Main CPGW Record
Place of Birth: Lothersdale, Yorkshire
Service No: ---
Regiment / Corps / Service: Herefordshire Regiment
Battalion / Unit: 1/1st Battalion
Division: 53rd (Welsh) Division
Date of Death: 1917-03-26
CWGC Grave / Memorial Reference: Panel 52.
CWGC Cemetery: ---
CWGC Memorial: JERUSALEM MEMORIAL
Non-CWGC Burial: ---
Local War Memorial: LOTHERSDALE, YORKSHIRE
Local War Memorial: SKIPTON – ERMYSTED’S GRAMMAR SCHOOL, YORKSHIRE
Local War Memorial: SUTTON-IN-CRAVEN, YORKSHIRE
Alec Wilson was the son of Frederick James and Hannah Margaret Wilson, née Spencer. Frederick was born at Crosshills and Hannah at Malsis, Glusburn, Yorkshire. Alec was related to 2nd Lieutenant John A.C. Spencer (q.v.) and T/2nd Lieutenant Basil Spencer Jennings (q.v.).
1901 Lothersdale, Yorkshire Census: Holmleigh - Alec Wilson, aged 5 years, born Lothersdale, son of Frederick J. and Hannah M. Wilson.
1911 Lothersdale, Yorkshire Census: Holmleigh - Alec Wilson, aged 15 years, born Lothersdale, son of Frederic [sic] James and Hannah Margaret Wilson.
British Army WW1 Medal Rolls Index Cards: Capt Alec Wilson, Herefordshire Regiment. Theatre of War first served in: Mediterranean Expeditionary Force. Date of entry therein: 15 August 1915.
A short biography of Alec is included in: ‘A Grammar School at War – The Story of Ermysted’s Grammar School during the Great War’ by Steven Howarth (2007).
Data Source: Craven’s Part in the Great War - original CPGW book entryView Entry in CPGW Book
Entry in West Yorkshire Pioneer Illustrated War Record:
WILSON, Lieutenant Alec, [Lothersdale], aged 21, 1st (T.F.) Herefordshire Regiment, son of Mr. F.J. Wilson, killed in action, Mesopotamia, March 26, 1917.
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Captain Alec WILSON
Regiment / Corps / Service Badge: Herefordshire Regiment
Divisional Sign / Service Insignia: 53rd (Welsh) Division
Soldiers Died Data for Soldier Records
Regiment: Herefordshire Regiment
Battalion: 1st Battalion
Died Date: 26/03/17
Died How: Killed in action
Theatre of War:
CWGC Data for Soldier Records
Country of Service: United Kingdom
Regiment: Herefordshire Regiment
Unit: 1st Bn.
Died Date: 26/03/1917
Additional Information: Son of Frederic James and Hannah Margaret Wilson, of The Willows, Lothersdale, Keighley, Yorks.
View Additional Text For Soldier Records
MANU FORTI A History of the Herefordshire Regiment, by Lt. Col. T.J.B. Hill, M.B.E., K.S.L.I.
(Kindly supplied by Brian Bouchard of Ashtead and the Epsom and District Local History Explorer)
[1/1st Herefordshire Regiment – The First Battle of Gaza, 1917]
…At the beginning of 1917 the order was for pressure on all fronts. In Palestine the Turkish position extended from the sea across the front of Gaza, while its left was at Beersheba, away east, at the foot of the central range and on the edge of the desert. The British force was collected at the railhead, on the coast, with its communications running back along the coastal route. To attack in the direction of Beersheba would have meant extending the lines of communications across the enemy's front, so Sir Archibald Murray decided to attack at Gaza. He therefore reorganized the desert column, which now consisted of the Imperial Mounted Division, less one brigade, the Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division and 53 Welsh Division. With this and 52 and 5 Divisions he intended to strike at Gaza.
