Owen John Goodman Roberts was my grandfather. Born in Cae Merddyn, Penmon, he fought in the Great War and married Sarah Michell Jenkins. They initially lived in Manchester then at Blaenau Ffestiniog, where my mother Jean was born. The family moved to Dolgarrog and Taid worked at the Aluminium Works there. BLOG; CLICK HERE TO SEE THE LATEST UPDATES ON www.penmon.org
OWEN JOHN GOODMAN ROBERTS 1894 - 1976
Cae Merddyn, Penmon reproduced here by kind permission of illustrator Kim Selene Davies great granddaughter of Owen John Goodman Roberts
HALLELUJAH CHORUS My grandfather's favourite piece of music. Clip shown by kind permission of margotlorena.
Goodman Roberts & Catherine Jones
Thomas Goodman Roberts & Ellinor Joseph Jones & Margaret Jones
Charles Goodman Roberts & Margaret Jones
Owen John Goodman Roberts
Sarah Michell Jenkins
Elizabeth Margaret Roberts married Alvin Gaetz Myfanwy Roberts married Frederick George James Jean Roberts married William Owen Davies Eric Roberts married Jean Margaret Brice
Keith Gatez Wendy Gaetz Richard James Rosemary James Kenneth Davies Paul Davies Carol Roberts Stephen Roberts
Owen John Goodman Roberts was born on the 10th November 1894 at Penmon, Anglesey, the youngest child of Charles and Maggie Goodman Roberts.
At the time of the 1901 census, he was 6 years old and living at Cae Merddyn, Penmon, with his parents who were aged 49 and 44 respectively. His father was a gardener worker. His brother Jabez was the oldest living at home, employed as a bricklayer, with Charles 14 and Katie 11.
His eldest brother Joseph Thomas Goodman Roberts had left home, having gone to South Africa in search of diamonds, but at this time was fighting in the Boer War. His sister Maggie was not living at home.
In 1911, the family living at Cae Merddyn consisted of Charles Goodman Roberts, 58 was a gardener at a Gentleman's Residence, wife Maggie Goodman Roberts was 53, Jabez Lloyd Robers, 26 was a bricklayer, Charles Goodman Roberts, 24 was a carpenter, Katie Goodman Roberts was 21, and Owen John Roberts 16, was a gamekeeper. Charles and Maggie's grandson, Joseph Thomas Roberts aged 3 was also living with tyhem. He was the son of Joseph and Georgina Roberts.
William Hughes, a relative who was working in his own business as a solicitor in New York, wrote to Audrey Bradbury, describing his memories of Anglesey andmentioned that he recalled Owen John travelling with his mother on a horse and cart, selling produce in Beaumaris.
Owen John did not like the name Goodman, feeling that he would be ridiculed, and subsequently dropped it.
This is a postcard photo taken at Wicker's Studios Bangor N.W.. There is a slight postmark imprint on the card which reads 7.00 Dec 25 10 The card's message reads;
Cae Merddyn, Penmon, Dear Cousin, Your photo to hand safe, many thanks for it. Wishing yuou a Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year. Kind regards, O.J.R.
Who was the cousin? (Photo kindly supplied by Cyril Jones)
THE GREAT WAR 1914 - 1918
Like so many thousands of his generation, he joined up to fight in the French battlefields of The Great War. They all thought it would be over quickly. Many lied about their age. There is one well known story of a young boy enlisting, giving his age as 16. The recruiting officer told him to come back in an hour, when hopefully, he would be 18!
In which regiment he first enlisted is as yet unknown, nor whether he served overseas with his first regiment. On the 7th December 1915 he transferred, willingly or otherwise into the Machine Gun Corps and allotted the number 57439.
57439 P.T.E. M.G.C. OWEN JOHN ROBERTS
He served in The Great War and soon joined the Machine Gun Corps.
57439 P.T.E. M.G.C. OWEN JOHN ROBERTS is pictured here with pals at Grantham on duckboards, by a corrugated asbestos building. He is standing in the middle of the back row.
Individuals who enrolled in the Machine Gun Corps at the same time were;
57432 HALL Bernard John 57433 JONES Albert Edward 57434 HERRICK Arthur Cecil Cpl. 57435 MORRELL Alfred 57436 PETT Thomas William Frank 57437 WARD Percy Haddon 57438 BARKER Graham 57439 ROBERTS Owen John 57440 ROBERTS Hugh Henry 57441 WILSON Albert 57442 WOODBRIDGE Leonard 57443 ROBBINS John 57445 GRIFFIN Eric Cpl. M.M. 57446 ALDER Edward Thomas 57447 BARNES Joseph 57448 TURNER Arthur 57449 WOOLLEN George Clarence 57452 MEADOWS Leonard 57454 HEWETT Wallace Horatio A/Sgt
Some may appear in the above photograph. If that is the case, I would be very interested to hear from any relatives. Most of the brave soldiers listed above were tragically killed in active service.
