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Wilson, Walter Carandini - CBE DSO* MC

Rank : Lieutenant Colonel/Group Captain

Army Number : 4019

Unit : 1st Bn, 2nd Bn

Biography :

Walter Wilson was the grandson of the Marchese (Marquis) of Sarzano, a nobleman of Italian origin who as a political fugitive in the 19th Century fled to Australia. Born in Brisbane and educated in England at Tonbridge School, Walter was commissioned into 6th Bn The Royal Warwickshire Regiment on 22.4.1905. Joined The Leicestershire Regiment as 2Lt on 16.1.1907. Promoted Lieutenant 9.11.1908. He was a superb rugby player, and played for England (capped twice on the wing in 1907), the Army (including against Australia twice in 1908), Leicester (for whose 1st XV he made 5 appearances 1909/10 and scored one try), and the Regiment, captaining 1st Bn's Rugby team which won the Army Cup in 1907. He was a Founder Member of Executive Committee of the Army Rugby Union in 1906. Seconded for service with The West African Regiment 1911-1914, and promoted Captain 1.11.1913. Served with 1st Bn The Leicestershire Regiment in January 1915, and in June 1915 he was with the 2nd Bn. Awarded the D.S.O. that year (L.G. 4.11.1915 "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during an attack near Pietre Farm on 25th September, 1915. When giving final directions to his men he was severely wounded in the stomach, but he stuck to his work and went forward, encouraging his men till he could see through the smoke that they were over the German parapet. He was then helped back in an exhausted state. Captain Wilson's name has several times been brought forward for gallantry and determination."). Appointed Brevet Major 3.6.1916. Awarded M.C. as Staff Capt/BM HQ 70 Inf Bde 24.5.1916-13.2.1917, and later the Bar to the D.S.O. in the same appointment. GSO2 HQ 2nd Inf Division 19.2.1917-3.1.1918 and then GSO2 HQ 2nd Army Corps Jan-March 1918. GSO1 British Military Mission to America Apr 1918-Mar 1919. GSO1 HQ 68th Division in England Mar-May 1919. Awarded O.B.E. for 'for valuable services in connection with the First World War' (L.G. 21.3.1919), Mentioned in Despatches five times (L.G. 17.2.1915, 27.1.1916, 15.6.1916, 15.5.1917 and 20.5.1918), and awarded Medal of Honour (France) (L.G. 3.12.1920). After the First World War he was GSO2 and later GSO1 British Military Mission to Finland 19.5.1919-12.2.1920. GSO2 British Mil Mission to Baltic States 13.2.1920 to 26.5.1920, for which he was awarded the Russian Orders of St. Anne and St. Vladimir. GSO1 (Intelligence) Dublin District 27.5.1920-20.11.1921. Brigade Major, Cairo Brigade, Egyptian Expeditionary Force 3.2.1922-27.1.1924. He transferred to The Duke of Wellington's Regiment (DWR) in the rank of Major on 25.3.1924. Company Commander of Gentlemen Cadets (GSO2) RMC Sandhurst 28.1.1924 to 2.2.1926. Employed with Malay States Volunteer Rifles 10.3.1926-17.7.1926 and with Royal West African Frontier Force (local Lt.-Col. 10/3/28 to 31/12/29; local Col 1/1/30) 26.10.1927-9.6.1930. He resigned his commission in 1932. As the Second World War approached he rejoined the Army as a Lt Col in the DWR and served as GSO1 HQ 42nd Division. Known as a staff officer of great ability, he was persuaded to join the RAF and assist in the initial training of cadets in 54 Group. He joined the RAF on 1.12.1939 (RAF No. 77141) and was confirmed in the rank of Pilot Officer on 1 Dec 1940. In the rank of Group Captain he was made a C.B.E. in Jan 1944 for his work as Senior Training Staff Officer, HQ 54 Group, Flying Training Command RAF, England. He left the RAF on 31.1.1944, aged 58 years. He subsequently worked for the British Overseas Airways Corporation. He was for a time a Director of White City, the greyhound racing stadium in London. Appointed as a Serving Brother (SBStJ) of the Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem on 12.1.1954. He died in Brighton on 12.4.1968, aged 82 years. He was the cousin of Sir Christopher Lee CBE, the actor (1922-2015). Walter Wilson's medals were purchased at auction by the Regiment in Nov 2014, and are held by the Leicester Arts & Museums Service.

Date of Birth : 22.6.1885

Place of Birth : Brisbane, Queensland

Date of Death : 12.4.1968

Place of Death : Brighton, Sussex

Civil Occupation : BAOC

Period of Service : 1905-32; 1939-44

Conflicts : WW1, WW2

Places Served : West Africa, France & Flanders, Finland, Baltic States, Ireland, Egypt, UK, Malay States

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