Private 12840 Francis Williams
6th Battalion (Princess Charlotte of Wales's) Royal Berkshire Regiment
Private Williams was born in Hungerford, the son of Elizabeth Williams, of Smitham Bridge, Hungerford, Berkshire. He enlisted in Reading and at that time his place of residence was shown as Hungerford.
He went to France on 25 Jul 1915. He was killed in action on 1 Jul 1916. He has no known grave and is commemorated in the Thiepval memorial to the missing.
- Regimental Badge of the Royal Berkshires
The War Diary for the attack on the 1st July reads:
12MN - Battn in forming up trenches - A2 subsector - Carnoy
7AM - Coys report all ready and everything in order.
7.28 - Casino Point mine exploded - some casualties caused by debris thrown back into our first two assembly trenches. First wave advanced into No Man's Land.
7.30 - Attack launched - first wave takes Mine Trench and Casino Point.
7.32 - Second wave advanced from forming up point in No Man's Land.
7.35 - First batch of 6 prisoners brought in - shoulder straps - button - and all papers sent by special runner to Brigade Advanced Report centre. 3rd wave moved forward from our line -
7.50 - First wave reached Pommier Trench having suffered heavy casualties. Lt Hollois went forward to Bund Support and reported "Capt Litten killed - no officers left with left leading Coy (B Coy). Capt McArthur wounded. Capt Longhurst wounded has ordered 2/Lt Courage to move up and take command of B Coy. As far as known Capt Fenner still with A Coy but 2/Lt Collot and Lt Traill killed.
Bombardment of Pommier Redoubt continued.
Bombers of B Coy and Bn Bombers start bombing up Popoff Lane.
Vickers Guns sent up to get in position near junction of Popoff Lane and Pommiers Trench. Norfolks held up round the Loop - right flank exposed. Work of consolidation started. Suffering severe casualties from MG in the Loop.
9.30 - Pommier Redoubt assaulted and taken - line starts to advance towards Montauban Alley.
9.35 - Bn HQ moved to Pommiers Trench. 2Lt Hollis remained in old Report Centre. No communication except by visual - all wires broken in many places.
9.40 - Adjt sent to reconnoitre and report on situation as Brigade calling for information.
10.0 - Adjt reports:- "Norfolks on our right not advancing - A Coy have made a succession of bombing posts with LGs to protect their flank and are working up Loop Trench - strong opposition against them here - our right is very exposed. On left we are in touch with Bedfords - and are advancing up Montauban Alley by bombing. Have suffered heavy casualties especially among Officers" - Reported verbally to Brigade.
10.40 - Reported that Norfolks have taken Loop. Pi/3 sent to Brigade.
10.50 - Norfolks still held up at Back Trench and Boche Trench. Bombing attacks at Montauban Alley and Loop Trench progressing slowly.
10.55 - Collected about 30 scattered men and pushed these into attack at Montauban Alley - two Stokes guns brought up to assist. Pi/4 sent to Brigade.
11.10 - Situation reported to Bde in Pi/5.
12.15 - Situation reported to Bde in Pi/74. Small reserve of about 30 men collected Pi/73 sent to OC A Coy.
12.50 - Bombing attack on Montauban Alley progressed well and half the line taken. Attack up Loop Trench has cleared up to the Montauban - Mametz road. Slow progress continuing at both points. Essex have arranged to support us with 30 bombers for Loop Trench. Pi/75 to Brigade by Pigeon.
1.30 - CO and Adjt visited whole line. Position - The Norfolks still not up on our right. Capt Fenner with about 50 men hold Loop Trench to the point where it crosses the Montauban - Mametz road and are bombing on but are meeting with desperate resistance. line from these runs across open to Montauban Alley about 100yds from its junction W of Loop Trench. Essex bombers not yet arrived and urgently called for again. Advance held up by several MGs and snipers and bombers.
3.15 - Right report repeated attacks fail to effect advance - can reinforcements be sent up. Norfolks in touch on our right but not assisting by advancing. Pi/78 sent to Norfolks. Reinforcements - 1 Capt 2 subalterns and 2 OR arrived.
3.20 - Essex bombers arrive and sent up to Montauban Alley.
4.0 - Advance appreciably increased at Montauban Alley. Two unemployed Stokes Guns found and sent to support attack in Loop Trench.
4.45 - Situation reported to Bde in Pi/80.
4.50 - Bde report verbally a rebombardment of Caterpillar Trench and Montauban Alley. We urgently request them to cancel this as our two bombing attacks are advancing successfully.
5.20 - Bde report verbally rebombardment put off 30 mins. Our advance has progressed considerably and the two parties only separated by 50 yds.
5.40 - Rebombardment cancelled. Montauban Alley and Loop Trench taken - line pushing on to final position & objective.
5.45 - Loop Trench handed over to Norfolks who we advised to bomb up Caterpillar Trench.
6.10 - Situation reported to Norfolk HQ see Pi/85.
6.15 - Bn HQ moved up into Montauban Alley, communication by wire with Bde HQ established.
6.30 - Final objective reached. Work of consolidation progressing satisfactorily. Supplies of amms, food, water, bombs, grenades and a Flame projector brought up.
8.30 - Situation reported to Bde in Pi/86. Heavy shelling of Pommiers Redoubt and Montauban Alley with 5.9s.
8.50 - Wires to Bde HQ all broken. Work of consolidation progressing well. Strong points completed.
Point of Interest:
The 6th Battalion together with other battalions in this division was very well trained. This attack was one of the successes on 1 Jul 1916 – the first day of the 'Battle of the Somme'.