This month I thought I would focus on the Wilson brothers: Major and acting Lieutenant Colonel Harry Stuart Wilson, Royal Munster Fusiliers and Lieutenant Commander John Skinner Wilson, HMS Indefatigable.
The brothers were killed in action in the same year, John on 31st May, Harry three months later on 9th September 1916. A tragic loss for their parents.
Both brothers were born in Trinidad – Harry in 1883, John a year later in 1884 – where their father Colonel Sir David Wilson KCMG was Sub-Intendant of Crown Lands. Their mother was Nora Kate.
In 1897, Sir David became Governor and Commander in Chief of British Honduras. He retired this post in 1904 and some time before 1911. He and Lady Nora moved to live in a house called Marchdyke, here in Chandler’s Ford. (Does anyone know where that might have been? It was next door to Lister House, but I’m not sure where that was either! )
Harry and John also had a sister named Nora, after their mother. A third brother, Eric Ronald, was a Captain in the Black Watch; he survived the war and won the Military Cross.
About Harry Stuart Wilson
Harry Stuart Wilson was a career soldier. He gazetted (passed out) from Sandhurst in 1902. He served in the Kings African Rifles Nairobi, Jubaland and Camel Corps, in Somaliland. Harry’s regiment were in Burma at the outbreak of war.
The regiment returned to England in December 1914. In March 1915, they were transferred to Gallipoli and were involved in heavy fighting. By now Harry had been promoted to the rank of Major. In January 1916, due to the severe casualties, both from fighting and disease as well as the harsh weather conditions, the regiment was evacuated to Egypt.
Harry was the Commanding Officer leading this evacuation and was wounded landing from SS ‘River Clyde’. He must have made a good recovery as in March 1916, along with the regiment, he entered the action in France, initially defending the lines of communication, before joining in actions on the Western Front, including the capture of Ginchy.
Harry was killed in action on 9th Sept 1916, he was 33 years of age. Sadly, Harry is one of the many with no known grave. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme. France.
About John Skinner Wilson
Like his brother, John Skinner Wilson chose to make a career in the services, though John decided on the navy. John enrolled in the navy in September 1898. Five years later he was promoted to acting Sub Lieutenant in His Majesty Fleet, becoming a full Sub Lieutenant in 1904. John was promoted to Lieutenant Commander in 1912.
John was a keen sportsman and played rugby union for United Services RFC and London Scottish FC and was capped for Scotland in 1908-9.
John went down with his ship HMS Indefatigable, on 31st May 1916, during the Battle of Jutland. Only two of the crew of 1,019 survived, Able Seaman Elliot and Leading Signalman Falmer. John is commemorated on Plymouth Naval Memorial.
Post Series: Chandler’s Ford War Memorial Research, by Margaret Doores: