William Williams VC memorial, Amlwch

William Williams VC memorial, Amlwch

Photo of William Williams receiving his Victoria CrossIn the square here you can see a memorial stone for William Williams, who received the Victoria Cross in the First World War. The VC is Britain’s highest military honour for bravery.

The memorial is in the semi-circular area beside the car park, across the road from the Adelphi Vaults.

William Williams was born in Well Street, Amlwch, in 1890. His parents were Ann and Richard, a boatman. He was educated at Amlwch Port School before joining the crew of the Beaumaris schooner Meyric. At the outbreak of the First World War, he enlisted in the Royal Naval Reserve as a Seaman/Gunner. By the end of his four-year service he was one of the most decorated British ratings of the war, having received the Victoria Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal twice, and the Médaille Militaire. Thereafter he was known as “Will VC”!

He predominantly served on “Q” ships while in the Navy. These merchant vessels carried concealed weapons and lured enemy submarines to the surface before destroying them. This often meant that the “Q” ship had first to take a direct hit from the submarine!

Will’s first decoration was the DSM, for his part in sinking the German submarine U.38 in February 1917. Will was serving aboard HMS Farnborough when it was torpedoed off the Irish coast. Some sailors left the ship in a lifeboat, giving the watching German submariners the impression the ship had been abandoned. When U.38 breached the surface, the remaining men on the armed trawler, including Will, opened fire and sank it.

Four months later, Williams was awarded the VC for gallant actions aboard HMS Pargust. When the ship was torpedoed by submarine U.29, a “panic party” of sailors took to a lifeboat, enticing the submarine to the surface. The gunners aboard HMS Pargust opened fire and sank the U-boat. 

Will was invested with the Victoria Cross by King George V at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace in July 1917 (see photo) and was awarded the Médaille Militaire by the French Republic for “Valeur et Discipline”.

A month later, Will took part in sinking another submarine, this time on the “Q” ship HMS Dunraven in the Bay of Biscay (west of France). For this he received a Bar to his Distinguished Service Medal.

The people of Amlwch gave him a gold watch, paid for by public subscription. He was a founder of the Holyhead branch of the Royal British Legion and for many years acted as its standard bearer. After being discharged from the Navy in November 1918, he worked at the docks in Holyhead. He lived in Holyhead until his death in 1965. He is buried at Amlwch Cemetery.

With thanks to Adrian Hughes, of the Home Front museum, Llandudno

Postcode: LL68 9HD    View Location Map

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