Williams Family - F19124
Richard and Emily - F19124
Richard Williams (1890-1980) in 1924 by H Septimus Power; Australian War Memorial ART08008
|Lived||b. abt 1843-44|
|Lived||b. abt 1871-72|
Richard Williams (b 1844) at the age of 30 with his wife Emily née Paull (b 1840) and their six children, Mary 11, Richard 8, John 6, Bessie 5, Emily 2 and the infant Jane, migrated to South Australia as steerage passengers on the City of Adelaide in 1874.
They had been married at Redruth in Cornwall in 1862, and each of the children had been born there. Richard was a copper miner like his father John, but the Cornish copper mines were then in serious decline.
Like so many other Cornishmen, Richard was obliged to take his family to the rich new mines that were flourishing in the Moonta-Kadina area of South Australia, where opportunities were plentiful.
Having applied for and been granted assisted passages, they joined the City of Adelaide at Plymouth early in June and, in the company of about 250 other assisted migrants, endured the three months long voyage to Port Adelaide between decks.
Their arrival in South Australia was memorably disconcerting, for on 24th August and just a mile or two short of her destination, the ship was blown aground onto the sand at Kirkaldy Beach. There was much inconvenience, but no casualties.
Richard soon found regular work in South Australia at Moonta Mines, where Emily gave birth to James (1876) and Isabel (1878), then at the Hamley Copper Mine near Moonta where Edward was born (1880).
Richard Williams (b 1866), the eldest son, also became a copper miner like his father and grandfather before him. In 1889 he was married to local girl Emily Hodge 21 at the home of his parents who were then living at Moonta Mines.
Emily’s parents John Hodge and Jane née Ivey were from St Austell, another copper mining community in Cornwall. They had married in nearby Redruth in December 1856, migrated to South Australia one month later on the Carnatic, and Jane had given birth to Henry at sea three months into their 4 months voyage.
John Hodge worked at first in the copper mines at Burra, where three more children were born, before he moved to the Moonta Mines within a few years of their opening in 1861. Jane gave birth to seven more children there, but three did not live beyond infancy. One of the survivors was Emily Hodge who was born at Moonta Mines in 1868.
Richard Williams, the younger, also worked as a copper miner at Moonta Mines, where Emily gave birth to yet another Richard (1890) as well as Ruby Gertrude (1892), and at the Hamley Mine where Euletta Maud (1894), Harold James (1897), Donovan Gordon (1900), Dorothy (1904) and Eileen (1906) were all born.
Father of the RAAF
Richard Williams (1890-1980), the grandson, born in Moonta Mines as the eldest child of a copper miner who laboured underground, became the most significant figure in the history of the Royal Australian Air Force, and has been regarded as its ‘Father’.
He was educated to junior secondary level at Moonta Public School, was first employed as a telegraph messenger, then as a bank clerk.
At 19 he joined the SA Infantry Regiment, and was commissioned in that militia unit in 1911.
Seeking a career in the Permanent Forces, he enrolled in 1912, and following a short course of instruction in Albury, NSW, was appointed a Lieutenant in the Army.
In 1914 he was selected for pilot training at Point Cook, Victoria in a proposed Australian Flying Corps. After completing a three months war-flying course in Bristol Boxkites he qualified as the first military pilot trained in Australia.
In August 1915 Richard married 38 years-old Constance Esther Griffiths (1878-1948) in the Collins Street Congregational Church, Melbourne. They were to remain childless.
In January 1916 Williams was promoted to Captain and posted as a flight commander to No 1 Squadron Australian Flying Corps, the first complete flying squadron to be formed in Australia. Three months later the unit was on active service in the Middle East, supporting Allied ground forces advancing into Palestine.
Strong minded and confident, “Dickie” Williams rapidly established himself as a leader in the new art of air warfare.
A brave and capable pilot, he was decorated with the Distinguished Service Order for rescuing a pilot shot down behind enemy lines, an OBE for his valour and leadership in combat, and was twice mentioned in dispatches.
By May 1917 he had been promoted to Major Williams and was Officer Commanding No 1 Squadron. Twelve months later he was made a Lieutenant Colonel and given command of 40 Wing, Royal Air Force comprising three British squadrons and his own.
Returning to Australia, Williams was heavily involved in establishing the Royal Australian Air Force, which came into being in 1921.
Richard Williams became the first Chief of the Air Staff, a post he held for most of the difficult inter-war years when the Air Force's continuing existence as an independent service was frequently under threat from the Army and Navy.
By the mid 1930s the Royal Australian Air Force's independent existence had been fully established. The government approved of a dramatic expansion of the Air Force, a decision which not only recognised the likelihood of war in the near future, but also amounted to a tacit acknowledgment that Williams had been right.
Air Vice-Marshal Williams spent most of the Second World War overseas. In February 1939 he was in the UK as Air Officer in Charge of Administration of Coastal Command of the Royal Air Force.
In January 1940 he returned to Australia with the rank of Air Marshal to organise Australia's part in the Empire Air Training Scheme. In December 1941 he established the Overseas Headquarters of the RAAF in London and he became its commander.
From 1942 until the end of the war, he served as the Royal Australian Air Force's senior representative with the Combined Chiefs of Staff in Washington DC, USA.
In 1946 he was transferred to the RAAF Retired List, and became Director General of Civil Aviation. For the next nine years he oversaw the expansion of domestic and international aviation, and the creation of a network of airfields and associated infrastructure around Australia.
A widower in 1950, Richard Williams was remarried in Melbourne to Miss Lois Victoria Cross.
He was Knighted on 4 March 1954.
Air Marshal Sir Richard Williams, KBE, CB, DSO, died in Melbourne, Victoria in 1980.