WILLIAMS, Edgar Harry Lewis
(Service number 26901)

Aliases Ed
First Rank Last Rank Private


Date 17 September 1890 Place of Birth Alexandra

Enlistment Information

Date Age
Address at Enlistment
Occupation Labourer
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Mr F. WILLIAMS, Jackson Street, Timaru
Medical Information

Military Service

Served with Imperial Forces Served in Navy; Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation
Unit, Squadron, or Ship Connaught Rangers, Ireland
Embarked From Destination
Other Units Served With Royal Navy
Last Unit Served With Connaught Rangers

Military Awards

Campaigns Western European (France)
Service Medals
Military Awards

Award Circumstances and Date

No information

Prisoner of War Information

Date of Capture
Where Captured and by Whom
Actions Prior to Capture
PoW Serial Number
PoW Camps
Days Interned
Liberation Date


Date Reason

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

12 July 1916 - wounded at Mametz, France – admitted to Lord Derby Hospital, Warrington.

Post-war Occupations

Labourer, gardener, caretaker, porter


Date 6 March 1968 Age 78 years
Place of Death Timaru
Notices Timaru Herald, 7 March 1968
Memorial or Cemetery Geraldine Cemetery
Memorial Reference Services Section, Row 505, Plot 2
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Edgar Harry Lewis Williams, known as Ed, was the fifth surviving son of Frederick (Fred) and Bridget (or Mabel) Cecilia (née Cleary) Williams of Jackson Street, Timaru. He was born on 17 September 1890 at Alexandra. Frederick Williams was born Frederick William Shelmerdine in Manchester, Lancashire, England, and was at home with his family in 1861. F. W. Shelmerdine arrived at Lyttelton on 27 May 1871. As of 1873 he was playing cricket for the Kaiapoi Club and subsequently for Leithfield. In 1878 at Alexandra, Otago, New Zealand, Fredrick Williams married Bridget C. Cleary. Thereafter, Frederick was known as Frederick (or Fred) Williams and his wife as Cecilia. In the deciding fixture between Clyde and Blacks, played in early March 1886, ‘Mr Fred Williams fairly excelled all previous efforts in the field, he being quite at home in the slips, a place that he has filled with honor for some years past, and 1 think he is justly entitled to be designated as the “king of slips”.’ He was, at the time, a wool-washer at Springvale. In 1887 Fred applied for a slaughterhouse licence. He also took a leading part in entertainment for local causes – operetta, solos. While operating a wool-scouring establishment at Springvale near Alexandra, Mr Fred Williams secured the New Zealand agency for Wolesly’s Patent Sheep Shearing Machine, “a gentleman whose well known energy and tact so eminently fit him to fill the position”. He exhibited four very fine specimens – locks, pieces, belly pieces, and combing fleece – at the New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition in Dunedin 1889-90. He was also secretary of the Vincent County Horticultural Society, and he was worked hard to bring about successful shows. He also served a term as president of the Alexandra Debating Society.

From 1901 Mr Fred Williams was engaged with gold dredging. “Mr Fred Williams has been appointed master of the Blue Duck Company's dredge, Matakanui, and being a competent and experienced man, the company are to be congratulated on securing his services.” He was appointed a country delegate to the Otago Cricket Association. His eldest son, Frederick Harold Williams, known as Harold, was selected in the country team to play town at Carisbrook, Dunedin, in March 1905. Fred Williams was still a dredge master in mid-1910. It was in August that the news broke that Mr Fred Williams had secured the appointment of manager of O’Meegan’s Hotel at Timaru and was to take up his new position on 1st September. He was presented with a travelling rug on behalf of the members of St Aidan’s Church and a purse of sovereigns from the Councillors and residents of the borough. Mrs Williams and her daughter, Florence, were also fittingly farewelled. “The departing lady had by her generous disposition, kindness of heart, and undoubted hospitality endeared herself to the whole community of the district; and young and old alike were recipients of that good lady's benevolence. . . . . To charity she gave freely, to the sick she attended cheerfully, and in fact she was a comfort to all, for her cheerfulness betokened happiness even to those who happened to be in a despondent mood. And it must not be forgotten that all the womanly qualities possessed by Mrs Williams were equally shared by her daughter, who also had rendered appreciative services to church, people, and the town generally. . . . . Mrs Williams feelingly responded, thanking her friends for their kind words and handsome present. . . . . Miss Williams was also the recipient of a handsome brooch from the lady members of the congregation of St. Aidan's Church.”

