officially listed as ‘wounded and missing in action’ as late as June 1918 and one can only assume that the authorities had some evidence that Fred may have been taken prisoner by the Turks. At the end of the war a number of men were repatriated having been Turkish prisoners of war. Fred was not among them. His Medal Index Card has the words ‘presumed dead 10/8/15’ written on it.

Williams, Fred (2)

[1] See Tom Furnish for biographical details of David Evan Parry.
[2] See John (Jack) Davies for further details of Lt. Jenkins.

1915-2015: Abergele & District Commemorations: Thomas William (Tom) Furnish

Private 2701 Thomas William (Tom) Furnish. 1/5th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, 158th Brigade, 53rd (Welsh) Division. Killed in action, 10 August 1915, Suvla Bay, Gallipoli, aged 25. No known grave. Commemorated panel 77 to 80, Helles Memorial, Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey. Also commemorated on the Abergele War Memorial and Abergele Town Memorial.

Known as Tom he was the son of Thomas and Sarah Ann Furnish, of 8, New York Terrace, Abergele, and a nephew of Canon T. Jesse Jones, Gellygaer Rectory and formerly of Abergele. He was employed as the caretaker and Sexton of St. Michael’s Church, Abergele, and was also a jobbing Gardener. Born Llanddulas, enlisted Rhyl, January 1915, lived 8, New York Terrace, Abergele, with his parents. He had a younger brother, Ernest, who, in the language employed by the 1911 Census, was an ‘invalid’.

At first, following the events of 10 August, what had happened to Tom was not clear (for background details to the events of 10 August 1915 see here).  An Abergele comrade, David Evan Parry [1], wrote home in late August that he had not seen Tom since the assault but thought that he had been wounded. Tom was officially reported as thus in the third week of September 1915 but this was later corrected as missing in action. The confusion as to his welfare was commented upon by the Abergele & Pensarn Visitor in November 1915:

“Mr. Lewis Vaughan, Peel Street and Mr Thomas Furnish, New York Terrace, are still without news about their own sons – Privates John Vaughan and Tom Furnish – who are reported as missing since the beginning of August in the Dardanelles. Letters and parcels which these anxious parents have from time to time sent to their loved ones are being sent back stamped ‘missing’. A few days ago Mr. Furnish chanced upon a copy of a letter which a gentleman from the Midlands recently wrote to the press and the document gives good reason why relatives of missing men at the Dardanelles should cherish the hope that they are still living. ‘I think you will like to make the following news as widely known as possible, as there might be many in the town and country who, like myself, are anxious about relatives reported missing from the Gallipoli peninsula. A letter arrived in England last week from an Officer who was reported missing between 6th and 10th August and was a prisoner, in which he says, ‘Tell everyone who has friends missing to go on hoping and hoping because there are hundreds of prisoners in Turkey, and very few translators so, as letters must be censored before leaving the country, they pitch them into the Bosphorus instead’.’

As the months slipped by without further news any optimism that this story generated was to prove cruelly misplaced. In mid-July 1916, Tom’s father received a letter from Captain E. G. W. Vaughan on behalf of the army records office:

“It is my painful duty to inform you that no further news having been received relative to No. 2701 Pte. Thomas William Furnish, 1/5 Royal Welsh Fusiliers, who has been missing since 10th August 1915, the Army Council have been regretfully constrained to conclude that he is dead, and that his death took place on the 10th August. I am to express the sympathy of the Army Council with you in your loss.”

Tom Furnish

[1] David Evan Parry: Son of Edward and Margaret Parry, 21, Peel Street. Appeared to have three jobs: bus driver for the Harp Hotel, a shop assistant and a painter. 5′ 4″ tall. 2 July 1915 confined to barracks for 3 days for talking on parade by Lt. David Jenkins of Abergele. Taken ill in Gallipoli and hospitalised 23 September 1915 to 8 October 1915 with scabies. Evacuated to a hospital ship 27 December 1915 with frostbite and dysentry. 18 January 1916 contracted paratyphoid and to UK to a hospital in Warrington. Home in Abergele April 1916 following discharge from hospital and returned to the 1/5th RWF in Palestine. Wounded 3 April 1918 in the head, arm and hip by splinters from a shell but thankfully all the wounds were superficial. Demobilised 10 April 1919 with an address of 4, Mount Pleasant, Abergele.


1915-2015: Abergele & District Commemorations: John (Johnny) Vaughan

Private 2764 John (Johnny) Vaughan. 1/5th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, 158th Brigade, 53rd (Welsh) Division. Killed in action, 10 August 1915, Suvla Bay, Gallipoli, aged 25. No known grave. Commemorated panel 77 to 80, Helles Memorial, Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey. Also commemorated on the Abergele War Memorial and Abergele Town Memorial.

Son of Lewis and Eliza Jane Vaughan, of 3, Peel St., Abergele. Eliza had died before 1911. Born Llanrwst, enlisted Flint in January 1915, lived Abergele. Worked as a quarry labourer and miner.

