WILSON, George Wynn
(Service number 2024653)
|First Rank||Private||Last Rank||Private|
|Date||19 November 1879||Place of Birth||Timaru|
|Date||8 July 1918||Age||38 years|
|Address at Enlistment||577 South Stafford Avenue, Huntington Park, California, USA|
|Previous Military Experience||10th New Zealand Mounted Infantry [sic] - 1 year, 1902|
|Marital Status||Married (two children)|
|Next of Kin||Mrs Alice WILSON (wife), 577 South Stafford Aveune, Huntington Park, California, USA|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Medical Information||Height 5 feet 8½ inches. Weight 137 pounds. Chest measurement 32½-37 inches. Heart &lungs healthy. Free use of joints & limbs. Not subject to fits. Vision - right eye 20/40, left eye 20/30 partly; can see at the required distance with either eye. Teeth - no work required. Complexion dark. Eyes grey. Hair brown. Last vaccinated 1902.|
|Served with||Canadian Forces||Served in||Army|
|Body on Embarkation||Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Forces|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship||1st Depot Battalion, 1st British Columbia Regiment|
|Date||10 August 1918|
|Other Units Served With|
|Last Unit Served With|
Award Circumstances and Date
Prisoner of War Information
|Date of Capture|
|Where Captured and by Whom|
|Actions Prior to Capture|
|PoW Serial Number|
|Date||4 February 1919||Reason||Demobilised|
Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses
Salesman - real estate
|Date||23 July 1944||Age||64 years|
|Place of Death||Los Angeles, USA|
|Memorial or Cemetery|
|New Zealand Memorials|
George Wynn Wilson was the second son of Charles Wilson and Mary Jane née Black, of Waimate, both born in Ireland and early Waimate settlers.. He was born on 19 November 1879 at Timaru, into a family which had given over 250 years of yeoman service to the Empire (Timaru Herald, 4 February 1925). George was educated at the Waimate District High School where, in 1891, he was awarded the prize for first place in Standard VI Boys and a special prize for first in Physiology. Three years later George was successful in the Scholarship examination, ranking second on the list with 714 marks out of 950. In January 1895, George Wilson was selected by ballot for appointment as a pupil teacher at the Waimate School. Later in the year he scored well in the annual pupil teachers’ examination, and in 1897 (fourth year) and 1898 with credit. At the Waimate Rifle Volunteers’ social held in June 1898, Prvt. George Wilson was presented with one of the Second-class shots trophies – pair vases.
Following his term as a pupil teacher at Waimate District High School, George Wilson spent two years on the staff of the Advertiser. His brothers Charles and Harold Wilson founded the Waimate Advertiser when they were just 20 and 17 years old respectively, and George joined them the following year (1899). George took up a position on the literary staff of the Timaru Morning Post in January 1901. Five months later he was appointed sub-editor, a promotion which “speaks well for the ability of a young man who has just attained his majority.” All four brothers engaged in newspaper work. Mr Matthew Smith acquired proprietorship of the newspaper from Wilson Bros.
George Wilson - newspaper reporter, of Waimate, 22 years – passed the medical examination conducted in April 1902 for further contingents for the South African War, and served for a few months in 1902. A letter dated 7 June at Newcastle was received from George - The Contingent arrived at Durban on May 27, very glad to land indeed. After landing the horses and kits they went into camp from Monday till Thursday, when they left by train for Newcastle. He says – “We travelled all night through hilly country covered with oranges, lemons and citrons. . . . . On the Friday morning we detrained the horses and had breakfast at Mooi River. There is a big hospital just there. From this right up could be seen trenches, walls, graves, all the signs of actual warfare We passed through . . . . . , and then on to historic Ladysmith, with its abundance of monuments, graves and marks of war. . . . . till we arrived at Newcastle on Friday. We slept in the train that night after detraining the horses. We left Newcastle at 9 o'clock for Fort Hay camp, two miles out, and have been there ever since. . . . . We do not know what is going to happen yet, but the powers that be have expressed the opinion that we are too expensive a luxury to keep long, and our term will likely be short. . . . . .” Corporal George Wilson was one of the Waimate members of the “Trusty Tenth” who returned home on 5 September 1902. George Wilson provided an eye-witness account of the fatal bout which took place between the Imperial troops and the New Zealanders at Newcastle, Natal, just after peace had been decalred. [See Waimate Daily Advertiser, 6 September 1902]. His brothers Charles Augustus and Samuel Harold, known as Harold, also served in South Africa.
On 24 October 1914, the Waimate Daily Advertiser printed thus – “Mr George Wilson, of Vancouver, writes congratulating The Advertiser on becoming a daily newspaper, and expressing assurance that the community will rally to the support of the enterprise. He describes the wonderful martial fervour on the outbreak of war, culminating in Canada sending 23,000 troops away on 26th and 27th September, en route for England. He remarks that the material offering was very raw, because of the non-existence of a universal military training scheme in the great northern Dominion, but the men were stalwart and game, and would give a good account of themselves.”
