Williams, Robert

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Robert Williams

41987, Private, 1st Lancashire Fusiliers
Died of illness whilst a prisoner-of-war, 10 May 1918, aged 28
Buried at Condé-Sur-L’escaut Communal Cemetery, France

CWGC registered (no family recorded)

Robert Williams, born at Conwy on 24 July 1889, was the son of a labourer Robert Williams and his wife Sarah Ellen Williams (née Evans). The Census for 1891 recorded the family living in Salford, Lancashire; three children were named: John E Williams (9 – qv), Catherine J Williams (7) and Robert (1). Another daughter, Edith, was born later that year. The Census of Wales for 1901 records the family living at 9 Council Street, Llandudno. Robert attended Lloyd Street School which he left in 1902 aged 12 years and 10 months. In 1911, Robert’s parents lived at the same address. Where Robert lived and what his occupation was in 1911 is unknown but a clue might come from the fragments of his army record that survive for he almost certainly worked with horses.

Robert Williams enlisted in Birmingham and he joined the Army Veterinary Corps with a regimental number of SE/16267 – SE stands for Special Enlistment. He was mobilised in April 1916 as a horse keeper, a non-combatant position and not available to those aged under 40 who were eligible for service in the infantry. The Medal Award Roll indicates that he spent some time in France or Belgium with the AVC but was transferred to the 1st Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers in early 1917 with a regimental number of 41987. Why he was transferred to a frontline battalion is a matter of conjecture but it was not unusual for the ranks of non-combatant troops to be trawled for reassessment.

Robert Williams was taken prisoner at the Battle of Cambrai on 30 November 1917. German documents indicate that he was uninjured and imprisoned at Le Quesnoy, Dülmen (recorded there 7 January 1918) and Friedrichsfeld (recorded there 24 April 1918).

According to Robert’s death certificate, his official cause of death was “Died (cause not stated)” and that he died in Germany. This is not the case. Again, according to German records, Robert Williams died of pneumonia on 10 May 1918 at Condé-Sur-L’escaut in France. He was aged 28. Seemingly, the Germans had returned him to France to carry out prisoner of war work. He was buried at Condé-Sur-L’escaut Communal Cemetery.

Known memorials:

  • Llandudno Roll of Honour
  • Llandudno War Memorial
  • Memorial Chapel, Holy Trinity Church, Llandudno

1 comment to Williams, Robert

  • Carole wynne

    Advertiser dated 17th Aug 1918 reports death of robert. Also says he was employed by rogers and grieg before war. Any idea who these were.h

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