WILSON, Colin Edgar
(Service number 6/3510)
|First Rank||Private||Last Rank||Private|
|Date||18 December 1893||Place of Birth||Cowra, New South Wales, Australia|
|Date||26 August 1915||Age||21 Years 7 months|
|Address at Enlistment||Morgan's Road, Timaru|
|Previous Military Experience||School Cadets|
|Next of Kin||Mrs R. WILSON (mother), Morgan's Road, Timaru|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Medical Information||Height 5 feet 7 inches. Weight 147 lbs. Chest measurement 32-37 inches. Complexion light. Eyes blue. Hair light brown. Sight - both eyes 6/6. Hearing good. Colour vision correct. Limbs well formed. Full and perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart and lungs normal. Teeth not good. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. Good bodily and mental health. No slight defects. Dental treatment carried out. Pigmented mole oval in shape 1 inch long at junction of lower & middle ⅓ of vertebrae border right of s...... .|
|Served with||NZ Armed Forces||Served in||Army|
|Body on Embarkation||8th Reinforcements|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship||Canterbury Infantry Battalion|
|Date||13 November 1915|
|Embarked From||Wellington, N.Z.||Destination||Suez, Egypt|
|Other Units Served With|
|Last Unit Served With||Canterbury Infantry Regiment|
|Campaigns||Egyptian; Western European (Somme)|
|Service Medals||1914-1915 Star; British War Medal; Victory Medal.|
Award Circumstances and Date
Prisoner of War Information
|Date of Capture|
|Where Captured and by Whom|
|Actions Prior to Capture|
|PoW Serial Number|
Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses
29 March 1916 sent to hospital at Ismailia, sick.
|Date||21 September 1916||Age||22 years 9 months|
|Place of Death||Somme, France|
|Cause||Killed in action|
|Notices||Timaru Herald, 7 October 1916|
|Memorial or Cemetery||Caterpillar Valley (New Zealand) Memorial, Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, Longueval, Somme, France|
|New Zealand Memorials||On Memorial wall, Timaru; Gleniti War Memorial (C. WILSON); St Mary's Anglican Church, Timaru, Roll of Honour (WILSON C.)|
Colin Edgar Wilson was the son of John and Rebecca Susannah (née Brien) Wilson, of 117 North Street, Timaru. Born on 18 December 1893 at Cowra, New South Wales, Australia, he was the fifth son and seventh in a family of thirteen. About 1905 the family came to Timaru, New Zealand, and lived firstly in Arthur Street.
In New Zealand Colin was educated at the Timaru Main School. There he excelled in sports. In 1905 he won a prize in the Boys scratch 100 yards for 11-13 year olds, in the 100 yards for 10-12 year olds, and in the 400 yards. The prizes were distributed at the annual break-up ceremony on 14 December, when Colin also won a Special prize for Sports aggregates. At the 1908 prize-giving, he won a trophy for bowling (31 wickets, average of 3.5 runs each), which was a Timaru-wide award. It appears to be Colin who competed in the 150 yards amateur handicap event at the South Canterbury Caledonian Society’s 1914/15 New Year Sports. Colin was also active in the school cadets.
At the annual treat and prize-giving of the Gleniti Sunday School held in early April 1907, Colin received a prize for attendance. His sisters Esther, Grace and Nellie, and his brother Hubert also received prizes. Colin received the same award in January 1909, when Nellie, Gracie and Hubert were again recognized, and were joined by Tessa. The family had moved to Morgans Road at about this time.
After attending the Timaru Main School, Colin studied at the Technical School where he was awarded a certificate for Electricity, in October 1912. He was in the employment of T and J Thompson for over six years, but is recorded at attestation as a draper’s assistant for McClelland, Stafford Street.
Colin was a prominent footballer, playing for the Zingari Club. He made the Fourth Grade team for the seven-a-side tournament on 3 June 1911; and in 1913 he played in the Third Grade team which contested the competition final. In a very even, quality match, Colin, playing on the wing, had a mixed game. While he gave good support, both wingers were constantly out of position, and Colin let Star in for their first try which led to a win. He continued with Zingari in the 1914 season and was selected in the Zingari Third team for a tournament at Ashburton on 23 July 1914. The players had to be on the platform at 7 a.m. sharp. Then, just a few months before his enlistment he was elected to the committee of the Zingari Football Club. He was also noted as an enthusiastic bowler.
Come August 1915 and Colin Wilson enlisted for war service. He was just 21 years old and living at home in Morgans Road, Timaru. He left for Trentham on 24 August to join the 8th Reinforcements. The men were given an enthusiastic farewell. After afternoon tea provided by the Mayoresses of Timaru, Waimate and Geraldine, they marched from the Drill Hall to the railway station where the Mayor complimented them and assured them of a hearty welcome on their return. Then to the repeated cheering of the crowd, they departed.