The cavalry screen was spread out far towards Gaza and reconnaissances were carried out without molestation, brigadiers, commanding officers and regimental officers all riding out with it, reconnoitering the country. Reconnoitering parties found no difficulty in getting up to and across the Wadi Ghuzze, one of the great features of the country…
In the plan for the first battle of Gaza, the 53 Division was to cross the Wadi Ghuzze and seize the necessary bridgehead. The Cavalry Division and the 54 Division were to seize and occupy the Sheik Abbas position, the 53 Division would move forward for the attack on Gaza, its objective being first the Ali Muntar-El Sire ridge as far as El Shelur. from there visual reconnaissance could be made for the attack on the final objective: the enemy's position about Ali Muntar. The mounted divisions were detailed to cover the flank of this advance…
On 21 March the 1/1st Herefordshire Regiment moved to Rafah, crossing the Palestine boundary at noon, and at night it was on outposts.
[Capt Peter Ashton wrote:]
"On the morning of the 24th a mixed cavalcade cantered through the streets of Khan Unis; it was an advanced party of British Officers seeking out for their units hiding places in the shady fruit groves surrounding the town. It was our first real glimpse of the 'promised land'. On all sides were groves of fig trees, mish-mish, olives and oranges, protected by high impenetrable hedges of prickly pear. On the north this green gem ends abruptly in a golden setting of sand hills, beyond which lies the deep blue of the Mediterranean. An old crusader's fort raises its tower above the surrounding squalor of mud huts. As we clattered through the lane, for it was scarcely a road, running through the centre of the town, savage looking but stately Bedouins gazed at us with curious eyes, and no doubt spies on the roof tops took a more technical interest in our passage.”
That evening the battalion bivouacked in the groves north-east of Khan Yunis, being again on outposts. Late the following evening it moved out of its cover, and crossing the Wadi Ghuzze at dawn worked its way up the spur leading to Mansura. By 11.30 a.m. the whole brigade was concentrated in a covering position north of the village and about 4,500 yards from the enemy's position. It had been a beautiful starlight night, but at daybreak a rolling fog came in from the sea, which delayed the advance so that the force was two hours behind its scheduled time, the brigade being caught by the fog just as it was going to make the difficult crossing of the wadi.
In the attack on Ali Muntar, 158 Infantry Brigade was in the centre, with 159 on its right, but this brigade had been behind them and though they strained every nerve to catch up, their leading units were echeloned well to the right rear of 158's. 160 Infantry Brigade was on the left, attacking up the El Sire Ridge, and there was a considerable gap between it and 158, which had been increased by the fact that the leading battalions of the latter had gone too far to the north.
The battalion was in reserve at first, but 5th RWF on the left was soon held up by fire from Green Hill on its left, this flank being exposed. The battalion was consequently ordered up and at 1.12 p.m. it was deployed, C being on the right and D on the left, with A and B in support. The advance was carried out with the regularity and coolness of a manoeuvre. Almost at once the battalion found that its own left flank was not strong enough and a platoon of B was sent up to prolong the line, while two platoons of A were moved across further to support the left flank. The very gallant advance of the leading companies managed to establish the firing line about 500 yards from Ali Muntar. There, however, all progress was stopped by hostile machine-guns and rifle fire, and by the fact that the Green Hill trenches were as yet unassailed. By 2.00 p.m. the brigade was definitely held up all along its front. 161 Infantry Brigade had been brought up and was put in late in the afternoon, but before this reinforcement could make itself felt a very gallant charge was made by Capt. Walker of 7th RWF with about forty men. This took the Turks by surprise, penetrated their position and with 161 Brigade attacking Green Hill in a most determined manner the whole line was able to go forward at a little before sunset. When the advance was first held up the cavalry were despatched round the enemy's left to attack Gaza from the rear, and as there was thought to be no water for them they had to be withdrawn by 6.00 p.m.
It was now that a tragedy occurred due to the fog of war. Neither Gen. Chetwode nor Gen. Dobell knew of the successful effort of the division and 161 Brigade, which were in occupation of the whole of the El Sire ridge, and that the Turks had retired. A withdrawal to the original concentration position was ordered. After dark there was considerable confusion on the top of the ridge and units were much disorganized and mixed up, but there is no doubt that the position could have been held. However, it was not to be.
