One family has been on a journey of discovery. The good news – finally the truth of what happened to their Great, Great Uncle has now been revealed and his exact medal entitlement confirmed. The sad news – like hundreds of thousands of families around the world …. the war medals and Memorial Plaque are missing.
Private Wallace Frederick WILSON, Service Number 201212 of the 4th Battalion, Essex Regiment lost his life during the Great War. Formerly 20799 Private Wallace Frederick WILSON of the Bedfordshire Regiment, his descendants are now armed with the knowledge that he was posthumously awarded the 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and the Victory Medal. Until recently, they had no idea he had served in the Dardenelles campaign – commonly referred to as Gallipoli. As a result of his tragic death in another theatre of war, Wallace was commemorated with a Memorial Plaque, Scroll and letter from the King.
Born Wallace Frederick WILSON, the only son of Berry Alfred and Mary Jane WILSON, of Broughton Huntingdonshire, he made the ultimate sacrifice during the first Battle of Gaza, Palestine. His great, great nephew Jamie said, “The last few years I have been researching my great great uncle. He is on the war memorial in Broughton Cemetery (Huntingdon) the village where I grew up . It was very strange because none of my relatives, even the older ones knew anything about him. We had all been assuming he had died during the Somme battles on the Western Front! Anyway after a big break I discovered his soldier number and discovered he died in the first battle of Gaza during 1917”.
Jamie quizzed his extended family as to the whereabouts of the missing war service medals however nobody in the family had any knowledge of their location. It was believed he was entitled only to the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, having began his service life with the Bedfordshire Regiment. Jamie explained, “Wallace first served with the 1/4th Battalion during August 1914 in Brentwood. Part of the Essex Brigade in the East Anglian Division. He moved to Norwich in late 1914 and on to Colchester in April of 1915. In May of 1915 the formation became the 161st Brigade in 54th (East Anglian) Division. From Saint Albans on 21 July 1915 they sailed from Devonport for the Gallipoli campaign, via Lemnos. His unit landed at Suvla Bay 12 August 1915 as a part of the offensive to push inland. On 4 December 1915 Wallace was evacuated from Gallipoli and moved to Mudros, then going on to Alexandria on 17 December 1915. Wallace Remained in the Egypt-Palestine theatre of operations thereafter and his Soldier Number was changed to 201212”. So this vital information revealed that Wallace was also entitled to the 1914-1915 Star.
Jamie credits much of this information which came as quite a surprise to himself and his relatives, to the Essex Regiment Museum . Sandra SMITH – Senior Research Officer with Medals Gone Missing says “It is wonderful when families such as this can unlock the past and finally discover what happened to their ancestors. That all of this information would come to light in time for the Centenary of the Gallipoli August Offensive is an extra bonus for them. We often associate the Sinai Palestine campaign with units such as the Light Horse and Imperial Camel Corps. However this story is a sad and timely reminder that the poor ol’ British infantrymen were scattered to the four corners of the world and lost their lives in many faraway lands”.
In terms of the missing war medals and Memorial Plaque, Jamie states “None of my family have his medals or know where they are. I would love to find them on behalf of my family before 2017, the Centenary of his death”.
Wallace Frederick WILSON lost his life on the 26th of March, 1917. If you have these medals or Memorial Plaque in your collection …. or know of their whereabouts, his descendants would be extremely grateful to have them returned. Can you help?