After receiving treatment for his teeth which were not good, he embarked per the “Willochra” on 13 November 1915, bound for Egypt. Two months after arriving he was sent to hospital at Ismailia, sick. On discharge he embarked for France where, on 18 May 1916 at Armentières, he joined the 2nd Battalion of the Canterbury Infantry Regiment.
At the beginning of September 1916 Mrs Wilson received a letter from Colin, who was then “Somewhere in France”. He describes how well the men are cared for – “There are special hot baths supplied, and also clean clothing and socks; everything is washed clean, and the socks darned; this saves us a lot of trouble and work.” He also recounts an incident with the enemy’s observation balloons – “two of our aeroplanes darted over to the enemy’s lines and dropped some kind of liquid fire on to three out of four of these balloons. It was a great sight to see them burst into flames and drop to the ground. I only saw one man get clear of his balloon.” He continues - “We receive the paper from London a day after it is printed. The Germans are terrors to knock churches about . . . . This is our fourth week in the trenches, and we are not quite sure when we are going to get a rest. At any rate it does not matter as one is just as safe in the trenches as in town, and when we are out we have to work just as hard as when we are in.”
There was no more news of Colin until he was killed in action on 21 September 1916 at the Somme, France. His name is recorded on the Caterpillar Valley (New Zealand) Memorial, Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, Longueval, Somme, France
The headmaster of the Timaru Main School, in his report to the School Committee in October 1916, recorded that the names of Colin Wilson and three others who had died for their country had been added to the school’s roll of honour, with regret. The chairman proposed a motion of sympathy with the relatives of the four fallen ex-pupils.
The parents, brothers and sisters of Colin Edgar Wilson inserted an In Memoriam notice in the Timaru Herald in 1917 and again in 1919:
“A year ago, ah, can it be,
Since our dear Colin died
On the far off battle field of France.
No loved one by his side.
Just one year nearer meeting
Yes, one year nearer home,
When we shall meet to part
No more, by that eternal throne.”
He is remembered on the Gleniti War Memorial, erected between the two main doors of the Gleniti School and unveiled on 19 December 1919. The unveiling ceremony commenced with the singing of the National Anthem and closed with all singing "God Save the King". Archdeacon Jacob, who had come out from Timaru with the Rev. Father Bartley, spoke of the great object lesson of duty which had been taught to future generations by those who had made such great sacrifices in the war. The schoolchildren, whenever they looked at the tablet, would remember and be proud of those who had fought to keep their country free from the horrors of invasion.
At the Anzac Day ceremony in Timaru in 1920, a wreath was sent in memory of Colin Edgar Wilson. Anzac Day was fittingly celebrated in Timaru on 25 April 1920, when solemn tribute was paid to the honoured dead. A large wooden cross was erected on a rockery and a large laurel wreath, carrying the words “In memory of our fallen comrades”, was placed by the Returned Soldiers’ Association at the foot of the cross. In his address Pastor Nichol paid a warm tribute not only to the men of Anzac but to all who had gone forth so valiantly to fight that we might live in peace and safety. During the playing of “The Dead March”, wreaths which had been sent were arranged at the cross. Among these was a wreath in memory of Colin Edgar Wilson. The Battalion Band played the “Last Post” and the ceremony closed with the National Anthem.
Colin’s medals (1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal) and his plaque and scroll were sent to his father who, with his wife, had later moved to North Street. His brothers Albert Wilson and Bertie Charles Wilson also served in World War One. At home he is remembered on the Timaru War Memmorial Wall, the Gleniti War Memorial (as C. WILSON), and St Mary's Anglican Church, Timaru, Roll of Honour (as WILSON C.).
Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database[25 February 2014]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ Ref. AABK 18805 W5557 0123591) [22 July 2014]; CWGC [25 February 2014]; Timaru Herald, 17 November 1905, 15 December 1905, 8 April 1907, 18 December 1908, 30 January 1909, 02 & 29 June 1911, 12 October 1912, 4 & 6 September 1913, 7 May 1914, 22 July 1914, 30 December 1914, 19 April 1915, 24 & 26 August 1915, 9 September 1916, 7 October 1916 [x 3], 27 October 1916, 8 November 1916, 21 September 1917, 16 & 22 September 1919, 27 December 1919, 26 April 1920, Otago Daily Times, 7 October 1916, Press, 9 October 1916 (Papers Past) [07 November 2013; 25 February 2014; 04 June 2014; 06 March 2015; 20, 21, 23 & 24 November 2015; 25 April 2016]; Family Tree (ancestry.com.au) [25 February 2014]; NZ Electoral Rolls (ancestry.com.au) [26 April 2016]
Researched and Written by
Teresa Scott, SC branch, NZSG
Currently Assigned to
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License unless otherwise stated.
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