All text and images © Helvellyn Consulting 2023
William Maurice Ham was born around February 1890 in the mining village of Llanrwst in North Wales. He was the eldest son of William Henry Ham, a ship's steward, and his wife Catherine (nee Evans). The family were still in Llanrwst when the April 1891 census was taken; William Maurice (1) had two older sisters, Florence (11) and Lavinia (5). Sadly, his mother Catherine died around February 1892 and it seems that his father had to give up the sea going life to look after the children so moved to Glenridding where he got a job driving the electric engine in the Greenside Mine. On the 4th March 1896, his father married Elizabeth Ellen Bice at St Patrick's Church. In March 1901, William, now 11 and presumably at school, was living in Glenridding with his father William, step-
Before the outbreak of war, William had emigrated to New South Wales (NSW) in Australia to work as a plumber. However he enlisted in the Australian Army on the 15th November 1915 at Casula. From his service records it looks as though he has previously served in the military for 15 months, most likely in a territorial force. During his training he met and married Margaret M Baker in the early part of 1916 in Marrickville, New South Wales. He was part of the 11th Reinforcements of the 20th Battalion. This battalion was raised in early 1915 as part of the Australian Imperial Force and was attached to the 5th Brigade, 2nd Division that served during World War I. The battalion first saw action during the Gallipoli campaign, before being evacuated in December 1915. William embarked from Sydney bound for Europe on the 9th April 1916 aboard the HMAT Nestor A71 (see photo below -
It looks like he arrived in France in September 1916, at which point the battalion was in a quieter sector in Belgium for a period of rest. In October, however, the entire 2nd Division was moved to the south again and put back into the line in France once again and in November they launched an attack at Flers, in conditions that were so muddy that they were described by the official historian, Charles Bean, as "the worst ever encountered by the AIF". This may have contributed to a week in the field hospital that William had in mid November 1916.
In April 1917 William was again struck down, this time with trench fever, which had similar symptoms to influenza and which was later realised to be caused by the lice so prevalent in the trenches. William’s condition was sufficiently serious that he was evacuated to England on the 18th April, and after a spell of recuperation at a military hospital in Canterbury he returned to France at the end of July 1917, rejoining his battalion in mid August. He would have been involved with his battalion in major actions against the Germans at Menin Road in September and Poelcappelle in October. In 1918, the battalion was involved in repelling the German Spring Offensive, when the 20th was one of many Australian battalions that were hurried in to the line to stop it, and on 7 April 1918, they took part in a very sharp engagement at Hangard Wood. Once the German Spring Offensive was repelled the 20th Battalion were involved in the Allied counter attack, the 100 days Offensive, seeing action in the battles at Amiens and Mont St Quentin in August, before participating in the attack on the "Beaurevoir Line" at Montbrehain in October. This was their last engagement of the war as they were training out the line when the Armistice was signed.
The Battalion was disbanded on the disbanded on 20th April 1919 and on the 29th May 1919 William boarded the Nestor bound for Australia, where he landed on the 4th September 1919. He had been officially discharged mid journey on the 19th August 1919. We’re not sure what happened to William after that but we know that e died in Australia on the 11th April 1930 at the age of just 40. We’re not sure what happened to his wife Margaret.
In terms of the rest of William’s family, his step-
We believe William’s other sister Florence moved away from the area and married Sidney A J Meager in Plymouth in 1912. If you can add anything to the story of William and his family please contact us.
Private William Maurice Ham
4447, 20th Battalion Australian Army
Born Feb 1880 Llanrwst, Denbighshire, North Wales.
Died 11 Apr 1930, Australia (Age 40)
Son of William Henry and Catherine (nee Evans) Ham, Glenridding
Husband of Margaret Baker
25093 Royal Air Force
Born 24 May 1900, Glenridding. Died Jun 1972, Devon (Age 72)
Son of William Henry and Elizabeth Ellen (nee Bice) Ham, Glenridding
Husband of Florence Robinson
Raymond Bice Ham was born on the 24th May 1900 in Glenridding and baptised at the Wesleyan Chapel on the 8th July 1900. He was the son of William Henry Ham, an engine operator at the Greenside Mine, and his second wife Elizabeth Ellen Bice. When the March 1901 census was taken, Raymond, aged just 10 months, was living in Glenridding with his parents, half brother William Maurice (11) and half-
Raymond was living in Ryton-
Raymond married Florence Robinson in Sunderland around August 1926. He seems to have had quite a successful career, as we found him travelling first class, with his wife, from Montreal to Liverpool in September 1954 on board the liner 'Empress of Scotland'. In the passenger manifest he was described as a Company Director living in Guildford, Surrey. We believe he died in Devon in 1972 aged 72.