Major Donald Boyd Wilson - Cameronians and 43rd (Wessex) Division

Discussion in 'Searching for Someone & Military Genealogy' started by Paul Hayes, Feb 10, 2015.

  1. Paul Hayes

    Paul Hayes Member

    Hello all,

    I am researching the life and career of a man named Donald Boyd Wilson (1910-2002) for a magazine article. The feature will mostly be about his film and television work, but as he served during the Second World War I'd also like to cover what he did during the war, although it's all a bit of a mystery so far.

    I know from his obituaries that he joined the Cameronians, which had been his late father's regiment. I know from the London Gazette that he was commissioned as a Lieutenant in March 1940, and I know from his own oral history interview held by the British Film Institute, recorded in 1991, that he'd volunteered initially as a private before being sent to an officer training establishment in Dunbar. (Frustratingly, that's about all he says about his military career in the interview).

    I know he was a Major by the end of the war, and that certainly at Christmas 1944 and possibly for some months either side of that he was serving with the 43rd (Wessex) Division. (He designed the division's Christmas card that year!) His newspaper obitiuaries from 2002 claim he was "divisional assistant adjutant general" to General Ivor Thomas. He was apparently involved in the burying of bodies after the liberation of Belsen, an experience that so profoundly affected him that he travelled to Israel to attend some of Eichmann's trial in the 1960s. (I have not yet found any official mention or record of his role at Belsen, however).

    He was demobilised in October 1945, and returned to the film industry.

    That's about all I have so far. I have started doing some reading around the subject of the Cameronians and the 43rd Division, which although useful background hasn't yet turned up any specific mention of him. I don't yet know which Cameronian battalion he joined - his father had commanded the 7th at Gallipoli, where he was killed, but I don't know if that necessarily means Donald also joined the 7th.

    I have applied to the Ministry of Defence for the basic, stripped-down version of his service record that may be available to non-related researchers. I am also in contact with his daughters, so it's possible I may be able access his full service record if they are willing to apply for it.

    So I'd be very grateful for any advice about other sources I could consult, and where I could look.

    I have found this one record of him on the South Lanarkshire District Council website, a mention in dispatches for bravery:

    In the "recommended by" column, it says "2 PD NWE". I imagine that "NWE" must mean "North West Europe", but can anyone advise as to what the other bit means?

    Thanks in advance for any and all help and recommendations!
  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Found 2 mentions of him in London Gazette using the service number 121671 as on that card.

    1940 will be date of his commission into Cameronians.

    one from 1945 for his MiD - not necessarily for bravery.

    oops. reread your post that you already knew this from the London Gazette but thought I'd post it anyway.

    He's mentioned on page 157 of 'The 43rd Wessex Division at War' by Essame.

    Probably no division in the BLA from the point of view of the front line soldier was ever better supplied than 43 Division. The unceasing drive which its commander imparted to it operations also made itself continuously felt towards the rear. In Lieut.-Colonel McCance and his two able assistants , Majors Barker and Donald Wilson , it possessed universal providers with drive and imagination , ever looking forward and ready to improvise, planning the needs of the soldiers in the front line before all other considerations .

    Lt-Col JB McCance is listed as AA and QMG 43 Wessex Division.

    Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster General

    bit of info on McCance.

    He also painted this - from the Div history by Essame.

    Attached Files:

    Drew5233 likes this.
  3. Paul Hayes

    Paul Hayes Member

    Many thanks for that Owen, it's very kind of you. Great to see another illustration by him! I don't have Essame's work yet, only Patrick Delaforce's book on the division, so that's definitely one to try and get hold of. Thank you again!
  4. Paul Hayes

    Paul Hayes Member

    Having rather stupidly, in all my online searching, not having thought to try the combination "Wilson, DB" until today, I have now come across this page from... er... Well, I don't know. Some sort of military directory, by the look of it - the website isn't entirely clear. Anyway:

    Wilson is on there, near the bottom of the left-hand column, but I wondered if anyone could help with what some of the abbreviations mean?

    "Wilson, D. B. (s. c.) (W. S. / Capt 21/8/43 (T/Maj 21/8/43) s. 9/3/40"

    The "9/3/40" date obviously refers to his original commission as a Lieutenant, which ties in exactly with the London Gazette date I already had. But is this entry really suggesting he became both a Captain and then a Temporary Major on the same day, 21st August 1943...?

    And does anyone know what the "(s. c.)" and "W. S." might mean...?

    Many thanks!
  5. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    WS = War Substantive.

    • Substantive or permanent: the fully paid and confirmed rank.
    • War substantive or theater: a temporarily confirmed rank only held for the duration of that war.
    • Temporary: usually granted for a specific task or mission.
  6. Paul Hayes

    Paul Hayes Member

    Interesting - thanks again Owen!

    I wonder if that's the point where he moved from the Cameronians to the Wessex Division? I'm hoping that one of his daughters may give permission for me to apply for his full service record, so hopefully I should find out more eventuallly.
  7. mapdevil

    mapdevil New Member

    I came across your post while researching John Boyd Wilson (1875-1915), who would have been my first cousin three times removed. His father William was the brother of my gggrandfather James, from Beith in Ayrshire. And Donald was his son.
    You might like to know that the Boyd comes from William's stepfather John Boyd (1804-69) from Gateside.
    I was interested to hear there are cousins out there I know nothing of!

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