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Alban Leonard Williams, Private 139940 Machine Gun Corps, formerly Private 880 the Welsh Regiment.

Died 19 September 1918.

Alban was born at St Bride’s Well, on the western slope of Gray Hill. He left the family home to live in Newport and was already in the Army when the Great War began, having signed up in Barry.

He had served in a Territorial Force Battalion of the Welch Regiment. The territorial Force was the forerunner of the present Territorial Army. Unlike so many British soldiers, he was not sent to France at the outbreak of war. Indeed, he did not go to France until 1916, by which time he was serving in the recently formed Machine Gun Corps. This Corps had been formed to provide British soldiers in action with similar heavy machine gun cover to that which the Germans had employed since the outbreak of war.

Alban died of the wounds that he received in action on 19 September 1918. On that date he was involved in fierce fighting along the ‘Hindenburg Line', where the Germans were attempting to make one last push to break the Allies advance.

Following his death Alban was buried in Varennes Military Cemetery, which is located on the edge of the Somme battlefields, in Northern France.

His personal effects were returned to his mother, who had by then moved to Rectory Cottage, which stood just across the road from the bridge leading to St Bridget’s Church.

At the end of the Great War, his name was inscribed on the Magor War Memorial, but following recent Local Government Boundary changes his home now lies within the Caerwent Community Boundary. His name is to be added to the Caerwent War Memorial, hopefully in time for this year’s Remembrance Service.

GJ Sept 1999