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Sidney Wilson

Rank: Private

Lifetime: 1887-1915

Reference: 8648

Private Sidney Wilson (8648) of the 2nd Battalion of the East Surrey Regiment died on 3 May 1915. He has no known grave but is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial. He is not listed on the Hampton Wick War Memorial but his Commonwealth War Graves Commission entry refers to him as the son of Mr and Mrs T Wilson of 15 School House Lane, Wick Road, Hampton Wick.

The on-line site Surrey Roll of Honour states that he is commemorated on the Richmond War Memorial. He was killed in action near Ypres. He was born in Cambridge but enlisted in Kingston.

Sidney Wilson was born in Trumpington, Cambridgeshire, in April 1887. His father, Thomas Wilson, a farm labourer, had been born in the same village in 1854. Thomas Wilson married Rebecca Hart from Norwich in 1883. It is possible to track the family’s movements from their Census entries. Shortly after their marriage, the couple moved to Kingston where their eldest child, Fred, was born sometime in 1885. The family briefly returned home to Trumpington for the birth of Sidney. Thereafter, the family appear to have remained in the Kingston/Hampton Wick area. In 1891 the Wilson family (comprising Sydney’s parents aged 35 and 26 years; Sidney himself (5); George (4); Maria (2) and Fanny (2 months)) was living at 13 Canbury Place. Oddly, there is no mention at this date of their eldest child Fred who is first mentioned in the next Census entry for the family in 1901.

By 1901 the family were living on the High Street in Hampton Wick next to an Upholsterers shop. From the birth places of the two youngest children it would appear that the Wilson family had moved to the village by 1899. Thomas’s occupation is now given as a general labourer and the eldest child, Fred (16), appears for the first time. The couple had nine children living with them: Fred; Sydney (15), working as a shop boy for the post; George (14), with the same occupation as Sydney; Daisy (12); Fanny (11); Tom (9); Rose (6); Henry (2) and Mary (1).

The Wilson family was living in Hampton Wick again by the time of the next Census in 1911 at 3 Beaumont Cottages, Park Road. The couple had produced two more children, Charles (8) and Richard (2). The birthplaces of these youngest children are given as Kingston which suggests that the family must have returned to Kingston sometime between 1901 and 1903 where they lived at least until 1909.

Sidney Wilson was not living with his family in 1911 because he had enlisted into the regular army on 22 November 1905. He had also now generally adopted a slightly different spelling for his first name using “Sydney” rather than “Sidney”. He joined the East Surrey Regiment aged 18 years and 8 months having already served in the militia. His Burnt Service Record survives and reveals that he was 5’6” inches tall, weighed 123lbs and had a 34” chest. He had grey eyes, brown hair and a fresh complexion. He was single with no children so his next of kin were given as his parents who were living at 13 Fairfield Place, Kingston at this date.

His Military History Sheet reveals that he served at home from 22 November 1905 until 16 September 1908. He was posted initially in Kingston until 5 March 1906 and thereafter in Jersey until 15 September 1908. Subsequently, he was posted to India from 17 September 1908 until 18 November 1914 serving in various garrisons at Lucknow (8 October 1908-September 1910); Thaystinigo (September 1910-20 February 1911); Shivebo (21 February 1911-December 1911); Bhamo (December 1911-6 May 1912); Shwebo (10 May 1912-September 1914); Jhansi (15 September 1914-12 November 1914).

Whilst Private Wilson was serving in Jersey he suffered a moderately severe attack of eczema which was apparently treated with a dilution of arsenic! He suffered more serious illnesses in India. Towards the end of August 1909 he suffered malaria and thereafter three attacks of increasingly severe appendicitis. In Thrysmigo at the end of 1910 he suffered for 18 days, with his symptoms improving after 48 hours having been treated with castor oil, salines and fomentations. Within six months, by 1 May 1911, the acute symptoms of appendicitis had returned to be treated with salines, fomentations to the abdomen and opium. As the symptoms (not surprisingly) returned within a month on 1 June 1911 it would appear that his appendix was finally removed satisfactorily and he was allowed one month off to recuperate and a further month of light duties. After this he was only troubled by an outbreak of boils towards the end of May 1913.

He was obviously reasonably healthy after 1913 as we can see from his record that he was punished on 27 May 1914 for disregarding Standing Orders by galloping on a pony on a public road. During his long service in India he passed a course of instruction for mounted infantry and a swimming test at Bhamo on 24 April 1912. However, he was not promoted from the rank of Private during his nine years of service.

He returned home from India in November 1914 before being sent to France with the British Expeditionary Force on 19 January 1915 (thus qualifying for the 1914/15 Star in addition to the usual British War and Victory Medals). By the time the medals were despatched to them in 1920, Private Wilson’s parents had moved to 15 School House Lane, Wick Road, Hampton Wick along with four of his brothers (James Fred (35); George (33); Charlie (15) and Richard (10)). Two of his sisters Rosy (21) and Fanny (25) still lived in Kingston in the Fairfield area.

The first phase of this Project is to gather information about the men commemorated on the Hampton Wick War Memorial who fought in the Great War, also known as World War I, WWI or the First World War.

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