When I was waiting for a ride home from work a couple of months ago, I began surfing the internet, as always looking for interesting Welsh websites to add to Ancestral Wales.
I ran across the Ceredigion County War Memorial website. I began searching through the memorials in the towns and villages that I am familiar with and noticed reference to Thomas Jones, son of Thomas and Mary Jones of Maldwyn House, Talybont. I realized that this was my great grandmother’s brother and explained why I hadn’t been able to find much out about him. The article went on to say that “Thomas was killed during heavy hand to hand fighting within Mametz Wood on 11 July 1916. He was 24 years old, and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, France.” Thomas served with 15th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, known as the Carmarthen Pals. A little bit of research pulled up a book called Carmarthen Pals: A history of the 15th (Service) Battalion The Welsh Regiment, 1914-1919, written by Steven John who is also the website founder. Luckily I was able to purchase a copy of the book here. Of course I ordered it right away and have been enjoying a moving and fascinating read about the battalion. A little bit more research pulled up his military records on the ancestry.co.uk database.
This young farm worker was 23 years and 11 months when he enlisted on March 18, 1915, just 5 foot 4 inches tall. He appears to have died from a shell wound to his right shoulder. One of the most poignant sections of his military records for me were his mother’s signature on April 22, 1920 accepting his medal and his private property, listed as; 2 discs, 1 purse, cigarette case, photos, letters, leather bag. Were the photos and letters of his family? Did he have a girlfriend who was waiting for him to come home? My poor great, great grandmother lost her son in 1916, her daughter (my great grandmother) in 1917 and her young grandaughter in 1912.
Thomas Fitton, was born in 1882 was single and a painter – 5 foot 8 inches tall and 140 pounds when he enlisted in the 22nd Service Battalion, Manchester Regiment – The Manchester Pals. He was living in Oldham, Lancashire with his brother Edmund. Thomas enlisted Feb 25, 1916 and embarked from Folkstone to Boulogne. He received shrapnel wounds to both his legs in 1916 and was admitted to hospital. Although his injuries were considered serious, he recovered enough to be sent back to war. However, he sadly died of a chest wound, 3 July 1918 and is buried in Cavaletto British Cemetery in Italy.
The following effects were on his person when he died; a religious book, disc, photo, wallet and 2 titles. Under this list, a note; “Please note that the above mentioned articles are the joint property of all the late soldier’s brothers.” This letter was sent to Ernest Mills Fitton, his brother. He left to mourn his brothers Edmund, Ernest, James and William (my grandfather). Poignant in this case was his 3 days punishment for being unshaven at the 7:30 a.m. parade, with the words (died of wounds) under it.
Although I don’t have a photograph of Thomas Fitton, I do have this photo of his brother - my grandfather William, his wife Mary and their eldest son William. Their son - my Dad - was named Thomas, after this young soldier.
Every Remembrance Day, I have so many family members to honour – some were fortunate enough to come home and others such as the two Thomas’ did not.