This is my great-uncle William Roach. He was my grandmother’s elder brother and he fought in world war one. He was born on 21st March 1895 in Tredegar, South Wales to a family of Irish descent. As a coal miner he would have been exempt from conscription, but he signed up anyway very early in the war and made it to France by November 1914 (after completing his basic training). Initially, he fought as an infantry man with the 2nd battalion of the Welsh Regiment, but soon his mining experience was called upon and he was drafted in to help the Royal Engineers. He was working in a tunneling company whose purpose was to protect the British line through a series of underground tunnels (called galleries), often dug from larger trenches, cut towards the German line.
In June 1915 William was working at Cuinchy and Givenchy in France. At 4.30am on Thursday 3 June 1915 the Germans set off a large mine in front of these galleries William was working on blowing them both in and burying them. William was one of 7 miners and 4 infantry killed either by the blast or by suffocation afterwards. His body was never recovered. He was only 20 years old.
We assume that the young woman he is pictured with is his sweetheart, but we don’t know her name. This is one of two pictures we have of him, the other is from a newspaper and appears to be a cut down version of another picture (sadly we don’t have the original of that one or indeed a copy of the whole picture).