At about midnight, while it was still consolidating and reorganizing, the battalion, to its stupefaction, received the order to withdraw, and by 3.30 a.m. the whole brigade was back in its new position.
To illustrate the greatness of the tragedy, some of the troops, including Capt. Latham of the 7th RWF, never received the order to withdraw, and it was only at dawn that they did so when they found that no one else, not even the enemy, was there. Also, a party of British troops met some Anzac Cavalry, who had come right through Gaza from north to south. The remnant of the garrison and Gaza itself was simply waiting to be taken.
In the early hours of the morning of 27 March, Gen. Chetwode realized what had happened and ordered the divisional commander to re-occupy Green Hill and Ali Muntar. Although the troops had had no rest, they responded at once. After a hasty breakfast the battalion moved off at 7.00 a.m. and the leading company actually got on to Ali Muntar, which was found to be held by some of the Essex, but at that moment the Essex were being forced to retire in face of a strong enemy counter-attack from the east, and they and the battalion were forced to fall back along the ridge in a south-westerly direction until a consolidated position occupied by the Essex was reached. This was the second attack that the enemy had made, the first having been repulsed by the Essex.
The battalion then withdrew to the original concentration position north of Mansura, after suffering heavy casualties - 17 out of 22 officers were killed, wounded or missing. Casualties - Officers, 4 killed, 11 wounded and 2 missing; Other Ranks, 13 killed, 181 wounded and 24 missing.
As the enemy had succeeded in recapturing Green Hill and Ah Muntar, Gen. Dobell considered that the position then held was not a good one for further operations, and decided to withdraw behind Wadi Ghuzze. So the battalion fell back to a bivouac 1 mile north of Dir el Belah, which was reached at 3.00 a.m. on 28 March, and there it remained till 17 April.
[Capt Alec Wilson was killed in action on 26 March]
England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966
WILSON Alec of Holmleigh Lothersdale near Keighley Yorkshire captain Herefordshire regiment died 26 March 1917 at Gaza Administration London 21 February to Frederick James Wilson worsted spinner. Effects £392 6s. 11d.
WILSON Frederick James of the Willows Lothersdale near Keighley Yorkshire died 2 December 1927 Probate London 25 January to Hannah Margaret Wilson widow and Kenneth Wilson spinner. Effects £12129 2s.
WILSON Hannah Margaret of Holmleigh Lothersdale Keighley Yorkshire widow died 15 July 1946 Probate Wakefield 13 June to Kenneth Wilson and Douglas Wilson manufacturers and Lionel Wilson paper manufacturer. Effects £4345 2s. 4d.
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06 April 1917
WILSON – March 26th killed in action, Lieut. Alec Wilson, Herefordshire Territorial Regiment, 7th son of F.J. and H.M. Wilson, Lothersdale, aged 21 years.
06 April 1917
LOTHERSDALE FAMILY’S BEREAVEMENT
Our readers will join with us in tendering very sincere sympathy to Mr. F.J. Wilson, J.P. of Lothersdale, and Mrs. Wilson and family in the death in action in Mesopotamia of their seventh son, Lieutenant Alec Wilson. Mr. Wilson, who is a Governor of Skipton Grammar School (where his eight sons have been educated), a magistrate of the East Staincliffe Petty Sessional Division, chairman of Skipton Rural Military Tribunal, etc., has been prominently identified with the public life of the district for many years, and has earned the respect of the inhabitants for his courage, uprightness and manliness – characteristics that have been inherited by his sons, and not the least by the deceased young officer, whose career, like that of many thousands of Britain’s sons, has been cut short in this cruel war.
Lieut. Alec Wilson, whose stay at Ermysted’s Grammar School extended from 1906 to 1913, and included the honoured position of captain, was articled in the estate office of the Marquis of Abergavenny. When war broke out he at once joined the 1st Herefordshire’s (T.F.) as second lieutenant. He went out to the Dardanelles in August 1915, and went through that trying and devastating campaign. One fact alone will indicate the character of the deceased officer’s experiences. His Battalion was reduced to such an extent that Lieut. Wilson, acting as temporary captain, and the adjutant, were the only officers left. Following the evacuation of what proved an untenable position Lieut. Wilson was sent to Egypt, and was home on leave for three weeks last summer. The last letters received from the brave lad tell of long marches through the desert towards Gaza, where it is presumed he was killed on March 26th.
