"Capt William Williams"
1888 ~ 1942
William Williams was born in 1888 at Tyn Parc Rhiw,
the son of a farmer. But as a young lad William wasn’t interested in
the land, and left for London to work at his uncle’s bakery. However
William’s ambition was to go to sea, and whilst in London he studied
seamanship at night school, and went on to a successful career at
sea. He became a superintendent of the ‘Southern Whaling and Sealing
Company’, a subsidiary of Lever Brothers. William worked for the most
part down in the South Atlantic in the whaling industry. When he married
a young woman from Edern he took
her on a voyage with him down to Antarctica, and she became the first
Welsh woman to travel
this far south during that time. In 1936 Captain Williams was asked by
Lever Brothers to go to Holyhead to recruit men to work on the whalers, and
being the depression there was no shortage of applicants. In fact it was
so successful many men had to be turned down. Coincidentally two who
were employed were my uncles Cynfelin and Joseph Collins Jones. The
account of the men from Anglesey has been well documented in the book
‘Whaler’s of Anglesey’ by Alun Owen. In it he refers to Captain
Williams and by all accounts he was well liked and respected by his
crewmembers. It was during our winters, (summer in the South Atlantic)
that they hunted whales, the catcher ships were manned by mostly Norwegians, as they were well experienced in
whaling. Having caught the
whales they would then be transported to the factory ships to be
processed and at the end of the season the whale oil would be
transported back to Port Sunlight to be made into soap etc. During the
First World War Capt Williams’s ship was torpedoed by the Germans and
he was rescued by a ship ‘Primrose Hill’. However during the Second
World War, on the
second of November 1942, his ship the "Empire Gilbert" was en route from Blyth
Archangel Russia, U boat 586 fired a torpedo and sank her off the coast of Iceland, and Capt Williams lost his life,
aged 54. Captain Williams took many photographs
during his voyages to the South Atlantic and South Georgia, where the
whalers were based. We have been very fortunate to borrow his album, and
our thanks and gratitude to his family is enormous.
||Capt William Williams master of the
"Storm in the South Atlantic"
"Grytviken South Georgia"
"Memorial at Hope Point which was erected by his shipmates
in memory of
"Norwegian Church, South Georgia"
"The killing ground"
"Whale Catchers and Iceberg"
"Capt Williams's vessel the Southern
"Leaving for home"
||"Relaxing on the way North"
The Blue Whale
In 1904 the whaling station at Grytviken, was the first to be
established on the remote south Atlantic Island of South Georgia. The
whaling stations would process just about any part of the whale,
producing oil, meat and fertilizers. A number of nationalities operated
from the island, including the Argentineans, British, Japanese, but by
far the largest part came from Norway.
For the following sixty years Grytviken was home to a remarkable
community. Some came for a short time; others lived much of their
working lives in this extraordinary environment. We hope the photographs
on this page give you some idea of what life was like there.
Capt Williams, was master of SOUTHERN KING, and worked for the
Southern Whaling and Sealing Company (Lever Brothers). The whaleboat
shown in profile (catcher_01.jpg) has the
funnel marking of the Hektor Whaling Company of Tønsberg (N.Bugge),
[a square, split with a diagonal, red above and aft, white below and
forward] and the boat is probably one of their six catcher-boats,
which were named HEKTOR 1 to HEKTOR 7. These were built in 1929 by
three different yards, Kaldnes mek. Verk, Jarlsö Vaerft, and
Fredriksstad mek. Verk., and apart from one were about 113'
long, 235 tons. The gangway or 'gunner's bridge' shown in
the picture running from hunting-bridge to gun-platform,
(and in catcher_02.jpg) came into use in 1925. The 90mm cannon
shown in two of the photos (harpoon_01.jpg and harpoon_02.jpg)
are of pre-1926 pattern, fitted with recoil-cylinders but
of the older muzzle-loading variety. These examples were probably
manufactured by Bofors A/B, but Kongsberg Våpenfabrikk were bringing
similar weapons to market by 1926, and one or other might be
from the latter firm.
With much thanks to Mr J Harland, Okanagan Valley,
British Columbia for this
"These photographs were taken circa