I am a writer of non-fiction history and have written four books on military history. Three of these focused on how the British army was supplied in the two world wars. My direction is now changing to explore the story of British manufacturing, inspired by the herculean efforts made by so many British companies.
My latest book, How Britain Shaped the Manufacturing World, was published by Pen & Sword in June 2022.
My father, Major-General Sir Leslie (‘Bill’) Williams, was Controller of Ordnance Services (RAOC) in WW2, and my mother, then my father’s PA, kept extensive albums, diaries and recollections. I wrote War on Wheels about the mechanisation of the army in WW2 and then Ordnance about equipping the army for WW1. My last book, Dunkirk to D Day, looks at the lives of some of the leaders who accomplished that monumental task.
In 2009 I was awarded an MA in Professional Writing following a career of ten years in the not-for-profit sector and twenty five years in accounting, the last ten as a partner in Price Waterhouse (now PwC). I have been concentrating on writing since April 2014. I am also chair of trustees at Lincoln Arts Trust and The Lincoln Book Festival.
You can find out more on my Summary CV and my Writing CV
Pleased to meet you.
Mr Williams , firstly I hope this finds you well at this present time and it is appropriate that I am writing to you and your blog on the 76th anniversary of D-day .
It would appear that I find myself in a similar situation to the one in which you found yourself in 2014.
I am in the very embryonic stages of research into my late maternal grandfather ( literally my search only began 4 weeks ago ).
My Grandfather was in the RAOC and did not reach the distinguished heights that your father did but like your father he rarely , if ever, proffered stories or facts about his war time experiences.
However I think it would be impossible if they did not know each other from the War Office during WW2
I will elaborate :
My grandfather was Col. George Thomas Meadows MBE. He joined the army in 1921 and in 1925 I believe joined the RAOC ( requirement to be 25 yrs old to so?)
After various postings he was Chief Clark and then assistant to Major General W.W Richards (D.Q.M.G. (Army Equipment ) G.H.Q Middle East) from the onset of the formation of G.H.Q Middle East where he served during the early part of the war in Cairo before being transferred with ‘Dicky’ Richards to the War Office, where your father was Controller. Dicky Richards it would appear took over your father’s position after the war.
I have accessed the RAOC gazette archives and it would appear that your father knew Dicky Richards from the outset even in 1921 from early training in the RAOC.
My dilemma however is that I do not have as rich a resource as you stumbled upon. My cousin has various things which I can’t wait to pour over and of course the Imperial War Museum is closed until further notice and the RLC museum not opening until 2021 because of relocation to Winchester. My hands are tied at present in exploring those avenues.
I have however discovered some fascinating material and facts from the gazette archive especially after discovering my grandfather’s non-de-plume . He wrote under the name ‘Bloss’. His only surviving daughter, my aunt, who is in her late eighties and in a nursing home in Cambridgeshire , was able to explain that he was called Bloss because of the fact that his boots were always very highly buffed… Bloss refers to Cherry Blossom …. the brand of polish! . I am curious as to Sir Leslie William’s nom-de-plume?
I am currently awaiting a copy of my grandfather’s death certificate so that I can apply for his full army records.
I also have discovered that the recommendation for his MBE was made by Dicky Richards himself and that he was mentioned in despatches ( which presumably landed on your father’s desk?). My brother is currently pouring over the despatches archive to see if there was more than just a mention on the list of names attached to despatches.
There is much more including the confirmation of a long held family rumour which I will not divulge on this forum and much more to discover.
I know from the gazette archives that my grandfather assisted in collating Dicky Richards’ papers after his passing and that there are 20 ‘files’ held in the IWM.
As my brother has said it would appear that wherever Dicky went our grandfather would have been in attendance. In the words of my Aunt, who remembers Major General Richards, he was ‘an imposing figure’!
One thing that jumps out from the letters to the gazette is that cricket and other sports were very important to the social life of RAOC and ,as I see that you are a member of the MCC , I share , I assume, your current loss of the passion as I had tickets for Lords and the Oval this year . Bizarrely enough I should have been at the Oval today ! It will be interesting to see how the ‘new format’ works in the following weeks.
So on this anniversary day I would be interested to know if you ever stumbled across a mention of George Thomas Meadows ( he was promoted to Col (hons). on his retirement ).
I would be more than happy , if you feel appropriate, for you to contact me personally by email as I have many questions and advice to ask for my research going forward. Feel free not to maintain virtual social distance ( I am a community pharmacist by profession for your information )!
Thank you so much for getting in touch. Please let me have you email. There is some information I can send you.
Many thanks Philip
My email is
I re-read your introduction to From Dunkirk to D-day last night (I had previously only glanced at it in haste).
The Class of 22 !
….. is of course the same training referred to in my previous comment.. it started in ’21 and finished in ’22! ?
A correction to my last post. .. I have no intention to pour ( any liquid ) over my cousin’s records but I will definitely pore over them!