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  • Christina Drummond

Able Seaman William Charles Williams V.C.

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1915, Able Seaman William Charles Williams V.C. was killed in action at Gallipoli.

As a boy he had been a gardener and labourer, joined the Royal Navy Boys Service in Portsmouth at fourteen in 1985, and was promoted to Able Seaman in 1901. He was commended for his bravery when serving aboard HMS Terrible in the Naval Brigade off South Africa during the Second Boer War, and in China during the Boxer Rising. He left the regular service in 1910, joining the Royal Naval Reserve and worked in the police force and in a steel works in Newport. He rejoined the Navy in 1914 on being mobilised at the start of the Great War.

During his career, he served on eighteen different ships. One the day of his death he was assisting the landing on V Beach, Cape Helles, of HMS River Clyde (previously the SS River Clyde). Involved in the work of securing the lighters, he held on to a rope for over an hour, standing chest deep in the sea, under continuous enemy fire. After jumping into the water to save others, he was severely wounded and later killed by a shell whilst his rescue was being effected.

The Commander described him as the bravest sailor he had ever met. He is listed on the CWGC’s Portsmouth Naval Memorial. There are two memorials to him in Chepstow - a painting by Charles Dixon of the events in the Dardanelles, hanging in St Mary's Church; and a naval gun from the German submarine SM UB-91 in the town's main square beside the war memorial. A memorial plaque was affixed to the parish war memorial in the churchyard at Stanton Lacy, and following the centenary of his award a VC commemoration stone was erected in the same village, inlaid in the wall near the gate of the village cemetery. He has no known grave. William, from Stanton Lacy in Shropshire, was 34 years old.

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