Norman Wilson – served as a Pal for just a few weeks

Norman Wilson, Corporal 15/1856, 1st Leeds Pals, and later TR/5/72585

Norman Wilson’s illness shortly before the decimation of the 15th Battalion on the 1st July 1916 almost certainly save him from serious injury or death.  While his unit was preparing for the attack at Serre he was being transported back to England for treatment for a medical condition.

Norman was born on 22nd August 1897 and lived with his family at 43 Banstead Terrace, Rounday Road, Leeds.  He was educated at Harehills School and North Leeds Commercial College.  His father Joseph William Wilson (1868-), a Warehouseman, and his mother Maud Wilson née Houghton (1870-1958) married on 2nd September 1895.  Both the 1901 and 1911 Census’ record the family were living at 6 Harehills Terrace, Roundhay Road, Leeds.  Norman had five siblings, Eric (1900-1982) and Gladys (1900-1962), who were twins, Stanley (1902-1962), Thomas Leslie (1907-1948) and Frank (1909-1911).  He married Beatrice Hall (1892-1965) on 4th July 1921 at the Parish Church, Wrangthorn, Yorkshire and at the time he was living at 136 Masham Avenue, Harehills, Leeds.

Shortly after enlisting in the 15th Battalion at Colsterdale on 5th July 1915, he was posted to the 19th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment and in April 1916 was promoted to Lance Corporal.  Norman was a clerk by trade and was 5’ 7 ¾” tall and weighed 118lbs.  He was posted back to the 15th Battalion on 4th June 1916 and embarked for France on 16th June, although it was barely a week before he suffered Empyema Sinuses and was moved to the base camp at Etaples and the then to the UK on HS Brighton on 18th June 1916.  On returning home he was sent to the General Hospital Nottingham where he remained until August 1916.  He was put on the posted strength of the 19th Battalion and in August 1916 the 88th Training Reserve Battalion, and was allocated a new number.  In November 1916 he was promoted to Corporal and in January 1917 was posted to the 3rd Battalion.

He returned to France on 21st March 1917 and the following day was posted to the 2nd Battalion, having reverted back to Private and his original number.  A month later he was transferred to the 12th Battalion, joining on 17th April 1917 and regained the rank of Lance Corporal.  In May 1917 he suffered tonsillitis which was followed in June by influenza.  He was again moved back to the base hospital where he remained until re-joining his Battalion on 25th July 1917.  He was wounded in action in September 1917, sustaining a gunshot wound to the knee and left hand, and returned to England where he remained in hospital until mid-November.  On 10th May 1918 he was sent to No 7 Officer Cadet Battalion and, on successfully completing the course, he was discharged to a commission in the 3rd Battalion, Special Reserve, West Yorkshire Regiment at Whitley Bay on 29th October 1918.  Although his report said he ‘should make a good officer’ it also recorded that he ‘lacked confidence’ and was ‘backward in tactics’.

Norman was demobilised on 13th January 1919 and relinquished his commission on 1st April 1920.  For his service was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal.  In 1939 he was living with his wife Beatrice at 28 Easterly Crescent, Leeds, and was employed as a Wholesale Food Distributer.  He died at Leeds on 31st May 1956 at the age of 60.


The National Archives – Service Record, Medal Index Card and Medal Roll

Findmypast – 1939 Register

Ancestry – Birth, Marriage, Death and Probate Registers

Researcher: David J Owen

Please Note:

  • All opinions and inferences are the researcher’s own.
  • Please refer to our Glossary of Terms for further information on the terms and phrases used in this post.

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