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Sunday, 2 October 2011

John Williams 1892/93 - 1918

John Williams was born in Sandymount, Dublin to Willis Creighton Williams and his wife Kate O'Neill in either 1892 or 1893.
He was our paternal great-uncle, the brother of our paternal grandfather, Richard Williams.









John Williams is the blonde baby sitting on his mother's lap.

John Williams must have either worked for the bank or been an accountant because, at some stage following the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, he joined the 26th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers. This battalion was known as 'The Bankers' Battalion and was one of 47 battalions raised by the Royal Fusiliers. The Bankers' Battalion had been formed on the 17th July 1915 in London by the Lord Mayor and City of London, and was composed mainly by former bank clerks and accountants.
The 26th Battalion was attached to the 41st Division of the 124th Brigade in November 1915, and landed in France on 4th May 1915. They were moved to Italy in November 1917 before returned to France in March 1918 which was where John was killed on August 10th.

I found John William's military records on Ancestry.com. He enlisted in Dublin and died in France/Flanders; he was a private in the Machine Gun Corps, No. 70469. He had formerly been with the Royal Fusiliers, No. 19507.
He was also mentioned in 'Ireland's Memorial Records 1914 - 1918:
'Williams, John. Reg No 70469. Rank: Private, Machine Gun Corps, 55th Batt; killed in action, France, August 10th 1918; born Sandymount, Co. Dublin.'

The 55th Battalion Machine Gun Corps had been formed on 7th March 1918 and became part of the 55th West Lancashire Division. In August 1918, they were based near Lille in Northern France.

We have two letters sent by John's colleague, second-lieutenant Sidney Johnston, in a small black-edged envelope to our grandfather, Richard Williams, stamped 'Field Post Office 16 Sp 18' and sent to our grandfather at the Royal Bank of Ireland, Foster Place (College Green), Dublin. The envelope is also stamped 'Passed by Censor No. 47.'

"Dear Mr. Williams,
Yours of 5th to hand. I regret to say that your brother spoke no word after being hit as death was almost instantaneous.
Although his body is not with us, the memory of his verve and energy remains to inspire us, helping to make us crush the Bosche with all speed.
Perhaps you will kindly communicate any information I have sent to your brother Gerald as he has written me also.
Many thanks to Mrs. Williams for her kind invitation to call,
yours sincerely,
Sidney Johnston 2/Lt.

Also:
"Dear Sir,
I am answering your letter of 22 Aug addressed to O.C. Coy (?) as I was your brother's section officer. He was killed almost instantaneously by light shell on Saturday 10th August between 11.15 am and midday.
About half an hour previously 3 others had been wounded in cookhouse and after helping to dress them, he volunteered with another man to get a stretcher from Ard (?) Post half a mile away although the route was being shelled. On his way back he was killed with (sic) 50 yards of the cookhouse. It was all during a daily strafe and not going over the top. We were very very unlucky having 3 killed and 2 wounded in his section.
Hoping the above is what you require and that I have not perchance used casual expressions which (?) in a matter so grave,
Believe me,
Yours sincerely,
S. Johnston 2/Lt
PS: Particulars of grave will be sent later."

Both the above letters were headed in pencil with the initials 'B.E.J.'.

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