Commissioner (Dr) Harry Williams

published on 11 Aug 2016

We have received news of Commissioner (Dr) Harry Williams’ recent promotion to Glory from, Edinburgh, Scotland, on Sunday 7th August 2016, at the age of 103.

Born on 13th July 1913, Harry William George Williams became a soldier and a bandsman at Wood Green Corps, North London. He studied medicine, but interrupted his course to become an officer in 1933. Following his commissioning in May 1935, he returned to his medical studies.

Harry married Lieutenant Eileen Neeve on Saturday 11th November 1939. Their honeymoon was on the Sunday and, following an interview at International Headquarters on the Monday, they set sail for India in December of that year.

For the next 30 years, they served in four of the Army’s major hospitals in India –the Thomas Emery at Moradabad, the MacRobert at Dhariwal, the Emery at Anand and the Catherine Booth at Nagercoil. When the Army’s hospital at Maradabad was taken over by the military authorities, Harry served for a short time as a military captain in Lucknow. Whilst at Nagercoil, in 1969, he was involved in relief work in Vietnam, being seconded to the Children’s Medical Relief Inc, of New York and working as senior surgeon at a new hospital in Saigon.

The commissioner was an acknowledged authority in the field of plastic surgery, becoming a full Member of the British Association of Plastic Surgeons in 1960. In 1970 he was appointed an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday honours list, in recognition of his specialist work in the field of plastic and reconstructive surgery, particularly in cases of leprosy, and for his 30 years’ medical service in India. It was also acknowledged that his skill won for the Catherine Booth Hospital (where he was Chief Medical Officer) a special reputation in the field of plastic and reconstructive surgery.

In 1974 he returned to London as International Secretary for the Americas and Australasia at International Headquarters, and in 1978 he took up the appointment of International Secretary for Planning and Development, which had been instituted to respond to the growing needs of the developing Third World countries.

In addition to the enormous contribution that he has made to the service and mission of The Salvation Army, the commissioner was also involved in ecumenism, representing the Army as a member of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches from 1975 until his retirement from active service in July 1980.

On Thursday 17th November 2005, in a service conducted by General John Larsson, Commissioner Harry Williams was admitted to the highest recognition award in The Salvation Army, the Order of the Founder. The citation for his award was as follows:

As plastic surgeon and strategic health administrator his gifts have been applied to all sectors of society, but especially the disadvantaged. As Salvation Army leader his gifts have created new directions in territories, in international development and ecumenically. As writer and artist his gifts have enabled us to know more of his observations of God’s world, God’s ways and God’s people.

A Thanksgiving Service for the life of Commissioner Harry Williams will be conducted by Major David Betteridge at The Salvation Army Edinburgh Gorgie Corps on Friday 19th August 2016 at 12.30 pm followed by a Committal Service at Warriston Crematorium, Warriston Road, EH7 4HW at 2pm.

We give thanks for the life and ministry of this great man of God whose influence and example have touched so many, and who will live on in the hearts and minds of those who knew him.