Great Uncle Bill

I’ve already given some details in an earlier post but as this is the 97th anniversary of his death it seemed a good subject for the day. It’s also a good day to remind people of one of my regular gripes: this year is only the centenary of the beginning of the war. Many of the events we consider to be important in the Great War are several years away from their centenary. We’ve already commemorated all the dead and most of them were still alive 100 years ago. Most of them probably weren’t even in the army.

Anyway, back to Uncle Bill, or Billy, as my great-grandmother called him. After writing the previous blog I had a chance to read the copies of the letters that great-grandma sent to my grandfather in India. He was wounded in the chest and shoulder late in the day and  died without regaining consciousness. Having read several letters like this in press reports from the war I’m suspicious that this is a standard letter to make the family feel better. However, I do hope it’s true.

If he’d lived his Christmas would have been brightened by a ten shilling note and a cake sent out by his mother just before he was killed. .

Sadly we don’t even have a photograph of him. There is one that my aunt says is a picture of him but the soldier in the picture is wearing the badge of a fusilier regiment, not the York & Lancs. There’s no picture of him in Craven’s Part in the Great War  so I suspect there never was one or they would have let the paper have it at the time of his death.

Frustratingly the picture we have, which I suspect is his brother Francis, isn’t marked and looks nothing like the 1921 family photo we have. However, as he was severely wounded in the 1918 Spring Offensive it’s hardly surprising he looks gaunt compared to the cheery young soldier in the earlier photo.

And no, so far I haven’t been able to trace his regiment to match up the cap badge – with Wilson being the 7th most popular  name in the UK there were a lot of them in the army. I remember once seeing something in a family history magazine saying it is the third most popular name in the North West so it’s tough being a Wilson and doing family history in Lancashire.