Williams, John William


War Service:
Private JOHN WILLIAM WILLIAMS of 17th (“Footballers”) battalion Middlesex Regiment died on 5 June 1916, aged 30.

The Footballers Battalion was formed in 1914 and a second (23rd Middx) in May 1915. As early as September 1914 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had written “There is a time for all things in the world, and this is not the time to be chasing around after a ball.” The idea for a battalion of soccer players came from the Rt Hon. W. Joynson Hicks MP and although a significant number of players did enlist, at first they were far outnumbered by the football clubs’ supporters. In fairness it should be said that some clubs were reluctant to release their professional players from their 12 month contracts.

There is a memorial to the two Football Battalions in the village of Longueval on the Somme.

He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial

Location of Memorial:
He is remembered on a memorial plaque at Millwall Football Club.

He was born in May 1884 in Buckley, Flintshire. He was the husband of Sarah Williams, of 12, Myrtle Rd., The Square, Buckley. He also seems to have been known as James Williams and the fans called him ‘Ginger’. He played football as a forward for Bury, Crystal Palace, Accrington Stanley and Birmingham and played for Millwall in the 1914/1915 season. He won two international caps for Wales. Curiously his death was reported in the New York Times.


Contributed By:
Andy Pepper

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