James Edgar Brown
'This item is from The Great War Archive, University of Oxford (www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/ww1lit/gwa); ©
A. Connah and W. Owens
Private Alexander Connah, Sherwood Foresters, aged 21, of Brook Street, and Private Wilfed Owens, Border Regiment, aged 20, were killed within a few hours of each other on 5/6 September and were buried at Lebucquiere Military Cemetery in the Pas de Calais, France. The sad story of Wilfred Owens is recounted by himself in the many letters he wrote from the front in the last year of his life.
He was conscripted despite the fact that the medical board acknowledged that he suffered from heart and lung problems and in the last desperate years of the war he was shipped out to France. His parents kept a motorcycle and bike shop and dealt in antique and second-hand furniture in their garage and shop at Lane End. The young solider came from a Christian background and in his letters home he wrote of the many temptations to which army life exposed him. He reassured his parents that ’I have been able to resist them and mean to be a good lad for the sake of my parents & brothers & sisters’. Wilfred always expressed his gratitude for the letters and food parcels he received form Buckley, in particular he mentions the receipt of the Flintshire Observer, Christian Herald and the Motor Cycle, which was his main interest. At one time he looked for a transfer to the Tank Corps and congratulated his father on the purchase of a Harley-Davidson and Triumph motor cycles. He constantly made references to his family and the people he knew at Lane End - Horace Beavan of the Feathers Inn, Croppers Cinema, Richardson’s Coaches, Stanley Parry Corn merchant and others.
The Feathers Inn - Lane End, Buckley
In his last letter, Private Owens excused his failure to write ’through being too busy scrapping,’ remarking that ’we are expecting peace soon and all of us returning to you.’ Within a week he perished of machine-gun wounds in pursuit of the retreating Germans in the attack on the Canal du Nord Line.
H. E. Simmons
Another much decorated Buckley First World War hero was Horace Enfield Simmons, MC, DFC. Born in Buckley in 1895, the survived the war, and afterwards became an Anglican cleric. On the outbreak of war Simmons was studying classics at Durham University with the intention of taking holy orders. Volunteering, he trained as an officer, and in May 1915 was commissioned in the 5th Bn The Welsh Regiment. Whilst serving in France he was wounded three times: once at Laviente (where W. G. C. Gladstone was killed) and at the battle of the Somme in 1916. Simmons returned to the front in 1917, was gassed in Ypres, and awarded the Military Cross. The citation read, ‘for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during a aid on the enemy’s trenches. He displayed great courage and skill in fixing a torpedo in position in the enemy’s wire. He has at all times set a fine example’. After his French experience Simmons transferred to the Royal Flying Corps in 1917 in which he saw service as a pilot and observer in Salonika and was mentioned in despatches. At the end of the First World War he flew with the newly formed Royal Air Force as part of No. 46 Squadron, which was seconded to support the White Russians against the Bolsheviks. Here Again his courage and devotion were marked by the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross and, from the Russians, the Cross of St George (The Russian equivalent to the Victoria Cross) and the Order of St Stanislas. The British, forced to flee by the Bolshevik Red Guards, barely escaped with there lives.
Military Cross Distinguished Flying Cross
On his return, Simmons completed the theological training at Ely College, and was ordained in Birmingham Cathedral in 1923, where he served on the staff for a year. He then went to the parish in West Kirby as curate for two years before coming to Buckley in 1926. In 1932 he was appointed to the living of Owston, Yorkshire, by the patron Captain R. Davies-Cooke of Skellow Hall. He married a Buckley girl , a daughter of Mr and Mrs Alfred Everall. No doubt his wounds, gassing and privations in Russia shortened his life. He died in his sleep on 28 November 1935 at the age of 40 years and was buried in St Matthew’s Churchyard. After his death his wife entered the religious life as an Anglican Poor Clare, at St Mary’s, Wantage, where she later became the Mother Superior.
The Reverend Douglas Raymond Pelly, vicar of St Matthew’s Buckley, 1905-14, was an inspiration to the boys he had nurtured as members of his Bible Class and the Church Lads’ Brigade. Pelly influenced Birks and Simmons and many others. He had enjoyed a life of adventure before he came to Buckley, having served in Natal as a chaplain to the Rhodesian Horse, and afterwards as the principal of the Industrial School and Native Missionary Centre in the diocese of Mashonaland. During the First Wold War he became an army chaplain serving in Serbia and Salonika and may have met Horace Simmons there. Pelly was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in January 1918 ’for services in the field during the past two years’.
Lieut. HORACE ENFIELD SIMMONS, M.C., " A " Detachment (Welch Regs.).
At Chernai Yar, gn August 27, 1919, Lieut. Simmons, flying a D.H. 9 carried out work usually assigned to Scout machines. Descending to water level,he attacked a large fleet of enemy vessels, being hotly received by enemy fire from every description of guns. This daring attack created the utmost confusion amongst the Bolshevist troops, who suffered heavy casualties. Lieut.Simmons has always displayed courage and ability of a high order during the operations in South Russia. (Military Cross gazetted March 25, 1917.
De Havilland D-H 9
J. W. Williams
Williams was born in Buckley, Flintshire. A prolific scorer in junior football, he played for Bury, though not in the Football League, and for Accrington Stanley before impressing on trial with Second Division club Birmingham. Williams signed for them in August 1908, and made his debut on 7 September 1908, playing at inside left in a 3–1 win at home to Bradford. He was given a decent run of games in the starting eleven, but failed to impress, and returned to Accrington Stanley in February 1909.
