Welsh seaman awarded VC

7/6/1917

Seaman William Williams from Amlwch, Anglesey, was awarded the Victoria Cross on this day while serving with the Royal Navy Reserves. He was on board HMS Pargust. This was a Q ship: a heavily armed merchant ship with hidden guns and weapons that tried to trick submarines into coming to the surface. On 7 June, the engine room of the ship was damaged by a torpedo fired from a German submarine in the Atlantic Ocean. The ‘panic party’ abandoned the ship making it look like the ship was empty, while a group of men remained hidden on board. Some of the gun covers become loose in the explosion though, which meant that their plan was in danger of being exposed. Seaman Williams held the gun port in place for over 30 minutes until the submarine surfaced. When it eventually did, the submarine was shot and sunk.

HMS Pargust was the first ship to receive the Victoria Cross. The men of HMS Pargust voted that Seaman Williams should receive the honour on their behalf.