The Man Next To My Uncle

Introduction

This is a post about my family and a near neighbour.

Many of my family are buried in the Emmanuel Churchyard, Bistre, in Buckley. I have visited the churchyard for the last thirty years since my brother John’s death in 1982. My Mum and Dad are buried with him.

One of the graves I visit there is that of an uncle, Gerald, who died long before I was born and my grandfather, Patrick.  Gerald died in 1943 in the Second World War.

This gravestone is next to Gerald’s.

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I have been wondering about Private E Davies for some time. He and Gerald have lain next to each other for almost 71 years.

I decided to follow up on both of them. One was 22 and the other was 24 when they died in service.

I was surprised by what I found.

Discoveries

First of all there was a picture of my uncle taken in 1940.

Gerald Lyons 1940

The next surprise was that Gerald, a Royal Marine, died on the HMS Illustrious of “an illness”. He had been torpedoed several times but had survived. I wonder if this illness was linked to the last torpedo attack (not on the Illustrious) during his duties in the North Atlantic. At the time of his death, the Illustrious was carrying out training of aircrews in the Clyde.

There were 51 recorded deaths of Buckley men in the Second World War. Three of Gerald’s contemporaries are buried in the churchyard.

Private Edwin Davies of the Royal Welch Fusiliers died of an illness too. He was the third person from Buckley to die in the Great War. In total there are 114 recorded deaths of soldiers from Buckley in that War. 108 of them are buried in foreign fields, there are five others buried with Edwin in the churchyard.

There is a record of Edwin in the Flintshire War Memorials.

Edwin was the son of Edwin and Martha Emily Davies, “Sunny Side”, Nant Mawr Rd. He was born in 1893 in Alford Parish Cheshire. The family lived at Burntwood, Buckley. Edwin had seven brothers and a sister. Edwin worked as a colliery labourer before the war.

ObitThere is a note of Edwin’s funeral in the Flintshire Observer on 22 April 1915.

MILITARY FUNERAL. Private Edwin Davies (22), of the 5th Battalion Royal Welch Fusiliers, son of Mr. Edwin Davies, farmer, of Nant Mawr, Buckley, died on Friday night at Northampton Hospital, after an illness of five months’ duration. His body was conveyed home on Monday night, and the funeral took place on Tuesday afternoon, the interment being at Bistre Churchyard. The coffin, which was brought from Nant Mawr on a wheeled bier, was covered with the Union Jack. Members of the Flintshire National Reserve mustered in good force. The Rev. J. E. Morgan (Vicar) and the Rev. J. Sinnett Richards (Curate) officiated. At the close of the service the soldiers fired three volleys over the grave, and the bugler sounded the “Last Post.” The principal mourners were the deceased’s father and mother and seven brothers and sister, and many near relatives. The wreaths, which were numerous and beautiful, included one from deceased’s comrades. The deceased’s father has received letters of sympathy from the King, Lord Kitchener, and Colonel Basil E. Philips (officer commanding the 5th Battalion R.W.F.).

Edwin and Gerald

Source: http://www.buckleyatwar.webs.com/
Source: http://www.buckleyatwar.webs.com/

Edwin and Gerald were born twenty-six years apart and died in two different theatres of war. Both were young men, Edwin two years younger that Gerald.

There is no photograph of Edwin, there is a public one of Gerald at about the time of his 21st birthday.

I am pleased that I have found evidence of both lives. I wonder too if their friends called by as in this poem by Curtis Bennett:

The old veterans stand awkward, unsure with the dead.
Experiencing those familiar, dreaded, sick feelings
Of remorse, regret, blame, and fault for what happened
To their generation who gave so much for their country.
They have gathered one final time
To share history, blame and guilt for all eternity
Banding together as one, they embrace the moment,
Experiencing once more, this terrible place of memories.

3 thoughts on “The Man Next To My Uncle”

  1. Hello Keith, I have read your blog with great interest. It brought tears to my eyes especially because of the time of year and anniversary of John’s death.I visit bistre churchyard regularly as my dad is also buried there ( Bert farmer). I always go to tend to John, your mum and dads grave when I visit, And have a little chat. I find my time there helps with reflection and appreciation of such things as good health, friends and family.
    I have been thinking of Judy John and yourself especially over the past few days. I hope you and your family are well. Kind regards, Joy .

    1. Hello, Joy. Thank you for finding the post. I am so pleased you are our guardian angel. It is wonderful to know that they are all visited and remembered in our absence. Your Dad introduced me to fishing … 50 years seems like yesterday. Warmest wishes, Keith

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