Private Wilfred Claude Williams

Service Army Service No. 40149
Rank Private
Regiment:Tank Corps, G Battalion
Date of Birth: 1897
Born Dawlish
Date of Death: 31/07/1917
Memorial: Dawlish Memorial Inscription WILLIAMS W.C. GNR. TANK CORPS

Service History

There are no surviving records to show when Wilfred enlisted at Exeter. From the following account of the formation of the Royal Tank Corps he may have first joined the Machine Gun Corps.

The Tank Corps was formed from the Heavy Branch MGC on 27 July 1917 and the Battalions adopted numbering rather than letter designations (although tank names followed the same lettering: for example, 7th Battalion tanks were all named with a letter G, like Grouse, Grumble, etc.) Each Tank Battalion had a complement of 32 officers and 374 men. Sadly, the tanks deployment in the Third Battle of Ypres (July-November 1917) proved to be another slog through deep mud. The area became a tank graveyard as machine after machine ditched in deep trenches and shell holes, sank, stuck and was shelled.  The action has been described in some detail in the Passchendaele Archive (see refs).

Wilfred Claude Williams died on the first day of the third battle of Ypres which lasted until November 1917 and became known also as the battle of Passchendaele.

Wilfred C Williams is recorded on the Devon Roll of Honour.

Association with Dawlish

Wilfred Claude Williams was the son of John and Bessie Williams. The common name of Williams makes a certain identity difficult but the marriage of John Williams (1870-1898) to Bessie Slocombe (1870 - ) is linked to the Baptism of Wilfred Claude Williams in St Mark’s Church, Dawlish (since demolished) on 4th March 1897 where the father, John, is described as a Grocer and the mother is Bessie. Wilfred was born in his mother’s home town in Jan-March quarter of 1897.

After the death of John Williams, Bessie can be found in 1901 with her son at the home of her sister Annie and brother-in-law, Alfred W Lane, at 39 Fest Road, Kingston-upon-Thames. Hairdressing is a mobile occupation and they may have moved back to an area that he knew well from childhood. They had four children and Bessie was there with Wilfred Williams, 4, nephew to the Lane family.

In 1905 Bessie Williams married once more to Charles Christopher Pound, another hairdresser conducting his business at 17, the Strand, Dawlish. It would appear that Pound had been married previously.

In 1911 the census shows the household:

Charles Pound, 48, hairdresser (born in Torquay), Bessie Pound, 38, Wilfred C Williams, 14, step-son and apprentice hairdresser and Cyril W Pound, 4, son born in Teignmouth.

For greater detail see Documents, below.

Devon Roll of Honour Williams, William Claude, Gunr, Tank Corps, 31st July 1917, France
Additional Information Commonwealth War Graves Site

Next of Kin: Bessie Pound, mother
Last Known Address: 17 The Strand, Dawlish

Tank Corps badge

BMD records

The Long, Long Trail -

The Passchendaele Archive

Refs via subscription sites:

Census records

UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War

UK, Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects

Baptism and Marriage records

Barbour family history -