Stoker 1st Class
William Thomas George
William Williams was born in 1889Q3 at Ryde, Isle of Wight, the eldest of four children of George Charles Williams, a bricklayer’s labourer, and his wife Clara (née Strange)
He joined the Royal Navy at Portland (HMS BOSCAWEN III) as a Boy 2nd Class on 3 January 1905, claiming a date of birth of 6 August 1887 and giving his previous occupation as cook’s assistant. He then served in the Boys’ training ship HMS HAWKE where he was rated Ordinary Seaman on his supposed 18th birthday, but was really just 16 years old. In January 1906 he joined the armoured cruiser and China station flagship HMS KING ALFRED where he changed branch to Stoker in August 1906 and was rated Stoker 1st Class in February 1907. Returning to Portsmouth in 1908, he was on the books of the destroyer depot ship HMS HECLA until April 1910.
In May 1910 he joined the submarine depot ship HMS MERCURY, subsequently moving to HMS ARROGANT and then HMS DOLPHIN. From February to June 1914 he was at the Boy Artificers’ establishment HMS FISGARD, but his service record notes in May 1914 that he was failed for Stoker Petty Officer and for Leading Stoker. He re-joined HMS DOLPHIN in June 1914, moving later that month to HMS MAIDSTONE which was to be the principal depot ship for the large Eighth Submarine Flotilla at Harwich during WW1. HMS E15 was commissioned in October 1914, and it is likely that Williams joined her at this stage.
On 27 March 1915, the depot ship HMS ADAMANT left Harwich in company with HMS E11, E14 and E15 to join the Mediterranean Submarine Flotilla. E15 was the first submarine to attempt to penetrate the Dardanelles in order to be able to disrupt the Turkish supply lines to the Gallipoli peninsula. The attempt failed when unexpected currents forced the boat aground, and she came under Turkish attack. The Commanding Officer and five of the crew were killed on 17 April 1915 and the remainder of the crew, including Stoker Williams, were taken as prisoners of war. His service record states that he died ‘on 4 February 1917 at Afion Karahissar, Turkey, from nephritis’ (kidney disease). He was buried locally but subsequently re-interred at Baghdad (North Gate) War Cemetery, Iraq.
He left a widow, Emma Ida (née Bushell), whom he had married in 1910, and two sons, Thomas William (b. 1912) and George Joseph (b. 1913).