Sergeant Ron Williams/14891750
of 3 Platoon
Photo taken in Roath Park Cardiff

The information and photographs were all graciously provided by Sgt Ron Williams

In 1944, at the age of 18, Ron Williams volunteered to join the army, however he was "called up" before his application was considered.

His initial training was with the DUKE OF CORNWALL'S LIGHT INFANTRY at Bodmin in Cornwall and he went on to be stationed at various other places around Great Britain before being stationed at Beckingham with 365 Pioneercorps.

Early in the May of 1946 Ron Williams was sent to Special Camp 11 where he became a Sergeant in command of No. 3 Platoon. (There were 3 platoons which guarded Special Camp 11).

On arrival at Island Farm, Sgt Williams soon realised that 3 platoon was not up to the standard required and immediately set about improving it..

Sgt Williams was a very proud man, 20 years of age, and keen to show that he could take his responsibilities seriously. In his endeavor to bring 3 platoon up to scratch, Mr. Williams told me that he upset many of his superior officers. Mr. Williams has never told this account before but after 56 years, proving he has nothing to gain, he decided to tell me about his experience so that the history of Island Farm could be presented as accurately as possible from both sides of the wire.

Mr. Williams stated that the following is a true account of his experience whilst at Island Farm.

On taking over the first guard, Sgt Williams found the guardroom to be in a mess and refused to take over the guard until all of the beds were changed and the guard room cleaned. Whilst this was being done, he kept both the old guards and the new guards waiting, until he was completely satisfied.

On the second guard he found a discrepancy in the ammunition and once again refused to change the guard until the missing ammunition had been accounted for.

As Sgt of the guard, Sgt Williams was responsible for the security of the prisoners and standing orders were that no personnel were permitted to be outside the camp overnight. However, on one occasion, Sgt Williams found that the Sgt Major had been absent from the camp overnight and made his report to the Company Commander the same morning.

Mr. Williams is fairly sure that the report was never filed because as he left the office he heard the Company Commander tear it up. From this moment onwards he felt things started to happen against him

  1. On one occasion Sgt Williams was strongly accused of leaving the bath dirty but this wasn't possible because he always took showers.

  2. When on the parade ground with his platoon he was made to look a fool in front of his men. The officer concerned started yelling at him saying that he was not giving his orders in the correct manner.

  3. Another time at approximately 10:00am he was told not to drill his men so loud and to lower his voice because the officers were still in bed.

  4. The camp was to invite members of the public to a dance which was to be held just inside the wire to the right of the guardroom. The night before the dance, Sgt Williams caught some POWs inside the building . They had tapped into a barrel of beer and were drinking and taking it away. When he reported this matter he was told to keep quiet about it.

  5. Sgt Williams realised that when it was 3 platoon's turn to be the guard it appeared to always be a Saturday. This wasn't just a personal view, the men of 3 platoon also shared this view.

  6. Whenever the officer of the day came out from inspecting the guardroom, before Sgt Williams took over, the officer would always approach Sgt Williams in an aggressive manor. Sgt Williams would give the order to present arms but he would always try to find some way of telling Sgt Williams off in front of the old guard and the new guard as though to belittle him.

  7. While on guard Sgt Williams adopted the habit of walking around the perimeter wire at various times right through the night. On one occasion he came across what seemed like a torch covered by a handkerchief being used inside the compound. He shouted a warning and the light went out. After some time the light reappeared and it was moving in the vicinity of a POW building. With the knowledge that an escape had previously happened, Sgt Williams fired two warning shots into the air. Mr. Williams said that: "It caused one hell of a rumpus !"

    The following morning Sgt Williams placed his report in front of the Company Commander but the incident was never followed up or investigated.

  8. Sgt Williams befriended a Corporal William Henry Roberts at the camp

    Corporal William Henry Roberts

    Corporal Roberts introduced Sgt Williams to his sister, Violet Roberts and after a brief courtship Sgt Williams proposed to marry. Having applied for leave to get married, which was granted, the leave was due to start on Saturday 8th February 1947 and he was to marry on the Monday 10th February 1947.

    However, on the eve of his wedding, Sunday 9th February 1947, a soldier called at the home of his bride-to-be (Violet Roberts) and asked for Sgt Williams. Sgt Williams was told that he was being ordered back to the camp immediately. On reporting, Sgt Williams was confronted with the Sgt Major and another officer and was presented with the following two options:

    a) Sign a voluntary surrender of one stripe and carry on with his wedding.
    b) Refuse the voluntary surrender and have to cancel his wedding and be selected for duty at the camp

    Sgt Williams chose choice (a) and was then presented with a pre-written surrender note which he was told to sign.

    " If the surrender note still exists on file somewhere it will clearly show as the same date as my marriage and the hand written letter, although signed by me, is not in my hand writing. It was my intention up until then to make a career in the army. Being so disgusted with the recent events (mentioned above) and the present moment there was no way I was going to cancel the wedding"

    Having agreed to surrender a stripe, Sgt Williams was agreeing to a demotion, and so was no longer a sergeant of 3 platoon. Now a Corporal, he was posted to Camp 257 Pennygillam, Launceston in Cornwall, England.

    Demoralised and hurt because of his treatment by the army, Corporal Williams deliberately played up until eventually he was forced to leave the army.

    Mr. Williams then went on to privately own two successful car companies in Cardiff for over 30 years until they were sold and Mr. Williams retired.

Mr. Williams finished by saying "There is much I can say as to the attitude of some of the officers and NCOs but after so many years have passed, other than this, I would prefer to let sleeping dogs lie"

July 2003

Life in the Camp - As told by Mr Williams:

There were three platoons, each with approx 30 men plus a Sgt. Cpl and lance corporal. Each platoon would, in rotation, do a 24 hour guard with 24 hours off. The new guard would be mounted, if I remember correctly at 9am sharp and would be assembled opposite the old guard for personal inspection along with your weapons,which would be a 303 cal rifle. As Sgt of the new guard It was my responsibility to inspect the guard room and make sure all was well and that the ammunition count was correct and that none was lost . Either myself or a corporal would get 4 men to fall in and march them around the wire and place them at their post's relieving the man already on duty. He would report the situation. ( " ALL IS WELL ") on the change over. Every man on his 2 hours would carry 4 rounds of 303 AMMO. Every post had a search light which was a car head lamp which was supposed to worke by batteries, but they never worked !

I myself would not go to bed or sleep all night. I would go at various intervals around the wire to make sure none of the guard was sleeping and was patrolling his stretch of wire. I would also keep an eye on what was happening at the front barrier over night. I would in between checking the guards, walk around the camp Officers and soldiers quarters checking as much ground as I could. The officers didn't like that one little bit. Neither did the sgt/major. I saw and heard too much for their liking. Each platoon in between guards would have various duties. Every morning the remainder of the camp not on guard would assemble on parade for roll call. The sgt of each platoon would call out his report as to how many had reported sick etc how many were present.