The son of James J. and Laura Williams, Richard was born in Smethwick in 1897. He was living there in 1901 with his parents and brother Walter A. By 1911, however, he was in the Royal Orphanage on the Penn Road, Wolverhampton.
He enlisted with the 2nd Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment (number 26827). On 10 May 1917, the Express & Star printed a small article about Private James Richard Williams [sic], an “old boy” of the Royal Orphanage, who had been reported as wounded and missing since 1 March. This article noted that he had previously worked at Guest-Keen and Nettlefolds, St George’s Works, Birmingham. It was later confirmed that he had been killed in action on that date in France. His mother was listed as his next of kin, so presumably it was the death of his father that resulted in him being sent to the Royal Orphanage. He is remembered on the Thipeval Memorial.