Wilson, George (No. 522964)

Wilson, George

Flight Sergeant

No. 522964, 156 Squadron, Royal Air Force

Killed on active service on Friday 3 September 1943 (aged 29)

No known grave


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Runnymede Memorial, Surrey, England (Panel 140)

Newtownards and District War Memorial


George Wilson was born on 2 August 1914 in his parents’ house at 48 Frederick Street, Newtownards and he was a son of Robert and Martha Wilson (nee McConnell).  Martha McConnell, who was born in Aberdeen, and Robert Wilson were married on 4 July 1897 in St Anne’s Church of Ireland Church, Belfast.  Robert Wilson (aged 42), a widowed bread server from 63 Snugville Street, Belfast was a son of Richard Wilson, a bricklayer.  Martha McConnell (aged 22) from 63 Snugville Street, Belfast was a daughter of David McConnell, a flax dresser.

Robert Wilson worked as a butter and egg dealer and he and Martha had at least five children:

Minnie (born 1 August 1900 at 39 Keswick Street, Belfast; married William McNamee who served during the SWW)

David (born 3 December 1902 at Ballysallagh)

Robert (born 17 March 1905 at Ballysallagh)

Eleanor (Helen, born 1 March 1909 at Ballysallagh)

George (born 2 August 1914 in Frederick Street, Newtownards)

Also living with them was Richard John Wilson, Robert’s son by a previous marriage.  Richard John Wilson was born on 13 May 1891 in Hill Street, Lisburn and he was a son of Robert and Annie Wilson (nee McMullen).

Annie Wilson (nee McMullen) died of phthisis at 35 Berlin Street, Belfast on 22 November 1896 (aged 41).

Before he joined the Royal Air Force around 1934 George Wilson was associated with the Newtownards Company of the Boys’ Brigade.  He was the husband of Annie Wilson of Mill Street, Newtownards.

George Wilson and Annie Wilson (nee Wilson) were married on 16 July 1937 in Newtownards Baptist Church.  George Wilson (aged 23), an aircraftman of 48 Frederick Street, Newtownards, was a son of Robert Wilson, a general merchant.  Annie Wilson (aged 22), a weaver from 120 Mill Street, Newtownards, was a daughter of William John Wilson, a compositor.

During the Second World War George Wilson served with the Royal Air Force.  On 3 September 1943 he was the Rear Gunner aboard an Avro Lancaster aircraft (JA681) that took off at 7.48 pm from RAF Warboys in Huntingdonshire (now Cambridgeshire) on a mission to bomb Berlin.  Nothing was heard from the aircraft after takeoff and no trace of it was ever found.  Initially the crew members were reported as missing in action and later it was officially confirmed that they must be presumed to have been killed.  The other crew members who died that night were:

  • Flying Officer Michael O’Meara Shanahan (aged 30), Royal Australian Air Force
  • Flight Lieutenant Hume Melville Stafford (aged 32), Royal Australian Air Force
  • Pilot Officer John Cyril Collins (aged 25), Royal Australian Air Force; a champion surfer
  • Flight Sergeant Tom Hoyle (aged 23) from Catford, London
  • Pilot Officer Neil Howard Denyer (aged 22), Royal Australian Air Force
  • Pilot Officer David Laing Dodds (aged 23), Royal Australian Air Force

That night 316 Lancaster aircraft left Britain to bomb Berlin; 22 aircraft and 130 airmen were lost.

Flight Sergeant George Wilson (No. 522964) was 29 when he died, and he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial in Surrey and on Newtownards and District War Memorial.

In Memoriam notices in the 1 September 1945 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle contained the verses:

At the river’s crystal brink

Christ shall join each broken link


Some day, some time, our eyes shall see

The face so dear to memory,

Some day we’ll clasp him by the hand,

Just over in a better land.