On Tuesday the 25th of April 2018, Chepstow stopped to remember and to commemorate ANZAC Day and the memory of a Chepstow Seaman who was awarded the Victorian Cross. Anzac Day marks the anniversary of the first campaign that led to major casualties for Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War.
Able Seaman William Charles William served on the HMS River Clyde, a ship involved in the Allied landing at Gallipoli in the First World War, on 25th April 1915.
The commemoration also included the observance of ANZAC (Australian New Zealand Army Corps) Day, a day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand acknowledging those who served and died in all wars, and was originally held to honour those who fought at Gallipoli.
The ceremony, held at the Chepstow war memorial, was attended by a number of representatives including the Chepstow branches of the Royal Naval Association and the Royal British Legion, relatives of Able Seaman Williams.
The Mayor of Chepstow Dale Rooke with Rev Philip Averay the Vicar of Chepstow.
Commander Christopher Wilson, President of the Chepstow’s Royal Naval Association (previously) said: “ Able Seaman William Charles William served on the HMS River Clyde that with her transport barges carried 2,000 assault soldiers, but that ship was unable to come alongside as planned because the the water was too shallow. So two companies of soldiers emerged from the side of the River Clyde into the water. In trying to reach the shore the soldiers were cut to pieces suffering 70 per cent casualties. Williams and others manhandled three of the barges to form a bridge from the ship to the shore under heavy machine gun and shell fire, Williams stood chest deep in the sea holding the drifting barges together, helping two battalions of soldiers to disembark.” Able Seaman Williams died at Gallipoli performing an act of bravery and was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.
Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Austrailia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders “who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations” and “the contribution and suffering of all those who have served.” Observed on 25 April each year. Anzac Day remains one of the most important national occasions of both Australia and New Zealand.