Charles (Charlie) Videon Williams was born in Swansea in 1884 and was the second of 11 children to William John Williams and Fanny (Hewitt).
Born in Carnarvon, William was a self-employed house decorator and he and Fanny were married in Swansea in 1882. They went to live in Connah’s Quay in the early 1890s, where Fanny was born.
Charlie married Martha Ann Davies of Flint on 16th May 1910 at St John’s Parish Church, Chester. Martha was the daughter of Shem Davies, who, on 15th January, 1908, was standing on the platform at Flint railway station when he was noticed to fall in front of the engine and was decapitated.
Charlie and Martha were living at 6, Evans Street when their first child, Charles, was born in February, 1911, but sadly he died in August that year aged just six months. They had another son two years later, named Haydn Joy, who served with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers in WWII. Charlie at this time was working at the Hawarden Bridge Ironworks, Shotton as a close annealer. He had previously been working as a house painter with his father.
Charlie enlisted in the Army at Wrexham on the 1st September 1914 and was posted to France on the 10th November. He wrote a letter home which was published in the County Herald on the 14th May, 1915:
A FLINT ROYAL WELSH FUSILIER AT THE FRONT
SOME STRAIGHT TALK TO MEN AT HOME
At the latter end of last week letters and cards were received in Flint and districts from members of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers who have been undergoing the hardships of the winter campaign at the Front. One letter received by a member of our Staff is from Lance Corporal C Williams, of Flint. The letter was written on the 4th instant; it passed through the Field Post Office the following day; and it arrived at its destination on the morning of the 7th. He states there was not much time for writing letters. Referring to the Transport work he says, he says, that the wheel traffic terminated at a certain point, as the enemy would naturally hear the sounds, which would draw fire. The really dangerous portion of the work connected with the Transport was carried out by the Fatigue Parties who had to convey the rations and ammunition to the men two miles away in the trenches. When doing that they lost some of their men in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Others and himself had been engaged in such duties whilst the bullets had whistling past them; and on one particular occasion they were compelled to drop their stuff and take cover the best way possible on the ground in the dark. He enquires what people at home were doing, after reading the letters which had appeared in the Press. He would suggest to those people that it would be a disgrace to greet men of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, should they have the pleasure of getting back again, after serving their country, because they should think of the hard times which they had had and would continue to have so long as the men stayed home. He thought it was getting time that the Territorials, who were so often swanked about, should swell the numbers at the Front, and so give the present men at the Front a chance of being relieved. It was quite evident that the more troops which went out to the Front the better would be the chance of the men already out of getting rest which they deserved. On the other hand, he asks, why cannot the single men serving at home, including men who were yet, he was sorry to say, civilians, change places with the married men who were at the Front and who had sacrificed their homes through the winter campaign, which had been severe. He expresses the hope that these remarks would find a space in the County Herald, and “also put the cap on those it appeals to.” He was glad to say that Corporal Tom Roberts and himself were quite well, and they invited all those who wished to see a bit of life at the Front to proceed there. Should Roberts and himself never return he hoped that the County Herald would let the people of the town of Flint know that they had not been cowards, and that they were doing their duty.
Charlie was killed in action at the battle of Festubert on 16th May 1915.
Sergeant Jones, who was wounded at the battle, was a postman from Flint Mountain, and being a reservist stationed at Flint, was called to the colours at the commencement of the war. In a letter home he said: “We lost a great many men, but the victory was great. We lost the greater part of our officers. The General said afterwards on parade that the 7th Division broke through with great success, and he said the gallant Royal Welsh Fusiliers charged the trenches like one man, with severe loss, but great victory.” He speaks of the horrible sights on the battlefield, and continues: “The enemy, as a nation, are a barbarous lot. I thought there was only a certain class of them inhuman, but they are all tied to the same stick. We captured hundreds of prisoners. They looked scanty, poorly clad, and war worn.” Private Jones added that the weather was very warm and quite a treat.
Private J Jones, of Bagillt, 1st Royal Welsh Fusiliers, sent a letter to his sister, Mrs Robert Jones, 57 Sidney Street, in which he conveys the information that Private Frank Thomas, also of Bagillt, has been wounded. He writes: “I am sorry to tell you that Private Frank Thomas has been wounded. We made a gallant charge last Sunday and took three lines of trenches. You should have seen the Germans running away. They put the white flag up, and as soon as we got close to them they started shooting us down. Well, that drove us mad, and we were all thinking of the Lusitania at the same time. Thank God I came through safe, for bullets were whizzing past my ears and the big guns were roaring.” He adds that he does not know where Corporal Tom Roberts or Charlie Williams are, but he was told they were killed. “I am the only one left of the four of us that came out. Every regiment out here gives the 1st RWF a grand name for the way we charged.”
