Wilson, Hugh (No. 178769)

Wilson, Hugh

Pilot Officer (Wirless Operator/Air Gunner)

No. 178769, 90 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

Killed in action on Saturday 26 August 1944 (aged 22)

Buried:

Durnbach War Cemetery, Bayern, Germany (Grave 6. A. 2)

Commemorated:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Books of Remembrance held in the RAF Central Church, St. Clement Danes, The Strand, London

Newtownards and District War Memorial

Family grave headstone in Movilla Cemetery, Newtownards

Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St. Mark’s)

BIOGRAPHY

Hugh Wilson was born on 2 June 1922 in Newtownards, and he was a son of William and Jemima (Mima) Wilson (nee Maddock) who were married on 23 March 1916 in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St. Mark’s).  William Wilson, a bombardier in the Royal Field Artillery, was a son of Hugh Wilson, a soldier.  Jemima Maddock from Newtownards was a daughter of Thomas Maddock, an engineer.

During the First World War William Wilson served with the Royal Artillery in India, and as a Sapper in the Royal Engineers.  Jemima lived at 59 Balfour Street, Newtownards, and they had at least four children:

Jane Maddock (born 14 June 1918 in Balfour Street, Newtownards)

Elizabeth Larmour (born 17 January 1920 in Marquis Street, Newtownards)

Hugh (born 2 June 1922 in Newtownards)

Isabel Darragh

Hugh Wilson’s aunt, Jeannie Maddock (his mother Jemima’s sister), was married to Private Archibald Nisbett (No. 25257) who died on 13 January 1919.

Hugh Wilson was a member of the First Newtownards Company of the Boys’ Brigade and, prior to enlisting on 22 March 1941, he was a member of the Ulster Home Guard while he worked as a grocer’s assistant.  When he joined the RAFVR he was 5 feet 10 inches tall with black hair, brown eyes, and a fresh complexion.  He had a scar on his left wrist.

During the Second World War Pilot Officer Hugh Wilson (No. 178769) served with the Royal Air Force and on 26 June 1944 he was appointed to a temporary commission.  Just two months later, on 26 August 1944, he was killed in action.

Pilot Officer Hugh Wilson (No. 178769) was one of a crew of seven aboard an Avro Lancaster Mark I aircraft (ME802) that took off at 8.23 pm on 25 August from RAF Tuddenham in Suffolk on a mission to bomb Russelsheim in Germany.  Their aircraft crashed and all aboard were killed.  The other six crew members who died that night were:

  • Squadron Leader Henry Philip Lee-Warner DFC AFC (aged 31) from Kilburn, Middlesex
  • Sergeant John Stanley Holdcroft
  • Flying Officer Francis Edward Good, Royal Canadian Air Force
  • Flight Sergeant James Ross Court (aged 22), Royal New Zealand Air Force
  • Pilot Officer William John Hope DFC (aged 20), Royal Canadian Air Force
  • Flight Sergeant Maurice Kieff (aged 20)

That night the RAF sent 116 Lancaster aircraft to bomb Russelsheim and they dropped a great many bombs and incendiaries.  On 26 August 1944, a war crime was committed in Russelsheim.  In reprisal for the intensive Allied bombing, townspeople killed six American airmen who parachuted to the ground after their Consolidated B-24 Liberator aircraft was shot down.  Initially Pilot Officer Hugh Wilson was reported missing presumed killed, and it was not until October 1945 that his death was officially confirmed.  His grave was located, and his remains were exhumed and reinterred in Durnbach War Cemetery.

Pilot Officer Hugh Wilson (No. 178769) was 22 when he died on 26 August 1944 and he is commemorated in the Books of Remembrance held in the RAF Central Church, St. Clement Danes, The Strand, London; on Newtownards and District War Memorial; on the family grave headstone in Movilla Cemetery and in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St. Mark’s).

His mother Jemima died on 20 March 1943 (aged 58) and his father William died on 20 February 1951 (aged 75).