Gary Williams 1940-2015
Born in Manchester during WW2, I suppose it would seem natural that Gary should have such an abiding interest in matters military. He told me of running errands for Italian P.O.W.s in exchange for cap badges at a young age, of looking at rows of aircraft with their wings overhanging the factory fence at Fairey Aviation.
He was very proud that his grandfather ‘Charging Thunder’, was a Lakota Sioux Indian who had come over with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. This is no doubt where Gary derived his warrior blood from, but also earned him the tongue-in-cheek’ title of ‘Dances with whippets’ from certain young MAFVA types. See http://www.bbc.co.uk/manchester/content/articles/2006/01/20/200106_charging_thunder_feature.shtml
His own military career was long and varied, National service in the Royal Tank Regiment, serving on Ferret armoured cars in Germany; He joined ‘B’ Sqn Cheshire Yeomanry at the Armoury, Greek Street, Stockport 1958-60 with Dingos, then when he was at university in Bristol he was with O.T.C. then the 44 RTR/Somerset Yeomanry on Centurion tanks; on returning to Manchester at some stage was on Comets with (I believe) the 40/41st RTR. When the T.A. was re-organised Gary transferred to the RNR, and that is how he had a MoD 90 ID card with a photo showing him with a ‘full set’, i.e. a beard. With the return of the TAVR he transferred to 33 Signal Regiment rising to SSM in 42 Sqn. in Salford, then Rusholme, finally rising to RQMS with RHQ in Liverpool. It was at 42 Sqn where he met Heather.
However, this was only a part of Gary’s life, as he made a successful career in education. From the early ‘60’s Gary had been in communication with like minded enthusiasts including Anton Maund & Max Hundleby, who were to set up MAFVA in 1965. Gary became member 004, and very quickly took on the role of Secretary, a role he would continue from the quill and typewriter era through to using computers and e-mail for nearly 50 years. He also took on the appointment of President from Max Hundleby, which with his trendy ‘Zapata’ ‘tache’ became ‘El Presidente’. It was through his dedication, supported by Heather, and his mum at one stage, that he almost single-handedly kept MAFVA growing and thriving. Many members from around the world have written in to say how much Gary helped them be it with subscriptions, research or simply putting them in contact with fellow members. This was all indicative of how much he cared about the Association. He was always ‘out and about’ representing MAFVA at shows around the country, indeed, I first met him at one of the ‘original’ Present Arms shows at Southend in 1972. I was immediately impressed with his knowledge on all matters military, and his impressive collection of cloth formation patches.
Even when his health started to decline he would gamely attend the Nationals on sticks or in a wheelchair, determined to keep the ‘shop’ operational.
Also very important was the social involvement of Gary with MAFVA. He would be entertaining, at shows and get-togethers, at one stage up to a dozen Mafiosi ‘kids’ sleeping on his living room floor, or dragging us down to a pub. All this made the completeness of MAFVA for so many.
These few words are insufficient to express the full scale of what we mere mortal members of MAFVA owe Gary for a lifetime of hard work, commitment and fun in promoting a hobby, that in the scale of things, is quite obscure.
Stand easy Gary, you’ve earned your place in history
Rest in Peace.
Paul Middleton 1528
MAFVA Liaison Officer