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Harold John Williams MBE (3 September 1893 – 5 June 1976) was a leading Australian baritone and music teacher. Born in Sydney, he enjoyed a long and successful career in England and his native country, performing in opera, oratorio and concerts and giving radio broadcasts.
Williams was born on 3 September 1893 at Woollahra, New South Wales, a suburb of Sydney, the third child of Owen Williams, a Victorian-born plumber, and his Scottish wife Isabella, née Wylie. Leaving Woollahra Superior Public School at 14, Harold worked as a messenger-boy, then as a railway stores clerk. He sang with the Waverley Methodist Church choir as a boy soprano and later an amateur baritone; but he found that 'football and cricket were the most absorbing affairs of my life'. He played for Waverley Cricket Club (1906–15) and Rugby Union as a wing-three-quarter with the Eastern Suburbs team, representing New South Wales against New Zealand in August 1914.
On 24 July 1915, during World War I, he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF). Before leaving Australia, he became engaged to Miss Doris Price, another member of the Waverley Methodist Church choir. He was sent to Europe aboard the troop transport Argyllshire in May 1916, having been made a corporal with the 9th Field Ambulance section. During the voyage, his vigorous delivery of ballads became popular fare with his fellow soldiers at shipboard entertainments. After military training in England, he was promoted to sergeant and sent to France with his unit in November 1916, seeing action at Armentières. In January 1917, he was transferred at General William Birdwood's request to an entertainment unit, known as the 'Anzac Coves'. He then rejoined the 9th Field Ambulance in March, saw action at Passchendaele and Messines, and was appointed regimental quartermaster-sergeant.