Williams family present WWII photo to Guyra Historical Museum

EXCITED: Museum president Martha Weiderman and Nancy Herford are delighted by the new acquisition. Photo: Nicholas Fuller
EXCITED: Museum president Martha Weiderman and Nancy Herford are delighted by the new acquisition. Photo: Nicholas Fuller

Six Guyra brothers fought in World War II; miraculously, all six came back. Members of the Williams family, including three sons and a spouse, came from around the state to present a photo montage of the siblings to the Guyra & District Historical Museum on Friday.

"I'm very proud and very blessed to hand it over," Nancy Herford (nee Williams) said.

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Mrs Herford collected the photos of the brothers, and put them in a frame with their mother Theresa's Female Relative Badge, presented to the closest woman relation of Australians serving overseas.

"It's been a labour of love; our parents and uncles deserve some recognition," Mrs Herford said.

Museum president Martha Weiderman thought it fitting that the photo montage came home to Guyra to be one of the museum's treasures. It would, she said, be a fantastic addition to the collection.

The photo montage will be hung in the war room, just below the portrait of the Queen.

MEN AT WORK: Norman Williams and Cr Simon Murray hanging up the Williams photo montage. Photo - Nicholas Fuller

MEN AT WORK: Norman Williams and Cr Simon Murray hanging up the Williams photo montage. Photo - Nicholas Fuller

The Williams family lived south of Guyra, on a property near Lilygrove. Three brothers served in the army: Staff Sgt Herbert Stanley Williams, Sgt Ernest Francis Williams, and Corporal Edward (Ted) Churchill Williams; and three in the air force: Gunner Hercules ("Herky") Claude Williams, LAC Percy Roy Williams, and LAC Reginald Allen Williams.

All brothers returned safely from the war. Percy Williams, however, drowned shortly after his return, saving one of his children.

Hercules Claude Williams believed he had three "let-offs" (great escapes) during the war, his son Kevin said.

MEMORIES: Kevin Williams talks about his father Hercules Claude Williams' war service. Photo: Nicholas Fuller

MEMORIES: Kevin Williams talks about his father Hercules Claude Williams' war service. Photo: Nicholas Fuller

Williams avoided the fall of Singapore (as a farmer, his enlistment was deferred).

He then served two years as a gunner on Horn Island, the most northerly Allied airbase in Australia; if the Japanese had won the naval battle in the Coral Sea (1942), they would have overrun Australia, and Williams on Horn Island would have been in the front line.

At the end of the war, Williams was sent to Japan for the final assault. The soldiers expected a fight to the death - until the Americans dropped the atom bomb. The only "war" they should have to go to, he often joked, was Wee Waa,

Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall officially opened the renovated front section of the Museum.

OPENING MUSEUM: Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall. Photo: Nicholas Fuller

OPENING MUSEUM: Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall. Photo: Nicholas Fuller

The museum received $60,000 from the state government in June for new paint and flooring, and an additional $60,000 in December for security and new cases.

Mr Marshall said he looked forward to working with the Historical Society to realise their vision for a museum the community can rightly be proud of.

"It's great history now can be displayed in a way the community can enjoy; they can step back in time to see their family members and other well-known names were doing in that time in the broader Guyra district."

Mr Marshall acknowledged the hard work of the Guyra and District Historical Society, particularly Dorothy Lockyer and Dot Vickery; and Armidale Regional Council and Cr Simon Murray for their funding and assistance to complete the work. Graham Wilson, of the Armidale & District Historical Society, advised the Guyra society about the redevelopment.

The museum, housed in the old Guyra Shire council chambers, is open Sundays 11 to 3pm.