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  • Le Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial, Seine-et-Marne, France (3743 casualties).
Person Details
New Lenton Nottingham
He was the eldest son of Harry James John Brett and Julia Wilson. By the time of the 1911 Census Harry and Julia had been married for 27 years and had had ten children born alive of whom only six were still living. Eight children were recorded on the three census between 1891 and 1911: Clara, Tom (Thomas), Edith, Harry J, Albert, Bertie, Violet and Claude. Harry and Julia lost their eldest and youngest sons in 1914 and 1919 respectively. Harry did not name any of his three daughters on the Army form recording Thomas' living relatives (c1920) and it is likely that at least two of the girls had died by the time of the 1911 census. None of the girls were recorded at home on the 1911 census: Edith, the second daughter, was not named after 1891 and as Clara, their eldest child, was old enough to have married and left home by 1911 it is probable that Violet, the third and youngest daughter, died sometime after 1901 leaving Clara as the only surviving daughter by 1911. In 1891 Harry, a coachman, and Julia were living at 24 Commercial Street, Lenton, with their four children: Clara (6), Tom (4), Edith (2) and Harry J (1). Ten years later they were living in the ecclesiastical parish of Holy Trinity, Nottingham; Harry was now described as a stableman. There were six children in the house on the night of the 1901 census: Clara M (17), Tom (15), Harry (11), Albert (6), Bertie (4) and Violet (1). When Thomas enlisted in 1904 the family home was at 7 Park Peace, Maxwell Street, Lenton, Nottingham. However, in 1911 they were living at 143 Annesley Street, Meadows, Nottingham, and only three children were in the home; Albert (16) who was a miner, Bertie (13) and Claude (no age given). Thomas' mother, Julia, died aged 55 in 1915 (death registered Jan/Feb/Mar). Thomas' father was his son's sole legatee and when the army returned Thomas' few personal effects (four letters) to Harry Wilson in March 1915 they were sent to 14 Nelson Terrace, Hutchinson Street, Nottingham, the address given in the notice of Thomas' death the previous November. However, in March 1920 the commemorative plaque and scroll were sent to Harry at 3 Victoria Terrace, Hartley Road, Radford. In early 1920, when Harry completed a form for the Army giving details of Thomas' living relatives, he listed himself and Thomas' four brothers: Harry Wilson, Grenadier Guards, St Alban's Terrace, Sherwood Street, Nottingham; Private Albert Wilson, King's Royal Rifle Corps, Garden Street, Radford, Nottingham; Private Bert Wilson, King's Royal Rifle Corps, 'in India', and 89409 Claude Wilson, Notts and Derbys Regiment, 'accidentally killed December 26th 1919, Boxing Day, Alexandria, Egypt.' Claude was buried in Alexandria (Chatby) Military and War Memorial Cemetery.
He was a groom before he enlisted in May 1904.
20 Sep 1914
724677 - CWGC Website
9376
Private
2nd Bn Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment)
He enlisted 25 May 1904 at the age of 18 years 11 months. He served at home from 1904 until January 1907 and then served in Singapore until 8 September 1914. He had two brief periods in hospital for minor conditions while serving overseas (May/June 1906). He has no known grave and is commemorated on the La Ferte-Sous-Jouarre Memorial. He qualified for the 1914 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal. ‘The 2nd Foresters had served in India 1882-1898,’ writes John Cotterill, ‘returning home in 1902 via garrison duty in Aden and Malta. They led a peripatetic life in the UK serving on the Isle of Wight, in Aldershot, in various small garrisons in Ireland, in Plymouth and railway strike breaking in Derby in 1911 before arriving at Hillsborough Barracks in Sheffield in 1912. Here they mobilised 4/8/14 as part of 18 Brigade in 6 Division. As with most home based units they were under strength in peacetime so were composed of 40% reservists on mobilisation. Initially only four divisions were sent over the channel with 4th and 6th Divisions held back on coastal defence duties. As the threat of an early German invasion receded these two remaining divisions were deployed with 2nd Foresters, 930 men strong, arrived in St Nazaire on 11 Sept 1914. By this time the retreat from Mons was over and, indeed, on 12 Sept 1914 the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) began its advance from the River Marne to battle on the River Aisne.’ 2nd Bn Sherwood Foresters (71st Bde, 6th Division) mobilised 4/8/1914 and disembarked at St Nazaire on September 11th. Hough was killed during the battalion’s first Great War action in the Aisne valley which the BEF needed to cross before attempting to take the strategically commanding Chemin des Dames high ground. On September 20th, they were in reserve north of Troyon. As other British units fell back, according to John Cotterill, ‘a request for help reached the 2nd Foresters... at 1400.’ first by A and C Coys led by Captains Parkinson and Popham, reinforced by ‘B’ and ‘D’’ Coys with most of the Westphalians fleeing before the Foresters’ bayonets.’ The unit war diary (TNA WO95/1616/3/1) records the dramatic action: ‘the enemy were seen to have taken trenches on the right of the British line on the ridge at the head of the Troyon Valley – the most vital point in the line of defence. The battalion moved out to re-take the trenches. A German column was seen to be marching off prisoners...The advance was met by a very heavy machine gun fire from the front and left flank which caused many casualties, the ground being devoid of cover and very cramped... a general advance was made with great dash and in spite of heavy losses the trenches were re-taken. The battalion then prepared to hold the trenches... This was a most important action as the safety of the British right and the bridge over the R. Aisne at Bourg depended on the maintenance of the trenches. All ranks behaved splendidly.’ The war diary estimated 180 2nd Bn casualties in the action of 20th September 1914. 49 men from the unit, including 25 commemorated on this website, were killed that day (CWGC Debt of Honour Register). 38 of these dead have no known grave and are commemorated on the Le Ferte-sous-Jouarre memorial to the missing and the remaining 11 are divided between cemeteries at Chauny, Sissone and Vendresse. Military Research by David Nunn and John Cotterill
Nottingham Evening Post notice (abridged), 11 November 1914: ‘Private T Wilson, 2nd Sherwood Foresters, 14 Nelson Terrace, Hutchinson Street, Nottingham, killed in action September 20th.'
Remembered on

Photos

  • Le Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial, Seine-et-Marne, France (3743 casualties).
    Photo David Nunn - Le Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial, Seine-et-Marne, France (3743 casualties).