Private Clarence Wilson



Clarence Wilson was born on 13 October 1890 at 76 Shankill Road, Belfast, one of eight children of salesman (later clothier master) Mervyn Hunter Wilson and his wife Agnes Anna (nee Reid). His mother died when he was just seven years old. By 1911 he was living at Shankill Road with his father, aunt and four siblings and working as a ready-made cutter.

Wilson enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 12 or 13 October 1914 (No.1304). He embarked for France with F Squadron on 17 November 1915.

In June 1916 F Squadron joined with A Squadron and the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to X Corps until September 1917, when the regiment was dismounted and most of its men were transferred to the infantry. After training at the 36th (Ulster) Division Infantry Base Depot at Harfleur, the men, including Wilson, were formally transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers on 20 September and soon after were posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion – re-named the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – joining it in the field at Ruyaulcourt. Wilson was issued regimental number 41501 and posted to A Company.

It is likely that he saw action with the battalion in the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917.

Wilson was posted as missing following the retreat from St Quentin from 21 to 28 March 1918. It was later learned that he was one of the many of the battalion captured at Erches on 27 March. He spent the remainder of the war as a prisoner – records from late 1918 show him held at Crossen and Friedrichsfeld.

Wilson was repatriated to Ireland at the beginning of 1919. He was transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve, on 21 March 1919.

On 24 August  1921 he married Hessie Campbell Wilson at the Church of Ireland Parish Church, Newtownbreda.


Private Wilson's older brother Ernest Hunter Wilson also served in the war, with the South African Infantry. The Belfast Evening Telegraph of 24 July 1916 reported that he had been "struck about the face and shoulder by a shell".


Image from the Belfast Evening Telegraph, kindly provided by Nigel Henderson, Researcher at History Hub Ulster (