AROUND a hundred people gathered to see the unveiling of a memorial stone to commemorate the award of the Victoria Cross to Company Sergeant Major John (Jack) Henry Williams.

CSM Williams is the most decorated Welsh NCO of all time. He was born in Nantyglo on September 29, 1886. At 12 he started working for the Ebbw Vale Steel, Iron and Coal Company, working as a blacksmith in Cwm Colliery.

He enlisted with the South Wales Borderers in 1906, and rejoined the 10th battalion of the South Wales Borderers as a Private in 1914 at the onset of the Great War.

His leadership qualities were recognised and he was quickly promoted to Sergeant in 1915.

He has been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for "conspicuous gallantry in action” and a Military Medal for bravery which he was given an extra Bar to add to for another act of heroism. He was also awarded a Victoria Cross and a Medaille Militaire, the French equivalent of the V. C.

The memorial stone was unveiled in his hometown of Nantyglo outside the Senior Citizen Hall on the same day as the Royal Welsh Freedom of the Borough Parade.

CSM Williams’ grandson, granddaughter, great-nephew and great-great-granddaughter were just some of the family members who attended the event, citing that it always makes them proud and emotional.

His grandson, also named John Henry Williams, who lives in Chepstow, said: “I get very emotional over these things, even now. I think its because I’ve never been in the army as I born right at the end of the war. I did meet Jack and he died when I was eight. It just makes you feel so proud to know what he did.”

His great-nephew James Bernard Evans referred to him as Blaenau Gwent’s “number one son”.

He said: “I didn’t really appreciate him when I was younger, it wasn’t until he died that I realised how amazing he was and what a famous guy he was. He was a very brave man, a very humble man and always cheery.

“He had been shot in the last couple of days in the war by shrapnel in his arm and hand. We were all having lunch and I innocently said ‘why don’t you take your glove Uncle Jack?’ and he said ‘my hands are cold son’. Obviously I realised years later he didn’t want us to see his horrific injuries.”

Mr Williams’s granddaughter Ann Page gave a speech at the unveiling of the stone and said her granddad had a “great sense of humour”. The family also said they will be travelling to France in two weeks as there will be another unveiling in honour of CSM John Williams.