GUARDSMAN ARTHUR JAMES WILLIAMS
25TH AUGUST 1918 AGE 20
BURIED: VIS-EN-ARTOIS BRITISH CEMETERY, , HAUNCOURT, FRANCE
May the heavenly winds blow softly
O'er that far and silent grave,
Where sleeping without dreaming
Lies one we could not save.
He answered duty's call,
He lies among the slain,
He died for England's honour,
He has not died in vain.
Arthur Williams' father quoted from a piece of memorial verse of the kind to be found in the In Memoriam columns of local newspapers. Arthur's father, James, was a former Life Guards' trooper. The concept of England's honour would have resonated with him.
Williams' army number indicates that he joined up in February 1917. He served with the 1st Battalion the Welsh Guards. On 25 August 1918 the 1st Battalion were in the trenches at St Leger when they took part in an attack on the German-held town of Ecoust St Mein. Initially things went well, the heavy mist shrouding their attack. However, the supporting tanks got lost, the German wire was discovered to be uncut, and when the mist lifted the guardsmen were sitting ducks for the German machine guns. The war diary tells how they were forced to withdraw, emphasising that they took their wounded with them. However, Arthur Williams and four other Welsh Guardsmen, who all died on 25 August, were buried approximately ten kilometres behind the German lines in Dury German Cemetery. Their bodies were exhumed in 1924 and buried in Vis-en-Arois British Cemetery.