At first, following the events of 10 August, what had happened to Johnny was not clear. He was listed as missing in action and there was still no news in November 1916 (see Tom Furnish and the Abergele & Pensarn Visitor article quoted therein). Before the year was out Johnny’s father, who had been ill for some time, died. As the local newspaper commented, “latterly, the fact that his only son had been missing since August had weighed heavily upon him”. In the summer of 1916, with no further news of Johnny’s fate, he was declared to have been presumed killed in the 10 August 1915 assault.

John Vaughan

For background details to the events of 10 August 1915 see here.

1915-2015: Abergele & District Commemorations: John J. Williams

Lance Corporal 2111 John J. Williams. 1/5th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, 158th Brigade, 53rd (Welsh) Division. Killed in action, 10 August 1915, Suvla Bay, Gallipoli, aged 25. No known grave. Commemorated panel 77 to 80, Helles Memorial, Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey. Not commemorated in the Abergele district, but is commemorated on the Llysfaen War Memorial.

Born Llysfaen, lived Llanddulas. Son of Thomas Kyffin Williams, of 11, Pentregwyddel Terrace, Llanddulas; husband of Margaret Jane Williams. A member of Llanddulas Football Club. Enlisted in Llanddulas and was a pre-war member of the 5th Territorial Battalion.

News of John’s death in Gallipoli arrived home in the third week of September 1915. His family placed an ‘In Memoriam’ in the Abergele & Pensarn Visitor on the anniversary of his death for several years afterwards. In August 1917 it read, “Days of sadness still come over us, hidden tears often flow, for memory keeps our dear one to us although he died two years ago“.

For background details to the events of 10 August 1915 see here.

1915-2015: Abergele & District Commemorations: John (Jack) Davies

Private 2648 John (Jack) Davies. 1/5th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, 158th Brigade, 53rd (Welsh) Division. Killed in action, 10 August 1915, Suvla Bay, Gallipoli, aged 40. No known grave. Commemorated Panel 77 to 80, Helles Memorial, Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey. Also commemorated on the Abergele War Memorial, Abergele Town War Memorial and Old Colwyn War Memorial.

Husband of Maria Davies (formerly Hembry), of 4, Woodbine Cottages, Keynsham, Bristol. Oldest of the 14 children of Robert (Parish Clerk) and Anne Davies, of 15, Plasnewydd Buildings, Abergele. Born Abergele, enlisted Colwyn Bay. After marriage he lived at 34, Peel Street, Abergele, but was living at Ty Gobaith, Old Colwyn when the war began.

For background details to the events of 10 August 1915 see here.

The eldest son of Robert Davies, the town clerk, Jack Davies had been home on leave in early July 1915, shortly before sailing to the Dardanelles. He was to have a brief, upsetting and tragic experience of war. On 9 August 1915, Jack found a little time to write to his wife. It would be his last letter.

I have experienced a terrible time of it lately for we have been in the thick of the fighting and have lost a lot of brave fellows. Thank God I have come through it safely. This is indeed a dreadful place, and I should say that the Dardanelles is the worst place on earth. When we arrived on the battlefield they fairly mowed our men down. Pray for me, and God be with you till we meet again.”

On 10 August 1915, Jack was assigned to a small group tasked with collecting rations from the beach and delivering them back to the battalion in the lines. He did not return.

The news of his death came to Abergele on 16 September 1915, in a letter from Lieutenant David Lewis Jenkins [1], an Abergele man and officer in the 1/5th Battalion. Jack Davies left a widow and four children. His brother Albert [2], serving alongside him in the 1/5th Royal Welsh Fusiliers, in his first letter home following Jack’s death, made no reference to the event, which was thought to be strange at home. Nevertheless, an Abergele comrade, William Sturgess, wrote home saying, “how poor little Albert misses his brother Jack” [3].

Unlike many of his comrades of the 1/5th RWF who died in Gallipoli, Jack’s body was recovered and he was buried near the Anafarta Hills. The Gallipoli campaign ended in failure and withdrawal and today Jack’s body remains buried in unmarked ground somewhere in the southern end of the Suvla battlefield.

[1] Lieutenant Jenkins was himself killed 26 September 1917. He wrote several letters carrying the unfortunate news of the deaths of local men. For many families, this was the only news they were ever to get.
[2] Albert Davies, also killed 26 September 1917.
[3] William Sturgess of 58, Peel Street. A pre-war territorial, he fought through Gallipoli and was promoted Corporal in the field 26 August 1915 in the wake of casualties inflicted on the battalion. His seven years service expired in early 1916 and he was discharged home to Abergele 24 February 1916. He voluntarily re-enlisted in May 1916 into the Royal Field Artillery as Gunner 137182 and ended up with 38th (Welsh) Division, in France. He later transferred as Private L/13286 to the Royal Sussex Regiment and was wounded in October 1918. He was in hospital in Manchester when the war ended. The full letter from Corporal William Sturgess was reproduced in the Denbighshire Free Press, 20 November 1915, p.6.

1915-2015: Abergele & District Commemorations: Suvla Bay and Abergele’s darkest day of the war

On the night of 8/9 August 1915 the 1/5th Royal Welsh Fusiliers landed at Suvla Bay as part of the continuing operations at Gallipoli which had already claimed the lives of local men Harry Amos, Neville Lewis and George Hughes.

