William Grover-Williams  Great Britain

  • Full name William Charles Frederick Grover-Williams
  • Aka W Williams
  • Birth date January 16, 1903
  • Birthplace Montrouge, Paris, France
  • Date of death 1945 (42 years days)
  • Place of death Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, Germany

William Grover-Williams, who often raced under the simple name "Williams", was a war hero who worked for the Special Operations Executive(SOE) inside France before being captured and executed by the Nazis in the spring of 1945.

Born to an English father and a French mother in the suburbs of Paris, he grew up fluent in both French and English. His family moved to Monaco when World War One broke out where he got work as a chauffeur. His interest in motors was stirred and after buying a motorbike he started racing. It was then, to prevent his family finding out what he was doing, he assumed the pseudonym W Williams.

By 1926, he was racing a Bugatti and in 1928, earning him a drive for the factory team, he won the French Grand Prix, repeating his success 1929. That same year, driving a Bugatti 35B, painted in what become known as British Racing Green, he won the inaugural Monaco Grand Prix. In 1931 he won the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps and also won the Grand Prix de la Baule three consecutive years from 1931.

By then he had married and bought a large house and settled down to breed dogs. "They used to drive around Monaco in two cars," said his niece. "Willy would be in the first and Yvonne in the second. Yvonne would be stopped for speeding. She would say: 'What about him. Why don't you stop him?' But the police would say: 'He is Williams, we don't stop Williams'."

When war broke out he enlisted as a simple driver in the British Army before being recruited by the SOE in 1941.
Martin Williamson

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