William Charles Williams was born 26th July 1918, (according to the Royal Navy BMD Documents) the son of Evan & Edith May Williams, who married on the 26th May, 1917 at St, Mark’s Church, Connah’s Quay:-
Page 30 No 60 26th May 1917 Evan Griffith WILLIAMS, 26, Bachelor, Munitions Worker, 30, Fron Road, William WILLIAMS, Bailiff & Edith May DAVIES, 19, Spinster, Munitions Worker, 68, Church St., Joseph Edward DAVIES, Ironworker. (After Banns) – Witnesses:- Hugh Griffith EVANS & Gaynor JONES.
I also found at St, Mark’s Church, Connah’s Quay –
Page 225 No. 1800 21st August 1918 William Charles, s/o Evan Griffith & Edith May Wlliams, 33, Lower Brook St., Ironworker. and his brother Jack’s Baptism – Page 245 No 1955 Jack Williams, 16th February 1921 s/o Evan & Edith May WILLIAMS, 33, Lower Brook Street, Ironworker.
I have no idea about William Charles’s childhood so any help would be gratefully received. There has not been any census after the 1911 published.
The next time we see Evan and Edith May is on the 1939 Register which was taken on the 29th September 1939. War had been declared on the 3rd September 1939, so perhaps William Charles was already in the Royal Navy.
Williams Household (3 People)
2 Queen’s Avenue , Connah’s Quay U.D., Flintshire, Wales
Evan Williams 30 Dec 1892 Male Window Cleaner Married 239 1
Edith May Henderson (Williams) 11 Oct 1898 Female Unpaid Domestic Duties Married 239 2
Hugh Williams 28 Sep 1928 Male At School Single 239 3
According the Naval Deaths (Below), William Charles was to have died in Crete. However the cause of death was “2” – Missing, Death in War Service Presumed.
The articles below will give the story of the sinking of the Gloucester:-
https://www.world-war.co.uk/gloucester Then click on “Stories,” from drop down menu, click on “Stories 3”, then on “Gloucester,” this below will come up, then more on the Gloucester.
This is an extract from J.E. Price book, “Heels in Line “. The title refers to how the sailors left their shoes on the deck when they left the Gloucester for the last time. He was a gunner on the ship and spent the rest of the war in various POW camps in Greece, Austria and Germany . At the end of the war, he was in a camp in Poland and was freed by the Americans. He was suffering from frost bitten toes (which were amputated without anaesthetic). He was flown back to Britain suffering from Typhoid and was not expected to survive the journey. Eventually, he was de-mobbed back to his home in Exmouth where he became a postman and where he spent the rest of his life. He very patriotically died on Trafalgar Day in 1978 – a sailor until the end! The book is out of print, but is well worth reading if you can get a copy.
Between August 1940 and May 1941 the ninth Gloucester was involved in many actions and her battle honours bear witness to the achievements of the ship and explain the nickname, ‘The Fighting G’.
In less than a year’s service in the Mediterranean, HMS Gloucester had won five battle honours and lost over 700 men, including two Commanding Officers.
She was finally sunk in May 1941 when the Royal Navy prevented German forces effecting a sea-borne landing on the island of Crete.
The mission exacted a heavy toll and German dive-bombers destroyed both the Gloucester and the new cruiser Fiji on the same day, 22 May 1941.
The Commander-in-Chief at the time, Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham, observed: – Thus went the gallant Gloucester. She had endured all things, and no ship had worked harder or had had more risky tasks. She had been hit by bombs more times than any other vessel, and had always come up smiling.
Survivors of the sinking of the ninth HMS Gloucester meet up every year at Plymouth Hoe and this year a party of 12 from the current warship attended to pay their respects.
Commissioned shortly before the start of World War II in August 1939, the ship was initially assigned to the China Station and was transferred to the Indian Ocean and later to South Africa to search for German commerce raiders. She was transferred to the Mediterranean Fleet in mid-1940 and spent much of her time escorting Malta Convoys. Gloucester played minor roles in the Battle of Calabria in 1940 and the Battle of Cape Matapan in 1941. She was sunk by German dive bombers on 22 May 1941 during the Battle of Crete with the loss of 722 men out of a crew of 807.
Extract from the HMS Gloucester. The Untold Story. – Author : Ken Otter.
The Battle for Crete is most famous (in my mind) for the German Airborne assault and eventual victory over the Commonwealth land forces on the island. Peripheral to this in some histories is the desperate action carried out by the Royal Navy in an attempt (on Churchill’s orders) to support the land forces and eventually evacuate the remnants.
The author’s Father was the Chief Yeoman aboard the cruiser. On 22nd May 1941 Gloucester was sunk by German aircraft during the frantic naval actions around Crete. Out of the crew of 810 only 83 men survived sadly Fred Otter was not one of them. The author was seven months old at the time. Driven by a deep desire to know more about his Father the author has made a meticulous study of all available sources of information including surviving crew members.
The book examines the “perfect storm“ leading up to the ship’s loss. The lack of Allied air cover, the paucity of Anti Aircraft ammunition in theatre, and a number of key tactical decisions. Also covered in detail is the fate of the survivors and the experiences of the crew in captivity, this in itself is very interesting. I’ve rarely read accounts of Naval POWs and their treatment is quite revealing especially the Germans interest in the ships radar.
Chester Chronicle 7th June 1941 Page 5 Col. 6
CONNAH’S QUAY & SHOTTON
Reported Missing – Mr. Chas. WILLIAMS, Eldest son of Mr.& Mrs. Evan WILLIAMS, 2, Queen’s-avenue, Connah’s Quay, has been reported missing. Mr. WILLIAMS, who was 23, joined the Marines before the war.
According to the 1939 National Register Edith May remarried on the 6th December 1966,to a gentleman named HENDERSON, but the only marriage I can fid is to a Robert W. HENDERSON, in the December quarter of 1951. (Holywell Vol. 8a Page 948 ). Obviously, it would seem that Evan Griffiths may had died, after 1939 and before 1951, but of course they could have divorced, in any case I cannot find Evan’s death.
William Charles was missed and loved by his family as they put his name forward to be added to the War Memorial, so he would be remembered.
William Benjamin Doyle also died on HMS Gloucester, but sadly his name was not put forward to go on the WW2 War Memorial, but I have added his story onto the website, please click on the link to read his story.