Osmond Williams GC (EM exchanger)

b. 20/01/1899 Bangor, Wales. d. 04/03/1981 Bangor, Wales.

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 15/07/1932 Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Osmond Williams EM/GC was born on the 20th January 1899 in Bangor, Gwynedd. He and Doris, his elder sister, were the children of William Griffith Williams, an architect, and Lucie Henrietta Edwards. His mother’s own mother was descended from an Irish family, the Berkeleys, whose predecessors included the philosopher George Berkeley. The family lived in the Garth area of Bangor, close to the pier. Osmond attended the local primary school. The First World War broke out during his secondary schooling at Friars School.

Osmond Williams GC

He volunteered to join the Royal Engineers in 1916 as a Pioneer, and then saw active service in France, serving from February 1918 as a Second Lieutenant with the Royal Field Artillery. During one of the final engagements of the War, he was struck in the back by shrapnel. After a period of recuperation in Ireland he was eventually discharged in 1919.

In 1920 Osmond became an undergraduate of a new course in the Engineering Faculty of University College, Bangor, where he gained a Diploma in Applied Electrical Engineering. From 1924-26 he was apprenticed to the Metropolitan-Vickers Electrical Company in Old Trafford, Manchester. Appointed as an assistant engineer with the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, a period of six years in Persia followed.

He eventually applied for a posting in West Africa, with the Public Works Department of the Government of Sierra Leone. Working as an electrical engineer in Freetown he was responsible for the capital’s electrical supply. It was there on 15th July 1932 that he rescued a woman who had become entangled in live electrical cables brought down by a storm into the main street. His own clothes were wet through, and he would have known the severe risks involved. He suffered severe burns but succeeded in freeing the woman.

He was awarded the Edward Medal for his efforts, and shortly afterwards contracted blackwater fever, which forced him to return to Wales for a period of recuperation. From 1939 to 1945, he served in the Royal Artillery with the rank of Major. He was Adjutant to the School of Artillery at Larkhill on the Salisbury Plain. On 23rd June 1943, during wartime, he married Mavis Way, a South African who was serving in England with the Women’s Voluntary Services and whom he had met on a cruise in the Mediterranean. After the War, he returned to Metropolitan-Vickers as a member of staff, and the couple bought a house in Stretford. They had two sons, Robert and Andrew. Osmond worked until his retirement in 1969 aged 70. They then decided to retire to the village of Abergwyngregyn, near Bangor. Osmond exchanged his EM for a GC in 1972.

Osmond died suddenly on the 4th March 1981, aged 82 and was cremated at Bangor Crematorium. His medals are held by his family.