North West Wales

War medal traced to Anglesey grave

Community payback supervisor Sid Giles [R] near the grave
Image caption Community payback supervisor Sid Giles, on the right, near the grave

The chance discovery of a British Commonwealth war medal has led to the grave of a "forgotten" soldier being restored on Anglesey.

Holyhead deputy mayor Jeff Evans found the medal in his late father's effects, and it took him seven years to trace the history of its owner, TW Roach.

An Army historian from Scotland finally pointed him in the right direction.

A parade and service will now be held at the grave at St Seiriol's cemetery during Armed Forces Day on 19 June.

Mr Evans said he felt the grave needed to be restored as a sign of respect to the soldier who had served with the Royal Engineers and died in October 1918, aged 24.

"The major part was when I saw it done up, there was a lump in my throat," he said.

It took a fair bit of detective work to find the correct TW Roach, and it was not until he widened his search on the internet that an Army historian from Scotland got in touch.

Mr Evans said he was surprised when he learned TW Roach was buried in Holyhead.

Lost at sea

The reason his grave did not have a similar headstone to the three other war graves was that he was buried in the same plot as his father, Captain Thomas Roach, who was lost at sea in 1900.

With no body to bury, Captain Roach's wife had provided the grave herself and so the War Graves Commission was not responsible.

Mr Evans contacted the Army, who contributed £250 towards the refurbishing of the badly damaged grave, and the Holyhead branch of the Royal British Legion put up £250.

The work on the grave - and others nearby - was done by the offenders working on a "community payback" scheme with the Wales Probation Trust.

"I appreciate the way in which the community pay back team responds to requests like this," said Mr Evans.

"It's exactly what people want to see - offenders putting something back into their local community."

The community payback supervisor, Sid Giles, also has a military background, having spent 24 years in the Royal Welch Fusiliers, and said he was proud to have worked on the grave restoration.

"The place was a mess when we first came here and it's done the team good to be involved with something like this," he added.