Lieutenant John Llewellyn Williams


Unit : Headquarters, 1st Parachute Battalion

Army No. : 180556

Awards : Distinguished Service Order


Lieutenant Williams was the Transport Officer of the 1st Parachute Battalion, possibly also acting as the Liaison officer with Brigade HQ. For his actions throughout he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order:


From the beginning of the airborne operation at ARNHEM, 17th / 25th September 1944, this officer showed magnificent resourcefulness and dash, seeking every opportunity for offensive action against the enemy. Later on 18th September it was clear that the Battalion had been split up into small disorganised groups and that the chain of command had been lost.


Appreciating the situation this officer worked unceasingly all night and collected every man of the Battalion with whom contact could be made. By the morning following he had rallied and organised a force of over 100 men. He then took command and at once led them forward in a gallant attempt to reach the Arnhem bridge. This move was brilliantly executed and much progress made and, although eventually forced to fall back in the face of tremendous opposition, he kept his force intact and wrought great execution on the enemy. He continued to command this force with the greatest enthusiasm and bravery until some hours after he was wounded on 23rd September.


His superb gallantry and disregard for his own safety were an inspiration to the whole force. It was entirely due to his splendid leadership under great difficulties that the Battalion, from the time he took command until the end, remained a solid fighting force which the enemy's tanks, guns, mortars and infantry were never able to break.


Further to the above, Williams had been in the divisional area as the 1st Parachute Brigade's final attack got underway during the morning of Tuesday 19th September, but after hearing of their plight he at once set out for Arnhem in his Jeep to pick up as many of the 1st Battalion's stragglers as he could find. It is believed that he may have personally rallied some fifty men. On the following day he was in Oosterbeek, commanding the remnants of the 1st Battalion, by now consisting of one hundred and twenty men.


Back to 1st Parachute Battalion

Back to Biographies Menu