The 1/5th, being the local pre-war territorial unit, was popular with Abergele men and contained the greatest concentration of locals than any other unit in the army. The men from Abergele who landed with the battalion in Turkey were:

Five of them would be dead and many of them wounded within 48 hours of landing. 10 August 1915 was Abergele’s darkest day of the war by a long margin. Biographical details of the five men who fell on 10 August will follow, and can be followed through the links above.

This is not the place for a detailed account of the Suvla Bay invasion, but a brief outline to provide context may be useful. The original landings in the south of the Gallipoli peninsular had failed to achieve a breakthrough. Consequently a second beach landing further up the western coast was planned. Suvla Bay was chosen. The landing was to be disaster, hindered by confusion. The 1/5th (Flintshire) Royal Welsh Fusiliers, 158th Brigade, 53rd (Welsh) Division, were to have a horrific baptism of fire and accounts of their experiences are confused and variable to the extent that there remains to this day a number of significant unanswered questions. Some of these are pertinent to the fates of the five Abergele men, but are the subject of additional research.

The initial landing and fighting had already begun and when the 53rd (Welsh) Division and the 1/5th RWF began landing during darkness on the night of 8/9 August 1915 they were entering an existing battle. Immediately units of the Division were called upon and whatever plans existed were soon in shreds. The divisional history records that by evening of the first day, 9 August, “General Lindley found his division scattered in all directions….while the three Royal Welsh Fusilier battalions were bivouacked west of Lala Baba” [H.C. Dudley Ward, History of the 53rd (Welsh) Division, 1927].

Indeed that first full day was relatively relaxing for the 1/5th RWF, though no doubt the men were tense and nervous as heavy gunfire was constant and close. Many used the time to catch up on some sleep or write home, including Jack Davies of 15, Plasnewydd Buidings, Abergele. He wrote to his wife that:

“I have experienced a terrible time of it lately for we have been in the thick of the fighting and have lost a lot of brave fellows. Thank God I have come through it safely. This is indeed a dreadful place, and I should say that the Dardanelles is the worst place on earth. When we arrived on the battlefield they fairly mowed our men down. Pray for me, and God be with you till we meet again.”

Jack would die the next day.

At 3 a.m on 10 August reveille was sounded and the 1/5th were assembled on the beach. Orders were issued quickly: “it all sounded so simple and easy …. we were to cross the salt lake, move half right, support the attack of the 159th Brigade and pass through them and take the next ridge” [this and subsequent quotes from the divisional history].

It was not to prove simple and easy. The great salt lake, which was supposed to be dry, was not. The men’s feet sank in mud to above the ankles and progress was slow and tiring. And then the firing began. Exposed and slow moving, the RWF were presenting a perfect target as they stumbled out of the ‘lake’ and to the foot of a gentle rise of trees, hedges and scrub. The men fell to the ground, partly exhausted, but more practically to prevent a smaller target for the Turks: “we were soon split up and rather disorganised …. our original plan had evidently gone phut!“. The RWF were under heavy fire from a seemingly invisible enemy and had to move swiftly. Fifty yards ahead was a bank that offered some meagre protection. The men rose and charged towards it. “That 50 yards accounted for a good many“.

Three Abergele men, Tom Furnish, Johnny Vaughan and Fred Williams, and John Williams of Llanddulas, had fallen.

At this point the battle seemed to grind to a halt. Command and control had broken down and confusion had set in. A fire broke out in the scrub and a number of wounded men burned to death. An order to fix bayonets and charge the main ridge was received by some but not all. Some parties advanced further into the scrub and some did not. The 1/5th’s Colonel had been killed and Frank Borthwick of Abergele and Llanelian took command of the battalion. And then it fell quiet. No doubt shattered, both mentally and physically, the men needed rations. A party, including Abergele’s Jack Davies, was sent for them. He did not return.

Another assault on Turkish lines was ordered later that afternoon, but this too failed.

1915-2015: Abergele & District Commemorations: George Hughes

Private 15439 George Hughes, 4th Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment, 88th Brigade, 29th Division. Killed in action (assumed), 6 August 1915, Gallipoli. No known grave. Commemorated Panel 104 to 113, Helles Memorial, Gallipoli, Turkey, and also on the
Abergele War Memorial and Abergele Town Memorial.

Son of Harriet and the late George Hughes, of 10, Jenkin St. (formerly 4, Vale View Terrace), Abergele. Born Lichfield, Staffordshire, enlisted Worcester, lived Abergele. Brother of Tom Hughes, Canadian Army, who was killed 9 April 1917, and Robert E. Hughes who survived the war.

George enlisted into the 4th Worcesters on 13 September 1914 and went overseas with them in May 1915. His ultimate destination was Gallipoli, where he disembarked 24 July 1915. His last letter home was in the same month and he was last seen alive on 6 August. His death was not immediately known and in early September his Mother was informed that George was missing in action. When his brother, Tom, of the Canadian Army was killed 9 April 1917 , George was still listed as missing. The assumption of his death followed much later and the date decided upon was the last day he had been seen.

Hughes, George (2)