Percy Gerald Williams

Percy Gerald Williams ©

Percy Gerald Williams ©

Date of birth: 1897
Place of birth: Woolwich, London
Service No.: Not known
Rank: Clerk
Service: Royal Navy
Vessel: HMS Russell
Died: 27th April 1916 aged 19 years
Death location: At sea


NOTE:  Although Percy’s name is not on the Cenotaph or Memorial Wall, our researcher chose to research and tell his story.



This photograph is © Richard Taunton Sixth Form College. Southampton Cenotaph Families and Friends Group have received permission to reproduce this photograph and extracts from the narrative on the Old Tauntonians’ online War Memorial:

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Life before the War
Percy was the second of 4 children born to parents Percy Howard and Edith Susannah, nee Fyson, who married on 22nd March 1894 at St. James Church, Clerkenwell, London.  Percy Howard’s occupation, when he married, was a Clerk.

Percy’s siblings – two sisters and one brother – were:

Ernest Leslie b.1895

Ethel Mary b.1900

Evelyn b.1902

In 1901 the family lived at 5 Gordon Road, Camberwell, London.  Percy Howard was employed as a Mercantile Clerk.

The family had moved to Bracklyn, Ethel Road, Bramhall, Cheshire by 1911.  Percy Howard was now an employer and traded as a Commercial Traveller and Agent (Grocery).


War Service

Old Tauntonian’s Memorial Roll

 Time at Taunton’s School: 1909 – 1910

Education and Employment: Percy was born in Plumstead in 1897. He won a scholarship to Taunton’s School in 1909, but a family move to Cheshire the following year meant he left the school in 1910.

Life during the War: Percy’s family moved from Cheshire to Southport in Lancashire. He worked as a clerk for the Royal Navy. He was aboard the ship H.M.S. Russell off the coast of Malta. It was awaiting entrance to Valetta harbor when it came into contact with a mine laid by U73 and the mine exploded. The ship sank with the loss of 120 lives, including Percy.

Percy died on 27th April 1916 aged 19 years.

Chatham Naval Memorial

Chatham Naval Memorial


Chatham Memorial Register reads:

“Williams, Clerk Percy Gerald. R.N. H.M.S. “Russell”. Killed by mine explosion off Malta 27th April, 1916. Age 19. Son of Major P. and Edith Howard-Williams, of “Dunvegan”, Dover Rd., Birkdale, Southport, Lancs”.

 Percy was entitled to the Star, Victory and General Service Medals.




Historical Information – H.M.S. “Russell”

HMS Russell was steaming off Malta early on the morning of 27th April 1916 when she struck two mines that had been laid by the German submarine U-73.  A fire broke out in the after-part of the ship and the order to abandon ship was passed; after an explosion near the after 12-inch (305-mm) turret, she took on a dangerous list.  However, she sank slowly, allowing most of her crew to escape.  A total of 27 officers and 98 ratings were lost.  John H D Cunningham served aboard her at the time and survived her sinking to become First Sea Lord in May 1946.

The ship lies at a depth of 113/115 metres and was dived upon for the first time in July 2003 by a British technical diving team “Starfish Enterprise”.  She was found completely upside down with the stern section missing.  It is believed that most of the large guns may be lying on the sea bed as these were only placed on the deck.


Researcher: Becky Lonergan
Published: 30th August 2015
Updated: Insert dates here

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