Harry Wilson

Area: Brotherton
Born: 1895
Died: 27.8.1918
Service number: 39789
Rank: Private
Regiment / Service: King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
Family information: Son of John and Matilda Ann Wilson of Low Street Brotherton

War Service

Harry Wilson joined the 1 /5th battalion of the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (KOYLI).This was formed in Doncaster in August 1914 and moved on to Gainsborough in November then York in February 1915. In April 1915 they landed at Boulogne where they became part of the 148th Brigade 49th (West Riding) Division.

It is unlikely that Harry was in this early movement as he was not awarded the 1915 Star indicating he entered the war zone sometime in 1916. The following is a list of engagements in which this division partook.

  • The Battle of Albert*
  • The Battle of Bazentin Ridge*
  • The Battle of Pozieres Ridge*
  • The Battle of Flers-Courcelette*

The battles marked * are phases of the Battles of the Somme 1916

1917

  • Operations on the Flanders Coast (Hush)
  • The Battle of Poelcapelle**

The battle marked ** is a phase of the Third Battles of the Ypres.

1918

On the 2 February 1918 the 1/5th Battalion was transferred to the 187th Brigade in 62nd (2nd West Riding) Division and absorbed 2/5th Bat. Renamed 5th Bat.

  • The Battle of Bapaume~ (25 March)
  • The First Battle of Arras 1918~ (28 March)
  • The battles marked ~ are phases of the First Battles of the Somme 1918
  • The Battle of the Tardenois (part of the Battles of the Marne 1918) (20 - 30 July)
  • The Battle of the Scarpe^ (26 - 30 August).

The Battle of the Scarpe took place between 26 and 30 of August 1918, during the Hundred Days Offensive and is also known as the Second battle of Arras. The Scarpe is a French river rising near St Pol, and flowing east past Arras and Douai to join the Schelde near the Belgian frontier.

The British, under General Henry Horne, were attempting to prepare the ground for a general advance by driving the Germans out of a sub-section of the Hindenburg Line. They attacked along both sides of the river, taking several villages and completing the operation with the capture of Bullecourt 31 August.

Much ground was made on the 26 of August, mainly by Canadian forces, but the 27 brought heavy rain and some stubborn resistance from the Germans.

Harry Wilson was killed on 27 August 1918, most probably during the battle of the Scarpe.

He is remembered on the World War I memorial located near the commune of Vis-en Artois in the Pas de-Calais départment of France. The memorial bears the names of over 9,000 men who fell in the period from 8 August 1918 to the date of the Armistice in the Advance to Victory in Picardy and Artois, between the Somme and Loos, and who have no known grave.

Charles Woodhouse (see later account) is named on the same memorial

Family Life

The following life details also apply to John William Wilson (brother of Harry)

The Wilson's were an old Brotherton family in that they can be traced back to at least 1748 with the birth of henry Wilson. He married a Sarah, who came from Whitkirk between Leeds and Wetherby, and they appear to have lived in Whitkirk for a while as their first born - a girl called Sarah was born and died there (1784).

They moved back to Brotherton before 1788 as that was when Joseph Wilson (1st) was born. They went on to have 7 more children all born in Brotherton. Joseph (1788-1838) married a woman named Elizabeth who came from Crediton in Devon (abt 1814). They also had a large family with Joseph (2nd) being born on 16 Feb 16 1829.

By 1861 Elizabeth was a widow living with her daughter Jane who was married to William Townsley. They had a one year old son John and William was described as a 'Captain'. Joseph (2nd) had married Elizabeth Chadwick of Brotherton in 1855. And by 1861 they had 3 children. Amongst these was John born in 1860. Joseph was a 'Stonemason'. Ten years on little had changed except some children had left

home and others had been born. By 1881 however, there had been lots of changes.

Joseph (2nd) had died in late 1871 and in 1872 Elizabeth remarried to George Ellison. She had 2 further sons - Sowler (1873) and George (1875) - but was widowed again by 1881.

John Wilson aged 20 had married Matilda Ann Woodhall in 1880 and by 1891 followed family tradition by having a large family which he supported by being a 'Stone Mason' by trade. They lived in Low Street. In 1893 John William was born and Harry followed 2 years later. By then, the two oldest sons were in employment - Herbert as a 'Stone Mason' like his father, and Joseph as a 'Liquorice Labourer'.

By 1911 John William and Harry were the oldest still in the family home and both were employed as 'General Labourers'. Four other children had followed.

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