Company Sergeant Major John Henry (Jack) Williams

29 September 1886 – 7 March 1953:-

Jack was born in Nantyglo, Monmouth and worked as a blacksmith at Cwm Colliery, for the Ebbw Vale Steel, Iron and Coal Company.

At the outbreak of the First World War he, along with hundreds of his fellow workers, enlisted with the 10th Battalion South Wales Borderers after encouragement from the company’s director Sir Frederick Mills, earning the battalion the nickname “Mills Army”. He had a very illustrious career, earning the Distinguished Conduct Medal, the Military Medal and an added bar on his Military Medal, all for conspicuous bravery.

On the night of 7th-8th October 1918, during the attack on Villers Outreaux, when, observing that his company was suffering heavy casualties from an enemy machine gun, he ordered a Lewis Gun to engage it, and went forward, under heavy fire, to the flank of the enemy post which he rushed single handed, capturing fifteen of the enemy. These prisoners, realising that Williams was alone, turned on him and one of them gripped his rifle. He succeeded in breaking away and bayonetting five enemy, whereupon the remainder again surrendered. By this gallant action and total disregard of personal danger, he was the means of enabling not only his own company but also those on the flanks to advance.

Due to his injuries, he was discharged from the Army. He was presented with his four medals by King George V, the first time the King had presented so many medals to one person in one day.

He returned home and rejoined the Ebbw Vale Steel, Iron and Coal Company, where he was given a house, and coal and electricity for life. He served as a Captain in the Home Guard in the Second World War. His medals are now on display at The Regimental Museum of The Royal Welsh in Brecon, Powys. He is the most decorated Welsh noncommissioned officer to present.

Filed under: WW1