John Robert Wilson, oldest son of John Wilson and Lucy
Agnes Hitchman, was born at 10.00am on Thursday 29th June 1893 at
3 Bowman Street, Glasgow. His father worked with the Union Bank
of Scotland and they were moved around to various branches of the
bank. Prior to the First World War John studied to be a
Mechanical Engineer at Robert Gordons college in Aberdeen. At
that time they were living at Balvenie, Cults, near Aberdeen.
In September 1913, at the age of 20, he joined the City of Aberdeen Fortress, (Territorial) Royal Engineers as a 2nd Lieutenant. He was sent to France on September 1st 1915 with 9th Engineers, he was wounded near Albert on October 17th when he was shot in the right wrist. He was admitted to hospital at Osborne on the Isle of Wight. In a medical report dated 7th November 1915 it was noted his wound was severe but not permanent and he would be unfit for duties for six weeks, he was then transferred to the 1st Scottish General Hospital in Aberdeen. On 26th November he was pronounced fit for light duties, and in a communication from the War Office on 5th December it was recommended he should be attached to a third line unit. Perhaps it was about this time he joined the R.F.C., ( in a report after his death it was noted that he was "attached to the R.F.C.".) In a medical report dated January 5th 1916 he was pronounced fit for duties.
After a tour of duty in Greece, with 47 Sqn. 16 Wing of the Royal Flying Corps, he left for Egypt on 29th March 1917 for pilot training, which lasted until 9th June 1917, he then returned to the UK. After a weeks leave he reported, on 1st July 1917 to Upavon, which at that time was the main Army Flying School, and was posted to C Squadron. After this he was sent to France on 15th September and posted to 70 Squadron. He was killed in action on Saturday 20th October 1917, whilst flying a Sopwith Camel, serial No B6352. He was Mentioned in Despatches on 21st July 1917 and on the day he died. On his casualty card it was noted that he "was last seen diving in combat over the Menin - Roulers Road". The" victory" was claimed by Lieutenant Friedrich Paul Kempf at 11.20am
Friedrich Paul Kempf was born 9th May 1894 in Frieburg, Baden, and died August 1966.
The following is from a report on the raid in which John was taking part when he was killed,
" The two 70 Squadron Camels were lost on a relatively unusual and ambitious operation. This was a massed fighter attack on Rumbeke aerodrome, which involved forty five single-seaters from three Squadrons. The idea of grouping fighters in this manner, forming a huge tactical attacking force, had been proposed earlier in the year. It was felt this might be one way of dealing with similar but smaller German formations when they were particularly active. This was not done in 1917, but the force which attacked Rumbeke was intended to be similarly uncontainable and overwhelming. Eleven Sopwith Camels with bombs from 70 Squadron, escorted by another eight were to attack and strafe the aerodrome, whilst another eighteen camels from 28 Squadron were to destroy any machines attempting to take off. High above, seven Spads of 23 Squadron covered the Camels with an offensive patrol. The operation was a notable success, much damage being inflicted on the enemy machines and buildings. Additionally seven single-seaters were shot down in air fighting. The two 70 Squadron pilots being the only RFC losses."
Extract from a War Office Communication, In an official German 'List of Dead' received through the Geneva Red Cross Society, (List No. P.N. 385) the following report appears, 'Flt Officer G Wilson, 10 pl. C. Disc 355440 Died 20th October 1917, Buried in Rollinghim Capelle, grave 38.' Lieut J.R. Wilson is the only officer of that name reported "Missing" on the 20th October 1917, and the above report has therefore been taken as referring to him. In view of this report the death of the above named Officer has now been accepted for official purposes as having occurred `In action on 20th October 1917' ".
Captain John Robert Wilson is now laid to rest at Harlebeke New British Cemetery, West-Vlaanderen, Belguim.
As a flying Officer holding the rank of Captain his wage was 12 Shillings per day, and on his death he left a total, after tax, of £179-8-0.