1915-2015: Abergele & District Commemorations: Frederick (Fred) Williams

Private 2697 Frederick (Fred) Williams. 1/5th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, 158th Brigade, 53rd (Welsh) Division. Killed in action, 10 August 1915, Suvla Bay, Gallipoli, aged 21. No known grave. Commemorated panel 77 to 80, Helles Memorial, Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey. Also commemorated on the Abergele War Memorial and Abergele Town Memorial.

Son of William and Mary Williams, of 14, Bryntirion Terrace, Abergele. Born Wrexham, enlisted Flint, lived Abergele. A Grocer’s Assistant in 1911. Enlisted early January 1915 with Trevor Roberts (Glasfryn). Brother of George Trevor Williams (killed in action 27 May 1918).

At first, following the events of 10 August, what had happened to Fred was not clear (for background details to the events of 10 August 1915 see here). The confusion which followed may have stemmed in part from the fact that he was reported as wounded on the day of landing at Suvla Bay on 9 August by an Abergele comrade in the 1/5th Battalion, David Evan Parry [1], which was not really possible. However, at the time, Parry’s news matched what Fred’s family were told when the War Office sent a letter that stated that he had been hospitalised in Alexandria.

A short while later, in the third week of September, Fred’s status was corrected and he was officially listed as ‘missing’. Anxious to have news of her son’s condition, and confused by the mixed messages, Fred’s mother wrote several times to the hospital but without response.

Fearful of Fred’s silence as well as the hospital’s, she wrote again to the War Office. At the very end of October 1915 the War Office replied that Fred was now listed as ‘wounded and missing in action’ and not, as previously stated, in a hospital in Alexandria.

The strain on his parents must have been intolerable, and it is impossible to imagine their reaction to a house visit by Reverend Jenkins, the Vicar of Abergele, on 20 December 1915. The Reverend Jenkins had just received a letter from his nephew, Lieutenant David Lewis Jenkins, who was an Officer in Fred’s battalion. Lieutenant Jenkins [2] stated that there was no doubt that Fred had been killed. The Vicar took it upon himself to inform the family of this news.

What probably made things worse for them was the fact the War Office were sticking to their claim that Fred was ‘wounded and missing in action’. Most of the men who had gone missing on 10 August, such as Tom Furnish and Johnny Vaughan of Abergele, were declared dead eleven months later, but this was not the case with Fred. He was still officially listed as ‘wounded and missing in action’ as late as June 1918 and one can only assume that the authorities had some evidence that Fred may have been taken prisoner by the Turks. At the end of the war a number of men were repatriated having been Turkish prisoners of war. Fred was not among them. His Medal Index Card has the words ‘presumed dead 10/8/15’ written on it.

Williams, Fred (2)

[1] See Tom Furnish for biographical details of David Evan Parry.
[2] See John (Jack) Davies for further details of Lt. Jenkins.

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2 Responses to 1915-2015: Abergele & District Commemorations: Frederick (Fred) Williams

  1. Delyth MacRae says:

    wonderful yet again Andrew Thank you so much Andrew. Fred Williams, my paternal Mother’s son, auntie Memmie who later lived at Bamford Hesketh, Groes Lwyd. It was my Grandfather Trevor, Glasfryn, who was with him when enlisting. And I have a photo of them both in their uniform sitting on the windowsill at Glasfryn the day before they left for War. My Father was proud to have had his name in remembrance. Family resemblance in the photos too. Diolch Yn fawr.

  2. Andrew Hesketh says:

    My pleasure Delyth. I hope there was something new for you in the article but, obviously, anything you can add would be gratefully received. If it’s not too cheeky, I would love a copy of the photo you refer to. I also have a photo of Trevor Roberts as a Corporal, but it’s a poor quality scan from a newspaper of the day. You probably know more than me about Trevor, but this is what I have:

    Oldest son of Councillor Robert Roberts. Lived at Glasfryn, St. George Road. Aged c.19 in 1914. Organist at St. Pauls Wesleyan Chapel. Enlisted January 1915 with Fred Williams. Immediately home on a weeks leave in which he played the organ in uniform on 25 January. Promoted Lance Corporal about March 1915 and full Corporal in May 1915. At that time he was with the 2/5th RWF which was for soldiers willing to serve on home defence but not overseas. Won the 5th battalion map reading exam in December 1915. Home on leave June 1917 whilst an instructor in Bedford. Later went oveseas to join the 6th Garrison Battalion RWF in Cairo at some point later in 1917 as Corporal 240878/ Some time after that he was posted to 1/5th RWF. Awarded Victory Medal and British War Medal.

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