John (Jack) William Nelson Roberts was born in 1880, the son of Dr. John Roberts, a Caernarvonshire G.P. who, some years earlier, may well have saved the life of a 7-year-old child named David Lloyd George.1 Jack was educated at Shrewsbury School - where Henry Davison Riley was a contemporary - and Edinburgh University from where he graduated as a physician and surgeon.
|Jack Roberts served as a ship's doctor in the Merchant Navy before being granted a commission in the R.A.M.C. with the rank of Lieutenant on 19th April 1915. The 11th East Lancashires were at this time training in Caernarvon, close to the Roberts' family home near Criccieth, and it was perhaps a chance encounter with Capt. Riley that led to Lt. Roberts' appointment as Medical Officer to the battalion. Promotion to Captain followed on 19th April 1916, as the battalion prepared to take part in the Somme offensive.
Left: Jack Roberts. Photograph courtesy of Jack's son, Diccon.
During the attack on Serre of 1st July 1916, Capt. Roberts was wounded by shrapnel as German artillery pounded Excema trench sometime before 10.01am.
|Capt. Roberts was reassigned after recovering from his wounds and is known to have served in Mesopotamia at Hai, Dhara Bend, Shumran Crossing, Baghdad, Marl Plain, Serai, Deli Abbas, Adhaim, Sacaltutan Pass, Qualat, Tepi, Tuz and Kirkuk. For some or all of this time he was attached to the 4th South Wales Borderers from which he was demobilized in 1919.
Right: Jack's dog tag. Photograph courtesy of Diccon Nelson-Roberts.
In the Second World War, Jack Roberts served with the 4th Caernarvonshire Battalion of the Home Guard. He died on 27th September 1960 at Bangor.
- The story is told that David Lloyd George was suffering acutely from quinzies at the age of 7 while living at Llanystumdwy. Dr. Roberts came to the future Prime Minister's rescue by arranging for a goose's quill dipped in honey to be pushed down his throat, so enabling him to breathe and to survive. One can only speculate on the influence that Dr. Roberts' actions had on the course of the Great War. [back]
Compiled from TNA document WO95/2366 and information from Diccon Nelson-Roberts who would be glad to receive any further information regarding his father's service career.