HoC - Roll of Honour - Howell Whitehead Williams

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2101/290467 L/Corp Howell Whitehead Williams

1st/10th (T.F.) Battalion Dukes of Cambridge’s Own (Middlesex Regiment)

Howell, who was born on 12th September 1884, was the son of Elsie May Bennett, (formerly Williams) of 6, Grove Park Terrace, and the late Edmund J.W.H. Williams. Howell was a native of Tranmere, Birkenhead, christened there on 28th November, 1884. He was living at 24, Hazeldene Road on enlistment. In December 1914 is address was recorded as 4, Ranelagh Villas, Grove Park Gardens. There was no record of the family living in Chiswick on the 1911 census. By 1918 his mother was living at 23, Riverview Grove, and in 1923 was living at 6, Grove Park Terrace with her second husband Percy Bennett, who was Howell’s stepfather. It is believed that Elsie May was originally from Croydon.

Howell was working as a counting house clerk in Fulham when he enlisted for four years in the Territorial Force at Stamford Brook on 14th August 1914. It is thought he may have married in 1911, although he would only have been about 16 years old at that time. He was also known to have been an engineering student.

Howell’s regiment was engaged in the Asiatic Theatre of War. He died from heat exhaustion en route to hospital in Mesopotamia on 17th July 1917. He was awarded the Victory medal. Examination of medical records from those serving in Mesopotamia at that time, demonstrate that heat exhaustion was a common problem. Excerpt from 1st Aid Room records 22nd July 1917 – ‘Men registering such temperatures (101’F+) are to remain on this rest billet all day, reporting sick at 5p.m.’

Howell Williams is buried in Basra War Cemetary Part II M-Z. Basra is a town on the west bank of the Shatt-al-Arab, 90 kilometres from its mouth in the Persian Gulf. The cemetery is about 8 kilometres north-west of Basra. During the First World War, Basra was occupied by the 6th (Poona) Division in November 1914, from which date the town became the base of the Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force. A number of cemeteries were used by the MEF in and around Basra. Makina Masul Old Cemetery was used from December 1914 to October 1916 and the Makina Masul New Extension was begun alongside the old cemetery in August 1917. These two sites, enlarged later when more than 1,000 graves were brought in from other burial grounds, now form Basra War Cemetery. The cemetery now contains 2,551 burials of the First World War, 74 of them unidentified. The headstones marking these graves were removed in 1935 when it was discovered that salts in the soil were causing them to deteriorate. The names of those buried in the graves affected are now recorded on a screen wall.

Dedication of Memorial window 1920 - Excerpts from Parish records:-

‘The ladies’ working party took part in a war memorial sale of work which more than paid for the real centre of the whole scheme of the window.’

‘It was I think with feelings of very natural pride that we took part in our war memorial services on Saturday & Sunday last, ‘though tempered with an equally natural sorrow for those who gave their lives for this country, and with real sympathy for those amongst us to whom the loss means so much.’