532479, 15th Bn., London Regiment (Prince of Wales’ Own Civil Service Rifles)
Died 14th December 1918

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Remembered with Honour

Sketty (St. Paul’s) Churchyard
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Clifford Cornelius was born on 19th November 1896 in Swansea. His parents were Thomas (Tom) and Mary Jane Cornelius, both born in 1863 and married in 1888. His mother died in 1899 when Clifford was 3 years old.

His father, Thomas, was described as a cupola man in 1901 which meant that he was employed as a furnace man in an iron foundry.

After his mother’s death, Clifford was brought up in his grandparents’ house in Victoria Street, Uplands, where his father and two sisters also lived in 1901. By 1911, Clifford was still living with his grandparents and was employed as a shipping clerk – his father had moved out to lodgings in 10 Mariner Street, Swansea.

Clifford enlisted in Swansea on 1 December 1915 and joined the 15th London Regiment (Civil Service Rifles). His home was at 36 Coedsaeson Crescent, Sketty, his grandmother’s house.

Having survived the war, Clifford died on 18th December 1918 at home and was buried in the graveyard at St. Paul’s Church in Sketty. He died as a result of consumption brought on from having been twice gassed. The following two reports from local newspapers give details about his death and subsequent funeral:

Twice Gassed

On Saturday evening, Clifford Lawrence Cornelius passed away at the residence of his grandmother, Mrs. John Ellis, 36 Coedsaeson Crescent, Sketty. He was only 22 years of age and was on the clerical staff of Mr. John Bevan, shipbroker, Swansea, in 1914, when war broke out, and left to join the Civil Service Rifles. He subsequently saw active service in France and Salonika, and on his return to the former country was twice gassed, and in hospital. Obtaining his discharge in February last (1918), he resumed his civilian occupation, but not for long. He was popular with his companions and a member of Wesley Chapel, Sketty, where a service will be held on Wednesday previous to his interment In the family grave in Sketty Churchyard.

South Wales Weekly Post 215 December 1918

 The body of Private Clifford Cornelius, Civil Service Rifles, who died on Saturday night, at the age of 22, at his home, 36 Coedsoeson Crescent, Sketty, from consumption brought on by gas poisoning, first in France, then on the Macedonian Front, was committed to the grave in the Sketty Church burial ground on Wednesday, with military honours. In February 1918 he was discharged, and resumed his occupation for a time, though suffering from consumption. Two months ago he took to his bed. The coffin, surmounted with the Union Jack, on which were placed numerous wreaths, was drawn on the gun carriage to the Wesleyan Chapel, where a service was held, conducted by the Rev. Walter J. Morgan, Swansea. The procession, headed by a party of Lancashire Fusiliers, then wended its way to the grave. Here the firing party fired 3 times in the air, and stood to the salute while the “Last Post” was sounded. The mourners were: Mr. Tom Cornelius (Father), Mr. John Ellis (Uncle), Miss Lizzie Ellis (Aunt), Miss Gladys Thomas and Master Ellis (Cousins) and Miss Parkes.

Cambrian Daily Leader 17th & 19th December 1918.

The 15th (Prince of Wales’s Own Civil Service Rifles) Battalion, The London Regiment, was a Territorial unit and had their headquarters at Somerset House when war broke out in August 1914, serving as part of 4th London Brigade, 2nd London Division. The Division had just arrived for their annual summer camp on Salisbury Plain when war was declared in August 1914. They were at once recalled to their home base and mobilised for war service.

They proceeded to France on the 18th of March 1915, landing at Le Havre, being only the second Territorial Force Division to arrive in theatre. The 5th London Brigade was ordered to Cassel, and the remainder of the Division concentrated near Bethune on the Somme and were joined by 5th London Brigade near the end of the month.

They saw action in The Battle of Aubers Ridge, The Bathe of Festubert, The Bathe of Loos and the subsequent actions of the Hohenzollern Redoubt. In 1916 they fought during the German attack at Vimy Ridge, and on the Somme in the Battle of Flers-Courcelette capturing High Wood, the Battle of the Transloy Ridges in which the captured Eaucourt l’Abbaye and the attacks on the Butte de Warlencourt. In 1917 they were in action in the Battle of Messines, the Third Battles of Ypres and the Cambrai Operations where they captured Bourlon Wood and fought against the German counter attacks.

