Corporal Robert John Wilson


Robert John Wilson was born on 28 May 1894 at Garvary, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, the third of six children of farmer Robert Wilson and his wife Sarah (née Brown). At the time of the 1911 Census he was living at Garvary with his parents, siblings and an uncle, and working on the family farm.

Wilson enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 18 February 1911 (Regimental No.579), at the same time as a William Wilson (No.580) from Enniskillen, who may have been his older brother William James.

On 20 August 1914 he embarked for France with C Squadron, seeing action on the retreat from Mons and advance to the Aisne. (William Wilson had embarked five days earlier with A Squadron.) In October he was treated in a military hospital in France, suffering from rheumatic fever.

C Squadron served as corps headquarters cavalry until April 1915, when it was attached as divisional cavalry to the 3rd Division.

When his period of service expired, Wilson chose to leave the army. He was discharged as 'time expired' on 17 February 1916 (paragraph 392 (xxi), King's Regulations). He was granted a pension as a result of his rheumatism, his level of disability assessed at 30 pre cent as late as August 1920.

Following his discharge from the army, Wilson joined the Royal Irish Constabulary, and its successor the Royal Ulster Constabulary, serving at Thurles (Tipperary), Armagh, Tandragee and Belfast.

On 7 June 1922 he married Mary Elizabeth Leyburn in St John's Church of Ireland Parish Church, Middletown, County Armagh. The couple had four children over the next five or so years.

By 1941 Wilson was living at 35 Glantane Street, Antrim Road, Belfast, and had reached the rank of detective sergeant. He and two of his daughters were killed on 5 May that year during a German bombing raid of Belfast, when a bomb struck and destroyed their home. They were buried in Garvary Parish Churchyard and are commemorated on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's Civilian Roll of Honour.


Ballymena Weekly Telegraph, 17 May 1941


This page last updated 10 March 2023.