Eastleach our home in the Cotswolds countryside

Eastleach War Memorial – Urban Williams

Urban Williams was born at Coln St. Aldwyns in 1893, the son of Noble and Mary Ann Williams, who had married in 1889. Noble had been born in Coln in 1863 and Mary Ann Gillett in Bibury in 1869. In the 1881 Census, Noble, aged 17, was recorded as a lodger living with the Leech family at Cottage Farm Cottages in Eastington. He was employed as an undercarter, presumably to John Leech who was a carter. By 1891, Noble and Mary Ann are living in Coln St.Aldwyns with their sons, Alfred Owen aged five (whose mother had died at twenty-nine in 1888) and John James aged four months, both born in Coln. 

By 1901, the family had moved to Notgrove in a cottage very near the Post Office, Alfred was no longer with them but John had been joined by Urban aged seven, Elizabeth aged five and born in Eastleach, Alice Mary aged three and born in Arlington and Louisa aged 10 months born in Notgrove. Noble had obviously moved around the area in his work as an agricultural labourer. By 1911, the family are at Dudgrove, Fairford and Noble and Mary Ann had produced eight children, all of whom were still alive. Urban was the eldest still at home and was employed with horses on a farm. He now had more siblings, Ernest aged seven, born in Hatherop, Prudence aged four born in Down Ampney and Linda Beatrice aged seven months born in Castle Eaton.

It is possible that Urban worked on the same farm as Albert Lockey, as he enlisted in Fairford with 10th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment on 17th July 1915, three days before him. In the Eastleach School Log book there is an entry on 19th July recording that “Mr. Hoskins writes to say that he is taking George Osman on the farm to take the place of another hand who has enlisted”. George could have been replacing Urban Williams. Urban arrived in France on 14th October 1915, probably having gone through the same process of training as Albert and went with reinforcements to replace the heavy losses in the Battle of Loos. Having been involved in the dreadful day’s action when Albert lost his life, towards the end of the year the Battalion spent time in Hulluch trenches, at Philosophe and then a period at Noeux-les-Mines where time was spent cleaning up and re-equipping. Then they were back in the Loos sector.

Between 9th-13th June 1916, they were in Maroc in support between Haymarket and the Lens road. It was very quiet and the battalion diaries report only one casualty, a man being shot by a stray bullet. Urban died in a field hospital at Noeux-les-Mines on 15th June so it is just possible he was that man. However, between 13th-17th June the battalion was holding the Crassier section from Haymarket (Loos) to the Double Crassier, two huge spoil heaps from the coal-mines, prominent features of the landscape. The chief incident of note was the blowing of two mines on the front by our miners. The enemy persistently shelled and there were between twenty and thirty casualties. Whichever scenario, Urban was injured and taken to the field hospital where he died on 15th June 1916. It seems that his parents were living in St.John Street, Lechlade and were led to believe that his wound was not severe so the news of his death was a sad blow. Urban is also on the war memorial in Lechlade.

Urban is buried in the Communal Cemetery at Noeux-les-Mines, a mining town to the south of Bethune. The Commonwealth plot and extension were designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens. On his Commonwealth War Graves Commission memorial page it clearly states that he was the son of Mr. T. Williams of Aldsworth. However, there is absolutely no doubt that Noble was his father so this could be mis-information or a mis-print. There is no evidence that Urban and Hubert were related.