The deceased’s two brothers, Douglas and Lionel, are with the same force as motor machine gunners.
13 April 1917
MEMORIAL SERVICE AT SUTTON – TRIBUTES TO LIEUTENANT ALEC WILSON AND DR. EMPEY
A service in memory of the late Lieutenant Alec Wilson, of the Herefordshire Territoria1 Regiment, seventh son of Mr. and Mrs. F. J. Wilson, of Lothersdale, and the late Dr. Empey, was held at the Sutton Baptist Chapel on Sunday morning. A large congregation assembled, including Sir John and Lady Horsfall, Mr. and Mrs. John Donald Horsfall, Mr. H.R. Thomas (Ryecroft), Mr. and Mrs. F.J. Wilson, Mrs. Empey, Miss Mary Empey, Dr. Frank and Mrs. Anderson, and Miss Duckett.
The preacher was the Rev. F. W. Pollard, who said his text was a message of hope for troubled hearts. Such a message was never needed more than at the present time, for so many – a countless number – in this and other lands were sitting in darkness and under the shadow of death, and their hearts were full of sorrow. Some gathered that morning who had recently passed through the deep waters of grief, and to them they extended their sincerest and tenderest sympathy. They felt for the family that had been so greatly bereaved and their prayer was that the great Lord might comfort them in their trials. Another bright and beautiful young life had been laid down in sacrifice for them – one of a band of noble brothers who had responded so cheerfully and courageously and with such alacrity to their country’s call, and had gone forth to give themselves to the great cause of liberty and right. One of these – a hitherto unbroken band – had now made the great sacrifice, and they thought with deepest tenderness of what that meant to the dear ones who had been thus bereft. They had cherished the hope that he who had come scatheless through the Gallipoli campaign would have been spared, but it had been ordered otherwise, and in that great battle south of Gaza he had laid down his life in defence of our liberties and our hearths and home.The Holy Land would be still more sacred to all because there rested the remains of one whom they knew, and who was very dear to some who were constant worshippers in that sanctuary.
This was not the only loss they had experienced during the week that had gone. A very prominent figure in the district had passed away, one who for thirty-six years filled that very high vocation, the doctor’s calling. He had gone in the very prime of manhood. It had been pitiful to many of them to notice the failure of that strong, manly frame, and to witness the gradual decay of his powers, and there was something deeply touching in the fact that his end came on the anniversary of the funeral of his favourite son. Their hearts went out with tender sympathy to the bereaved ones, and their prayer was that both homes, and all concerned by these bereavements, might experience the consolation which the Divine Master knew so well how to give. Surrounded as they were by death on every hand; witnessing these ravages in so many lands, bowed as their hearts must be by the griefs that had overtaken them, they did not sorrow as those who had no hope. Their trust was in a living Lord who was present to help his people in their hours of sorrow. They did not think of their dear friends as lying in the helplessness and hopelessness of death. Death had been but a passing incident in their experience.
The choir, under the leadership of Mr. Joseph Overend, gave the anthem ‘Lift up your heads,’ to the organ accompaniments by Mr. Joseph Petty.
27 April 1917
A SKIPTON GUARDIAN'S CREDITABLE RECORD – MR. F.J. WILSON’S LOSS
The Chairman referred to the recent loss sustained by Mr. F.J. Wilson in the death in action of his son, Lieut. Alec Wilson, and spoke of the noble record of Mr. Wilson and his family in regard to the war, and of the great respect and appreciation which they all felt for Mr. Wilson’s services as a member of that Board. He was sure that they were all grateful that there were such men as the sons of Mr. Wilson to defend England, and they were also grateful to such parents as Mr. and Mrs. Wilson for bringing up their children to be a credit to themselves and their country. He moved that a vote of sympathy be passed with Mr. and Mrs. Wilson.
Mr. J. Speak seconded and the resolution was carried by the members rising in their places.