There is a Boy David Memorial to the Machine Gun Corps in London. The Vickers Guns on each side of the Boy David (which each have a laurel wreath laid over them) are actual Vickers Guns.
All were entitled to the Victory and or British War Medal.
Mr Bob Lewis has been in contact: My sister found your site by chance, and we believe that the Wallace HoratioHewett listed as having enlisted alongside your grandfather was our grandfather. The name is correct, including the unusual spelling of Hewett (more normally Hewitt), and our mother says he was in the Machine Gun Corps, and talked of serving at Ypres and Passchendaele. Wallace survived the war, and finished with the rank of SergeantMajor. He lived in North London when I remember him, and two of his four children survive (my mother and the youngest brother), the other two having only recently died. My mother has been collecting information and, with others in the family, putting together a family tree, and although he never spoke of it, we now believe that Maurice - Wallace's eldest son, fought in the Battle of Britain.
At the outbreak of World War I in August 1914 the tactical potential of machine guns was not appreciated by the British Military. The Army therefore went to war with each infantry battalion and cavalry regiment containing a machine gun section of just two guns each. This was supplemented in November 1914 by the formation of the Motor Machine Gun Service (MMGS), administered by the Royal Artillery, consisting of motor cycle mounted machine gun batteries. A machine gun school was also opened in France.
A year of warfare on the Western Front proved that, to be fully effective, machine guns must be used in larger units and crewed by specially trained men. To achieve this, the Machine Gun Corps was formed in October 1915 with Infantry, Cavalry and Motor branches, followed in 1916 by the Heavy Branch. A depot and training centre was established at Belton Park in Grantham, Lincolnshire, and a base depôt at Camiers in France.
During the the First World War the flat lands at Camiers were the site of the huge base depôt of the British army in France. It is usually known nowadays as Étaples camp. Through most of the war, close to it and part of the same complex, Camiers camp was the base depôt, in France, of the Machine Gun Corps. Its home base depôt was at Belton Park, near Grantham.
Owen John and these men were sent overseas, most to France and Flanders. On arrival at the Machine Gun Base Depot, Camiers, they were sent forward to units in the field as reinforcements. Camiers Church pictured right.
It is not known in which Machine Gun Company he served, but he saw action at Ypres, Arras and Cambrai.
In its short history the MGC gained an enviable record for heroism as a front line fighting force, seeing action in all the main theatres of war. Indeed, in the latter part of the war, as tactics changed to defence in depth, it commonly served well in advance of the front line. It had a less enviable record for its casualty rate. Some 170,500 officers and men served in the MGC with 62,049 becoming casualties, including 12,498 killed.
He often recalled the comments of a cook, who when dishing out 'pudding' to the soldiers, would call "One man, one plum, one man, one plum' with a dollop of custard.
He also recalled when on the front, seeing a soldier with a bad limp, outlined nearby. He thought he recognised the shape and movement, and called out "Pentir! Pentir!". Sure enough, 'Pentir' turned around. It was a lad from the same village as him in Penmon, Angelsey. Pentir was his home, and he was always called by that name. They had a few minutes to forget their battle worries as they reminisced about home.
Son Eric Roberts recalls; " My father often spoke to me about the Vickers Machine Gun he used. Out of interest, it was of .303 Cal. pictured above left, and had such a rapid rate of fire, that the barrel became extremely hot and had to be water-cooled. "This entailed having a casing of water around the barrel which must have made the weapon huge and heavy to move around. The gun was supported by a tripod stand when in use. In action, one man fired the gun and the bullets were fed in at the side by another soldier using a belt which fed the .303 bullets. "He never spoke about his experiences in battle, but did mention from time to time, being injured at Ypres. "Apparently, there was a lull in the fighting and he went to the edge of the trench for a smoke. A stray shell exploded nearby and he was hit by shrapnel in the shoulder"
In November 1917, he was hit by shrapnel. The following telegram was sent home to Cae Merddyn from the French battlefields It erroneously mentions husband, and not son.
