Albert Wilson

coldstream guards badgePrivate, 15784, 1st Battalion, Coldstream Guards, killed in action, 15th September 1916, aged 27

Born on 7th April 1889 at Haxey, Albert was one of the five children of George and Jane Wilson. His mother was from Haxey and his father was a farm labourer from Epworth.

On 26th December 1911, Albert married Emma Richardson, sister of Dennis Richardson, at St Oswald’s Church in Crowle. The couple had four children, only one of whom survived infancy. They family lived in North Street and also have one other connection to a war fatality as it was the Wilson’s house where Harry Thorpe was lodging when he bled to death in October 1917. Perhaps they knew one another through the Richardson’s family connection to Rotherham? This may also explain why in Albert’s entry in the Roll of Soldiers who Died in the Great War it lists him as living in Rotherham when he died.

According to his army number, Albert enlisted at Epworth in March 1915. He was allocated to the Coldstream Guards, the oldest and one of the most prestigious regiments in the British Army.

The Coldstream had been on the Western Front since August 1914 as they were one of regiments sent out with the original British Expeditionary Force where they served with the Guards Division. Involved in most of the major engagements of the war, they saw their first action of the Battle of the Somme on 15th September 1916 in the Battle of Flers-Courcelette. It was an historic occasion for the regiment as for the first time ever the three Coldstream Battalions (1st, 2nd and 3rd) attacked in line side by side.

The objective for the Coldstream at Flers was the village of Lesboeufs and all the trenches that lay between it and Glincy. This would be no easy task as to reach Lesboeufs they would have to cross over two miles of ground and past two heavily fortified areas known as The Triangle and The Quadrilateral.

The attack did not get off to the most auspicious of starts. When zero hour came at 6.30am they set off and immediately got lost in the smoke from their own covering ‘creeping barrage’. To make matters worse the tanks allocated to clear the trenches infront and to the side of them also either got lost or broke down, leaving their flanks exposed to enemy machine gun fire. Confused in the smog the Coldstream began to vear to the left of their allocated route, where they came under attack both from their own artillery barrage and the German infantry. The action of Colonel Campbell in halting the move by blowing his hunting horn won him the Victoria Cross.

After stumbling through the smoke the remnants of the Guards Division eventually reached the outskirts of Lesboeufs but by this time they had lost so many men they were too weak even to attempt to capture it. It would be captured however within the next few days. In crossing the two miles from Glinchy to Lesboeufs, the three Coldstream Battalions lost 40 officers and 1326 six other ranks. Among whom was Albert Wilson.

Albert has no known grave and is commemorated with 280 of his colleagues from Lesboeufs on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing.

A memorial service was held for him at the Primitive Methodist Chapel in June 1917.

Albert is also commemorated on Westwoodside War Memorial.