Mr. Wilson said the infinite kindness of their friends had been a great consolation to Mrs. Wilson and himself in their bereavement, and that he could only thank the Board very much for their sympathy.
04 July 1919
PEACE SUPPLEMENT TO THE 'CRAVEN HERALD' – CRAVEN'S FALLEN OFFICERS
LIEUTENANT ALEC WILSON
1st Herefordshire Regiment, son of Mr. F. J. Wilson, J.P., Lothersdale, killed in action in Egypt, March 26th, 1917.
View West Yorkshire Pioneer Articles
19 March 1915
Skipton Grammar School Roll of Honour
Corrections and additions
† H. Colley (Master) Inns of Court O.T.C.
† J.P.Y. Dickey, 2nd Lieut., 10th Lancashire Fusiliers
*R.G.A. Dickey, 2nd Lieut., 5th (R) Manchester Regiment
† A. Goodman, 2nd Lieut., 5th East Lancashire Regiment
† A.E.P. Leak, Gunner, R.F.A.
* Oswald Leak, Electrician. H.M.S. ‘Scotia’
*J.C. McIntye, 2nd Lieut., Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
*G.S. McKay, 2nd Lieut., R.F.A.
*H. Mallinson, Corporal, Welsh Fusiliers
*Chris Maudsley, Pte., A.S.C.
*C.G.M. Morris (Master) 2nd Lieut., 9th Royal Berkshire Regiment
*J. Pethybridge, 2nd Lieut., Royal Engineers
*Alfred Waddington, 2nd Lieut., 5th East Lancashire Regiment
*Alan Wilson, Lieut., R.A.M.C. in charge of 4 batteries, Lahore Division of Indian Army
*Alec Wilson, 2nd Lieut., Herefordshire Regiment (Service Batt.)
*Colin Wilson, Lieut., R.A.M.C. in charge of 4 batteries, Royal Garrison Artillery
*Leslie Wilson, Sub-Lieut., R.N.R. (sub-mariner)
03 September 1915
A SPLENDID LOTHERSDALE RECORD
Among the families which have contributed splendidly in men for war service there are not many who can show a more striking record than that of Mr. F.J. Wilson of Lothersdale. Mr. Wilson has a family of eight sons, most of whom are well know for athletic prowess in the district where they reside. Four of them have held commissions in the forces for some time, and two others have gone to take up appointments this week. The eldest of those already serving is Lieutenant Alan Wilson, of the Royal Army Medical Corps, who is now in France. The next is Sub-Lieutenant Leslie Wilson, of the Royal Naval Reserve. He is on a merchant cruiser, which is engaged in patrol work. The third Captain Colin Wilson is in the Royal Army Medical Corps Special Reserve, and is serving in Malta; while Second-Lieutenant Alec Wilson is on his way to the Dardanelles. His brother, Mr. Douglas Wilson, is older than Alan, and has been with the Territorials, but was invalided home. He has now recovered, however, and with the youngest member of the family, Mr. Lionel Wilson who has just left school, he has gone this week to Bisley to take up new duties. Still another son, the second in point of age, has also applied for a commission, but as his heart was found to be affected, he has been unable to attain his desire of taking an active part in the fighting forces.
05 April 1917
WILSON – Killed in action, March 26th, near Gaza, Lieut. Alec Wilson, Herefordshire Territorial Regiment, seventh-son of F.J. and H.M. Wilson, Lothersdale, aged 21.
05 April 1917
LOTHERSDALE – LIEUT. ALEC. WILSON KILLED
Mr. and Mrs. F.J. Wilson, of Lothersdale, received word on Tuesday morning that their youngest son, Lieut. Alec. Wilson, of the Herefordshire Regiment, had been killed during one of the great battles on the way to Palestine. He was killed on March 26th, so it is presumed that he was killed at the battle of Gaza, in which the Herefords distinguished themselves.
