Published By Joan Zorn
William Henry Roberts was the eldest of three brothers who are all ‘Men on the Gates’ – Ernest Maurice Roberts and Albert Sidney Roberts. They came from a large family with 15 children: John, Evan, William (HIM), Thomas, Mary, Richard, Hugh, Ernest, James, (Albert) Sidney, Frances, Kate, Alice, Norman and Albert. Their father was Thomas Roberts, a general labourer working in a brickyard. Their mother was Catherine, she would die in July 1911. The family lived at Morda Factory Cottages. Of the brothers, with the exception of the two youngest, all would serve. The Roll of Honour in BCA records that one was awarded the Military Medal, one was a PoW since 1915, a third was serving in France and another in Egypt.
William was born in 1886 at Morda. In 1901 he was working as a general labourer. No record can be found of him in the 1911 census. Before the war William had very likely served in the Shropshire Yeomanry. At the outbreak of war he joined the 2nd Reserve Cavalry Regiment which had been formed from men who had usually served in the old Yeomanry regiments. They received their basic training with the cavalry but were then usually transferred to infantry units – this would seem to have been the case with William. He was posted to 4 Bn King’s Liverpool Regiment. His medal records show him going over to France on 2 May 1915, however, they are annotated ‘Convicted Fraud’ and that his service runs from 4 January 1916. In February 1916 the battalion was in the area around Bethune.
On 29 February (the extra ‘day’ in 1916, a leap year) they were in trenches near to Cambrin about 6km east of the town. William is listed as wounded on the 29 February. He was probably evacuated to 33rd CCS in Bethune where he died of his wounds the same day. He is buried in Bethune Town Cemetery. His gravestone inscription reads ‘Last token of Love’. There is also a commemorative stone on the family grave in Oswestry Cemetery and he is also on St Oswald’s War Memorial.