Victorian Naval Campaign Groups
John Williams
He remains on her for a little over a year, then signs onto HMS Grampus (3rd rate) where he gets
promoted to Captain of the Main Top on 17 May ’47.  His conduct on Grampus however was only
rated as “good”.  He then signs on HMS Amazon (6th rate) 4 Nov ’48 as an AB initially, but is again
promoted to Capt Main Top on 30 May ’49.

However, now things begin to go adrift for him as he is reduced to AB on 25 Aug ’49 for some
infraction. Reduction in rating was also commonplace in the pre CS navy.  Then on 16 Sep ’50 he gets
sentenced to 14 days “gaol”,  for an unspecified offence, & his character is graded as “indifferent”.  He
returns to Amazon on 1 Oct ’50 & remains on her until 4 Jan ’52 & redeems himself somewhat for
when Amazon is paid off Williams receives a character of “good”.

He then signs on board HMS Hastings (3rd rate) as an AB on 5 Jan ’52 & heads to the East Indies to
see active service in the Burma campaign of March ‘52 to June ‘53.  He was awarded the IGS 1854-95
medal, with clasp “Pegu” for this Rangoon river campaign.

On 16 Apl ’53 he is promoted to Captain of the Cutter (PO1) & is paid off in this rate on 5 May ’53,
with a “very good’ conduct rating.

On 23 May ‘53 he signs on HMS Duke of Wellington, a new 131 gun 1st rate & Flagship of Vice
Admiral Napier.  This is his first & only “big ship” service.
Whilst on Duke of Well’n he elects to sign on for Continuous service, which he does on 12 Nov ’53, &
is assigned CS number 4931.  

He is granted his first GCB on 23 Jan ’54 (GCB’s had been introduced in 1849).  He is promoted to
2nd Captain Main Top (PO2) & remains in that rate for the Baltic campaign, until 19 May ’55 when he
is promoted to 2nd Capt’n of the Afterguard.  On 1 Mar ’56 he is awarded his 2nd GCB, &  on
1 May ’56 he is promoted to Capt’n of the Afterguard.

His conduct record has been 'very good' since being drafted to HMS Hastings, but he gets into
trouble again as he is deprived of one GCB on 18 July ’56, although it did not affect his conduct rating
of ‘very good’ when he was paid off from Duke of Well’n.

He is paid off from D of Well’n on 4 Apl ’57 & joins HMS Cordelia (sloop/corvette) in the same rating
for service in the Pacific.  

His GCB is restored to him on  27 Sep ’57,  & he is advanced to Quartermaster (PO1) on 23 Mar ’59.   
Williams would have been one of the most senior upper deck ratings on her at that time.
He is awarded his 3rd & final GCB on 27 Sep ’59.

HMS Cordelia saw service in the 1860- 61 New Zealand campaign, but as Williams did not get ashore
to participate in the land campaign, he did not qualify for the 2nd New Zealand medal.  Cordelia’s
company was awarded  29 - 1860 NZ medals.

He leaves Cordelia on 2 Apl ’62 with a ‘very good’ conduct rating,  & after a stay ashore on HMS
Indus receives his final draft to HMS Liverpool, a frigate, on 8 May ’63.
Again he is appointed Quartermaster. Williams volunteers again on 13 Nov ’63 “ to complete time for
pension”, & is recommended for the award of the Long service medal on 19 July ’64 upon attaining 20
yrs service. {A note on his service here: Williams reckoning for his Pension & LS medal commenced on
1 May ’44, the date of his entry into HMS Thalia. As he had Run on 18 Mar ’44, he forfeited all of his
prior service from July ’35}

There is a notation on his SR reading: “AO 25 Jan ’55, Number 500:
“My Lordships cannot comply with Captain Gordon’s request to remove these (two) R’s (Runs).”  
Captain Gordon (Duke of Wellington) must have appealed on William’s behalf to request these ‘Run’
notations on his SR  be removed - unsuccessfully. }

He had been recommended again for the LS medal on 7 Sep ’64 & was again unsuccessful. In those
days with the regulations in force meant that a rating did not always receive the LS medal when he
was due for it, & in William’s case his prior conduct ratings whilst on Grampus & Amazon & desertions
would have been a factor in this decision.  

So he continues on Liverpool until “discharged to shore- pension” on 23 Nov ’64.

There is a subsequent note on his SR dated 20 Mar ’69 indicating that he had completed 24 yrs 135
days for pension, so he must have been successful in getting his prior to 1844 adult service to count.
John Williams was born on 29 May
1820 at Stonehouse, Devon. He
entered the RN on board HMS
Forte (5th rate) as a lad of 15yrs
on 14 July 1835.

He served two yrs on Forte the
signed on HMS Saracen (sloop)  1
Apl ’37 & Ran (deserted) on 25
May. Desertion in the pre CS
period was commonplace. If a
rating did not like his ship or the
conditions on her he deserted at
the first opportunity.  

He next signed on HMS  
Wolverine (sloop) on 15 Jun 37
where he was rated Ord on 31
Jan ’39, & subsequently served
on the sloops HMS Ferret, where
he was rated AB; & Fly where he  
Ran again on 18 Mar ’44. Again,
no reason for why he deserted is
given on his SR.  However he
does not remain ashore long for
on 1 May ’44 he signs onto HMS
Thalia (5th rate) 1 May ’44 where
he is again rated AB.  
Quartermaster John Williams