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War Memorials on Anglesey, in North Wales.

Holyhead War Casualty - Ronald Williams

Holyhead, Maeshyfryd Cemetery, R.N. Telegraphist Ronald Williams Died as a prisoner of war in Sumatra April 7th 1945

Holyhead, Maeshyfryd Cemetery, R.N. Telegraphist Ronald Williams, who died as a prisoner of war in Sumatra April 7th 1945

Ronald William's parents were married in 1921 at Pancras, and then followed the birth of their first child, Arthur R. Williams, born in 1922 in Pancras. In 1923 Ronald was born in Holyhead, and in 1927 their first daughter - Sylvia - was born, but sadly she died aged 8 in 1935. Another daughter - named Gwenda - was born in 1933.

In 1942, at the age of 18, Ronald Williams of 3, Breakwater View in Holyhead, was a telegraphist serving in the Royal Navy aboard H.M.S. Jupiter - a class J Destroyer - based in Singapore.

On the 27th of February 1942, near the north coast of Java, having taken part in the continuing Battle of the Java Sea, the ship was struck by a mine, tragically laid by a Dutch ship, resulting in a massive explosion that sank the ship.

Ronald survived the sinking, but was later taken prisoner on Java by the Japanese and transported to a prisoner of war camp in Sumatra. Prisoners in Sumatra were employed building the 'Death Railway through the Jungle', a 138 mile rail connection. Of approximately 5,000 allied prisoners working on the railway, the majority were Dutch and British, and also included American and Australians. They were given meagre rations, which they would themselves supplement with roots and grasses, but also less savoury items like rats, starch and maggots.

Malaria was a major killer and there were little or no medicines to treat the problem, and each day working parties would collect and bury the dead. Beatings were common-place, and the penalty for attempting to escape was beheading, sometimes with an additional ten men being executed.

So it was on the 7th of April 1945 that Ronald Williams met his death in captivity, and it is not surprising having read the stories - first hand accounts - associated with the cruelty and extreme working conditions at Japanese Prisoner of War Camps in Sumatra. By the time they were liberated 704 allied servicemen had died.

In 1945, after news of Ronald Williams' death reached his parents in Holyhead, they added his name to the gravestone of their young daughter Sylvia, buried in Maeshyfryd Cemetery in Holyhead. In 1961 his fathers name - Rowland Williams - was added to the grave, and in 1972 that of his mother Sophie Williams (nee Holloway).

Sadly, Ronald's death came just four months before VJ Day (Victory over Japan) on the 15th of August 1945.

If you know more about this story or have high resolution photographs of anyone involved, please email me here or if you want me to come and copy the photos please just let me know, I won't even have to take them away.

Ronald Williams Died as a prisoner of war in Sumatra April 7th 1945

Ronald Williams of Holyhead died in a Japanese prisoner of war camp in Sumatra April 7th 1945.

Holyhead War Memorials Main Page

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