Date of birth: 5th June 1921
Parents: William Thomas and Mabel Williams nee Thornett
Address: 56 Beauchamp Road
Occupation: Apprentice at Alfred Herbert Limited of Coventry, Warwick Branch
Robert Gordon Williams was born in Leamington Spa in 1921. His parents were William Thomas (b1883) and Mabel nee Thornett (b. 1884) who had married in 1912. Their daughter, Winifred, was born a year later, in 1913.
The family were living at 56 Beauchamp Road at the time of the 1939 Register. Winifred was still at home and working as a Sorting Clerk at the GPO. Her father was a Carpenter and Joiner. It may be that Robert was also living at home as there is a redaction in the records.
Keith Claridge wrote to us after seeing an article in the Warwick Courier “I went to the Website specifically to check on Arthur Midwinter because he was the same age as my late father Victor Dennis Claridge and they lived next door but one to each other. My father lived at No 55 Beauchamp Road,Warwick.
The other man I am particularly interested in is Robert Williams who was a close friend of my father. They were in correspondence, as far as this was possible, throughout their service. In fact I have two letters which were returned to my father by the Navy expressing Regret: “That the addressee is missing on active service”.
The letters from my father are dated 5th and 17th November 1944. I think it is highly likely that Robert was living at 56 Beauchamp Road in 1939, (right opposite to my father’s house), as in my Dad’s letter he mentions the happy times they had spent together “Over the Bull Fields” I can’t shed any light on Robert’s family although in one of my Dad’s letters to Robert he mentions seeing Robert’s father and Dad told me that he went to see Robert’s mother when he heard that Robert was missing.
My Dad also said that the 3 friends joined the Forces at around the same time and I assume that Arthur Midwinter was the third of the trio. He also stated that Robert was the cleverest of the bunch, so maybe that was why he became an apprentice.”
Robert’s father. William, died in 1956 and his mother, Mabel, died ten years later in 1966. Both funeral services were held at All Saints Church and Mabel was still living at 56 Beauchamp Road when she died.
Rank & Number: Engine Room Artificer 4th Class, P/MX 503451
Regiment/Service: Royal Navy
Brigade/Division: HM Submarine Stratagem
Date of death: 22nd November 1944
Cause of death/Battle: Drowned in the Malacca Straits
Commemorated/Buried: Commemorated on Portsmouth War Memorial. Panel 85, Column 1.
Commemorated locally at: All Saints Church, Emscote.
Robert’s submarine was depth charged and sunk by a Japanese Destroyer in the Malacca Straits. Eight men survived the sinking and were picked up by the Japanese and made prisoners of war. Of these, only three survived the nine remaining months of Japanese captivity.
He is commemorated on Portsmouth Memorial
- Unlocking Warwick Research Group
- Warwick Advertiser exerpt courtesy of Warwickshire County Record Office
- Keith Claridge, son of Victor Dennis Claridge, Robert’s friend and neighbour