Researcher uncovers Birstall soldier’s fate

FALLEN SOLDIER Marlene Sunter with the WW1 death penny awarded to her uncle Lindley Thompson Wilson. (D541A404)
FALLEN SOLDIER Marlene Sunter with the WW1 death penny awarded to her uncle Lindley Thompson Wilson. (D541A404)

More light has been shed on the fate of a Birstall soldier featured in the News.

Our February 6 edition featured Marlene Sunter and the death penny she had found that belonged to her uncle, Private Lindley Thompson Wilson (“Victory medal a touching find”).

Pte Wilson with his mother. (D541E404)

Pte Wilson with his mother. (D541E404)

Marlene, of Howden Clough, discovered the death penny along with photographs of Pte Wilson in her mother’s home following her death.

She said it had been passed down from Esther Wilson, her grandmother and Pte Wilson’s mother.

While Marlene knew where Pte Wilson’s grave was – at the Serre Road Cemetery, in France – she knew little else about her brave uncle.

But researcher Roger Thompson has trawled the archives and discovered more information about the fallen soldier, who was killed aged just 20 in November 1916.

He said Pte Wilson volunteered to fight at or just after the outbreak of war, aged 18, and joined the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (KOYLI).

After training, he joined the 2nd Battalion, which left Dublin for France and Flanders, and arrived on French soil on October 26, 1914.”

Roger said: “Usually there was a period of training first, then they weremoved up into the line.

“Because his service records have not survived I can’t tell for definite whether he moved up in a draft that reached the battalion on November 1, in which case he got involved in fighting around the Messines area, or November 21, in which case he was involved around the Mons area, both in Belgium.”

Pte Wilson was killed on November 18, 1916, in brutal fighting at the Redan Ridge, Roger has revealed.

He said: “The 2nd Battalion KOYLI were holding a section of trenches between Waggon Road, Crater Lane, Lager Alley and Munich Trench, between Beaumont-Hamel and Serre.

“At the end of this battle, which turned out to be the end of the Battle of the Somme in 1916, things just petered out back into the stalemate.”

Pte Thompson was awarded the 1914 star and clasp for reaching the frontline before December 1914, and also received the British war medal, the victory medal and a scroll from King George V, in addition to the death penny Marlene discovered.

“This grouping of medals were affectionately known as Pip, Squeak and Wilfred,” Roger said. He is hoping to meet with Marlene and her family to share his research about their link to the First World War. It will be nice to find out a bit more about Lindley,” Marlene said.