Charles Williams was born in Bodfari in 1890. He first appeared on a census in 1891. He was living with his family at Bryn Tirion Bodfari. Head of the household was Edward, a 44 year old Agricultural Labourer. His wife was 43 year old Jane. Their listed children in the household were Edward 6 and Charles who was 1.
Ten years later in the 1901 census the family was living at Tan y Gaer in Bodfari. Edward was 51, Jane 53 and the children listed in the household were John E a Carter on a Farm, Sarah J was 21, Charles was 11 and Mary was 9.
The census of 1911 records 22 year old Charles Williams listed as a Servant at Maes y Coed Farm in Afonwen. He was working as a Carter. The farmer was Robert Matthews.
Charles’s Army Service Records have survived and are accessible on www.ancestry.co.uk . They tell us much of his military story. He actually enlisted well before the war, on the 12th April 1911, (shortly after the census). He took the oath and signed his Attestation Paper in Caerwys on that day. He gave his name as Charles Williams aged 22 years and 10 months. He had been born in Bodfari and was at that time employed as a ‘Carter’ at Maes y Coed Farm, Afonwen, working for a Mr Matthews. He was recruited to serve for 4 years in The Army Service Corps. There is a medical report on enlistment. It says he was 5 feet 6 inches tall and had a chest measurememnt of 34 with a 2 inch range of expansion. His physical development and eyesight were good and he was deemed fit to serve in The Army Service Corps and was given the regimental number 251111. The records show that he attended annual Training with the ASC in 1911 and 1912.
After serving his 4 years, Charles was reengaged on the 11th April 1916 in Bedford. At this point his regimental number was 570. We know nothing really about what he did in those first 4 years but the records say that he served ‘At Home’ (in the UK) from 5th August 1914 until the 2nd January 1917.
It’s difficult to plot his journey through the next couple of years.
The records tell us that he had quite a journey throughout January 1917. He embarked on H.T. ‘Londonderry’ from Southampton on the 3rd January 1917 and disembarked at Le Havre on the 6th January 1917. He reembarked at Marseilles on the 8th January 1917 on HMT ‘Minnotonka’ and left that ship on the 14th January 1917 at Salonika. His travels began again in June 1917. He sailed from Salonika on 21st June 1917 on HT ‘Manitou’ and disembarked at Alexandria on the 25th June 1917. At this point he was attached to the 2/6th London Field Ambulance.
Throughout 1917, Charles was hospitalised for various reasons. Tonsillitis in March, pleurisy in April, diarhea in June and dysentery in August.
He was compulsorily transferred from the ASC to the 24th Battalion of The Royal Welsh Fusiliers in February 1918 and this is when he became 345806. Presumably at some point he was posted to France but it is unclear from the records when that happened. He had two week’s leave in the UK in August 1918. In October 1918 he was admitted to 18 General Hospital Camieres France, suffering from influenza. The following telegram was sent to his family…
To Williams Tan y Gaer, Bodfari
Regret to inform you your son 345806 Pte C Williams RW Fusiliers is dangerously ill 28th October at 18 General Hospital Camieres France. regret permission to visit cannot be granted.
Charles Williams died at 18 General Hospital , Camieres, France on the 1st November 1918. The cause of his death was bronchopneumonia caused by influenza. The following telegram was sent to his family.
At one point in his records is a scribbled note that says his next of kin was a cousin – Miss K Smith, The Limes, Mostyn Road, Colwyn Bay. It was his older brother Edward, however, that fulfilled the role. There is correspondence between the Army and him regarding the receipt of medals, memorial plaque and scroll and the return of personal effects. Edward was sent 2 identity Discs belonging to Charles.
Footnote. David Littler Jones in his book, says that Charles ‘Died of Wounds’. When he wrote that the Service Records were not as accessible as they are now. With the benefit of the internet and ‘ancestry’ we can confirm his death was caused by the flu pandemic.
Charles Williams is also listed on the Bodfari memorial