Private 16544 Alfred Thomas Wilson
8th Battalion (Princess Charlotte of Wales's) Royal Berkshire Regiment
Private Wilson was born in Ramsbury, Wiltshire, the son of Walter and Jane Wilson, of 5 Salisbury Row, Hungerford. His younger brother Henry joined the Hampshire Regiment.
Alfred went to France on the 12th October 1915 and was killed in action on the 29th August 1916. He is buried in Chapelle British Cemetery, Holnon, Aisne, France.
- Regimental Badge of the Royal Berkshires
- Arthur Thomas (Tom) and Henry (Harry) Wilson (kindly sent by Linda Marsh, 2016)
- Henry and Thomas Wilson's memorial plaques (kindly sent by Linda Marsh, 2016)
The War Diary for this period reads:
28th August 1916 - Two hundred men of Battalion were employed most of night in carrying up to front line, under orders of Special Brigade RE, material for "Flammen werfer" and "Oil Cans". These were for use in the proposed attack against the enemy's trench in High Wood on 30th August. During the last two days rain had fallen continuously and this had made the trenches and ground in a very bad condition. The mud and rain added greatly to the difficulties of this work.
29th August 1916 -
6:0PM. Owing to the continuous rain and very muddy condition of the ground and trenches the proposed attack had to be postponed for 48 hours. The Battalion left Mametz Wood and relieved 1st Cameron Highlanders in the right subsection of High Wood sector; with its left flank on High Wood and its right flank in touch with 24th Division (on right of 1st Division).
30th August 1916 -
1:15PM. Attack again postponed until 3rd or 4th September.
During the morning the enemy bombarded our front and support lines severely, the bombardment increased in intensity and at 1.15pm it was noticed that the enemy was bringing men across the open from the rear of his front line. It was thought that the enemy either contemplated an attack or was doing a relief and artillery assistance was asked for to deal with the situation. It was then seen that the enemy opposite our trench in High Wood was leaving his trench as though to attack and at the same moment machine guns opened in the wood. The enemy was driven back by this machine gun fire and as he retired he came under the enfilade fire of our Lewis machine guns in our front which caused him many casualties. Simultaneously with this attack in High Wood a small party of the enemy attempted to enter Sap C in our Battalion front. They were driven off by our Lewis Guns and about six were killed. It was thought that this attack was a feint and that the main attack had come on the frontage of the Division on our right as the bombardment had been heavier there.
7:30PM. Battalion was relieved by 2nd Royal Sussex Regt = 2nd Brigade = owing to the heavy hostile bombardment during the afternoon the communication trench had been blown in several places and rendered impassable, the relief therefore had to be postponed until dusk to enable the men to go across the open.
8:00PM. Just as the relief was starting a message was received from the Brigade on our right saying that 13th Middlesex Regt = on our immediate right = had been driven in from their front line by an enemy bombing attack in the late afternoon and that the enemy were bombing along the trench towards our right flank. Our right Company, however, reported all quiet on their front and sent an Officer's patrol, with bombs, to try and clear up the situation. The Officer went through the trenches (along which he had obtained touch with the Battalion on our right the previous day) but could hear no bombing nor could he find any enemy in occupation. The C.O. of Battalion relieving us immediately established a flank defence and it was concluded that the trenches on our immediate right had been evacuated owing to heavy shelling. Another of our Officers was sent off to try to gain touch with the Middlesex along the support line. This he eventually succeeded in doing and found that the enemy were in occupation of part of the front line trench and that they were then holding the support line as a front line.
The Battalion on relief went back into Mametz Wood.
Point of Interest:
Although he is shown as being killed on the 29th we believe he was killed in the action referred to above at 1.15pm on the 30th.
His younger brother Henry Wilson was killed in action the following year on the 4th May 1918.
Linda Marsh kindly emailed (Mar 2016): "Attached is a photo of the boys and another of their memorial plaques. From one other photo that I have Arthur Thomas (Tom) would appear to be on the left and Henry (Harry) on the right.
I was directed to your website by a family researcher, who was at that time helping my cousins trace their mother’s (Joan Wilson) background.
I also have a notebook dating from WW1 in which Ella Wilson, Joan’s mother, wrote “Dear Harry was wounded in France on the 22nd March 1918. Reported dangerously ill on the 1st May. Died of wounds on 4th May aged 18 years at 4th General Hospital Camies."
There are two other extracts that might be of interest:
“All at home together weekend of 25th July 1915. Tom’s leave before going to the front”
“Tom was killed on the 28th August 1916”.