Valentine Williams

Valentine Williams, the son of G. Douglas Williams, Chief Editor of the Reuters News Agency, was born in 1883. After being privately educated in Germany, Williams joined Reuters as a sub-editor in 1902.

Williams joined the Daily Mail in 1909 and over the next few years reported on various international stories including the Portuguese Revolution in 1910 and the Balkan Wars (1912-13).

On the outbreak of the First World War, Williams was sent to the Western Front. He disagreed with what he called "the unenlightened and unimaginative censorship" exercised by the Army's senior commanders. He joined the Irish Guards as a Second Lieutenant in 1915, and saw action at the front in the Somme sector, where he was seriously wounded in 1916. Williams was also awarded the Military Cross.

Primary Sources

(1) Valentine Williams, describing the Battle of Loos in the Daily Mail (29th September, 1915)

It is too soon to write in any detail about the operations, as fighting is still in progress. The attack at Loos completely surprised the Germans, according to the prisoners taken there, with many of whom I spoke this afternoon. They describe our bombardment as "unspeakable" and say the first thing they knew about the assault was the appearance of lines of British troops streaming away over their trenches to the right and, the next moment, the inrush of a horde of khaki-clad figures upon their trenches from three sides. They declare that their ammunition ran out and their rifles became useless, so they were obliged to surrender.