Horace Victor WILSON was born at New Bilton, and his birth was registered in Q3, 1887 in Rugby. He was the sixth child of Ellis Wilson [b.c.1851 in Hillmorton – an upholsterer] and Sarah Jane, née Rotton, Wilson, [b.c.1860 in Birmingham], whose marriage was registered in Birmingham in Q4, 1876.
Their three eldest children had been born in West Bromwich in about 1877, 1879 and 1883, and then the next two in Tipton in 1884 and 1886. Before 1887 when their next child, Horace Victor Wilson was born, they had moved to Rugby, and for the 1891 census they were living at 11 Bridget Street, Rugby.
By 1901 the family had moved to live at 103 Victoria Street, Rugby, where Edwin’s father, Ellis was an ‘upholsterer and general dealer’. His father’s death was registered in Rugby in Q2, 1909 – he was 58. Horace had attended the St. Matthew’s School.
By 1911, the family had moved again and was living at 65 Campbell Street, New Bilton, Rugby. Before the war Horace worked at BTH as a Carpenter and his younger brother, Edwin, who was a ‘Winder (Apprentice)’ in 1911, was also employed by BTH before the war in the Winding Department.
It seems that he enlisted early from BTH, and he and his younger brother were probably two of the three ‘Wilsons’ who are listed in the Rugby Advertiser on 5 and 26 September 1914.
‘B.T.H. Company to the Rescue. – From the Works. This is an additional list of men who have left to join the Colours from August 27th up to and including September 2nd: … Wilson … Wilson …’
‘Recruiting at Rugby slows – Latest B.T.H. Recruits. – Since our last list of recruits from the B.T.H Works was compiled the following have enlisted: Works: …, Wilson, …’
Horace enlisted in Rugby as a Private No: R/76 in the 7th Battalion (Bn.) the King’s Royal Rifle Corps and was later posted as No: GS/84012 to the 2nd/4th Bn., the London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers).
7th (Service) Battalion was formed at Winchester on 19 August 1914 as part of K1 and came under orders of 41st Brigade in 14th (Light) Division. It moved to Aldershot, going on to Grayshott in November and in February 1915 went to Bordon. It returned to Aldershot in March 1915. Then on 19 May 1915 it went to France and landed at Boulogne and saw action the Second Battle of Ypres in May 1915, the Battle of Delville Wood in July 1916 and the Battle of Flers–Courcelette in September 1916 as well as the advance to the Hindenburg Line, the Battle of Arras in April 1917, the Battle of Langemark in August 1917, the First Battle of Passchendaele in October 1917 and the Second Battle of Passchendaele in November 1917 before taking part in the Battle of St Quentin in March 1918 and the Battle of the Avre in April 1918.
On 2 February 1918 it transferred to 43rd Brigade in same [14th] Division and on 25 April 1918 was reduced to cadre strength and on 16 June 1918, it transferred to 49th Brigade in 16th (Irish) Division and returned to England to be absorbed by 34th Bn, the London Regiment at Clacton.
Horace’s Medal Card did not have any date for when he went to France, and he did not gain the 1914-15 Star, which together suggest that he was in UK until after the end of 1915. A later report stated that he had been in France for three years, which would suggest from say September 1915, and another stating ‘3½ years’. It seems likely that these were approximations and that he went to France at a date after the medal qualification date of 31 December 1915 seems likely.
With no surviving Service Record there is also no record of when he transferred to the 2nd/4th Bn., the London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers), or indeed when he was promoted to Lance-Corporal. It could have been in UK or in France. The 2nd/4th Bn. had a complicated history as the …
‘… The 3rd/1st London Brigade moved to Bury St Edmunds, and … absorbed large drafts of recruits under the Derby scheme in February 1916, and in June it moved into camp outside Ipswich. That month the battalion was renumbered to replace the disbanded 2nd/4th Bn.’
Some accounts state that the renumbered 2nd/4th went to France in early 1917, others state that,
‘A new 2nd/4th Londons went to France in July 1916 with the 58th Division. On 15 June 1917, as part of the 173rd Brigade, they were involved in an attack against the Hindenburg line near Bullecourt.’
