Rees was born in 1896, the youngest son of Josiah Williams, a mason, and his wife Ann (nee Davies). The family lived at Garthbrengy where Rees and his siblings were born, later moving to Forge Villa, Brecon. By 1911, Rees' father was still working as a mason but the family were also involved in farming and running a milk business. Ann was assisting in the business, and whilst Rees' eldest brother was a mason like his father, his other brother John worked on a farm and his older sister Annie was a dairy worker. Rees, at 14 years, drove his father's milk cart and became well known on his rounds in the borough. Youngest sister Florrie was still at school. Rees joined the Brecknock Battalion as part of A Company, Brecon and, after training, left in a draft to Aden arriving on July 3rd 1915. One day later he had died, along with 12 other Brecknocks, during the forced march to Lahej in the extreme heat of the area.
The story of this incident in the Brecknock’s history is related elsewhere in this book.²⁸
See page 216
This became known as the Third Battle of the Aisne and was fought from May 27th to June 6th, 1918. This was known as Operation Bluecher to the Germans.
Fresher French troops had been moved North, leaving a small, tired British force to defend the area around Chemin. By the middle of the first day, following heavy bombardment and use of gas and high explosives a sustained infantry attack by the Germans had broken through and crossed the River Aisne. The units of the 25th Division were thrown piecemeal into action and were all but destroyed.
David was listed as missing and it was not until 15 months later that his death was confirmed.
Private Josiah Rees Williams
South Wales Borderers, Brecknock Battalion, Company A
service no. 2285
Died in action on July 4th, 1915 in Aden, aged 22
Commemorated at the Heliopolis Memorial, Aden, Egypt