In 1918 they were in action on The Somme and the Final Advance in Artois including making the official entry into Lille. At the Armistice the forward units of the Division had reached Franses-lez-Buissenal. They marched back to Tournai and on the 26th of November moved to the Bethune area where demobilisation began with the first parties returning to England in the first week in January 1919. Unfortunately for Clifford he had been invalided out in the February of 1918 following gas poisoning but would have been involved in much of the fighting during 1916 and 1917, as well as according to the newspaper report of his death, having spent some time on the Macedonian Front where he was also gassed.

The Macedonian Front, also known as the Salonika front, was formed as a result of an attempt by the allied powers to aid Serbia, in the autumn of 1915, against the combined attack of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria. The expedition came too late and in insufficient force to prevent the fall of Serbia. Eventually, a stable front was established, running from the Albanian Adriatic coast to the Struma River, pitting a multinational Allied force against the Bulgarian Army, which was at various times bolstered with smaller units from the remaining Central Powers. The Macedonian Front remained quite stable, despite local actions, until the great Allied Offensive in September 1918, which resulted in the capitulation of Bulgaria and the liberation of Serbia.

Clifford was one of the 1,240 soldiers who died while serving with the regiment in the Great War.

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Additional Information

CORNELIUS Clifford – died 14th December 1918 aged 22. He was a private in the London Regiment (Prince of Wales’ Own Civil Service Rifles) 15th Bn. His service number was 532479. He is buried in St. Paul’s Churchyard, Sketty (old ground – walk through the lych gate, from Gower Road and the grave is to the left), Swansea. It does not state on the Commonwealth War Graves site the names of his parents.

In 1911 Clifford lived at 1, Victoria Street, Uplands, Swansea, with his grandparents John (1843) and Margaret (1837) ELLIS. John was a gardener, Margaret undertook household work. Also living at the address was their son William (1876— colliery labourer) and Gladys THOMAS (1897 – assisting at home). John and Margaret ELLIS had had ten children, eight of whom were alive at the time of this census.

In 1901 he lived at 11 Victoria Terrace, Uplands, Swansea. Two families lived at this address – ELLIS – John (1843), gardener (domestic) born in Kingsland, Hereford, Margaret (1837), his wife, born in Llandovery, their children, Margaret (1867 at Troedyrhiw (sic)) – dressmaker, William (1876) – coachman (domestic) and Arthur (1880) – solicitor’s clerk. With the Ellis family lived their son-in-law Thomas CORNELIUS (1863) – cupolman. Thomas was a widower. His children Elsie (1891 Sketty), Dorothy (1894 Sketty), Clifford (1896 Sketty) and Gladys THOMAS (1897 Sketty – grand-daughter) also lived there, together with Jane JONES (1843 – retired housemaid – born Llandovery) and described as an imbecile.

In 1891 the CORNELIUS family lived at 1, Lewis Street, Swansea Higher and Lower (now known as Sketty). Thomas (1863) was married to Mary J (1865). He was a furnaceman born in Swansea and she was born in Troderhen (sic) (Troederhiw), Swansea. Their children were Elsie (1890 – Sketty) and Georgine (sic) (1873 – Sketty), son-in-law.

In 1881 the family lived at 13, Baptist Well Street, Swansea. This takes us back another generation. William (1824 – labourer) and his wife Elizabeth (1831), lived with their children W. John (1851 – shipsmith), Thomas (1862 – painter), Frederick (1867 – errand boy), David (1870 – scholar) and James (1872 – scholar). Also living with them was Margaret THOMPSON (1829 – sister-in- law).

In 1871 the family lived in Matthew Street, Swansea. Margaret THOMPSON (1831) was living with the CORNELIUS family of William (1831 – mason’s labourer), Elizabeth (1833), William J (1851 – blacksmith), Richard (1853 – labourer), Margaret (1857 – scholar), Catherine (1859 – scholar), Thomas (1862 – scholar), Charles (1864 – scholar), Frederick (1867 – scholar) and David (1870). They were all born in Swansea.

In 1861 the family lived in 32, Matthew Street. William (1826 – labourer), Elizabeth (1831), William John (1850), Richard (1852), Margaret (1856), Catherine (1859) – all scholars and Thomas LEIGH (1842 – engine railway cleaner) born in Stoke.

In 1851 the family lived in Waterloo Street. William (1824) was a mason, living with his wife Elizabeth (1832) and baby son William J (1851). Also living there were Ellen LEIGH (1836— house servant— sister-in-law) and Thomas LEIGH (1842 – brother).

In the 1841 census William CORNELIUS may have been living in Bedwellty and working as a smith.