The superb Second World War North West Europe Holland Hertogenbosch 27th to 30th October 1944 rare ‘Immediate’ Distinguished Conduct Medal group awarded to Gunner K.S. Williams, Royal Artillery, who was serving as a jeep driver with 116th Light Anti Aircraft Regiment during an intense four days, and on one occasion drove the jeep with three others inside along the Canal bank and took nine prisoners whilst the canal bank was in full view of the enemy and was under heavy fire.
Distinguished Conduct Medal, Geo VI, 1st type bust named to 887308 GNR. K.S. WILLIAMS. R.A. 1939-45 Star; France and Germany Star; Defence Medal; War Medal, all unnamed as issued. Efficiency Medal, Geo VI, 1st type bust, Territorial suspension; (887308 GNR. K.S. WILLIAMS. R.A.)
Kenneth Sidney Williams was born on 23rd July 1921 in Bexhill, Sussex, and having worked as an errand boy, then attested into the British Territorial Army at Bexhill on 20th October 1938, joining as a Gunner (No.887308) the Royal Artillery, he was then posted to the 231st/58th Sussex Field Regiment, which soon merged with another unit, becoming the 230th/58th Field Regiment, and having attended 8 days annual camp in 1939, with the imminent outbreak of the Second World War, was then embodied on 2nd September 1939. Williams was then posted to the 233rd/75th Anti Aircraft Regiment on 20th October 1939, and then to the 116th Light Anti Aircraft Regiment on 16th April 1942, and saw continuous home service during this period, being given 14 days detention for insolence to a non commissioned officer on 31st March 1944, he was placed in open arrest, and was then noted as absent without leave from 7th to 8th May 1944, for which he suffered 4 days deprivation of pay.
With the allied invasion of North West Europe, Williams landed in France on 18th July 1944, and it was during the invasion of Holland that Williams performed a number of extremely brave acts in driving a jeep and around s’Hertogenbosch during the period 27th to 30th October 1944 which led to the award of a rare ‘immediate’ Distinguished Conduct Medal as published in the London Gazette for 1st March 1945. The original recommendation reads as follows:
‘‘On 27th October 1944 during the attack on the outskirts of s’Hertogenbosch a troop of Light Anti-Aircraft SP guns was placed in support of one of the leading Battalions. Gunner Williams was the driver of the Troop commanders jeep. During this day the troop were given the task of supporting the carrier platoon and throughout Gunner Williams drove the jeep about in the forward area of the leading infantry. On 28th October the troop was ordered to deploy in the Western half of s’Hertogenbosch and a reconnaissance party went forward into the area in which it was known that there were many enemy snipers and which was under constant and heavy enemy fire. Gunner Williams drove about in the area totally ignoring this fire and showing utter disregard for his own safety. Several enemy prisoners were taken; these Gunner Williams took back to the Infantry Company HQ, through streets which were under fire, returning later to his troop commander. The troop had now deployed but were pinned to the ground and one of the men became a casualty. Gunner Williams helped to load him on the jeep and drove back to the Regimental Aid Post under covering fire from a Bren mounted in the back of the jeep. Later in the day a further recce was made of the area, Gunner Williams accompanying his Troop Commander, throughout, who especially reported his complete coolness in the most dangerous circumstances. On the 29th October the infantry located a Spandau post near the canal, and Gunner Williams drove his jeep with the Troop Commander aboard, with great dash, followed by an SP gun into a forward position. Then with the SP covering the attack Gunner Williams drove the jeep with three others inside along the Canal bank and took nine prisoners. The canal bank was in full view of the enemy and was under heavy fire. The Troop Commander and three others then took up position and Gunner Williams kept them supplied with ammunition, making several journeys and running the gauntlet along the canal bank fearlessly and without hesitation. This he continued to do throughout the day, and when the party were pinned down by enemy fire, he and another came up and gave them covering fire. On the 30th October his Troop Commander and Troop Sergeant Major were wounded, Gunner Williams took the latter back to the Regimental Aid Post and on the way back was hit in the hand, but successfully reached the scene of the fighting, bringing with him a ladder with which to cross the canal to rescue his officer. In spite of his wounds he gave great assistance in carrying back his Troop Commander whilst being sniped and once again went back to the Regimental Aid Post over a route which was under enemy fire. His courage and complete devotion to duty throughout these four days of action were of the very highest order and there is no doubt that by his actions he contributed in no small measure to the success of the operation of his troop which enabled the leading troop to press on continuously. His gallant behaviour is still the talk of his fellow men.’
A good account of this action is found on pages 517-523 of the RA Commemoration Book 1939-1945. Williams who had been slightly wounded in the action, was posted home again from 29th April 1946, being awarded the Efficiency Medal that same year, he was transferred to the Class Z Army Reserve on 12th July 1946.