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General Victor Arthur Seymour Williams - 1867-1949 - 1

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Copyright Goldi Productions Ltd. 1996-1999-2005

Though he never saw it, this is the very medal that Col. Williams was awarded, posthumously, for service at Batoche.

It became the property of his son Victor below who went on the become one of Canada's most honoured soldiers.

He became an inspector in the Northwest Mounted Police, and joined the Canadian Mounted Rifles to fight in South Africa during the Boer War.

He became Inspector of Cavalry for the Dominion of Canada, commanded the Canadian mounted contingent at the coronation of King George V in 1911.

In World War I he was on the general staffs of top British officers and commanded the 8th Canadian Infantry Brigade in 1916.

An old school general who believed he should share the risks of combat with his men, he was severely wounded in action, and captured by the Germans at the Battle of Sanctuary Wood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The General's medals recently sold at auction and all ended up with the same take-no-prisoners bidder.

His father's Saskatchewan medal (Col. Arthur Trefusis Heneage Williams) sold for $4700 CAN.

The general's full size medals, accompanied by some documents and photos, went for $8,800 CAN.

Below his rack of mini mess medals which went for $935 CAN.

Luckily for our Museum collection, his personal chromolithograph of the Boer War generals under whom he served was completely overlooked by the greedy grab for medals at any price, by mad militaria collectors.

In fact this fabulous print in its original frame and glass, is more closely tied to the general than his medals, which were almost always locked away in a box.

But every day, for 49 years, till the day he died, General Williams gazed at this picture, dreaming back to the impetuous days of his youth, when, as a young military officer in the wilds of South Africa, he had followed his heroes, the Best of Britain, into the very jaws of hell in battle.

General Williams' mini medals show a horrific amount of abuse compared to most mini medals one finds from World War I. One cannot but feel that the general would never have worn these to a fancy mess dinner in this condition.

In fact this is the most abused looking set of mini mess medals we have seen. The bars on the QSA are mishapen and the ribbons awfully tatty

Probably kids in the family used these to play soldier with and acounts for their horrifically bashed condition.

Yet they sold for thousands to a ravenous collector who kept his bid card up all the way, in a take-no-prisoners kind of bidding that never letting any other collector challenge his right to spend whatever it took to get all the items.

In his ravenous drive to possess it all, he completely overlooked the item that the general had in his possession the longest time.

General Williams was also inducted into the Royal Order of St. Michael and St. George, the sixth highest honour in the British honours system.

 

 

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Port Hope's tribute to its most famous soldier is a large bronze statue to Col. ATH Williams created by Canada's top sculptor of Boer War statues a century ago, Hamilton MacCarthy.

Hamilton was no doubt inspired in his pose by the very same picture in the Canadian Illustrated War News that young James Cooper Mason gazed at in awe above.

It catches the heroic colonel standing up at the head of his men, urging them on to deeds of daring and glory.

Go to Hamilton MacCarthy

Statue in Honour of Col. Arthur Trefusis Heneage Williams, Port Hope, ON - Hamilton MacCarthy
Orig. bronze - Image Size - life size
Found - Port Hope, ON
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Col. ATH Williams Leads the Charge, The Battle of Batoche - The Canadian Pictorial & Illustrated War News, 1885
Orig. lithograph - Size - 30 x 40 cm
Found - Cambridge, ON
Prov - The James Cooper Mason Coll

This very print came from a book that belonged to another famous Canadian soldier, Captain James Cooper Mason, who was also inspired by his own father's part in this famous fight to carve out his own glorious page in the annals of world military history.

Looking at this very image as a boy of 12 he determined that drawings of battle action did not really capture the reality of combat on the front lines the way they should.

Go to the Book that inspired
the World's First Combat Photographer

Like the younger Williams, he too accompanied the Canadian contingent to South Africa in 1899.

There he did honour to his father, his country, and himself, by winning the DSO in his first fight, and by establishing a new benchmark in the history of world photography by standing up in the midst of the fearful slaughter at Paardeberg, to snap the world's first combat photograph of men shooting in the front lines. Almost immediately his helmet was punctured and his helmet badge shot away.

But he had accomplished what no photographer had managed to do since the camera was invented some 70 years before, because it was just too dangerous. And no one would try it again for years to come.

Go to the Photography of James Cooper Mason DSO
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

A fabulous Boer War souvenir that once was the pride and joy of one of Canada's top World War I officers, Gen. Victor Arthur Williams of Port Hope, Ontario.

He was the son of the Hero of the Battle of Batoche, Col. Arthur Trefusis Williams, who, on the third day of battle led the charge that routed the Métis from their trenches and led to the victory in May 1885 in the far western wilds of Saskatchewan.

Unfortunately, to the sorrow of the Nation which hailed his heroism, he died of sickness on the way home. Instead of a triumphal parade of his men, a somber funeral procession took place.

In his honour, Port Hope set up a large bronze statue, which has dominated the town's main public space for some 125 years.

Col. Williams' son, Victor, took on the military mantle in the family, and fourteen years after the death of his father, signed on with Canada's Boer War contingent to fight in South Africa.

On his return he acquired this print commemorating the British commanders under whom he had served. He had it framed and placed it in a place of honour in his home till the day he died in 1949.


British Heroes, The Toronto Lithographing Co - 1900 (War souvenir of Gen. VAS Williams)
Orig. frame - Image Size - 23 cm
Found - Rockway, ON