Francis James Williams

Memorial: Thornbury - St Mary's Church

Regiment: Army Service Corps

Medals: British War Medal, Next of Kin Memorial Plaque 1914 - 1921, Victory Medal

Rank and number: Private M/335700

Parents: Francis James and Charlotte Williams

Marital status: Married

Home address: The Seed Supply Shop, 21 High Street, Thornbury, Bristol

Pre-war occupation: Nurseryman and Seedsman

Date of birth: 12/06/1880

Place of birth: Thornbury, Bristol

Date of death: 09/09/1918

Buried/Commemorated at: Ramleh War Cemetery (Ref. AA. 7.); Thornbury United Reformed Church Memorial Tablet

Age: 38

Further information:

Bronze Tablet and Wooden Memorial Board

Francis James Williams, known as Frank, was born in 1880, the son of Francis Williams, a brushmaker and seedsman, who ran a business in Thornbury High Street. The 1901 census shows that Frank was an assistant at his father’s Seed Supply shop. Frank played for the local football and cricket teams. The records of Thornbury Cricket Club say that he first played for the town in 1898 and was a useful bat, well known for his leg glide. He was nicknamed ‘Rangi’, presumably after the famous cricketer, Ranjitsinhji, the Maharaja Jam Sahib of Nawnangar, who played for England and Sussex

Frank married Mary Alice Milsom at Holt, Wiltshire, in July 1910. At the time of the 1911 census the couple were living at 16, Gloucester Road. Their son Kenneth was born in Thornbury in January 1912

On 2nd December 1915 Frank enlisted in Bristol into the Army Service Corps and was put into the Army Reserve. In 1916 he applied for exemption from military service. Frank said he had spent 20 years working with his father at the Seed Supply shop and that he was needed to maintain the business whilst his father was fully occupied as overseer for the parish. He emphasised that he had for several years solely managed and built up the nursery and seed trade. In addition he was a member of the local volunteer Fire Brigade and the Thornbury Volunteer Training Corps. Frank was not called up until 30th March 1917. His Army Service records show he was mobilised on 15th June, being posted to Isleworth for training. On 12th September he passed his ‘Learners Test’ to be a heavy lorry driver and by late November he was on his way to Mesopotamia. Frank served there with 1028th Mechanical Transport Company from 22nd January 1918 until 7th June, when he was transferred to Egypt. On 19th June he joined the 1073rd Mechanical Transport Company in Palestine

The British Army was the most mechanised when it came to the use of motor vehicles for transport. Both units that Frank served in were attached to the Royal Garrison Artillery as Ammunition Columns and Parks, supplying Siege Batteries. Siege batteries had the largest guns and howitzers, often mounted on railways or on fixed concrete emplacements. All the equipment and ammunition required by these heavy guns had to be hauled by motor transport

The Mechanical Transport Companies called Ammunition Parks operated dumps, or stores, of ammunition. Some larger calibre artillery shells required specialist mechanical handling equipment

Frank died on 9th September having contracted malaria. He was buried in Ramleh War Cemetery. Field Ambulances, and later Casualty Clearing Stations, were based at Ramleh and Lydda from December 1917 onwards

The inscription on Frank’s headstone reads ‘BE THOU FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH AND I WILL GIVE THEE A CROWN OF LIFE’

By kind permission, this information is based on the following source(s):

Thornbury Roots Website. Thornbury and District Museum Research Group. Forces War Records and the CWGC