November 30th, Dear Mrs Roberts You may have heard by now that your brave husband has been wounded. I just write at his request to say it is not a dangerous wound. It is in the chest. He was very brave and did grand work. We have God to thank that his life has not been asked for. Yours sincerely, C.C. Griffiths C H E Chaplain. 3 Cavalry Brigade B.E.F.
I have found these details about the Chaplain who sent the telegram. Canon Cutherbert Cyril Griffiths Military Cross 1918
Curate of St Weburgh, Bristol 1914-15 Temporary Chaplain to the Forces (TCF) 1915-19 Vicar of St Johns Fishponds Bristol 1919-21 Vicar of St John with St Stephen Reading 1921 - 27 Chaplain to the Forces (Reserve of Officers) from 1927 Asst Sec C.C.C.S. 1927-29 Rector of St Leonards on Sea 1939 -47 Canon of Chichester in Chichester Cathedral from 1941 - Proctor Conventional of Chichester 1945 - 55 London Gazette 18 July 1918 Supplement
Rev Cuthbert Cyril Griffiths Army Chapls. dept Though he was blown up by a bursting shell, he continued at his work throughout the night, setting a fine example of coolness and devotion to duty. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty, he went forward with stretcher bearers to the captured postion and dressed and removed the wounded.
An orderly shaving Owen John in hospital declared "Oh my God, you're only a young boy!"
This picture is of him, front, astride a motorcycle with a pal as his passenger. Both men wear the standard 'hospital blues', pale blue uniforms, with white shirt and scarlet tie.
Service injured during The Great War were awarded the Silver War Badge and Certificate
Some of the individuals who were entitled to the War Badge with their badge numbers; B15537 BAYMAN William B15538 WILLIAMS James Henry B15539 TURNER James Williams B15540 DICKINSON John B15541 BENNINGTON Geo Stanley B15542 KARL George B15543 MUNCEY Herbert B15544 ROBERTS Owen John B15545 CHALLIS George B15546 SPIERS William B15547 McWILLIAMS Alexander B15548 FULCHER Frank
Owen John Roberts was discharged 19th August 1918, aged 23 and 9 months.
AFTER THE GREAT WAR
Photo courtesy of Judy Jones
Owen John Roberts (left) with unnamed friend or possibly relative
Owen John Roberts left, at Cae Merddyn with brother Jabez right and parents Charles and Maggie, seated.
Owen John purchased Cae Merddyn from Sir R. H. Bulkeley on the 16th April 1921. He then sold a part share of it to his brother Jabez on the 14th January 1922, later selling the full share to him on the 8th March 1932.
His daughter, Jean recalls how her parents met after The Great War. My mother, Sarah Michell Jenkins worked at a sweet, tobacco and paper shop in Blaenau Ffestiniog, called Y Glorian. The owners were great friends of my grandparents, Richard and Lizzie Jenkins. They also had a shop in Bangor, and asked if my mother would like to go and live and work there. So she went.
In Bangor, some soldiers injured during the Great War were billeted. They wore hospital blue uniforms and called frequently at the shop. This is how my parents first met.
They started courting and finally married in a Manchester Registry Office. Dad worked with Fords car manufacturers in the City. Their eldest daughter Elizabeth Margaret (Betty) was born when they lived in Manchester.
They later moved to Blaenau to live, where he had a coal business. Unfortunately, due to hard times, customers were not paying for the coal, and the business was sold.
Daughters Myfanwy and Jean were born in Blaenau.
MOVING TO DOLGARROG
Jean recalls her father starting work at the Dolgarrog Aluminium works as a rollerman, travelling daily by train from Blaenau Ffestiniog until they managed to to get a house there.
His son Eric was born in Dolgarrog.
Some events at work include the time he noticed a scratch on an aluminium sheet, which he reported to the foreman. No action was taken and the complete job was ruined.
Another incident involved a man's sleeve getting caught in the rollers. Owen John saw this happening and hurried to switch off the machine before the man was killed.
He was later appointed foreman, but the workers went on strike over it, because they wanted another employee, Charlie Carpenter as foreman. However, the Director wanted OJ as foreman, and later promoted him to time keeper.
ALUMINIUM CORPORATION LIMITED Head Office and Works DOLGARROG CONWAY
O. J Roberts Esq 28th November 1961
Dear Mr Roberts, The Directors have asked me to convey to you their congratulations on your having completed thirty years' service with the Company and to hand you the enclosed cheque. In order to make a net payment to you of £50, the amount has been calculated as follows; Gratuity £66/1/- less Income Tax £16/1/- Total £50.