So, until the 1910 they lived at or near Alexandra, where eight sons and two daughters were born, the younger daughter and a son dying in infancy. Mr Fred Williams had been engaged in the dredging industry, moving to Timaru on the termination of the “boom”. Edgar, along with siblings, was educated at Alexandra Public School, leaving at the age of fourteen to go out to work. Their youngest brother, Vincent, finished his schooling at Timaru Main School. Was Edgar the E. Williams who competed in sports in Central Otago – a foot race at Cromwell in April 1906; football for Clyde in 1911? While he was still at Alexandra in 1911, he had moved to Waitahora in the North Island by 1914.

Edgar Harry Lewis Williams was twice turned down by military examiners in the North Island, for dental reasons. He then worked his passage Home and joined the Royal Navy. In mid-1915, his father received a short letter from Edgar, written from the North Sea, where he was on one of H.M.S. patrol boats. A considerable portion of the letter was “censored out,” but he said that he was “well and fit, and happy to be doing his bit”. He mentioned two previous letters, written seemingly when he was training ashore, but which probably the censor had detained as they had not come to hand.

Early in 1916, Mr F. Williams received word from Edgar that his ship had been put out of commission. He then enlisted in the Connaught Rangers, and was stationed at Galway, Ireland. [Timaru Herald, 25 August 1916] ‘Mr F. Williams, of Jackson Street, has received a short letter from his fifth son, Edgar, dated July 17th, written at the Lord Derby Hospital, Warrington. He was wounded on the 12th at Mametz, France. The wounded soldier after being twice rejected in New Zealand when the war broke out, proceeded to England, and after some previous experience volunteered from the Connaught Rangers for what is known as the Suicide Battalion (all machine guns), with which he was serving as a driver in the ammunition section when wounded. As he says the censor won't let them say much, but they’d been having a very lively time, a taste of hell if ever there was one. He describes himself as doing well, though a bit jumpy from “shell shock,” and hopes soon to be able to rejoin. His letter was the first intimation his parents received of his mishap. From the chaplain he finds that be is the only colonial out of the 3000 wounded men in the hospital.’ Private Edgar Harry Lewis Williams, Machine Gun Corps, received the United Kingdom World War I Pension.

Back home in New Zealand, Edgar Williams married Dorothy Mary Naylor who was born at Clyde, Central Otago. They married on 29 September 1920 at St Mary’s Church, Timaru. Edgar and Dorothy lived variously in Timaru, Kaikohe, “Ben Ohau Station at Lake Pukaki, Geraldine and Christchurch, retiring to Geraldine. He took on a variety of work – labourer, gardener, caretaker and porter. Edgar was, indeed, a gardener, meeting with success at the Geraldine Horticultural Society’s spring flower show on 1 October 1930 – four first places, with narcissi, anemones and pansies. In the following February, his turnips scored a first while his marigolds, vegetables (nine varieties), lettuce and peas brought him second placings. Mrs Williams was successful in the decorative section. His parsnips, turnips and marrow featured at the Orari show in March. At the 1931 Geraldine Flower Show, his anemones and pansies were again to the fore, while he scored second place with his lady’s spray and gentleman’s buttonhole. “The special prize for most points in the vegetable classes (excluding potatoes) was won by Mr. E. H. Williams, Woodbury (33 points), who easily outdistanced his fellow-competitors.” This was at the Geraldine summer show in February 1932, in addition to placings with nemesia, gladiolus, raspberries, carrots, broad beans, French beans and butter beans. More recognition followed at the Orari show. “It was in the vegetable section that the show proved such a huge success, and this is more remarkable in view of the dry season. In this section of thirty-one classes, there was an average of over seven entries for each class. The competition was keen for the silver cup for most points presented by Mr L. Pierce, which was won by Mr E. H. Williams, of Geraldine.” His placings were in celery, parsnips, turnips, lettuce, peas, broad beans, French beans, rhubarb, marrow, shallots, onions and collection of vegetables. At the Geraldine Daffodil Show held in September 1932, “There was a magnificent display of violets, Mr E. H. Williams winning the class with some beautiful specimens.” In December he was appointed a judge of the Geraldine Horticultural Society’s cottage garden competition. He also took his turn on the society’s committee and as a show steward. At the 1934 summer show, both Mr and Mrs E. H. Williams achieved placings in many categories. “Mrs J. M. H. Tripp’s special prize for most points in pot plants, cut flowers, fruit and vegetable sections. — Mr E. H. Williams (75 points). C.F.C.A.’s special prize for most points in vegetable section. — Mr E. H. Williams (61 points).”

