Four children killed in World War 1 bomb blast

first published 11th March 2016

Wrexham remembers four children killed in World War 1 bomb blast.

A father returning from the front-line during World War One lived to regret his fateful decision to bring a battlefield souvenir home.

It was a tragedy played out during World War 1 that unfolded far from the bloody battlefields of Europe.

Four young girls from the same family died after a German bomb brought home by a returning solider exploded when he accidentally dropped it and killed four children.

Pte John Bagnall had brought the shell back to his home in the Moss Valley on March 9 1916.

His daughter and three nieces lost their lives in the explosion.

This week a service to commemorate the deaths was held and attended by members of the family.

The grave of the girls who died in the blast

The service heard Pte Bagnall thought the bomb was safe, as it had already received a lot of rough handling.

But as he was cleaning the shell it slipped from his hand and went off.

Pte Bagnall’s wife, Mary, one-year-old daughter Sarah, seven-year-old niece, Violet and sister-in-law Sarah Roberts along with her two children, Mary and Ethel, aged four and 15 months were present.

Ethel was killed instantly, and the other three girls died later in hospital.

Pte Bagnall lost a leg, Mary had permanent damage to both of her feet, while Ms Roberts lost both legs.

A huge funeral for the children took place and they were buried in two neighbouring graves in Holy Trinity Churchyard in Gwersyllt.

Holy Trinity Church, Gwersyllt, where a memorial service to four girls killed by a World War I bomb was held

But at the time no headstone was erected and the location of the graves were forgotten.

However, work by the Broughton District History Group (BDHG) located the graves and with permission of the families, a headstone was placed as a memorial to the four children.

Rev Paulette Gower, who took the service, said: “It was a very short service to commemorate and reflect on the 100th anniversary of this tragic event.”

Phil Coops of BDHG said: “It was a very tragic event and a very tragic accident of which nobody was to blame.”

Service held at Holy Trinity Church to commemorate death of four girls killed when a World War 1 bomb exploded (Image Philip Walker)

Source: North Wales Live by Steve Bagnall first published 11th March 2016.

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