CSM John Henry Williams, fondly known as ‘Jack’, received many medals during his time serving with the armed forces and most notably, the Victoria Cross, for his brave actions in 1918 in Villers Outreaux, France.
Whilst his unit were being fired on by an enemy machine gun and suffering heavy casualties CSM Williams, in a conspicuous act of bravery and without regard for his own life, rushed the machine gun post, took 15 prisoners and secured the position. His actions saved lives and secured the village.
In September the Royal Welsh marched through the town of Brynmawr in a Reaffirmation Parade to exercise their right to the Freedom of the Borough and on the same day a VC commemorative paving stone was unveiled in recognition of CSM Williams in Nantyglo.
He has also now been honoured in the place of his heroic actions with a monument in Viller's Outréaux. An event was held to mark the unveiling of the monument which included performances from French schoolchildren; soldiers in original 1918 uniforms; speeches from local dignitaries; a pigeon display, the planting of a Vibernum tree and the unveiling of the monument itself. A wreath was also laid on behalf of the Royal British Legion.
Cllr Brian Thomas, Blaenau Gwent Council’s Armed Forces Champion, says:
“CSM ‘Jack’ Williams is the true definition of a hero and we are delighted as a Council to have honoured him in previous years and most importantly during this year, the Centenary of the end of the First World War, through our programme ‘Blaenau Gwent Remembers’.”
You can watch a video of the events in France above and a speech from Granddaughter Ann Page below.