James William Williams 1888-1916
& Evelyn Meredith 1889-1985
Jim Williams is the oldest son of Lennox Williams and Nan Rhodes. Born in 1888, married Evelyn Meredith January 3, 1916. He was killed in the First World War at the Somme in November 18, 1916 at the age of 28.
Jim with some of his first cousins, Frank (Morewood) is my grandfather, about 1892.
Jim with his mother Nan Rhodes Williams.
Jim with his father Lennox Williams, about 1894.
Jim with Granny Anne Dunn Rhodes.
Granny, Frank and Jimmy, Charlie Rhodes and Mary Williams Wallace at Benmore (Quebec).
First cousins: Nancy, Catherine, Gertrude,
Dorothy, Billy, Gertrude,
Jim and Bob Campbell (?)
Jim is at the bottom of this photo of his family and some friends.
Jim with cousin Alice Burstall, not sure what's going on ...
Granny and many first cousins, from left:
Catherine, Sidney, Bobby, Charlie, Jim (center), Billy, Nancy, Gertrude, Gertrude, Dorothy.
Frank Morewood and Jim were cousins and good friends
Poitras, Jim, John, Lennox (his father), Charlie with some fish
Evelyn Meredith Williams
Prayers on the porch at Brynhyfryd?
Evelyn Meredith is second from the right.
Jim Williams and Evelyn Meredith Williams
Sep 11th (1916?)
My dear Nan & Daddy,
I am writing this by the light of the moon at 2:30 AM, sitting on the fire step of a trench.
Things are pretty quiet tonight – just occasional shots with a few bursts of machine gun fire.
Our friend the Bosch is just 160 yards in front of us. I received a letter from you this morning – in fact I have had quite a number from you lately but have not had time to answer them. We will be leaving the trenches before long for a rest, bath and brush up generally. We will have had 24 days of it working 19 hours a day and very often 21. In the front line the officers go to bed at six a.m. and get about 4 hours sleep. The men are getting pretty tired. It is the first time in and 24 days is a longer period in trenches without a rest than any Canadian battalion has ever had. We have been fortunate as regards casualties though we have had quite a number. I had 3 men in my plat(oon) killed back in the reserve trench and two wounded. One of the men killed was an excellent NCO and an awfully nice fellow. I shan`t be able to replace him.
Thank you for remembering me in your prayers. I expect they were answered last Tuesday night when we had quite a bombardment on. We blazed away at the Hun and their artillery replied. In the of trench which I was commanding it was like Hell let loose for a while. A man was blown in pieces ten yards from me, I was knocked down and the wind taken out of me – I got up and started on when another landed where I had been lying blew me along the trench – fortunately in toto and not in ( Narus partibus). I had to retire when the shelling ceased as I was a bit shaken up. I am all right now and think I got well out of it. They levelled about 30 yards of my trench with the ground, however a working party built it up again before the next morning. Our artillery gave three shots to their one so they have shown no inclination for another bout since then.
Evelyn is now on the ocean on her way home. I think it was undoubtedly the wisest course for her to take. She will be happier at home and the climate will be more agreeable.
We have had two or three gas alarms since we came to this place. They are rather terrifying at first. The gas has never reached us yet but on the occasion of the 1st alarm we really thought it was coming. One of my sentries said he heard the hissing noise it makes when coming out of the cylinder and shouted ``Here it comes!`` Gongs sounded – sirens blew and tin cans rattled all down the trench and we stood there waiting for it to come over the parapet with very mixed feelings I can assure you. It was a dark night with a drizzling rain and we couldn`t see a thing. A flare went up and the men looked very uncanny with their gas helmets on and the bigh goggles with a rubber tube sticking out in front to breathe out through and on top of it all their steel helmets. It was a great relief when the order came down about an hour afterwards to take helmets off as the gas had passed over some distance to our right.
I have had three different servants during the last 3 days. The night I was biffed about my man while coming up a communication trench was blown six feet in the air. He was coming to join me, which he did – apparently none the worse for his ascent – the next day however he was a bit broken up and asked to be relieved so I got another man who wore his boots right down to his socks so I had to get another. In the meantime my first man has been wounded in 3 places – not seriously but he is hors de combat for some time. I think my present man will be kept on permanently. For a servant out here you do not want a valet who will keep your trousers nicely pressed but rather a stout fellow who will plough through mud and water after you with a bomb in one hand and a cup of hot coffee in the other.
Well – the moon is on the wane and this luneral letter must end. I will now patrol my trench and see that all are awake.
My love to my fair sister and brother and to yourselves.
Your letters are very welcome.
Your affectionate son
J W Williams (transcribed by Jim's great neice Catherine)
The Sackville Connection
After Jim's death Evelyn Meredith married Donald Fisher of Sackville, New Brunswick, and she stayed in touch with the Williams family. We recently met their grandaughter Meredith Fisher (below right holding the photo with my wife Heather) and some of the photos above came from a Fisher album. Meredith also found in her attic a trunk full of photos and other items from World War One, belonging to her grandfather and to Jim Williams. In particular, there was a tie that appears in one of his (civilian) photos above, and his spats, with his signature on the back, shown below.
Our daughter Sarah (and Al) recently moved to Sackville and opened a coffee shop (The Black Duck) and often see Meredith and her daughter Robin. Many of the Fisher family went to BCS, and must have known my father (who taught there for 39 years) and many other Tadoussac people. Also the Fishers have a summer house in St. Patrice, which is just on the west edge of Riviere du Loup.