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In Memoriam
  Derek Edward 'Willie' Williams  
Royal Regiment Of Artillery
Died 5th. April 2019
This statement from Derek Williams reveals the circumstances and aftermath of the fire in the deserted wooden hut that was the site of the unused YMCA building at Tonfanau camp.
Prior to November 5th. 1959 we were discussing what to do on Guy Fawkes night and to cut a long story short we were bet a week’s wages (17/6 or 87 & a half pence) that the aforementioned building be set on fire. I took up this challenge and was joined by George Frosdick.
Frosdick and I duly set fire to this hut on 5th November 1959.
Someone informed the authorities of our guilt and the court martial was set for 1st December 1959. We were both charged with causing wilful damage and not arson.
We both pleaded guilty and all the training and education officers put in verbal reports to the effect that we should not be discharged as we would make excellent soldiers.
We were both given 21 days detention and fined £3. We only served 15 days of this sentence as Colonel LAKE released us early due to the Christmas holiday.
You may well ask what happened to me with my future military career.
After graduation I joined 21st. Locating Regiment R.A. as a meteorologist. After about 2 years I realised that I was homosexual and as this was illegal under military and civilian law I confessed to my troop commander and was discharged in November 1963. End of military career!!
Derek 'Willie' Williams


Derek was the third of four children born and bred in Letchworth Garden City, he went to Pixmore school and could have gone to the Grammar school if he had wanted but had always wanted to be a soldier.

  After he left the service he had a long line of different jobs including manager of a large pub in Hitchin called The Angels Reply, also ICL in Letchworth working with computers and at The Spirella in Letchworth.
  He spent a few years in prison but came out a better person. He met his life partner, also called Derek, in a pub in Hitchin and they lived together for 33 years until little Derek passed away on March 22nd. 2011, aged 60.
  Derek missed him terribly and as his own health got worse he just wanted to be with him. He was happy to get his free TV licence but never got the chance to enjoy it as he was only home from hospital for 3 weeks before returning for the last time.  
  He was a very keen gardener and grew all his own veg and collected wood from the local woods for fuel for their open fire. They were very self sufficient and he was a really good cook.
  He outlived all his siblings which always amazed him as he had led a wild life of excessive drinking and smoking but he did enjoy every last moment until Derek passed away.  
  I miss him terribly as we always had a laugh about something in the news or reminisced about years ago.  
  Lorna Huffer  

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