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Plaque and bench commemorate hero Ludlow seaman awarded the VC

By Charlotte Bentley | Ludlow | News | Published:

A memorial plaque has been installed in Ludlow to commemorate an heroic seaman linked to the town.

William Charles Williams, born in Ludlow, was awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery

On May 30, a plaque proposed and provided by the Ludlow P.3 group was fixed to a bench in the town to commemorate William Charles Williams VC who was born at Sandpits, a property no longer standing, in Gravel Hill.

Williams was an able seaman and one of the first ever lower rank recipients of a navel posthumous award of the Victoria Cross, which his father received from King George V at Buckingham Palace in 1916.

The bench is found on Henley Road, Ludlow, opposite the town's Catholic church, and was chosen for its location near to Gravel Hill, where Williams was born.

The project was a collaboration of many parties since the initial enquiry to the town council by the Ludlow P.3 group. The bench was procured from Shropshire Council by councillor Vivienne Parry.

William Charles Williams

The bench was refurbished for free by volunteer and town councillor Graeme Perks, who refurbishes many of the town benches and is a member of the Ludlow War Memorial Fund.

The Ludlow P.3 group provided the plaque to be fixed to the bench and when it was due to be fitted earlier this year, it was found that the bench had been vandalised, and had to be taken away for some remedial work.

Following the remedial work by Councillor Perks, a Perspex cover was also put over the plaque for longevity.

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William Charles Williams was commended for his bravery when serving aboard HMS Terrible in the Naval Brigade off South Africa during the Second Boer War and in China during the Boxer Rising.

The memorial bench in Ludlow

He left the regular service in 1910, joining the Royal Naval Reserve and working in the police force and in a steel works in Newport. He rejoined the Navy in 1914 on being mobilised at the start of the First World War. During his career, he served on eighteen different ships, some more than once.

Williams was 34 years old when, on April 25, 1915, during the landing on V Beach, Cape Helles, Gallipoli, Turkey, he, with three other men – George Leslie Drewry, Wilfred St. Aubyn Malleson and George McKenzie Samson – was assisting the commander of their ship, HMS River Clyde, at the work of securing the landing barges to form a bridge.

He held onto a rope for over an hour, standing chest deep in the sea, under continuous enemy fire. He was eventually dangerously wounded and later killed by a shell while his rescue was being effected by the commander who described him as “the bravest sailor he had ever met” and later wrote, “He was the man above all others who deserved the VC.”

Charlotte Bentley

By Charlotte Bentley
Community Reporter - @CharlotteB_Star

Community Reporter at the Shropshire Star, helping under-represented communities to find a voice in Shropshire and Mid Wales. Contact me at charlotte.bentley@shropshirestar.co.uk.

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