Albert Oliver Williams


This post was written by Victoria Doran

A founder member of the Wirral Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment who died of wounds received near Arras whilst serving in the trenches.

A O Williams BR entry.jpeg

Book of Remembrance entry

Note that his actual date of death was 14 May 1916

Albert Oliver Williams was born in March 1891 in Pugin Street, Kirkdale in Liverpool, the 10th of 11 known children of Daniel George Williams (1841-1927) and Catherine Sarah Jane Rigg (1850-1927). Not all the children were ever at home at the same time as his eldest brother was nearly 21 years older than Albert.

His father was born in Newport, Monmouthshire, Wales the son of William Williams (1814-???) and Sarah Johns (1816-???). Like his father he went to sea, where he was an able seaman. On 30 November 1868 he married Catherine at St Peter, Liverpool.

Daniel George Williams & Catherine Sarah Jane Rigg marriage.jpeg

Marriage of Daniel George Williams & Catherine Sarah Jane Rigg

Daniel continued at sea for a few years but by 1891 he had become a land based labourer, in shipyards and docks.

Catherine was the 8th (probably) and youngest child of George Rigg (1806-1872) and Elizabeth Johnson (1805-1870). When her birth was registered she was plain Catherine, but added two more forenames as an adult. George came from Liverpool and mostly worked as a gardener in the Wavertree area of the city, though at times he was a coachman. Elizabeth spelled her surname in several variations, and gave her place of birth as Scotland and Cumberland. Probably she came from near the border. The family were not well off and both George and Elizabeth were buried in multiple graves in Toxteth Park Cemetery.

Albert spent his childhood in Kirkdale, and in 1911 he was a general labourer. Between then and the outbreak of war he moved to Hoylake. When war broke out he was working for Lever Brothers at Port Sunlight and he was one of the 500 men who marched out of the works to enlist on 1 September 1914 when the 13th Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment was formed at the behest of the local MP, Gershom Stewart. It was informally known as the Wirral Battalion. He served alongside Matthew O’Neill.

Cheshire cap badge.JPG

Cheshire Regiment cap badge

He became Private W/387, the prefix indicating that he enlisted when the battalion was formed. They trained at Salisbury, Bournemouth and Aldershot before landing in France on 25 September 1915. They then moved to the area round Nieppe, just in France on the Belgian border.

Albert was never involved in any attack, just normal trench duty with rest rotations, but all such troops suffered a steady attrition from bombardment and snipers. Albert was wounded at some stage, and died of his wounds on 14 May 1916. He was 25 years old.

He is buried in Écoivres Military Cemetery, about 25 miles due west of Arras in north west France. This may not have been where he was wounded, as he may have been moved to a hospital behind the lines before he died. His mother requested that ‘At Rest’ be added to his grave marker.

Ecoivres Military Cemetery.jpeg

Écoivres Military Cemetery

He left his soldier’s effects of £10 to his mother and was awarded the 15 Star, Victory & British War medals.

Birth: Mar 1891 in Liverpool
Death: 14 May 1916 at Ecoivres, Pas de Calais, France; died of wounds
Addresses: 28 Pugin Street, Kirkdale, Liverpool (91); 32 Becket Street, Kirkdale, Liverpool (01); 24 Brook Street, Kirkdale, Liverpool (11)
Occupation: general labourer; Lever Bros., Port Sunlight
Unit:13th (Wirral) Battalion, Cheshire Regiment
Number & Rank:W/387; Private
Medals: 15 Star,Victory and British War
Commemorated and Buried: Ecoivres Military Cemetery, Mont St Eloi, Pas de Calais, France; Grange Hill War Memorial, Hoylake Roll of Honour (now in St Hildeburgh)
Sources: GH, H, CWGC, MC, RSE, Census: 91, 01, 11, BR, PR



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