GRIFFITHS, William Richard
Regiment: 2nd Bn. Suffolk Regiment
Died: 07 September 1915
Buried/ Memorial: Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium
Address: 59 Phillip Street, Hoole
Chester Chronicle 18 September 1915
HOOLE SOLDIER DIES FROM WOUNDS
“ALWAYS CHEERFUL AND WILLING”
“News has been received at Hoole that Pte. W. R. Griffiths, 19431, of the 2nd Suffolk Regiment has died from wounds. The deceased lived with his parents at 59 Philip Street, Hoole, and enlisted with the Suffolk Regiment on the 26th January 1915. He went to the front on July 6th and was wounded in the chest on September 7th, succumbing to his injuries the same day.
Pte. Griffiths received his education at All Saints, Hoole, where he was well liked. He successfully represented the school as goalkeeper in the football team. At the time of enlisting he was employed as an assistant with the Maypole Dairy Company, Eastgate Street, Chester. He was an enthusiastic member of the Church Lads Brigade, and was a sergeant in the All Saints Company. His death came as a blow not only to the family, but to all who knew him, and his death at the early age of 18 has been a great loss to the men of the regiment, where he will be missed very much. A brother, Cpl Geo. Griffiths, is serving with the A.S.C. in France.
The manner in which the deceased was wounded was communicated to the parents by Sergt. W. Waters in a letter which stated: - “He was very much liked by all his mates in the platoon, and I must say he was a lad willing to do anything he was asked to do, and I miss him too. Perhaps you would like to know how your son got wounded. Well, he had come from the firing line on the night of 7th , and we were well away from it too, and a bullet came and hit your son in the side, passing through so that it came out just below his heart. I dressed the wound and ran for a stretcher. Going down for it I met an ambulance and he went straight away to hospital.” A further letter was received from the sergeant as follows: - “Dear Madam, - I am very sorry to inform you that your son died from the wound he received. I have just got the news, so I thought I would drop a line. We shall all miss him, as he was a good soldier and a hard worker. I and my comrades send our deepest sympathy to you in your great loss.”
Lieut. E. Hedward, 2nd Suffolk Regiment, in a letter states: - “I believe my platoon sergeant has also written to you sympathising with your loss, and I join with him and the rest of the platoon in offering you out deepest sympathy in your bereavement. We shall miss him very much as he was always cheerful and willing.”
A touching account was also received from the Rev. M. Buchanan, the chaplain of the Casualty Clearing Station, who writes:- “I saw him in the evening, and he was only half conscious, but I think he was just able to join in the Lord’s Prayer as I said it near his bed. We buried him this afternoon with the church service in our soldiers’ cemetery 1½ miles south of Poperinghe, in Belgium and a cross will be placed on his grave inscribed with his name.”
A memorial service will be held at Hoole on Sunday morning.”
Chester Chronicle 25 September 1915
MEMORIAL SERVICE AT HOOLE
“On Sunday a service was held at All Saints, Hoole, to the memory of Pte. William Griffiths, Philip Street, Hoole, who died while serving his country at the front. There was a large congregation, which included Mrs Griffiths and other relatives and friends, members of the Chester Men’s Voluntary Aid Detachment, under Quartermaster E.P. Playfoot, and J.P. Faulkner and E. Weaver (section leaders), and over sixty members of the Church Lads Brigade (including the band), under Captain A. Wood and Lieut. J Barber. For his text the Vicar (Rev. E. A. Pavitt) took I Corinthians, 15th chapter, 30th verse, ”In jeopardy every hour”. He said that the country was in jeopardy and that there were some, it appeared, “so blind to all honour, so deaf to all appeals, so dead to the nobler instincts of patriotism, that they would imperil our very birthright, there’s and ours, for a mess of pottage, risking all for what was by comparison, naught. This was no time for listening to the objurgations of party hacks, for being victimised by the foibles of people with a grievance, for tolerating a domineering attitude on the part of any noisy faction. The country was in jeopardy and if there was any man, or any body of men, who in this hour of supreme and bitter crisis would not put country first at any cost, then let the rest of them rise as one man and cry, “Away with them.” Hundreds and thousands of our best and bravest were in jeopardy every hour, such jeopardy, we were told, that we could not realise it unless we had experienced it. The sorrowing wives and mothers were with us. The men with ghastly and terrible wounds were with us. Whose heart would not burn, whose inmost soul would not dilate, at the shameful contrast between the splendid self sacrifice of those on the one hand who stood between us and the terrible foe, facing the horrors of the battlefield, and the degrading opportunism of those, on the other hand, whose pernicious selfishness branded them with an infamy which words could not express. “In jeopardy every Hour.” It was true of all men everywhere, but terribly true of those on land and sea, in the air or beneath the waves, striving to vindicate justice, honour, and freedom, against the forces of iniquity and tyranny. Those members of the Church Lads Brigade were thereto honour the memory of an erstwhile comrade. Pte. Griffiths’ last thoughts seem to have been of his widowed mother, to whom his last message was, “I am always thinking of you.” First, as a day and Sunday School scholar, and afterwards as a non-commissioned officer in their C.L.B., William Griffiths, from boyhood, loved and was at all time a regular worshiper there. Now he had gone to that higher Service where man always met God face to face. In the passing of that young life, God had spoken to many. Sympathising friends and neighbours had gathered around the sorrowing mother, and it had been his opportunity and privilege to speak to not a few little groups in that street during the past week, pointing to the momentous issues of life and death. God had spoken to them. Did He not speak to them, especially to the lads of that brigade which William Griffiths held non-commissioned rank? He (the preacher) had spoken somewhat vehemently and he thought he would speak with equal vehemence tomorrow, if the occasion arose, of the sordid selfishness of those who exploited the country’s misfortunes for the sake of base ideals. But through out life, as St James said, “endureth for a little time and then vanisheth away” – this earthly life, fleeting though it was, was yet replete with golden opportunities. He turned with deep thankfulness to think of those who, loyally and devotedly, were giving time and skill to works of usefulness. Such a work was assuredly that of the Men’s Voluntary Aid Detachment represented there that morning. Heartily he welcomed them. Their badge was the Red Cross. He knew of only one more sacred, more inspiring, and that was the Cross that once streamed red with blood of the Crucified Redeemer, who made atonement for our sins, the Cross which because of what it stood for accounted for the genesis and development of all red cross work. In conclusion, Mt Parvitt exhorted everyone never to do less than their utmost, and to live ever in full view of the Cross of Christ, and beneath its shadow, learning ever more deeply its supreme lessons and meaning. He urged that our utmost and our best should be for God and His Church, for our King and our beloved country, for suffering humanity and the world at large.
Amongst the hymns were the hospital hymn, “Thou to Whom the sick and dying,” which was very feelingly rendered. The first verse of the National Anthem was sung after the benediction. The choir then took up a position inside the north-west door, the V.A.D. lined up in the roadway, and the C.L.B. from the church door to the roadway and Mr R. B. Hamilton played Chopin’s Funeral March. While the congregation stood the buglers of the C.L.B. Band sounded the last post.”
The 1901 Census shows William as a 3-year-old boy at 64 Phillip Street with his mother Margaret (who had become a widow that year) and brothers Edward, George and Herbert.
Besides his grave in Belgium, his name is also commemorated on his parents’ gravestone in Overleigh Cemetery.