90944 PTE. W. WILSON. K.L.R.
Walter Wilson was born in the first quarter of 1899 at 96 School Lane, Bamber Bridge. His father was Harry Wilson (b. 1859 in Preston), a cloth-looker in a cotton mill. His mother was Elizabeth Douthwaite (b. 1858 in Galgate). Harry and Elizabeth were married in 1879 at St Leonard’s, Walton Le Dale and they had 8 children: Hannah (b. 1881), Jannett (b. 1883), Mary Ellen (b. 1885), William (b. 1887), Lily (b. 1892), James (b. 1895), Henry (b. 1897) and Walter (b. 1899). Elizabeth died in 1899, just after Walter was born, and Harry remarried later that same year. His second wife was Ada Mellings (b. 1872 in Yorkshire). I haven’t been able to trace all the Wilson family in the 1911 Census and it’s possible that both Harry and Ada were dead (both James and Walter give their siblings as next-of-kin in their military records). Walter was living with sisters Lily and Jannett and Jannett’s husband Matthew Livesey at 20 Brandiforth Street, School Lane, Bamber Bridge. Walter, aged 12, had started working part-time as a weaver.
We don’t have Walter’s attestation papers, but it looks as though he must have lied about his age to enlist, probably in 1916, at the age of 17. He has the old-style service number (6-figure numbers were introduced in 1917). He joined the King’s (Liverpool Regiment) and was posted to 1/9 Battalion. From 7 January 1916 1/9Bn came under orders of 165th Brigade, 55th (West Lancashire) Division. On 1 February 1918 they were transferred to 172nd Brigade, 57th (2nd West Lancashire) Division. However, it appears that at this point, Walter was transferred to 1st Battalion, who came under orders of 6th Brigade in 2nd Division.
At the beginning of March 1917, 1Bn was near Villers-Plouich, south of Cambrai. On 12 March, they were gassed in the trenches and about 100 Other Ranks were injured. On 21 March, they moved a little further back, to Rocquigny and they were here when the Germans launched their Spring Offensive. They tried to hold the line near Bertincourt but by 23 March they were being forced back towards Bapaume. By the following day, the enemy was advancing in large numbers and Barastre was captured about midday on 24 March. By the following day, the fighting strength of the Battalion was reduced to little more than 100 men and they were forced to retreat further, first to Thiepval, then to Auchonvillers. On 26 March, they were withdrawn from the front line and went into billets at Mailly-Maillet. The War Diary reports that they had lost 8 officers and 300 men, killed and wounded. CWGC records that from 21-26 March 1918, 1Bn had 39 officers and men killed. Among them was the 19-year old Walter Wilson.
Service No: 90944
Date of Death: 24/03/1918
Regiment/Service: King’s (Liverpool Regiment), 1Bn
Cemetery/memorial reference: Bay 3.
Memorial: ARRAS MEMORIAL
Walter’s brother was 10497 LCpl James Wilson, who had been killed in Mesopotamia in February 1917.