Private Edward Williams (6172)

1st Bn, The King's (Liverpool Regiment), 6th Brigade, 2nd Division, B.E.F.

Malvern Commemoration: St Mary Guarlford,

Burial/Commemoration: Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial

Nature of Death: Killed in action Flanders 13/11/14

Age: 34

Next of Kin: Son of Mrs E Williams of Pickersleigh Road, Malvern; husband of Mrs Florence Williams (nee Walker) of 226 Holliday Road, Birmingham

Previous Employment: Regular soldier and police constable with the Worcestershire County Constabulary

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Edward Williams was born in Great Malvern in 1880. joined the army at Malvern on 22nd August 1898. He stated he wished to be join the Liverpool Regiment. At enlistment he gave his occupation as a groom. He reported to the regimental deport at Warrington two days later and was posted to the 2nd Battalion on 11th November 1898. He proceeded to South Africa on 7th February 1902 and received the Queens South Africa Medal with clasps “Orange Free State”, “Transvaal”, “Cape Colony” and “South Africa 1902”. He posted to the 1st Battalion in theatre on 13th September 1902. He did a tour of duty with the 1st Battalion in India until 1906. He was transferred to the Army Reserve at the end of this period of engagement in October 1906. He stated he intended to apply for a position in the Police Force and gave his residence as Conway Villa, Wilton Road, Great Malvern.

In March 1907 he applied to join the Worcestershire County Constabulary, Williams’ Company Defaulter Sheet was forwarded to the police force, despite indicating several misdemeanors, including drunkenness and fighting he obtained a position with the police force. He served as PC 47 Williams, initially at the County Constabulary Headquarters at Castle Street Worcester, and later transferred to the Northfield Division in May 1907, based at Stirchley Station. Edward Williams married Florence Emily Walker at Birmingham Register Office on 9th April 1908. They had two children, Florence Gladys born at Cardiff in September 1909 and Edward Albert Thomas born at Kings Norton in December 1911. Police constables often required the permission of the Chief Constable to marry, and the Williams family’s move to Barry, in South Wales may have been as a result of not being allowed to stay in the service. He re-engaged with his old regiment, the Kings Liverpool for a further 4 years in August 1910. At the outbreak of war he was mobilised at Seaforth for training with the 3rd Battalion.

Mobilisation began at the onset of the war in August 1914, at which time the 1st King’s Liverpool Regiment was based at Aldershot. Under command of Lieutenant-Colonel W.S. Bannatyne, the 1st King’s boarded the SS Irrawaddy at Southampton. The battalion landed at Le Havre on 13 August with the 6th Brigade, 2nd Division, one of the original components of the British Expeditionary Force. Pte Williams landed in France on 12th September 1914 as a draft for the 1st Battalion.

Paris was saved with the halting of the German advance at the Marne; the ensuing retreat, which prompted an Allied counter-offensive, ended at the Aisne. After both battles had been fought, the battalion moved north to Ypres during the so-called “Race to the Sea”. In an action at Langemarck during the First Battle of Ypres, the battalion captured the small village of Molenaarelstoek, just north-east of Polygon Wood. As the battle progressed, the German command sought a decisive victory against the outnumbered BEF and launched First Ypres’ last major assault on 11 November.

Located to the south of Polygon Wood, the 1st King’s was one of only a few units available to defend British lines. A force of “12 and a half” divisions, including a composite of the élite Prussian Guard, attacked at 0900 along a 9 miles front extending from Messines to Polygon. Some German units breached the front in places but quickly lost momentum and were gradually pushed back by a desperate defence. The Prussian Guard had advanced in dense formations, each guardsman effectively side-by-side and led by sword-wielding officers. In the defence of Polygon Wood, the 1st King’s held on and virtually destroyed the 3rd Prussian Foot Guards with concentrated rapid-fire and artillery support. By battle’s end, the 1st King’s casualties numbered 33 officers and 814 other ranks from an original strength of 27 officers and 991 other ranks. Among the battalion’s dead was Lieutenant-Colonel Bannatyne, killed by a sniper on 24 October and Pte Williams, killed in action on the 13th November 1911.

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