George’s youngest brother David Black Wilson also served with the Canadian Forces in World War I, George being one of his contacts. George’s mother was active in the Waimate Ladies’ Patriotic Society from the outset, contributing sox and balaclavas for the equipment of men. In 1918 she made a monetary donation to the Lady Liverpool Christmas Gifts fund. His father donated the proceeds of the sale of books to the Red Cross Fund in 1917. George Wilson, a journalist, of Queen Street, Waimate, had previously served with the New Zealand troops in the South African War, a Lance Corporal in the 8th and 10th Contingents.
George married American-born Mary Alice Gates, known as Alice, on 5 November 1906, at Republic, Ferry, Washington, USA. They had two children - Sidney Wynn Wilson born on 4 July 1909 at Sydney, NSW, Australia, and Kenneth Wynn Wilson born on 23 November 1914 in Canada. On 1 June 1910 Sidney and his mother Alice arrived at Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, from Australia. George (in real estate), Mary Alice and their two sons crossed from Canada to the United States in November 1914, arriving at Blaine, Washington. His father Charles at Waimate was given as his nearest relative, also his brother David. It appears that George had something of the roving disposition of his brother David.
George Wynn Wilson enlisted on 8 July 1918 at Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. By this time he was 38 years 8 months old, married, Anglican, an advertisement writer and living in Huntington Park, California, United States. He nominated his wife Alice as his next-of-kin. He had gone to Canada and volunteered for service. His medical examination recorded - height 5 feet 8½ inches; weight 137 pounds; chest measurement 32½-37 inches; heart &lungs healthy; free use of joints & limbs; not subject to fits; vision - right eye 20/40, left eye 20/30 partly; can see at the required distance with either eye; complexion dark; eyes grey; hair brown. He embarked 10 August 1918 and on 25 August reached London, England, where he was taken on strength of the 1st Canadian Reserve Battalion. Serving with the 1st Depot Battalion, 1st British Columbia Regiment, he underwent Rapid Wire Training and Bombing Training, and passed the test in both, on 18 October 1918 and 25 October 1918 respectively. On 2 October 1918 at Seaford he returned from Command and on 3 January 1919 he was struck off strength, before sailing for Canada. Throughout this time he regularly received his pay and his wife Alice received the separation allowance. George was discharged on 4 February 1919 at Vancouver when he was demobilised after service in England. By this date he had moved to 4308 Harvard Boulevard, Los Angeles, USA. In 1925 when his father died, he was still living in Los Angeles.
In 1930 the family was residing in Los Angeles, George working as a salesman in real estate. When George registered for service in World War II, he was 62 years of age. He was living in Los Angeles, and his wife Alice was again his contact. George Wynn Wilson died on 23 July 1944 at Los Angeles, aged 64 years. Mary Alice died on 6 September 1949 at Los Angeles, aged 66 years, and was buried in Pacific Crest Cemetery, Redondo Beach, Los Angeles. Sydney Wynn Wilson married and saw service with the American Forces in World War II. He died on 27 July 1986 at San Luis Obispo, California. Kenneth was a single advertising representative lodging in Los Angeles in 1940. In 1940 he registered for service in World War II.
Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database (South African War) [17 October 2018]; Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force Attestation Paper (archives.ca - ancestry.com.au) [04 June 2014]; Canadian Expeditionary Force Service File (Canadian Archives) [24 July 2018]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [07 April 2014]; Timaru Herald, 21 December 1891, 02 August 1895, 12 August 1897, 23 June 1915, South Canterbury Times, 01 February 1894, 28 January 1895, Waimate Daily Advertiser, 11 June 1898, 08 January 1901, 06 June 1901, 03 April 1902, 19 July 1902, 06 September 1902 [x 2], 14 August 1914, 24 October 1914, 16 April 1917, Temuka Leader, 5 February 1925 (Papers Past) [07 April 2014; 22 November 1915; 31 August 2016; 20 September 2016; 18 October 2018]; Timaru Herald, 4 February 1925 (Timaru District Library) [October 2018]; Washington Marriage records (ancestry.com.au) [21 October 2018]; New South Wales, Australia birth index (ancestry.com.au) [21/10/2018]; California, USA death indexes (ancestry.com.au) [21 October 2018]; Border Crossings from Canada to U.S. (ancestry.com.au) [21 October 2018]; Pacific Crest Cemetery, Los Angeles (Find A Grave, per ancestry.com.au) [21 October 2018]; 1930 US census return (ancestry.com.au) [21 October 2018]
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Researched and Written by
Teresa Scott, SC brnach NZSG
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