Edgar Harry Lewis Williams (Ed), No. 26901, Imperial Forces, died on 6 March 1968 at Timaru, aged 78 years. Following a service at St Mary’s Church, Geraldine, he was buried in the Services section of the Geraldine Cemetery, his grave marked by a services plaque. His grave Members of the Geraldine R.S.A. paraded at his funeral. Ed was survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter. Dorothy died in 1992 and was buried at Geraldine. Their elder son, Edgar Stanley Williams (Stan) served in World War II.

Edgar’s father, Frederick Williams, died in 1933 and was buried with their older daughter, Florrie, who died at Timaru in 1915. When Mrs Cecilia Williams of Timaru signed her very precise Will in December 1937, a year before she was to die, she left her Timaru property to her eldest son, Frederick Harold Williams (Harold) absolutely. Harold had been away from New Zealand for many years and had served with the British forces in the war. The residue was to be bequeathed to her surviving children (except Harold) in equal shares, the share of any who had died go to lawful issue. Reginald was the only adult son to predecease Cecilia.

His brothers, Reginald Eric Williams and Walter Wilfred Williams, both served with the New Zealand forces in World War One; while his eldest brother, Frederick Harold Williams known as Harold, who had been out of the country for many years, served with the Royal Engineers, A list of ex-pupils of Alexandra District High School who enlisted in the Great War was published in November 1920. Among those listed were six Williams brothers – Edgar who served with the Navy and the Irish forces, Reginald E. and Walter who served with the New Zealand forces, and Harold who served with the British forces, and also Roland and Vincent for whom no service records have been found, but who may have served with other forces. Roland appears not to be in New Zealand in 1914 and 1919, while Vincent appears not to be here in 1919, being too young for the 1914 electoral roll. Cecil Bertie Williams, his second oldest brother, a foreman of works and a married man with a family, was listed in the Second Reserves. Edgar’s older son, Edgar Stanley Williams (Stan), served in World War Two.


NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [06 May 2016]; School Admission record (Alexandra Branch NZSG); Press, 29 May 1871, Dunstan Times, 5 March 1886, 6 May 1887, 30 December 1887, 6 January 1888, 24 January 1890, 29 August 1890, 5 September 1910, Otago Daily Times, 1 March 1901, 23 August 1901, Evening Star, 4 March 1905, 21 December 1909, Alexandra Herald and Central Otago Gazette, 18 April 1906, 31 May 1911, 13 January 1909, 24 August 1910, 19 October 1910, 17 November 1920, Timaru Herald, 16 August 1915, 11 February 1916, 25 August 1916, 2 October 1930; 13 February 1931; 7 March 1931; 9 & 10 October 1931; 4 February 1932; 8 March 1932; 29 September 1932; 14 December 1932; 2 February 1933, 6 & 31 March 1933, 28 September 1933, 20 November 1933, 29 January 1934, 1 February 1934, 2 March 1934 (Papers Past) [05 April 2015; 23 November 2015; 03 & 06 May 2016; 04 March 2021; 01 & 03 April 2021]; Timaru Herald, 7 March 1968 (Timaru District Library) [25 November 2015]; 1861 England census return ( [27 April 2021]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [30 November 2015]; Geraldine Cemetery headstone images (Timaru District Council); UK World War I Pension Ledgers & Index Cards ( [04 January 2022]; St Mary’s Timaru marriage record (South Canterbury Museum) [07 January 2021]

External Links

Related Documents

Researched and Written by

Currently Assigned to

Not assigned.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 Logo. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License unless otherwise stated.

Tell us more

Do you have information that could be added to this story? Or related images that you are happy to share? Submit them here!

Your Details
Veteran Details
- you may attach an image or document up to 10MB