The Williamsons

Is your name Williamson?

Usually the identification of WW1 soldier is quite straightforward, but sometimes it is not, especially where the information is fragmented and incomplete. Below is the story of three people called Williamson, a story which waits for an ending.

Last year I bought two WW1 postcards in a junk shop. Both were posted at Field Post Office 71 on November the 28th 1915 and both are signed “C Williamson“. Who was he??

The FPO 71 postmark indicates that he was a member of the 71st Bde which, at that time, had just transferred to the 6th Division from the 24th Division, one of the “New Army” divisions. The Bde included:

9th Bn the Suffolk Regt,
9th Bn the Norfolk Regt,
2nd Bn the Sherwood Foresters,
1st Bn the Leicestershire Regt.

No soldier called Williamson died with any of these infantry units during the war, but it is possible that he was serving with any of the other units (Gunners, Engineers, Medics, etc) that made up the Bde.

The 6th Div served in the Ypres saliant from the 1st June 1915 until the end of July 1916.

The postcards

One card is addressed to G Williamson, a Pte in the Army Cyclist Corps at Hounslow. (It was thought that bicycle mounted troops would be of use in a breakthrough and many infantry regiments had a “cyclist” Bn. The idea was of little use and most “cyclist” Bns became ordinary infantry. Some cyclists were retained as messengers in the UK.)

I have been unable to find any trace of Pte Williamson, who was probably later subsumed into a line Regiment, possibly of the Royal Fusiliers, a number of whose Bns were raised at Hounslow. Was he the brother, cousin or perhaps even the son of G.?

The other is addressed to F Williamson at 74 Brewer Street, Woolwich. Was “F” the sender’s father or mother, or perhaps a brother or sister?

In the 1911 census 74 Brewer Street is shown as the home of a “Music Hall manager” and his servant. Neither is a Williamson. Had the Williamson family moved to this address by 1915, or was a member of the family a servant here?

I can find no army records which seem to link to either a G or a C Williamson with an address in SE London. Knowing a man was in the Army Cyclist Corps is much less helpful than knowing which parent Regiment G Williamson belonged to, and in 1915 when you changed your Unit you usually also changed your number, so the “10679” probably changed to another number later.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists 31 Williamsons with the initial “C” and 59 with the initial “G” and as having died during the war. Did one or both perish?

Is your name Williamson and could C, G and F be ancestors of yours? If you think you can help please get in touch via the “contact” page. I would very much like to identify these Wiliamsons and tell their story here.

 

The first card is addressed to:

Pte G Williamson 10679
B Coy (Hut 18)
Army Cyclist Corps
Hounslow
England

It shows the ruins of Ypres and has the following message:

“We can see this sort of thing every day about here although where we are is not quite as bad.

Kind Regards;

C Williamson”

The second card is addressed, in the same hand, to:

F Williamson
74 Brewer St
Woolwich
London

It shows the ruins of Ypres cathedral and reads:

“Compare the two cards and you can see how the Hun respects the church

C Williamson”

It is safe to assume the other card referred to showed Ypres cathedral in peacetime.

 

 

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