In the 1909 close season, he moved to Crystal Palace of the Southern League. With Palace his best position was centre forward or inside right, though he was capable of playing in any forward role. Described as "an eager, neat and busy little footballer who possessed a snappy tackle and plenty of enthusiasm and determination", he scored 58 goals from 149 appearances in all competitions, including scoring five in one match against Southend United in September 1909. Williams remained with the club for nearly five seasons, during which time he won two caps for Wales. In February 1914 he joined Millwall, also playing in the Southern League, and remained with the club for about a year.
Williams made his international debut for Wales in the 1912 British Home Championship against Scotland national football team at Tynecastle on 2 March 1912. Wales lost 1–0. His second cap came in a 3–2 defeat at Ninian Park against Ireland in the same competition.
Williams was married to Sarah. He enlisted in the 17th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment – the Footballers' Battalion – and served in northern France during the First World War. Reported missing presumed dead on 5 June 1916, he is commemorated on the Arras Memorial and at Millwall F.C.'s ground.
Robert Edward Jenkins
Private 561 Robert E. Jenkins lived in Coppa View, Buckley, and served with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers Territorial Force 5th (Flintshire) Battalion.
He arrived in theatre 2B Balkans ( Gallipoli ) on the 8th August 1915. Entitled to a 1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory medal. He was later renumbered 356026, which would place him in the 25th (Montgomery & Welsh Horse Yeomanry) Bn RWF post 1917. He was demobbed 15th April 1919.
Robert passed away in 1974 aged eighty four. In his later years he worked as a lift man at the Liver Buildings in Liverpool and only retired nine years before his death.
Photos kindly donated by John Kennedy.
John Cragg Dunn, Buckley, North Wales
Dorsetshire Regiment, 3rd Battalion, Attd 59th Trench Mortar Battery
Died 25th March 1916, Aged 26.
John dunn lived at 'Hillside' on Liverpool Road and is one of thirteen bellringers buried at Lijssenthoek Cemetery and commemorated in the Central Council for Church Bell Ringers roll of honour kept at St Paul’s Cathedral.
Dunn was born on 28 May 1889 and enlisted with the 13th battalion RWF on 8 October 1914. Educated at Hawarden County School. When applying for commission on 11 May 1915 gave address as Baldwin, St George’s Place, Llandudno (probably a billet as 13th RWF was based in Rhyl at the time) and occupation as assistant to manager of colliery and brickworks. He was 5’7” tall, 34” chest with 2.5” expansion. Fair complexion, grey eyes, dark brown hair. Scar at base of left thumb.
Dunn was commissioned on 8 June 1915, previously private 16139 Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Entered France 1915, and as 2nd Lt Dorsets.
On the 25th March 1916 Dunn was admitted to 10 Casualty Clearing Station with a shrapnel wound to left side, penetrating abdomen, reported dangerously wounded.He died of his wounds soon after.
J.C. Dunn (extreme left back row) in a charity cricket match at
Lane End two days before the outbreak of war .
View J.C.Dunn's service record here : - J C DUNN SERVICE RECORD
Thanks to D. Underdown for info.
by Mark Ellis
Robert Bickley was born in Warrington, Cheshire in 1890.
By 1907, Joseph Bickley had died leaving the boys to their own devices.
As to what happened to George, we do not know however it seems to be the case that Robert became a Miner and quite possibly mined the local collieries in and around the Buckley area.
Alfred and Annie Hayes lived at 35 Padeswood Road, Buckley with their large family, one of whom was my grandmother, Florrie Ellis nee Hayes.
He survived for a year,a miracle in itself, until the 1st July 1916, the first day of the battle of the Somme.
How he was killed, we do not know. In the twelve months that he served at the front Robert Bickley earned the Victory medal,the British war medal and 1914-15 Star ( aka " Pip, squeak and Wilfred"
His final resting place is a quiet little cemetary in Vlamertinghe, Belgium, just a few miles away from Ypres.
The Mitford gates guard the cemetary, the Mitford girls' older brother was buried there also and the family dedicated the gates in his memory.
So, Robert Bickley, Corporal, serial number 4949 died on the 1st July 1916. My father, Neville Ellis and I, paid our respects to Robert in 2009 and travelled to Belguim. In doing so, the Hayes/Ellis family were reunited again with a young man who had never been far from their thoughts.
Neville Ellis at Robert Bickley's Grave
John Roberts was the son of William and Hannah Roberts of 81 Brunswick Road, Buckley. John was born in Leeswood near Mold in 1884 and prior to the war was a Minor Hewer in the local collieries following on from his father his brothers William, Vincent and Thomas. Vincent was killed in an accident at Bolsover Colliery, Mansfield in1928. We are not sure when John joined the Army but on 28/6/15 he landed in the Dardanelle’s ( 8th Battalion ). He served in the 2nd Division from 19/8/15 to 25/11/15 whence it became the 33rd Division. We are not sure of the dates but after the Dardanelle’s John returned to Buckley on leave and decided after the horrors of war he had seen he was not returning to his regiment and subsequently deserted.
The Army sent MP’s from the camp at Saighton Chester to bring him back but John enjoying a pint in The Ship public house, employed lookouts and was able to escape their clutches and hid in the Padeswood woods area but to no avail as he was quickly rounded up and sent back post haste to France.
Pte Frederick Millward DCM
Pte Millward lived at The Arch in Burntwood, Drury.
He landed in France with 13 RWF 01/12/191
" For conspicuous gallantry and good leadership. He led his section in a flank attack against a enemy strong point and captured a machine gun and its team. He then went forward and killed an enemy sniper who was harassing the company. He showed splendid initiative on this and several other occasions".