Private R/9116 Frederick James Williams

Williams Frederick 96 419x600

Killed in Action on Saturday, 25th September 1915, age 19.
Commemorated on Panel 101 and 102 of Loos Memorial, Pas De Calais, France.

2nd Bn., King's Royal Rifle Corps. 2nd Brigade of 1st Division.

Son of Frederick and Louisa Williams, of 13, Sheepwash Lane, Great Bridge, Tipton, Staffs.
Born: West Bromwich, Enlisted: Tipton, Resident: Unknown.

Cannot find Medal Index Card.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the Salem Chapel, and St. Peter's, Greets Green memorials.
Commemorated here because identified as Tipton on Commonwealth War Graves site.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/737345/

Genealogical Data

Birth of Frederick James Williams registered September quarter 1896 in West Bromwich.

1901 Census
126 Lodge Lane, West Bromwich, Staffs.
Frederick Williams (28, Iron Founder born Oldbury), his wife Louisa (28, Dressmaker - on own account, born Oldbury), and their son: Frederick James (4, born West Bromwich).

1911 Census
Chamberlain Terrace, Sheepwash Lane, West Bromwich, Staffs.
Frederick Williams (38, Moulder, born Oldbury), his wife Louisa (38, born Oldbury), and their 4 surviving children of 5: Frederick James (14, Baker's Deliverer, born West Bromwich), Leonard Maurice (7, born West Bromwich), Ernest Clifford T. (4, born West Bromwich), and Beatrice Rossanna May (10 months, born West Bromwich).

Personal Data

It has not been possible to trace Fred Williams' Medal Index Card.

From 'The Fallen of Oldbury, Langley and Warley 1914 - 1918'
Rifleman Williams was the son of Frederick and Louisa Williams of Great Bridge, Tipton. His parents had been associated with the Tabernacle Church and Sunday School in Oldbury before moving to West Bromwich. He tried to enlist twice previously before being accepted in January 1915, and going to France in May. He was killed in the forward line at Loos, having volunteered as a bomb-thrower, during the 'great push' of 25th September. The assault followed the release of gas and smoke by the British, some of which blew back into their own trenches. In poor visibility the British took heavy casualties, especially at the wire, which was largely uncut by the preliminary bombardment.

After Frederick's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £2/2/0d (2 pounds and 2 shillings); this was paid to his mother and sole legatee, Louisa, in January 1916. His War Gratuity was £3/0/0d (3 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his mother in July 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Frederick had enlisted in the 12 months prior to his death.

A Dependant's Pension of 5/0d (5 shillings) per week was granted to Frederick's mother, Mrs Louisa Williams, from 8th August 1916. Her address was given as 28 Sheepwash Lane, Great Bridge, Tipton, this was also indicated to be Chamberlain Terrace.

Action resulting in his death

The 2nd Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps, was one of the four Battalions of the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Division. At the commencement of the Battle of Loos, the 1st Division was to attack from the east of Vermelles eastwards towards Hulluch. The Division’s left flank was on the Vermelles to Hulluch road with (from north to south) 8th Royal Berkshires and 10th Gloucesters of 1st Brigade, and 1st Loyal North Lancashires (1/LNL) and 2nd King’s Royal Rifle Corps (2/KRRC) of 2nd Brigade facing mainly south-east. Their line formed a slight east-facing salient to the 15th Division on their right flank; this caused a problem when their own gas blew back at them, and the gas released on the neighbouring 15th Division front drifted north causing about 200 casualties for both the 2/KRRC and 1/LNL.

The majority of the 2/KRRC men affected were the first wave, so it was the second wave who opened the assault 4 minutes late, at 06.34am. They were badly affected by German machine guns in front of the German lines, and also by wide belts of barbed wire which had not been destroyed. The battalion was force to retire in order to re-organise.

It was only after successful attacks by neighbouring and reserve units that the 2nd Brigade was able to advance in the afternoon and to dig in near Bois Hugo and the Chalk Pit.

4 Officers and 98 Other Ranks of the 2/KRRC lost their lives on 25th September, this included Tipton men Frederick Williams and John Devison. The vast majority, including Williams and Devison, have no known grave and are commemorated on the Loos Memorial at Dud Corner. Rifleman George Peachment of 2/KRRC won the Victoria Cross on the 25th September 1915 giving assistance to his wounded Captain, but losing his own life in that act of bravery.

Williams Frederick Loos 1st Div

Map drawn with reference to 1915 Vol 2 Official History by Sam Eedle Design, many thanks to Sam for permission to use.

Newspaper Cuttings

Tipton Herald 17th July 1915
Directly Fred Williams of Sheepwash Lane, Great Bridge, reached the age qualification, he offered himself and was twice unsuccessful. At last at the third attempt, he succeeded in joining the King's Royal Rifles. He is now somewhere in France, and has had his first spell of trench fighting, and writes that he is proud he has been sent out, and that he feels now that he is indeed serving his country. He wonders whether several of his mates that he names have joined yet, and, if not, how they will feel when the war is over and he and the others come back, proud to have done their share.

Dudley Herald 16th October 1915.
To the West Bromwich Roll of Honour must be added the name of Rifleman Fred J. Williams, eldest grandson of Mr. J. Shenton, Edison Works, Great Bridge, whose parents have received the news that he was killed in action during the big advance on September 25th. Only nineteen years of age, he was rejected twice before being finally passed for the King's Royal Rifles in January, and in May he went out to France. His letters spoke hopefully of his work, and he was sincere in his desire to do his part manfully, and he had gained the esteem and regard of his officers and chums by his cheerfulness and willingness, only a few weeks ago he volunteered as a bomb-thrower.
His death cuts short a promising career and is deeply deplored among all who knew him, at no place more than Salem Church, where he was a very earnest and devout worker, popular and respected by everyone with whom he was brought into contact. In his life he gave his best, by his death he gave the highest.

Wednesbury Borough News 30th October 1915
A memorial service was held on Sunday evening in the Salem Congregational Church, Great Bridge, in memory of the late Fred J. Williams, of the King's Royal Rifles, who fell in action on September 25th during the great advance. The deceased's parents live in Sheepwash Lane. The young hero - he was barely 20 - was twice rejected, but was accepted in January last. He had been a Sunday School scholar and teacher at the Salem Church, and an ardent early Sunday morning Adult School worker. The Rev. William Fry (the pastor) gave a special discourse on the war, and touched on the bravery of the deceased young soldier. The choir rendered the special anthem "Blest are the departed." The Great Bridge Adult School was well represented at the service by its members. The Secretary (Mr. T. W. Blackham) sent an apology for non-attendance owing to the National Council meetings.