Memorial to First World War hero John Henry Williams to be unveiled in Nantyglo in the spring

South Wales Argus: HONOUR: Nantyglo Victoria Cross hero  John Henry Williams HONOUR: Nantyglo Victoria Cross hero John Henry Williams

A MEMORIAL to a First World War hero who captured 15 enemies under heavy fire from the Germans weeks before the end of the hostilities is set to be unveiled next year.

Sgt John “Jack” Henry Williams received Britain’s highest military honour, the Victoria Cross, after single-handedly taking the soldiers captive in Villers Outreaux in northern France, on the night of October 7, 1918.

They went for his machine gun when they saw he was alone but he managed to bayonet five and the others surrendered.

The unveiling ceremony will help to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War in 2014.

The Nantyglo blacksmith is said to be the most decorated Welsh non-commissioned officer of all time.

He was bestowed with the Distinguished Conduct Medal for gallantry in the First Battle of the Somme in 1916 and the Military Medal for bravery in the Third Battle of Ypres in 1917.

He also received the Bar to Military Medal for saving a wounded comrade in the Battle of Armentieres, northern France, also in 1917.

King George V presented him with his four military decorations in 1919 in what is thought to have been a first.

Nantyglo and Blaina Town Council this month [December] lodged a planning application to build a memorial in his honour on land fronting the Pensioners Hall in Wesley Place, Nantyglo.

The town council hopes that the waist-high obelisk can be unveiled by the end of March.

Nantyglo and Blaina Town Council Mayor, Cllr Michael James, has been raising funds for the memorial since the summer.

Mr James, 67, said: “He was the only soldier decorated four times in one day.

“He was a soldier of soldiers.

“I am honoured I can be part of the memorial to John Henry Williams.”

Sgt Williams was medically discharged from the army on October 17, 1918, after being severely wounded by shrapnel in the arm and leg.

He died in 1953 aged 66 and his grave is at Ebbw Vale Cemetery.

* Around £800 has already been raised for the memorial. To donate funds, send cheques to Nantyglo and Blaina Town Council, High Street, NP13 3BN.

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