Lieut. Wilson was a fine type of man. He was the youngest of the seven stalwart sons of Mr. and Mrs. F.J. Wilson, of Lothersdale, six of whom offered their services when war broke out, and who are now serving in one or other of the services. Two other sons are serving in the same regiment as their brother Alec who was killed, two are doctors in the army, and one is a lieutenant in the submarine section of the navy. Lieut. Alec. Wilson, like his other brothers. was educated at Skipton Grammar School, and like his father before him, and also his brothers, did prodigious things in the playing field. He was captain of his school, and on leaving there he was articled in the estate office of the Marquis of Abergavennv. He joined the Herefordshire Territorial Battalion, and after training was sent out to Gallipoli in August, 1915, where at one time the battalion was so reduced that the adjutant and he were the only officers left. After the evacuation of the Peninsula he went to Egypt. He was home on three weeks’ leave last summer, and his last letter spoke of long desert marches towards Palestine.
Recently Lieut. Wilson was gazetted as lieutenant, the promotion to date from December, 1915, when he was in charge of a company on the Peninsula. He was temporary captain during this period.
Much sympathy is felt for Mr. and Mrs. Wilson in their great loss.
13 April 1917
SKIPTON PETTY SESSIONS – THE LATE LIEUT. ALEC WILSON
Prior to the commencement of the ordinary business of the Court the Chairman said he desired on behalf of his colleagues and himself to express their deep sympathy with Mr. F.J. Wilson, of Lothersdale, a gentleman who was well known in that district and a most valuable member of that Bench, in the death in action of one of his sons. Mr. Wilson was in the proud position of having six sons serving their country in one capacity or another, and it was with deep regret that they heard of the death in action of one of them. He was a young man of great promise and was well-known in Skipton, where at the Grammar School he had had a distinguished career, and who since leaving school had shown himself a man of great capacity in other walks of life. Their sympathy went out to Mr. Wilson and his family in the loss they had sustained.
13 April 1917
SKIPTON RURAL – THE LATE LIEUT. WILSON
Prior to the commencement of the ordinary business, Mr. J. Mason moved a vote of sympathy with Mr. F. J. Wilson and his family in the loss of his son, who was recently killed in action, and this was carried by members rising in their places.
14 December 1917
FOUNDER’S DAY AT SKIPTON GRAMMAR SCHOOL
A Fifteenth Century Foundation – War Memorial Proposed
Wednesday’s proceedings were opened with a service in commemoration not only of the founders and benefactors of the school but also of the gallant men who formerly passed through the school and who had given their lives for their country in the present war. The service was conducted by the headmaster (Rev. F.G. Forder) in the big school and there was a good attendance of old boys and others interested in the school. The names of the fallen heroes are as follows:– 2nd Lieut. T.B. Bellamy, Captain C.D. Bennett, 2nd Lieut. T.D. Broughton, Captain C.W. Brown, Gunner Philip Brown, Corporal H.S. Caw, Sergt. J. Cockerill, 2nd Lieut. H. Colley (master), Major M.E. Cookson, 2nd Lieut. E.G. Goodman, 2nd Lieut. F.H. Gill, Private W. Hartley, Rifleman W.M. Jowett, Lieut. H. Knowles, 2nd Lieut. C.H. Lee (master), 2nd Lieut. J.C. McIntyre, Captain J.B. McKay, Lance-Corporal A.J. Metcalfe, J.H. [E.] Metcalfe, Private E. Platt, Private C.T.W. Rigby, 2nd Lieut. W.A. Rodwell, Sergt. A.F. Ryder, Lieut. E.J.C. Supple (master), Private F. Thornton, Rifleman H. Tindall, Sergt. H. Walker, Gunner Herbert Watson, 2nd Lieut. Alec Wilson, Private Cameron Wilson, 2nd Lieut. Ian Wilson.
Among the old boys who have gained distinctions are the following:– Military Cross, Second-Lieutenant J.G. Berry, Second-Lieutenant J.B. Hartley, Captain J.T. Hurst, Lieut. P. Jowett, Lieut. J. Petty, and Capt. T.B. Pollard (master); Distinguished Conduct Medal, Corpl. W.A. Murgatroyd; Mentioned in Despatches, Lieut. J. Pethybridge, Capt. Allan Wilson, and many others.
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