FLINT SOLDIERS’ DEATHS AT THE FRONT
(County Herald 4th June 1915)
Yesterday (Wednesday) morning information was received from the War Office to the effect that Corporal Tom Roberts, whose home is in Mumforth Street, and that Lance Corporal C Williams, whose home is in Evans Street, had been killed in action on 16th May. Last week we mentioned that these soldiers, and another one from Flint, were killed. Much regret is expressed at the sad news which has plunged four or five families into grief. Corporal Roberts leaves a widow and several children. Lance Corporal Williams, a widow and one child. The widow is the daughter of the late Mr Shem Davies, of Flint, and her brothers are Sergeant D E Davies who is with the 5th Batt. Royal Welsh Fusiliers in Northampton, and Private Evan Davies who is with the 2nd Battalion at the Front and Mr John Davies, of the “Crown Vaults;” whilst another brother is Company Sergeant Major T Davies of the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers at the Front. Lance Corporal Williams was the son of Mr Williams, of Ryeland Street, Shotton, who is, along with his son Mr Haydn Williams, a member of the Band of the 5th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers and are at present with the Battalion in Northamptonshire. The residents of Flint sympathise with the sorrowing families.
GALLANT CHARGE BY THE WELSH FUSILIERS
SUNDAY BATTLE : DREADFUL CARNAGE
REPORTED LOSS OF FLINT SOLDIERS
(County Herald 4th June 1915)
Up to Friday afternoon last week there was no fresh news respecting the Flint men in the ranks of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers at the Front, and who took part in the battle of May 16th, and the grave anxiety was being felt as to the safety of the men. Nothing further up to that day had been heard of Corporal Tom Roberts, whose wife and family live in Mumforth Street; Lance-Corporal C Williams, whose wife and child live in Evans Street; and Private T Ferguson, whose relatives reside in Mumforth Street. At a late hour in our edition of last week we mentioned that Private Lawrence Ferguson, who had been with the “Royal Welsh” since they left these shores for the battlefields, forwarded a letter to his sister, who received it on Thursday morning; and in it he referred to the Sunday battle of the 16th May, and the dreadful carnage which was reported therefrom. He stated that the Welsh Fusiliers performed a gallant deed in the battle and were engaged in a desperate bayonet charge. He said that when the call came the charge was made; there was no lagging behind; and the result was that the regiment made its mark. After the charge the General thanked the men for their gallantry and work. There were some awful sights after the battle. A Sergeant Jones had been wounded, and he had assisted in bandaging the injury; and the Sergeant bore up well to be removed to the hospital. Private Lawrence Ferguson also mentioned in his letter the loss of Corporal Tom Roberts, Lance-Corporal C Williams, and of his brother Thomas Ferguson.
With the additional letter sent by Private J Jones, whose wife and family reside in Bagillt, and which also appeared in last week’s edition, furnishing also similarly sad information regarding Roberts and Williams, and seeing that the relatives had not within a fortnight received any communication from them, there was believed to be a sorrowful verification of the mishaps. Casualty lists of the Welsh Fusiliers were not procurable in the Borough on Saturday last, and as there were no communications to hand from the War Office, the mystery respecting the men seemed deepening.
Lance-Corporal C Williams was a member of the Territorials some time before the War, but his time expired, and when the War commenced, he joined the Welsh Fusiliers at Wrexham, where his brother-in-law, Private Evan Davies, also joined. The relatives of the men are anxiously awaiting information from the War Office, or on other letters from the Front. Lance-Corporal Williams’ parents reside in Rylands Street, Shotton, and his father and brother are with the 5th Battalion in Northampton.
Charlie has no known grave but is remembered on the Le Touret Memorial, France on Panels 13 and 14. He is remembered on the Flint Town, St Mary’s Parish Church, Flint and Hawarden war memorials. He is also commemorated on the North Wales Heroes’ Memorial Arch, Bangor.
He was awarded the 1914/15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.
Martha didn’t re-marry and died on the 12th April, 1941, aged 53, and is buried in an unmarked grave in the Northop Road Cemetery with her son Charles. Her obituary states she was a member of the Women’s Section of the Flint Branch of the British Legion and she was also a faithful member of the English Methodist Church, Holywell Road.
William John died in 1916 aged 54 and Fanny in 1939 aged 75.
There comes a mist in the blinding rain
And life never seems the same again.
His loving Wife and Child
(County Herald 19th May 1916)
Two years have passed, our hearts still sore,
As time rolls on we miss him more;
Too far away your grave to see,
But not too far to think of thee.
Sadly missed by his loving Wife and Child, Mother, Sisters and Brothers
(County Herald 18th May 1917)
As dawn crept over the trenches,
You fell ‘midst shot and shell;
But the hardest task has yet to come,
When the heroes do return;
And I miss amongst the cheering crowd
My husband I loved so well.
Sadly missed by his loving Wife and Child, Mother, Sisters and Brothers
(County Herald 17th May 1918)