The 'Candian' apple tree
Owen John was a keen gardener and when his daughter Betty sent a box of Canadian apples from Canada, he planted a pip which grew on the windowsill in the kitchen.
From this one pip, there are now a few apple trees in our old home, 26 Gwydyr Road, Dolgarrog.
He once converted his son Eric's pram into a two seater little car. It was super and painted cream. He also made a wooden rifle for him which looked realistic.
Son Eric recalls; "My father would go up to 'The Woods' and sometimes took me with him as a small boy. He would saw down a medium sized tree. He never dragged the tree home, but would trim off the branches rub soil on to the stump, and then hide the trunk in some nearby undergrowth for later collection. He was aware that it was an offence to cut down any growing trees, but it was 'fair game' to collect a loose trunk of a tree which had naturally fallen down. Hence his precaution!!
He would then retrieve a previously hidden tree trunk and carry it home on his shoulder to hand saw into logs for the winter, other logs would be axed into firewood, and safely stored in the 'coal-house' or shed with the logs ready for winter. Unfortunately someone in Dolgarrog reported him to the Forestry Commission and he was told to stop cutting down any more trees."
He built a very neat shed, he always cleaned his implements after use and kept each in a special place. He knew exactly where every screw was kept. He could turn his hand to anything and everything he did turned out first class. He put his all into what he did.
Sunday was a day of rest at home. One Sunday, he found Jean knitting and was very cross with her. He asked what she was doing, reminding her that she should not do such things on a Sunday. She replied "I'm sure God doesn't mind me knitting gloves for my father to keep his hands warm during the cold weather, when he goes to Chapel.". He thought and relented. Nothing more was said about it. The gloves are now over 60 years old.
During the Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, the whole village of Dolgarrog decorated their houses, and Dad won first prize for decorating outside our home - the walls and the garden. My mother put up red white and blue paper curtains.
He loved painting and decorating the home. Betty often said that our bathroom looked like a milk bar, in yellow and blue.
During the 1939/45 War, he built an air raid shelter for the family in the kitchen. He did this by carrying large stones and building a wall against the outside kitchen wall. He then placed a corrugated sheet which was lifted up and placed on the strong kitchen table. This, he said, would save us if the house collapsed. The corrugated sheet was hinged to the inside windowsill. He had great ideas and they were always successful.
Daughter Jean remembers "sitting in chapel when I was very young and during the sermon, Dad would be sitting with his hand on his knee and I would place my hand on his, He would bend his fingers around mine. I felt so happy and safe - his hand was so very large and strong and mine so small."
A Father of Three Brides
DOLGARROG ALUMINIUM WORKS
He retired from the Aluminium works in September 1962. Ken Davies remembers visiting his Taid at the timekeeper's office, and on a couple of other occasions after his retirement, he took Ken on a guided tour of the works.
Right, O.J.R. in his garden with grand daughter Wendy
After his retirement, he continued with his love of the garden and was thrilled when a Robin adopted him!!
There was never a weed in sight and he always rotated his crops each year.
He enjoyed watching boxing - Henry Cooper being his favourite and often referred to the fight with Cassius Clay, or Mohammed Ali as he was later known.
Taid was a Manchester United fan, and he played full back in his youth. He often told me, that if the ball went passed, the oppenent wouldn't! We often played draughts and sometimes, cards. On the occasions he would let me beat him, he'd mentioned that I'd just beaten a former draughts Champion during the War.
He often reminisced about his Home Guard days.
He'd never miss the news, and kept up to date with current affairs.
When Nannan was taken ill before she died, they moved to live with Jean and son in law Bill in Llandeilo.
Owen John Roberts died in his sleep at The Post Office Flat, Rhosmaen Street, Llandeilo on the 1st May 1976.
Er Cof Annwyl am
OWEN JOHN ROBERTS
Priod y ddiweddar Sarah Michell Roberts, Tad tyner Betty, Myfanwy, Jean ac Eric gynt o
26 GWYDYR ROAD, DOLGARROG
Hunodd Mai 1, 1976 yn 81 mlwydd oed.
Rhoddwyd i orffwys ym Mynwent Tal-y-Bont Ddydd Mawrth Mai 4, 1976
"Gwyn eu byd y rhai pur o galon canys hwy a welant Dduw"
The Royal British Legion Flag flew at half mast at Owen John's funeral.
He is buried at Tal Y Bont Chapel, with his wife Sarah Michell Roberts, and daughter Elizabeth Margaret Gaetz.
View up the Conway Valley from the grave.
THANK YOU FOR VISITING THIS SITE - KEN DAVIES
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