SERGEANT WILL H WILLIAMS

No. 11163 Cheshire Regiment

Sergeant Williams (Will) was born in 1893, the middle son of William and Martha Williams, and the 1901 census shows them living in Priestweston, with their family of three sons and two daughters. By 1911, the family is living at Burnt House, Montgomery, and Will’s father is working as an estate worker, presumably for Powis estates. By then Will, aged 19, is no longer living at home but we can find no record of him in the census. It is possible that he was already a serving soldier, but no records of his army career remain either.

In 1918, Will was based at Kinmel Camp, Bodelwyddan, North Wales, where he contracted influenza in the “Spanish flu” epidemic.

This developed into pneumonia, and he died, a month before the end of the war. This virulent strain of flu claimed over 250,000 lives in the UK, and 40 million lives world wide. In an environment where people were living in such close proximity as an army camp, the virus spread quickly. It is likely that Will, as a sergeant, had been involved in training recruits at this time, even though the war was drawing to a close.

Kinmel Camp was one of the five main training camps for the forces, and even had trenches dug, which can still be seen today, for men to use during their training.

Over 45,000 men were billeted at the camp at any one time, and the picture shows men queuing for the second showing of a film at the camp cinema. The camp was so busy that a set of 12 postcards was produced by the YMCA for men to send home, and the photograph is an example of one of these.

Sgt Wiliams died on the 17th of October 1918, the last person from Montgomery to die in active service.

Will’s body was brought home to Montgomery to be buried, and the County Times reports that a bugler was despatched from Kinmel Camp to play the last post at his funeral.

NW of the churchyard, near the Robber’s Grave, and both graves in St Nicholas Churchyard from the First World War are in slate, as opposed to the white Portland stone, see A G E Morris for details.