[Skip to content]



  • Photograph was published 9th December 1914 in the Nottingham Evening Post and is courtesy of Jim Grundy and his facebook pages Small Town Great War Hucknall 1914-1918
Person Details
18 Sep 1895
Leeds, Yorkshire
He was born in September 1895, the son of John George and Elizabeth Williams. James was baptised at the parish church of St Peter's, Leeds, on 27 October 1895. He was the brother of Ethel, Edith and Florence Agnes Williams. All the children were born in Leeds apart from Florence who was born in Nottingham. In 1901 the family was living at 44 Herbert Street, Nottingham. John (44), who was born in Marylebone, London, was a porter, and Elizabeth (33), who was born in Atherstone, Leicester, a machinist. Their four children were all at home the night of the census; Ethel (10), Edith (8), James (5) and Florence (1). John and Elizabeth also had a boarder, John Corcoran (25). By 1911 they were living at 28 Lady Bay Road, West Bridgford, Nottingham. The Royal Navy notified James' mother of her son's death in November 1914; her address at that time was 31 Trent Road, Beeston.
James was a carter when he joined the Royal Navy in 1914.
26 Nov 1914
18
2872358 - CWGC Website
SS/4815
Ordinary Seaman
HMS Bulwark Royal Navy
James joined the Royal Navy on 6 April 1914 on a 12 year engagement. He served in the following ships and establishments: Victory I, 6 April 1914-11 July 1914 (Ordinary Seaman); HMS Bulwark, 12 July 1914-26 November 1914. He was lost when HMS Bulwark exploded at a buoy in the River Medway off Sheerness. His body was not recovered for burial and he is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. The pre-Dreadnought battleship HMS Bulwark of the 5th Battleship Squadron, Channel Fleet, was sunk on 26 November 1914 by an ammunition explosion while at No 17 Buoy in the River Medway off Sheerness. Only 12 men survived from a ship’s company of over 750 and among the dead were sailors and Royal Marines from Nottinghamshire, many of whom came from the Meadows and Radford. Eye-witnesses in nearby ships described seeing smoke from the stern of the ship before the explosion, which appeared to have been in an after magazine. Divers who examined the wreck a few days later reported that Bulwark’s port bow had been blown off by the explosion and lay 50 feet beyond the mooring while the starboard bow lay 30 feet further away. No other large sections of the ship could be found. A Naval board of enquiry into the cause of the explosion concluded that the most likely cause of the disaster was the overheating of cordite charges stored alongside a boiler room bulkhead. It was also suggested that shells for the ship’s 6” guns had been stored in in cross-passageways connecting the ship’s 11 magazines and had, contrary to regulations, been packed too close together and were also touching the magazine bulkheads. A chain reaction explosion of the shells would have been sufficient to detonate the ship’s magazines. On the afternoon of Thursday, November 26th, 1914, First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill made the following statement to the House of Commons : ‘I regret to say I have some bad news for the house. The Bulwark battleship, which was lying in Sheerness (on the River Medway) this morning, blew up at 7.35 o'clock. The Vice and Rear Admiral, who were present, have reported their conviction that it was an internal magazine explosion which rent the ship asunder. There was apparently no upheaval in the water, and the ship had entirely disappeared when the smoke had cleared away... I regret to say the loss of life is very severe. Only 12 men are saved. All the officers and the rest of the crew, who, I suppose, amounted to between 700 and 800, have perished. I think the House would wish me to express on their behalf the deep sorrow with which the House heard the news, and their sympathy with those who have lost their relatives and friends.’
Nottingham Evening Post notice (abridged), 1 December 1914: 'Williams. On November 26th, James Frederick Williams on HMS Bulwark, late of 71 Rupert Street.'
Remembered on

Photos

  • Photograph was published 9th December 1914 in the Nottingham Evening Post and is courtesy of Jim Grundy and his facebook pages Small Town Great War Hucknall 1914-1918
    James Frederick Williams - Photograph was published 9th December 1914 in the Nottingham Evening Post and is courtesy of Jim Grundy and his facebook pages Small Town Great War Hucknall 1914-1918