A Collection of Gallantry Awards to the Lincolnshire Regiment

Date of Auction: 17th July 2019

Sold for £1,500

Estimate: £1,200 - £1,600

A fine Great War Battalion Commander’s D.S.O. group of five awarded to Lieutenant-Colonel H. G. Wilson, 5th Battalion (Territorial Force), Lincolnshire Regiment, who was wounded in October 1915 when leading his company in the attack on the Hohenzollern Redoubt, before going on to command the Battalion in 1918 during its successes at the Battle of Bellenglise, the Breaking of the Hindenburg Line, Fresnoy, Andigny, and through to the Final Advance.

Distinguished Service Order, G.V.R., silver-gilt and enamel, with integral top riband bar, in Garrard, London, case of issue; 1914-15 Star, unnamed; British War and Victory Medals, with M.I.D. oak leaves (Lt. Col. H. G. Wilson); Territorial Decoration, silver and silver-gilt, hallmarks for London 1919, with integral top riband bar, minor enamel damage to wreath around reverse central medallion of DSO, and the central medallions loose, otherwise very fine and better (5) £1,200-£1,600


D.S.O. London Gazette 1 January 1919 :
‘For distinguished service in connection with Military Operations in France and Flanders.’

Harold Graham Wilson was born in 1882 in Barton upon Humber, the son of Henry and Blanche Wilson. After studying at Cambridge, where he was a member of the University Volunteer Rifle Corps, he resided at the Hall, Barton on Humber, while also serving as an Extra-Supernumerary Second Lieutenant in the 3rd Volunteer Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment. In 1908, he qualified as a solicitor, being articled with his father’s firm and was appointed to the 5th (Territorial) Battalion with the rank of Lieutenant. He was promoted Captain in October 1914 and served during the Great War on the Western Front from 22 February 1915.

On 13 October 1915, Wilson, now promoted Major, was wounded while leading C Company, 5th Lincolnshires during the attack by the 46th (North Midland) Division on the Hohenzollern Redoubt. The casualties were extremely heavy. Captain R. E. Madge of the Machine-Gun section was the only officer to return unwounded. His account of the action in the regimental history describes the scale of the losses:
‘We went into the show about twenty-three officers and eight hundred and fifty men and came out with one officer and about one hundred and ten men…Nothing could have been more admirable than the way the men behaved in this, their first battle.’
Lieutenant-Colonel Sandall gives a similarly sobering account in his Battalion History:
‘Owing to the fact that the Commanding Officer was wounded, the Adjutant, the 2nd-in-Command, and three Company Commanders killed, and the other Company Commander wounded, and every Officer, with the exception of the
Machine Gun Officer, became a casualty, it will be readily understood that great difficulty has been experienced in obtaining an accurate and reliable account of what actually happened… The attack on the Hohenzollern Redoubt was a feat of arms of which the Battalion will be ever proud, but the enormous number of casualties practically destroyed it for the time being as a fighting unit. The survivors for a short period were shaken and depressed and all organisation was destroyed, but the task of rebuilding the Battalion on its old lines and traditions was begun at once, and carried through ultimately with entire success.’ (The History of the 5th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment by T.E. Sandall refers.)

Wilson was appointed Second-in-Command of the Battalion on 6 April 1916 and Battalion C.O. on 8 July 1918, leading them in their victories in September 1918 at Bellenglise and the Breaking of the Hindenburg Line and also in October 1918 as they advanced at Fresnoy and Andigny Les Fernes-Regnicourt through to the Battle of the Sambre shortly before the Armistice. For his services during the Great War he was twice Mentioned in Despatches (London Gazettes 4 January 1917 and 29 December 1918), and was awarded the D.S.O.

After the War, Lieutenant Colonel Wilson returned to live in Barton-upon-Humber and was re-appointed to the command of the 5th Battalion on its reconstitution in 1922. He continued his career as a solicitor and became a magistrate. He also took part in many Barton activities, including becoming President of Barton Town Football Club. He never married and was described as a kindly commander who actually hid a deserter in his battalion, quietly returning the man to his unit without fuss. Colonel Wilson died in 1969, his grave within sight of the cenotaph inscribed with the names of the men he had led.

Sold with a photographic image of the recipient.