SX313 Private Harold Reginald WILSON – killed in action on 25 May 1941
Harold Reginald WILSON was born Rose Park (SA) on 10 September 1910, the son of Percival Pugh WILSON and Ruby Florence Julia WILSON (nee RICKARDS) of Glynde Road, Firle. Prior to his enlistment in the 2nd Australian Imperial Force on 20 October 1939 he was farming near Victor Harbor, on land adjacent to Tugwell Road, in the Waitpinga area.
Harold was given the serial number SX313 and became entitled as one of the many soldiers to be called the “thirty-niners”. Those men who enlisted after 1939 were known as the “thinkers”, that is, they were thinking about enlisting. Harold was posted to the 2/10th Infantry Battalion.
The 2/10th, part of the 18th Brigade of the 6th Australian Division, was destined for the Middle East, however en-route the 18th Brigade was diverted to the United Kingdom to bolster its defences following the fall of France. The Battalion disembarked at Gourock in Scotland on 18 June 1940 and was subsequently based at Lopcombe Corner, near Salisbury, in England. On 8 July the 2/10th suffered the Second AIF’s first casualty due to enemy action when SX1363 Private Albert Stuart Webb was wounded in a strafing attack by a German aircraft. The Battalion relocated to Colchester in October 1940 and left the United Kingdom on 17 November.
After its arrival in Egypt in late December 1940, the Battalion readied itself for combat duties. The Battalion was committed to active operations, with the rest of the Brigade, to Tobruk in the first week of April 1941. It is on the defensive perimeter and remains under constant attack from infantry, tanks, artillery and aerial bombardment. By 25 May 1941 “D” Company is deployed at Forbes Mound and at around 2100 hours that day, two men were reported killed from enemy mortar shelling. Pte Harold Wilson was one of those men. He was buried in the field in a common grave on the eastern slope of Forbes Mound. On 17 May 1944, Pte Wilson’s body was exhumed and reburied at Acroma (Knightsbridge) Military Cemetery, Libya.
In October 1941, the Victor Harbor RSL, supported by the District Council of Encounter Bay, erected a memorial atop a small hill near the Range Road in memory of Pte WILSON. The hill and the road were later named Wilson Hill Road.
The following article appeared in The Advertiser on Monday, 13 October 1941 on page 9.
Soldier’s Memorial On Hill At Waitpinga
VICTOR HARBOR, October 12.
The Commissioner of Public Works (Mr. McIntosh) unveiled a tablet in memory of Private Harold R. Wilson (killed in action) in the presence of 400 people this afternoon. The tablet, a marble top let into a granite boulder with an ironstone foundation, is erected at Wilson’s Hill, Waitpinga, about six miles from Victor Harbor, where Private Wilson had a property before enlisting, and has a commanding view of the coastline.
The chairman of the Encounter Bay District Council (Mr. George Battye) presided.
Mr. McIntosh said that he thought the monument was one of the first of its kind to be erected in honor of a fallen soldier in this war. The president of the local branch RSL, Dr. Graham Shipway and Councillor G. Depledge, also spoke. The parents of Private Wilson were present. Arrangements were carried out by the district clerk (Mr. A. H. Warland). Wildflowers decorated the base of the tablet.
Service file of SX313 Harold Reginald WILSON, from the National Archives of Australia (www.naa.gov.au ).
Compiled by the Victor Harbor RSL History Research Team, October 2016.