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Hugh Hoskyn Williams

Hugh Hoskyn Williams, June 1902

Hugh Hoskyn Williams, June 1902

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  • Title
  • Forenames
    Hugh Hoskyn AWMM
  • Surname
    Williams AWMM
  • Ingoa
  • Also known as
    • Hugh Hosking Williams AWMM
    • Hugh Hosking Williams Public - Nigel - Direct descendant - 4 November 2019 - The name on the invitation issued by his wife's parents Mr and Mrs W P Watson to the Wedding of Hugh and Fyfe is spelled : Hugh Hosking Williams. I would assume they had the spelling correct.
  • Service number
  • Gender
    Male AWMM
  • Iwi / Hapū / Waka / Rohe
  • Religion

Civilian life

About birth

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  • Birth
    1878 AWMM AWMM
    New Zealand AWMM
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Birth notes
  • Address before enlistment
  • Post war occupation
  • Next of kin on embarkation
  • Relationship status
    Unknown AWMM Married AWMM


Wars and conflicts

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Military decorations

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Training and Enlistment

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  • Military training
  • Branch Trade Proficiency
  • Enlistment
  • Occupation before enlistment
  • Age on enlistment


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Prisoner of war

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  • Capture details
    • WW2 POW - Hong Kong Camp, Hong Kong Chris Brooks POW research
    • WW2 POW - Santo Tomas, Manila, Philippines Chris Brooks POW research
      Manila, Philippines Chris Brooks POW research
      3 January 1942 AWMM
      Master of the Henry Keswick, towing the "Tantalus" (Hong Kong) 5 December 1941 heading for Singapore. They reached Manila on 11 December and were subjected to many air attacks on the Harbour. On 26 December Tantalus suffered a minimum of four direct hits, and being on fire, capsized. The crew were ashore at the time but were to be taken prisoners on 3 January 1942. AWMM
    • WW2 POW - St Banos, Los Baños, Philippines Chris Brooks POW research
      Philippines, Pacific Chris Brooks POW research
  • Days interned
  • Liberation date
  • Liberation Repatriation
  • POW liberation details
  • POW serial number

Medical history

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  • Medical notes
    Killed or died while a Prisoner of War, Cause of Death AWMM
    Died whilst a Prisoner of War. Died of acute colitis. AWMM

Biographical information

Biographical information

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    • Hugh Williams married Annie Fyfe Watson on 10 November 1905 at Fyfe Bank, Young Street, Dunedin, New Zealand.

      Captain Hugh Williams served in the Mercantile Marine during WW1. At the beginning of WW1 Captain Williams commanded a New Zealand troopship, the Union Steam Ship Company's Monowai (HMNZT 2), when she took the Samoan Advance Force to Samoa on the outbreak of the war. He commanded other troopships during WW1 including the Navua (HMNZT 78).

      Williams was in command of the sea-going salvage vessel Henry Keswick (Tug 671 tons), of Whampoa Dock Company, Hong Kong which was towing the British freighter "Tantalus" from Hong Kong dock to safety at Singapore when she was sunk by Japanese bombers off Manila on December 10,1941.

      Listed as Hugh Hosking Williams, Master Mariner, 2nd Reserves WW1 by the NZSG (2002) AWMM
    • Hugh and Annie had two children (Aubrey Hugh and John Fyfe), but the family separated when he was assigned to the Auckland - San Francisco run (terminating in Auckland) and his wife (under pressure from jealous sisters) remained in Dunedin. Annie committed suicide in 1931 - my father found her with her head in the gas oven.

      My father (Hugh's younger son) told me that he had been advised that the Henry Keswick was captured intact while trying to tow a British vessel to the safety of Singapore. Hugh sought permission from USA forces to scuttle her seeing its capture imminent, but that permission was not forthcoming. So she was taken.

      Japanese ship records note that the Henry Keswick was renamed Gyeongju Maru, and Hugh last saw here sailing away under a Japanese flag, quite intact.

      List of wartime Japanese ships
      Ship name: Gyeongju Maru (ex.Henry Keswick)
      Ship type: Dredger
      Owner: Navy

      Hugh died in Los Banos POW camp after an operation by POWs to address a blocked bowel. Likely caused by poor diet exacerbated by Hugh's habit of giving his Red Cross milk ration to children among the POWs.

      There are several accounts from survivors who describe him as being good to the children in the camp. He called the little boys his “maties” and distracted them with his sea stories. Grace Nash’s book, 'That We Might Live' tells beautiful stories. She writes that he gave her his last can of condensed milk to give to her starving baby. He then died of an acute colitis which caused an obstruction.

      Apparently Hugh was the close friend of the chief navy nurse at the camp, who was in her mid-fifties. It was possible she saw a life for herself with Hugh after the war. She did not leave his bedside when he was ill and was devastated by his death.

      His reputed tenderness to the children in the camp went down strangely with my father, who felt rather abandoned by Hugh, Perhaps the kindness was in compensation - I suspect Hugh was a kindly man at heart, as was my father.

      I had an email conversation with an American man who worked on the coconut milk gang with Hugh in the POW camp until the Japanese obstructed the supply of coconuts. Public - Nigel - Direct descendant - 4 November 2019 - Family papers. Personal correspondence with authors and POW camp inmates.
    • It seems that after the bombing on December 26th 1941 which sank the Tantalus (under tow by Henry Keswick), the Henry Keswick crew (including Hugh Williams) were taken prisoner on 3 January 1942.

      On 9 April 1942 Henry Keswick was still under USA command (obviously having been retrieved from its predicament on the 26th December) supplying Corregidor and assisting with evacuating US Army refugees from Bataan. However on 9 April around 20:00 she was hit by Japanese artillery fire and beached off Cavalry Point, Corregidor. The captain Lt Donalson was killed by artillery fire while landing. The Japanese subsequently refloated her and renamed her Gyeongju Maru (or Keishu Maru).

      (Apologies for the piecemeal posting - as info comes to hand. Would appreciate the opportunity to consolidate into a more cohesive story, if possible. N) Public - Nigel - Direct descendant - 4 November 2019 -
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About death

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  • Death
    1 January 1945 AWMM
    PhilippinesPacific AWMM
  • Date of death
  • Age at death
  • Place of death
  • Cause of death
  • Death notes
  • Cemetery
    Sai Wan War Cemetery, Hong Kong AWMM I. E. 9. AWMM
  • Cemetery name
  • Grave reference
  • Obituary
    Obituary: New Zealand Herald, 4 April 1945, p. 8. AWMM
  • Memorial name
  • Memorial reference



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  • Memorial name

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  • Thank you grandfather for your efforts to secure our freedom. You are not forgotten.
    Public - NIGEL - Direct descendant - 4 November 2019



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DateFirst namesLocationRelationshipContact
04 November 2019NigelOhaiDirect descendant

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