A SPECIAL memorial service was held at Chepstow's war memorial on Thursday to commemorate those who fought and died in one of the First World War's bloodier battles – the Gallipoli campaign.

Anzac Day (April 25) marks the anniversary of the landing of Allied troops on the Gallipoli peninsula in what was then the Ottoman Empire.

That fateful expedition in 1915 ultimately resulted in more than 56,000 Allied deaths, many of them from Australia and New Zealand, but also including British fighters.

And in Chepstow, the annual Anzac Day service remembers one of the Royal Navy seamen to perish on the first day of the battle, local man Able Seaman William Charles Williams, who was later awarded the Victoria Cross for his heroic actions that day.

This year, at 11am, The Chepstow Branch of the Royal Naval Association was joined by the town's mayor, town councillors, Monmouthshire county councillors, and members of the public for a commemorative ceremony in honour of Able Seaman Williams and the other Allied troops who died.

Able Seaman Williams, aged 34, was serving on the troopship SS River Clyde at V Beach when the Gallipoli landings began. The landing at the beach did not go to plan and a makeshift floating bridge of barges was hastily manoeuvred into place to allow the troops from the River Clyde to reach the shore.

It was Able Seaman Williams and his commanding officer Unwin who waded through the water, getting the barges in position

Finding that the rope was too short to tie the line of barges to the rocks, they stood chest-deep in the water and held the floating bridge in place while the Allied troops attempted to reach the shore, all the time under fierce fire from Turkish guns.

Many Allied troops were mown down. After an hour straining on the rope, and being prime targets themselves, Able Seaman Williams was hit by a shell and died in Unwin’s arms.

Able Seaman Williams was awarded the Victoria Cross – Britain's highest military honour for bravery – for his courage under fire.

The citation for his medal, printed in the London Gazette, read: "Held on to a line in the water for over an hour under heavy fire, until killed.

"The King has been graciously pleased to approve of the grant of the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned officers and men for the conspicuous acts, of bravery mentioned in the foregoing despatch."

Able Seaman Williams was one of six Royal Navy men, all serving on the troopship SS River Clyde, to receive the Victoria Cross for their actions on April 25, 1919.

Chepstow's annual service service of remembrance is held at the town's cenotaph, next to the memorial gun taken from a captured German submarine and later presented to the people of Chepstow by King George V in recognition of Able Seaman Williams' sacrifice.

That day, January 8, 1922, three memorials were unveiled that day – the gun, by Williams’ sister Frances Smith; a painting of the landing of the SS River Clyde, in the Priory & Parish Church of St Mary, by Captain Unwin; as well as the cenotaph itself.