Cpl. William Carmichael WILSON (3191578)

6th. Bn., King's Own Scottish Borderers

Born: Abt 1919, Wanlockhead, Dumfrieshire, Scotland

Died: 19 September 1944, Oosterbeek, Holland (Age 25)

William Carmichael Wilson was born around 1919, probably in the lead mining village of Wanlockhead, Dumfriesshire. He was the son of William Carmichael Wilson (Snr) and his wife Thomasina Love (nee ??). We do not know when the family arrived in Patterdale. There is a W C Wilson listed amongst the employees of the Greenside mine in 1943 but no way of knowing if this is William Junior or Senior?

William gave his address as 8, Brow Field, Glenridding and his occupation a Soldier when he married Eileen Elsie Cooper on the 11th May 1944 at St Patrick's Church, presumably whilst home on leave. Elsie was in the W.A.A.F and gave her address as 7, Low Glenridding.

William's parents were still at 8, Brow Field when William Senior died in February 1945.

The 6th Bn. KOSB landed with the 15th Division on the Normandy beaches on the 15th June 1944, and soon found themselves involved in the fierce battles around Caen and the River Odon, fighting through France, Belgium and Holland, and eventually crossing the Siegfried Line, ending the war just beyond Hamburg.

It is very likely that William was killed in The Battle of Arnhem or 'Operation Market Garden' as it is more often called - a famous Second World War battle in which the Germans defeated an Allied attack that stretched too far from its support.

It was fought in and around the Dutch towns of Arnhem, Oosterbeek, Wolfheze, Driel and the surrounding countryside from the 17th–26th September 1944. There were many famous actions, particularly around the bridge at Arnhem, but we are focusing on the location of William's Regiment.

On the morning of the 19th September, the 4th Parachute Brigade led an attempt to break through the German lines and seize the high ground in the woods north of Oosterbeek but communication difficulties and enemy resistance caused the attack to fail with heavy losses. The Division, scattered far and wide and hard pressed by the enemy on all sides had lost its offensive capability. The remaining soldiers attempted to withdraw into a defensive pocket at Oosterbeek (near Landing Zone 'L') which was defended by the King's Own Scottish Borderers (KOSB on the above map), who were awaiting the arrival of the Glider borne elements of the Polish Parachute Brigade. Heavy fighting and confusion ensued as the gliders arrived in the middle of the retreat, with even more more heavy losses including, no doubt, Corporal William Wilson (Note: 90% of the nearby 7th Battalion, Kings Own Scottish Borderers, were killed).

Montgomery claimed that "in years to come it will be a great thing for a man to be able to say: 'I fought at Arnhem'", a prediction seemingly borne out by the pride of soldiers who took part, and the occasional desire of those who did not to claim that they were there!

Given that both his wife and his parents were living in Glenridding in 1944, it is unusual that his death was not reported in the Cumberland and Westmorland, Herald.

The Medal Records for WW2 servicemen are contained within their service records, which have not been made publicly available. However, having made the rank of Corporal before he was killed, he almost certainly qualified for, and would have been posthumously awarded, at least the following medals1:

1939-1945 Star

1939-1945 British War Medal

Corporal William Wilson is remembered and commemorated on:

The Patterdale War Memorial

The Wanlockhead War Memorial2

The Jonkerbos War Cemetery, Netherlands3 (Plot 9, Row D, Grave 8)

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission Memorial Certificate

What became of his family?


His father, William Carmichael Wilson (Snr) was born in Wanlockhead, Dumfriesshire in January 1897 (son of William Wilson, a lead miner, and his wife Mary). It looks as though Mary took the children to Ontario, Canada in March 1906 to join her husband William as they appear in the 1911 Census of Canada living in Barton Township, Hamilton with William (Carmichael) Wilson (Snr) shown as a Labourer working in a Cotton Mill at the age of 14 years. However, in October 1913, Mary returned to Scotland with the children but without her husband William (had he died or did he travel separately again?). William Carmichael (Snr) married Thomasina Love ...??. He died on the 23rd February 1945 and is buried in St Patrick's churchyard. However, his mother Thomasina Love Wilson is not buried there, nor does she appear in the English records, so perhaps she moved back to Dumfriesshire.