After the severe losses in the action at Bullecourt, the Battalion was involved in the Battle of Ypres, also known as ‘Passchendaele’ [31 July – 10 November 1917]; then the German Spring Offensive, Operation Michael [from 21 March 1918]; at Villers Bretonneux [24 – 25 April 1918]; Chipilly [8 – 12 August 1918] and the Second Battle of Bapaume [21 August – 3 September 1918]
‘The attack was renewed on 27 August , with 2nd/4th Bn. in support of 3rd Londons towards Maricourt. The defence was sporadic, and the two battalions passed through and mopped up the village in the morning. The following day’s attack consisted of patrol actions against rearguards. The battalion was then rested until 1 September, when at short notice a dawn attack was made towards Bouchavesnes. The battalion followed the creeping barrage, overcame some resistance at the edge of the village, and was on its final objective by 10.45 – an advance of 3000 yards representing the most successful action fought by the 2nd/4th Bn.’
The commune of Bouchavesnes is situated some 22 miles (35 km) northwest of Saint-Quentin, and extracts from the Battalion War Diary entry for that day gaves slightly more detail,
‘BOUCHAVESNES – Sept 1st 1918 – The Bde. Attacked BOUCHAVESNES at 5.30am. … The … 2/4 Bn. on the right, … The morning although cold was fine and visibility good. Enemy opposition was strong on the western edge of the village but as this was over come the enemy showed signs of giving ground without fighting. By 10.45 am the Bn. had reached the final objective and C.O. … established a definite line …
‘During the attack, casualties were as follows:- [4 officers killed – 5 wounded]; O[ther] Ranks. Killed 11. Wounded 49. Missing 30.
‘The number of prisoners captured approx 230. Machine Guns 40. Field Guns 8.
‘Message of congratulations on success of Bde attached … Weather was fine throughout the day. Bn. was relieved same night by the 14th Black Watch (74th Div) and rested in valley … The Bn. arrived there at 4am on 2nd inst.’
Horace was severely wounded, one of the 49 wounded, during the successful action against Bouchavesnes on 1 September 1918. He would have been passed down the chain of medical evacuation to the coast, then evacuated from France and taken to a hospital in UK, in his case in Birmingham.
A report in the Rugby Advertiser noted,
‘Rifleman Horace Wilson, London Regiment, late of the KRR, son of Mrs Wilson, Bridget Street, has been seriously wounded in France. He has lost his right leg and his left arm has been badly fractured. He joined the Army in September 1914, has served three years in France. He was formerly employed by the B.T.H.’
He died in hospital in Birmingham on 19 September 1918 and his body was returned to his home to be buried in Plot G. 24. in the Rugby (Croop Hill) Cemetery. The ‘Rugby’ Advertiser noted,
‘Pte Horace Victor Wilson, London Regiment (late KRR) died in hospital in Birmingham on September 19th from wounds received on September 1st. He was the youngest surviving son of Mrs Ellis Wilson, 41 Bridget Street, and is the second of her sons to fall in the War. He was 31 years of age, an old St. Matthew’s boy and prior to joining the army in September 1914, was employed as a Carpenter at the B.T.H. He had been in France for 3½ years.’
A ‘Deaths’ notice was published by the family on 28 September.
‘WILSON. – H. V. WILSON, late K.R.R., died September 19th, 1918, of wounds received in France on September 1, 1918: aged 31.’
When his temporary cross was replaced with a memorial headstone, no additional family inscription was engraved on it. There are six other WWI casualties buried at Croop Hill Cemetery.
Horace Victor WILSON’s Medal Card showed that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. He is also commemorated on a pillar of the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby; on the list of BTH Employees who served in the War 1914 – 1918; and also on the BTH War Memorial.
His younger brother, Edwin, also fought in WWI. He gained a commission and was a 2nd Lieutenant in the 10th Bn. the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and was killed in action 23 March 1918, some six months before his older brother [see Rugby Remembers, 23 March 2018].
RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM
This article on Horace Victor WILSON was initially researched and written for the Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by Pauline Masterman, and updated with military material by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, September 2018.
 UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919.
 Edited from: https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-british-infantry-regiments-of-1914-1918/kings-royal-rifle-corps/; also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King%27s_Royal_Rifle_Corps.
 Grimwade, Capt F. Clive, The War History of the 4th Battalion The London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers) 1914–1919, London: Regimental Headquarters, 1922, Uckfield, Naval & Military press, 2002, pp. 449–55.
 UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Various Infantry Brigades, 58th Division, Piece 3001: 173 Infantry Brigade (1915 – 1919).
 Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 14 September 1918.
 Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 28 September 1918.
 Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 28 September 1918.
 This is from a list of names on the BTH War Memorial when it was unveiled. It is taken from the list published in the Rugby Advertiser, 4 November 1921 and given at https://www.rugbyfhg.co.uk/bth-war-memorial.