Thomas John Williams
Language: Welsh & English
Rank & Number: Private, 20668
Regiment: 14th RWF, 3rd Bn RWF
Cemetery / Memorial: Mikra Memorial, Thessaloniki, Greece
Other memorials: Glan Conwy, Rhos-on-sea, Colwyn Bay
HMS Arcadian sinking
15th April 1917, aged 20 (sunk off Greece)
Excerpts taken from the following book:
Dr Bridget Osborne, We Will Remember Them… The Men of Eglwysbach and Llansanffraid who served in the Great War, 2016
Life / Background:
Thomas John Williams was born in Eglwysbach to Thomas John and Jane. Unfortunately it has not been possible to identify the family on census returns, but they may have had a connection with Rhos on Sea, as Thomas appears on a memorial there, as well as on the Colwyn Bay Memorial.
Thomas’ medal records show he was attached to the Infantry base depot and 14th Royal Welsh Fusiliers. He embarked for the front aboard H.T Arcadian as part of the 3rd RWF. The transport was protected by two Japanese destroyers. One of these remained in harbour in Malta, whilst the other zig zagged around the ships to within sight of the African coast.
At this point a U boat was seen and the ships took cover in an African river. One ship, which tried to leave, was attacked. After 3 days, Arcadian emerged and some of the troops disembarked safely in Salonika under cover of darkness. Arcadian left almost immediately for Alexandria carrying the remaining 1,335 troops and crew. There had just been a submarine drill when she was sunk by UC-74 26 miles North East of the island of Milo (Melos) and sank within 6 minutes. Survivors reported that she sank with such force that debris killed many of those swimming on the surface.
Although 1,068 men survived, Thomas and 276 others were lost.