b. 23/12/1887 Lambeth. d. 12/10/1976 Wandsworth.
DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 04/01/1918 France.
Sidney Williams (1887-1976) was born on 23rd December 1897 in Lambeth, London, one of thirteen children of Henry and Isabella Williams (nee Marsden). Sadly, due to the high infant mortality rates of the time, at least five of the children didn’t reach the age of 5. His father worked as a carpenter and joiner in London. Prior to the First World War, Sidney worked as an errand boy for Northcliffe Press at 6 shillings a week. He joined the Territorial Force before the war, and when war broke out, he was with the 6th City of London Rifles. He married Teresa Gilbert and they went on to have two sons and a daughter.
Prior to the action which led to the award of the Albert Medal, Sidney had risen to the rank of Lance Corporal and served on the Western Front. On 4th January 1918, in France, a comrade of his, George Williams (no relation) dropped a lighted match into a dug-out which had been used as a store for gunpowder. Although most of the gunpowder had been removed, there was still a considerable amount scattered on the floor, which caught fire. George was overcome by the fumes. In spite of the thick smoke issuing from the dug-out, Sidney entered and rescued his friend, who was badly burned and unconscious. Sidney, who was also severely burned, had to carry his friend up 20 steps.
Sadly, George Williams died of his wounds four days later. On 30th August 1918, Sidney was awarded the Albert Medal in Bronze for his life-saving action. He became the second member of his family to be decorated, as his brother John had been awarded the Military Medal.
After the war, Sidney became a driver for The Times for over 40 years until his retirement, and reached the milestone with a clean driving record. During World War II, Sidney served with the ARP (Air Raid Precautions) and as a fire-watcher. He retained links with the Fire Service in later life. He was also initiated as a Freemason in May 1943 in the City of London Rifles Lodge. His final position within the Lodge was as Royal Arch Mason.
Following the change in the Royal Warrant in 1971, Sidney chose to exchange his Albert Medal (which he donated to the Imperial War Museum) for a George Cross. He attended an investiture at Buckingham Palace in 1972. Sidney died on 12th October 1976 in St James’ Hospital, Balham, London, aged 88. He was cremated on 18th October at Streatham Park Crematorium and his ashes were scattered under Tree 4 in Glade 1SL. His medals including his GC, 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19, Defence Medal 1939-45, and Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953 are privately held.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: PRIVATELY HELD.
BURIAL PLACE: ASHES AT STREATHAM VALE CREMATORIUM.
Picture - Kevin Brazier