Wilson, Matthew (Matt)
Mentioned in Despatches
No. 522495, 233 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Killed in action on Friday 12 April 1940 (aged 25)
No known grave
Runnymede Memorial, Surrey, England (Panel 22)
Comber and District War Memorial
Annals of Comber Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church
Family grave headstone in Comber Cemetery
Matthew Wilson was born on 21 February 1915 in the townland of Cattogs, Comber, and he was a son of Matthew and Margaret (Maggie) Wilson (nee Mason) of 21 Brownlow Street, Comber and before that The Cattogs, Comber. They were married on 12 July 1893 in Killyleagh Parish Church of Ireland Church. Matthew Wilson from Killinchy was a son of Samuel Wilson, a labourer. Margaret Mason (aged 20) from Killinchy was a daughter of William J. Mason, a labourer.
Matthew Wilson Senior worked as a labourer and he and Maggie had at least ten children:
Annie (born 24 October 1894)
James (born 27 February 1897 in Castle Espie; died of acute bronchitis and measles 31 January 1898)
Lizzie (born 2 April 1899 in Cattogs, Comber)
Samuel (born 28 June 1900 in Cattogs, Comber)
William John (born 20 July 1902 in Cattogs, Comber)
James (born 18 January 1905 in Cattogs, Comber)
Matthew (born 20 June 1907 in Cattogs, Comber; died of acute pneumonia 8 February 1912)
David Alexander (born 2 December 1909 in Cattogs, Comber)
Maggie (born 7 September 1912 in Cattogs, Comber)
Matthew (born 21 February 1915 in Cattogs, Comber)
Matthew Wilson was educated at Comber Public Elementary School and he was a member of the Unity Players connected with Comber Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church. He joined the Royal Air Force around 1936 and became a Wireless Operator, later earning his Air Gunner’s Badge. Before the outbreak of the Second World War, he had been recommended for appointment as an Observer.
In the 24 February 1940 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle, it was reported that Matthew Wilson had been Mentioned in Despatches ‘for wisdom shown in an emergency when the wireless apparatus of the plane was put out of order whilst in action’. During a North Sea reconnaissance flight, machine gun fire from an enemy aircraft damaged the petrol tank and put the wireless apparatus out of order. Wireless Operator Wilson, himself a non-smoker, asked one of his comrades for some silver foil from a cigarette packet, repaired the defect and re-established contact with the home station which then guided the plane back to base. After this action he was promoted to the rank of Corporal and in March 1940 he was home in Comber for a period of leave. His brother Thomas also served with the Royal Air Force.
Corporal Matthew Wilson (No. 522495) served in Coastal Command and on 12 April 1940 he was one of a crew of four aboard a Lockheed Hudson Mark I aircraft (N7258). They took off from RAF Leuchars in Scotland at 7.28 am to intercept and shadow a convoy of enemy ships and it was during this operation that their plane was shot down by enemy aircraft at 1.55 pm. The other crew members who died that day were:
- Pilot Officer George James Denzil Yorke (aged 25) from Wellington, New Zealand
- Flight Lieutenant Andrew Hood McLaren DFC (aged 21) from Lochee, Dundee
- Leading Aircraftman James Alexander Milne (aged 19) from Glasgow
Corporal Matthew Wilson (No. 522495) died on 12 April 1940 (aged 25) and he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial in Surrey; on Comber and District War Memorial; in the Annals of Comber Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church and on the family grave headstone in Comber Cemetery.
Matthew’s brother David died on 16 November 1924 (aged 15); his mother Margaret died on 21 March 1938 (aged 62) and his father Matthew died on 16 September 1962 (aged 91).