As a widow after only 5 months of marriage, it is not surprising that Elsie, still living in Glenridding, married again; this time to John Alexander Ferguson, a 29 years old Fitter from Liverpool. No children have been found from her marriage to William.


His younger brother Andrew Sloan Wilson was born around 1922. Whilst working at the Patterdale Hotel he met and married, at St Patrick's Church on the 28th October 1950, Alaine Nocher Robb a Housemaid at the hotel. They continued to live in Glenridding until at least 1958 and had two sons, William Carmichael Wilson and Brian Charles Wilson, both baptised at St Patrick's.


1. Medals

1939-1945 Star - This star was awarded for service in the Second World War between 3rd September 1939 and 2nd September 1945. Royal Navy personnel had to complete 6 months service afloat in active operational areas. Army personnel had to complete 6 months service in an operational command. Airborne troops qualified if they had participated in any airborne operations and had completed 2 months service in a fully operational unit. RAF personnel had to participate in operations against the enemy providing that 2 months service had been completed in an operational unit. Non-aircrew personnel had to complete 6 months service in an area of operational army command. Merchant Navy qualified if they completed 6 months service, and at least 1 voyage was made through an operational area. Members of fighter aircraft crews who took part in the Battle of Britain (10 July to 31 October 1940) were awarded the "Battle of Britain" bar to this medal.

The criteria is 180 days’ service, although some special criteria apply when, at certain specified times, just 1 days’ service is required. These were actions for which a more specific campaign medal was not issued. Examples are: France or Belgium: 10 May to 19 June 1940, St. Nazaire 22-28 March 1942, Dieppe: 19 August 1942, Iraq: 10 April to 25 May 1941 and Burma (Enemy Invasion): 22 February 1942 to 15 May 1942.

Also recipients were awarded this star if their service period was terminated by their death or disability due to service. Also the award of a gallantry medal or Mention in Despatches also produced the award of this medal, regardless of their service duration.

1939-1945 British War Medal - The War Medal 1939–1945 was a British decoration awarded to all full time service personnel of the Armed Forces wherever their service during the war was rendered. Operational and non-operational service counted provided personnel had completed 28 days service between 3rd September 1939 and the 2nd September 1945. In the Merchant Navy there was the requirement that 28 days should be served at sea.

Personnel who were eligible for a campaign star yet who had their service cut short by death, wounds or capture by the enemy, still qualified for this medal. Eligible personnel who had been mentioned in dispatches during the War were entitled to wear a bronze oak leaf emblem on the ribbon. Those War Medals issued to UK personnel were not officially inscribed. However, those issued to Australian and South African personnel were officially inscribed. It is sometimes described as the "Victory Medal" for World War II, although that is not its correct name.

2. The Wanlockhead War Memorial

Wanlockhead is a village in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, nestling in the Lowther Hills and one mile south of Leadhills at the head of the Mennock Pass, which forms part of the Southern Uplands. Surprisingly, it is Scotland's highest village at the height of 1531ft. The memorial, which is on Church Street and next to the old school, comprises a Great War soldier, with his head bowed and rifle reversed, standing on a plinth above a pillar carrying the names of those who fell in both world wars.

3. The Jonkerbos War Cemetery, Netherlands

The Netherlands fell to the Germans in May 1940 and was not re-entered by Allied forces until September 1944. Nijmegen was a front line town from 17 September 1944 until February 1945. The cemetery, which was created by No. 3 Casualty Clearing station, is in a wooded area known as Jonkers Bosch, from which it took its name, and contains 1,629 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War, 99 of them unidentified, and 13 war graves of other nationalities. More Details

Research Documents

Passenger List outbound to Halifax, Nova Scotia - March 1906

Canadian Census 1911

Passenger List Quebec to Glasgow - October 1913

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission Memorial Certificate

Wanlockhead War Memorial

Detail of William C Wilson on the Wanlockhead Memorial

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Page Editor: Norman Jackson

Page Last Reviewed: 25 Feb 2021