Dyson Bransby Williams was one of thousands of souls who were broken either physically or mentally – or both – by the horrors of War.
The son of Morgan Bransby Williams of Killay House, cricket was in his blood with country house matches taking place in the grounds of his family’s home from the late 1880s. After attending Malvern College and Trinity College, Oxford, Dyson worked as a solicitor and made his Glamorgan debut during June 1901 against Monmouthshire at Rodney Parade,.Over the next decade he continued to play for the county, as well as in the enjoyable games on his family’s estate before succeeding Hugh Ingledew, the Welsh rugby international, as Glamorgan’s Treasurer in 1912.
As the local newspaper once wrote, “he was a man of generous instincts, and when he gave his services, he gave them fully and enthusiastically.” Given these traits of character, Dyson became a fine soldier and a popular officer. He also took part in the recruitment, and training at the St. Helen’s Cricket Ground of the 14th (Swansea) Battalion of the Welch Regiment. It was no surprise either that Williams swiftly rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and was second-in-command of the Battalion through.
1916 saw Williams and the Swansea Battalion travel to France where they were thrown into the attack on Mametz Wood in which so many Welshmen lost their lives. Williams, himself, was severely wounded advancing up the slope leading to the wood and it was feared that he would die in the ambulance train. For a long period “he lay between life and death”, and his actions won him the Military Cross, but this was of little comfort as so many of his comrades and friends lost their lives.
He returned to the battalion in 1917, and subsequently showed outstanding leadership at Ypres, earning the DSO, besides figuring in the Ancre crossing and engagements at Auveley Wood. During the peace negotiations in 1918 Lieutenant Colonel Williams was also chosen to act as a guide to Prime Minister Lloyd George over the Somme battlefield.
The war though had taken its toll, and he never fully recovered from the bloody horrors with the man who marched through Swansea at the head of his battalion in June 1919 to present the colours to the Mayor being a very different fellow to the happy and jolly man who had marched off to War five years before.
In July 1919 he was invalided out of the Army, before having a string of unsuccessful investments in stocks and shares. He continued to play a bit of cricket and continued to serve as Glamorgan’s Treasurer, besides appearing at the ripe old age of 44 in the last match of 1921, against Hampshire at Cardiff. He duly made 5 and 9 as Glamorgan, dismissed for 37 and 114, lost by an innings inside two days.
He subsequently left South Wales and, after living with old friends in the Home Counties, he was declared bankrupt. Tragically, he was found dead in a friend’s office in St. Martin’s Court in London, with the coroner duly recording a verdict of “suicide while of unsound mind”.
WILLIAMS, Dyson Bransby
Born – Sketty, 13 October 1877
Died – London, 18 April, 1922
Minor County – 43 v Kent at Bromley, 1913
First-class – 9 v Hampshire at Arms Park, 1921