Thomas Williams joined the Army in World War One and was commissioned to the Royal Flying Corps in 1917.
Despite being injured in 1917, Thomas served in the new Royal Air Force until 1919, and then returned home to Herefordshire, where he married his sweetheart, Clara. In 1924, Thomas and Clara welcomed their beautiful daughter, Celia, to the World.
Celia was very proud of her father. Among her treasured possessions when she passed away was a message of thanks sent by King George V to Lord Weir, the Secretary of State and President of the Air Council, and members of the RAF.
Proclaiming the birth of the Royal Air Force to be “one of the most remarkable achievements of the Great War”, the King concluded by asking Lord Weir: “For all their magnificent work, self-sacrifice and devotion to duty, I ask you on behalf of the Empire to thank them.”
As part of the gift Celia left to Help for Heroes in her Will, in memory of her father, we are honoured to be the custodians of Thomas’ copy of King George’s message. Today we pay tribute to Thomas Williams, to all who have served our country in the past and to all those serving today.
The King’s Message to the Royal Air Force
To the Right Hon. Lord Weir, Secretary of State and President of the Air Council.
In this supreme hour of victory I send greetings and heartfelt congratulations to all ranks of the Royal Air Force. Our aircraft have been ever in the forefront of this battle; pilots and observers have consistently maintained the offensive throughout the ever-changing fortunes of the day, and in the war zones our gallant dead have lain always beyond the enemies’ lines or far out to sea.
Our far-flung squadrons have flown over home waters and foreign seas, the Western and Italian battle lines, Rhineland, the mountains of Macedonia, Gallipoli, Palestine, the plains of Mesopotamia, the forests and swamps of East Africa, the North-West frontier of India, and the deserts of Arabia, Sinai and Darfur.
The birth of the Royal Air Force, with it’s wonderful expansion and development, will ever remain one of the most remarkable achievements of the Great War.
Everywhere, by God’s help, officers, men and women of the Royal Air Force have splendidly maintained our just cause, and the value of their assistance to the Navy, the Army and to Home Defence has been incalculable. For all their magnificent work, self-sacrifice and devotion to duty, I ask you on behalf of the Empire to thank them.
November 11th 1918