Today, 11th November, we remember those who gave their lives in defence of our nation and way of life.
Among the many associated with the University of Glamorgan (in its previous identity as the School of Mines) we have chosen one story, to remind us that those whose names we remember today are not merely names on a list, but lives, each with their own joys and sacrifices.
Frank Emlyn Williams was born in Merthyr Tydfil on the 22nd May 1894; the eldest son of Tom and Ellen Williams. He was the eldest of three; having younger brothers Henry and William. The family moved to Troedyrhiw House, Mountain Ash and living here, at what was known locally as ‘the Pink House’.
Frank was employed as a surveyor at Nixons Collieries and he came to study here, at the South Wales and Monmouthshire School of Mines in October 1913. He enrolled onto a general mining course and studied Mechanics and Heat, Physics and Chemistry, Colliery Practice, and Maths. He made good attendance and was up to date on his coursework, but he didn’t sit his first year’s examinations. It seems likely that this absence was connected to the fact that by this time he was already an officer in the 1st/5th Battalion of the Welsh Regiment of the Territorial Force and in the summer of 1914 they would have been busy in training for a war which seemed inevitable.
1915 seems to have been a bad year for Frank – as he was wounded twice within months. In August he was treated in a hospital in Malta for wounds to his neck. And in October he was wounded again at Gallipoli, A Lieutenant. Tremellen reported to the Aberdare Leader “…I saw Captain F.E.Williams, Mountain Ash, go out with 10 men to locate snipers, he returned shot through the cheek. He made light of his wound and refused to be carried on a stretcher”.
Frank was promoted to the rank of Captain on 1st June 1916 and a few months later he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps as a Flying Officer (Observer).
The Royal Flying Corps was a forerunner of the RAF and while serving with the Corps Frank was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry for distinguished service in the Fall of Jerusalem in December 1917. Frank had a positive end to 1917 as, in addition to the award of the Military cross, he married Elizabeth Sinnet-Jones, a relative of the daughter of the Vicar of St Margaret’s church.
In April 1918 while he was stationed at Abu Sueir, in Egypt with the 57th Squadron of the RAF, Frank Williams died of injuries he had sustained on a training flight. The Royal Air Force was just 6 days old. Frank was just 23 years old.
He is buried at the Ismailia War Memorial Cemetery, Ismailia, in North Eastern Egypt, and he is listed on the Roll of Honour at St. Margaret’s Church, Mountain Ash and here on our memorial.
Pictures, from left to right:
The Airco DH4 aircraft of WW1, famous for its well designed observer cockpit. This aircraft is recorded as being used by the 57th Training Squadron of Captain Williams.
The Ismailia War memorial Cemetery, Egypt.
St Margaret’s Church, Mountain Ash.