Nevill Garnons Williams and the Battle of Jutland
Nevill Garnons Williams (1899 – 1983) was christened Nevill after his mother’s cousin, Nevill Coghill. When he was 16, after having been to Osborne and Dartmouth, he was posted to Vice Admiral Beatty’s flagship HMS Lion.
On 31st May 1916, during the Battle of Jutland the shells were penetrating the lightly armoured roofs of the British gun turrets and the flashes of the explosions were travelling down the shell loading passages to the ships’ magazines. Two out of Beatty’s six battle cruisers were blown out of the water when they were hit. HMS Lion was hit 12 times. Beatty (with his Flag-Captain and a ‘French Observer’) was in a specially constructed conning-tower, with Midshipman Nevill Garnons Williams in personal attendance on the Admiral.
During the battle, a live shell had landed on the deck of the Lion, about three feet away from the ammunition dump. It was Nevill aged 16 who took command and made sure the fire was put out immediately. The Lion was saved and at the end of the war, Nevill received a commendation (at 16 a midshipman was considered too young for any honour) and also a French medal – the Croix de Guerre avec Palmes – on the insistence of the ‘French Observer.’
Nevill inherited Abercamlais in 1935 and after retiring from the Navy he settled there in 1947 with his wife Violet. In 1964 he became the last Lord Lieutenant of the old county of Breconshire. Nevill died in 1983.
Left: Beatty’s flagship Lion burning after being hit by a salvo from Lützow at the Battle of Jutland.
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