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Thursday, 6 August 2015

Bill Williams, wartime leader of the RAOC, died on 7 August 1965

This is part of the obituary, written by Major General Sir John Hildreth, that appeared in the RAOC Gazette in September 1965 telling something of Bill's achievement for the RAOC, The Army and his Country.

'Without him and his drive and determination, I doubt whether the RAOC [and I would say the RLC] would exist today. Many things went wrong in those early days, enough certainly to daunt the spirit of a lesser man, but not Bill Williams. Many people, Corps and Regiments wanted to take over for themselves those stores and equipments of their particular concern. Some to a limited extent succeeded. It was only Bill Williams's audacious determination, first to put right what had gone wrong and second to hold the Corps together as a successful entity that prevented the wholesale distribution of our job to others....

'I found it exhilarating to serve someone who really knew his job - and mine, and most other people's, and who also knew what he wanted done and by when. He was a great leader, probably the greatest the Corps had known. Some found him harsh - and he had to be, for we were at war and only the best was good enough...He would not allow any Officer to call for a junior to explain any facet of the functions for which he was responsible. If he did not know the detail himself, he was "out"!

'And yet, with this detail on his mind, he had the widest vision of any of the big issues of the day...

'He was asked to visit India and to advise on the best way to reorganise Ordnance Services there - a prodigious task for one unacquainted with that country. Nevertheless he picked the wood from the trees and clearly and succinctly told Field Marshal Auchinleck and his Staff exactly what was to be done to put things right - and it was done....

'When, before Normandy, spares for American tanks could not be obtained from that country because of the policy to provide tanks over spares, he went there and talked to the factory workers of our difficulties in maintaining their tanks in battle. He asked for, and got, additional production effort from the workers which, not only maintained the output of tanks, but gave us the spares as well...

'He is reputed while over there to have persuaded Mr Kaiser to build an extra ship to carry the spares over and I can well believe that he did, too...

'He was without doubt the greatest DOS we ever had and he was one of the greatest of all Corpsmen. So long as history records the activities of the RAOC, so long will he be remembered and honoured among us. With his death an era is passed. For those who lived through it, it must always remain a glorious era. For those who come after it should remain forever an inspiration.'



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