6 January 2006

After his death, aged 90, on 29th December 1974, William Fuller was buried in Oystermouth Cemetery, The Mumbles, South Wales. For reasons not clear a headstone was never placed over his grave, the burial plot merely being marked by a small unnamed black vase, placed there by neighbours of Fuller.

A local historian carrying out research into the award of the Victoria Cross came across Fuller's unmarked grave and was disappointed that it was only marked by a vase. Later, a local newspaper published an article on the fact that Fuller's grave was not properly recognised, after which several members of the Fuller family came forward and decided to rectify the ommission of a headstone. A new stone was erected over William Fuller's burial plot sometime in 2005.

On the 14th September 1914, during the retreat from Mons, the 2nd Bn, Welch Regiment and 1st Bn, South Wales Borderers, moved north-west against a high ridge which sheltered the village of Chivy. Captain Haggard of the Welch Regiment made a solo advance to the top of the ridge and on seeing a German Maxim, which had already caused much havoc, shouted out to his men to 'fix bayonets'. On reaching the point Captain Haggard, Fuller and two other men who were in front started firing. Haggard shot and killed the three Germans who were serving the Maxim gun but not surprisingly in view of the odds was soon hit, as were the men on the left of Haggard and the man on the right was wounded.

William Fuller, being only twenty yards behind Haggard when he was shot, was able to set off to try and rescue him, risking being killed by continuous rifle fire, machine-gun fire and shrapnel shells whilst doing so. Upon reaching Haggard, Fuller dressed the officer's wounds as well as he could, then removed his kit to make it easier for him to lift Haggard's body, which was done by using a fireman's lift. Finally, when the firing had slackended, Fuller set off with Haggard on his back, still dodging bullets, until met by two officers who gave assistance. Unfortunately, Mark Haggard's wounds were so serious that he died the next day in an improvised dressing station.

A few weeks later, whilst advancing across a field, Fuller was himself wounded on the 29th October 1914 after stopping to bandage the wounds of a comrade who had been hit in the leg. Fuller was sent home and was taken to a hospital in Manchester eventually returning to Swansea, his home town. Owing to the seriousness of his wounds, William Fuller was judged unfit for future military service and left the Army on 31st December 1915.

For the award of the Victoria Cross.

[ London Gazette, 23 November 1914 ], Chivy sur Aisne, France, 14 September 1914, 7753 Lance Corporal William Charles Fuller, 2nd Bn, Welch Regiment

For conspicuous gallantry on 14th September 1914 near Chivy on the Aisne, by advancing about 100 yards to pick up Captain Haggard, who was mortally wounded, and carrying him back to cover under very heavy rifle and machine gun fire.

William Fuller was invested with his Victoria Cross by King George V at Buckingham Palace on the 13th January 1915.

Fuller's VC was gazetted on the 23rd November 1914. He was spending the evening at the opening of the Free Soldiers' and Sailors' Club at the Albert Hall in Swansea and was completely unaware of the impending award of the Victoria Cross. He naturally became the hero of the evening.

Medal entitlement of Sergeant William Charles Fuller VC - 2nd Bn, Welch Regiment

  • Victoria Cross
  • 1914 Star + clasp "5th Aug-22nd Nov 1914"
  • British War Medal ( 1914-20 )
  • Victory Medal ( 1914-19 )
  • King George VI Coronation Medal ( 1937 )
  • Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal ( 1953 )


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Iain Stewart, 6 January 2006