Private 19288 John Arthur Williams

Killed in Action on Monday, 22nd October 1917, age 19.
Commemorated on Panel 23 to 28 and 163A of Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

14th Bn., Royal Warwickshire Regiment. 13th Brigade of 5th Division.
Formerly 21933 Gloucestershire Regiment.

Son of Mary Williams, of 137, Horseley Heath, Tipton, Staffs, and the late Thomas Williams.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Dudley, Resident: Unknown.

First landed France & Flanders, post 31st December 1915.
Medal entitlement: British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the Tipton Library, and Park Chapel memorials.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/877311/

Genealogical Data

Birth of John Arthur Williams registered March quarter 1898 in Dudley.

1901 Census
228 Dudley Port, Tipton, Staffs.
Thomas Williams (age 41, Boilermaker, born Dudley Port), his wife Mary (41, born Dudley Port), and their 7 children: James Thomas (17, Moulder, born Dudley Port), Clara (14, born Dudley Port), Gertie (11, born Dudley Port), Charlie (7, born Dudley Port), Ruth (6, born Dudley Port), Arthur (3, born Dudley Port), and Samuel (1, born Dudley Port).

1911 Census
228a Dudley Port, Tipton, Staffs.
Thomas Williams (age 52, Boilermaker, born Dudley Port), his wife Mary (49, born Tipton), and 4 of their 8 surviving children of 12: Charles (18, Boilermaker, born Dudley Port), Ruth (16, born Dudley Port), John Arthur (13, Newsboy for Railway Company, born Dudley Port), and Samuel (11, born Dudley Port).

Personal Data

The Park Methodist Chapel Memorial commemorates John Williams. It is not known if this refers to this man, John Arthur Williams, or John Williams.

Before enlisting, John Williams worked in Horseley Piggott as a Rivet Beater. A family story, as told in the Bugle goes... “At age of 16 he was given two white feathers by a posse of women outside the main entrance of his works, and soon afterwards decided to enlist in the Warwickshire Regiment. At the age of just 19 and near the front line, he met an untimely death. Whilst taking munitions to the Regiment with a mule train, the Germans shelled his position and he was killed outright."

After John's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £1/18/4d (1 pound, 18 shillings and 4 pence); this was paid to his mother, Mary, in January 1918. His War Gratuity was £10/11/8d (10 pounds, 11 shillings and 8 pence), this was also paid to his mother in November 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that John had enlisted in June 1915.

Action resulting in his death

Following information extracted from pages 213-242 of "Birmingham Pals" by Terry Carter.
The 14th Royal Warwicks spent the 12th to 22nd October in the La Clytte - Westoutre area some 8 miles South-East of Ypres training for the forthcoming offensive which was to be called the Second Battle of Passchendaele. This was to commence on 26th October 1917 and attack towards Gheluvelt, Polderhoek and Passchendaele. The 14th Royal Warwicks objective was Polderhoek Chateau and ground approximately 300 yards to the east and south of it. The area around Bedford House (one mile south of Ypres) was to be the forward dump for transport of various battalions, and the place where men had their last meal before going up to the front lines. In the War Diary of the 14th Royal Warwicks there is a comment relating to the Transport section: "2 ranks wounded and 1 missing - probably blown to bits." This unfortunate young man was Pte John Williams of Horseley Heath, Tipton.

14th Royal Warwicks (1st Birmingham Pals) was part of 13th Brigade 5th Division. They were only involved in 3rd Ypres for a short time, but it was six weeks of pure misery in the worst fighting conditions imaginable. They attacked Polderhoek Chateau on 4th October; although initially successful, the 14th Royal Warwicks were forced to fall back after determined German counter-attacks at nightfall. A further attack on Polderhoek by 15th Brigade (16th Royal Warwicks) was attempted on the 9th October; this was not successful. Another attack was scheduled for 10th October, once again by the 14th Royal Warwicks, but after confusion getting to the jumping-off line the attack was mercifully cancelled.

The next attack on Polderhoek was scheduled for 26th October but in the preparations for the movement of the 14th Royal Warwicks up to the front line, John Williams was killed by shellfire on 22nd October. The attack on the 26th was an initial success, but the 14th Royal Warwicks were later in the day forced to withdraw to their starting positions.

John has no known grave, and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot memorial.

Newspaper Cuttings