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Home » War and Rebellion » People » Victoria Cross

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  • John (Jack) Henry Williams was born at Nantyglo, Monmouthshire, in 1886.  He worked as a colliery blacksmith and enlisted in the 10th South Wales Borderers in November 1914.  This photograph is signed and dated 12 February 1924.  Williams' citation for the award of the Victoria Cross states

'For most conspicuous bravery, initiative and devotion to duty on the night of the 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 bayoneting 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'.
Company Sergeant Major John Henry Williams, the most decorated Welsh First World War soldier, 12 February 1924
  • John (Jack) Henry Williams VC DCM MM was awarded his VC in 1918 and John Williams VC was one of the defenders at Rorke's Drift in 1879.
Former Company Sergeant Major Jack Williams and former Private John Williams outside the Guard Room, Brecon Barracks at the Comrades' Reunion, 15 May 1932
  • The following entry was made in the log book of Briery Hill Boys School, Ebbw Vale, by the Headmaster, Mr F. G. Cooper:  

'June 17th 1920
At 3.30 pm the important unveiling ceremony in the history of the school took place: (1) The Roll of Honour (2) The photograph of our VC - CSM J Williams (3) The photograph of the retiring Mayor, Councillor John Lewis, the old Headmaster of the School.'
Celebrations at Briery Hill Boys School where a portrait of John Henry Williams, VC, is being held aloft, 17 June 1920
  • The Victoria Cross is Britain's highest award for gallantry and was instituted in January 1856.  Only 1,354 (including three bars to soldiers who have received the coveted decoration twice) have been awarded since its inception.  Eighty-one servicemen with Welsh connections have gained this highly prized decoration and the Victoria Cross shown here was awarded to Private John Williams VC 2/24th Foot for his actions at the defence of Rorke's Drift during the 1879 Anglo-Zulu war.  John Fielding (who served under the name John Williams) was born in Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, lived in Cwmbran, and is buried in Llantarnam.
A Victoria Cross awarded to John Williams during the Anglo-Zulu war, 1879
  • This field message was sent to the commanding officer of the 10th Battalion, South Wales Borderers, from the Commander of the 115th Brigade on the 7th December 1918:

'CSM WILLIAMS AWARDED THE VICTORIA CROSS AAA. BRIGADE COMMANDER THANKS CSM WILLIAMS FOR THE HONOUR HE HAS BROUGHT TO THE BRIGADE.'
A field message stating that Sergeant Major J. H. Williams has received the Victoria Cross, 7 December 1918
  • Britain's highest award for gallantry, the Victoria Cross, was instituted by Royal Warrant on 29 January 1856.  Since that date only 1,354 have been awarded.  This is the Victoria Cross awarded to Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead for his actions at the Defence of Rorke's Drift, the mission station and temporary hospital on the banks of the Buffalo River, Natal, on 22 January 1879.  Bromhead was the officer commanding B Company, 2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment.  This Regiment whose depot was based in Brecon later became The South Wales Borderers.
Victoria Cross medal awarded to Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead, 1879