b. 13/03/1884 Laugharne, Wales. d. 29/12/1974 Swansea, Wales.
William Charles Fuller (1884-1974) was born at Newbridge, Laugherne, Carmarthenshire, Wales on 24th March 1884. His father also called William was a sailor and later a butcher. His mother was Mary nee Fleming. His parents married in Carmarthen in 1873. William had three brothers and four sisters. The family moved to Swansea when he was about four and lived at 47 Orchard Street. He was educated at Rutland Street School and the Swansea Trust School at Bonymaen before being employed as a dock labourer.
William enlisted on 31st December 1902 and served in South Africa and India until transferring to the Reserve in 1909. He was then employed by timber merchants John Lewis & Sons and later as the caretaker of the Elysium Cinema in High Street, Swansea. He married Mary Elizabeth Phillips in 1909 in Swansea. They had five children – Mary Elizabeth (b1910), William Charles (b1913), Caroline L (b1916), Doris May (b1920) and Muriel (b1924). The family lived at 1 Charles Court and later at Jones Terrace, Swansea.
William was recalled on 4th August 1914 following the declaration of war. He was soon in France, arriving on 13th August 1914. On 14th September 1914 near Chivy-sur-Aisne, France, Lance-Corporal Fuller advanced under very heavy enemy rifle and machine-gun fire to extract an officer who was mortally wounded, and carried him back to cover. Fuller won his VC for saving Captain Mark Haggard, nephew of Rider Haggard, who had fallen wounded. He carried him a distance estimated at 100 yards to a ridge where he managed to dress the officer's wounds. Capt Haggard asked L/Cpl Fuller to fetch his rifle from where he'd fell. He did not want the enemy to get it. Fuller managed to do this.
With the help of two others, Private Snooks and Lieutenant Melvin, Officer i/c the machine-gun section of the Welsh Regiment, they managed to get Haggard to the safety of a barn that was being used as a First-Aid dressing station.
L/Cpl Fuller remained with Captain Haggard trying to help him until the officer died later on that evening. His last words to Fuller were "Stick it, Welsh." After he'd died L/Cpl Fuller attended to two other officers who had also been brought to the barn wounded. (Lt. The Hon Fitzroy Somerset and Lt. Richards.) The barn came under heavy fire and the wounded men and officers were evacuated. Later it was razed to the ground with German shell-fire.
He was gazetted on 23rd November 1914, and was promoted to Lance Corporal. He had also been mentioned in despatches on 19th October 1914. While tending a wounded comrade (Private Tagge) near Gheluvelt, Belgium on 29th October 1914, he was hit by shrapnel in both legs and as he bent over a shrapnel ball entered his right side, travelled up under the shoulder blade and came to rest against his spine close to his right lung. Having been evacuated to England, he was treated at Manchester and in Swansea, where a bullet was removed from his neck. Captain Mark Haggard’s widow presented Fuller with a solid gold hunter watch with the bullet taken from Fuller’s back moulded into the watch chain. Sir Rider Haggard called on Fuller at his home on 6th January 1915.
His Victoria Cross was presented by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 13th January 1915. Unfit for further active service, he became a recruiter in Wales, being appointed Acting Corporal in mid-1915 and later Sergeant. At Fishguard on 19th July 1915 he was invited to enter the lion’s cage of Bostock & Wombwell’s Circus and calmly stroked the animals while chatting to the tamer. He was discharged unfit for further service on 30th December 1915.
William then ran a horse drawn fish cart and bred canaries and greyhounds as a hobby; he also raced dogs. The family lived at Evans Terrace then West Cross, Mumbles and later 55 Westbury Street, Swansea. On 7th June 1938 he saved two boys from drowning at Tenby Slip and was reputedly awarded the Royal Humane Society Medal, though the Society has no record of it. In the Second World War, he was an ARP Warden in Swansea.
He died at his home at 55 Westbury Street, Swansea on 29th December 1974 and was buried in an unmarked grave in Oystermouth Cemetery, Mumbles, Swansea. The grave was marked with a headstone in 2005. In addition to his VC, he received the 1914 Star with Mons clasp, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19 with Mentioned in Despatches oak leaf, George VI Coronation Medal of 1937 and Elizabeth II Coronation Medal of 1953. His medals are not publicly held.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: NOT PUBLICLY HELD.
BURIAL PLACE: OYSTERMOUTH CEMETERY, WEST GLAMORGAN, WALES.
William Fuller's memorial stone unveiled in Laugharne, Wales in September 2014.
William Fuller is buried in Section R Grave 373.
W J Williams portrait of William C Fuller VC
Llandaff Cathedral, Cardiff