Wilson, David Orme


He was the second son of Colonel the Right Hon. Sir Leslie Orme Wilson PC, GCSI, GCMG, GCIE, DSO, sometime Governor of Bombay and Governor of Queensland, and Lady Wilson, of Wentworth, Surrey. His mother, Winifred, was the daughter of Captain Charles Smith, of Goderich, Sydney.

Coming to Mr. Altham’s House in September 1926, he was in OTH XV and on VI dress in Short Half 1931, he was also Head of his House, a CSM and a good cross-country runner. As an Oxford friend wrote in The Times of January 3rd 1942:   “At Winchester and at New College, Oxford, his character and his athletic prowess made him a leading figure, and his charm and companionability gave him hosts of friends. He seemed to exemplify in a remarkable degree the Wykehamist virtues of dependability and good sense.”

At New College, to which he passed in October 1932, he became an outstanding figure: he was Steward of Common Room in his last year and captain of the Oxford squash team, reaching the final of the Army Championship in his first attempt and in the Varsity Match of 1934 he beat the formidable J A Gillies.

Gazetted to the Rifle Brigade in October 1935, he had already seen considerable service in the Middle East before war came: he served in Palestine with 1st Rifle Brigade until 1939, and was then transferred to 2nd Rifle Brigade (2RB), being fortunate enough to miss the destruction of his old battalion at Calais in May 1940.

2RB transferred to Egypt from Palestine in January 1940, and was attached to the Support Group of 7th Armoured Division, spending most of 1940 training and in forward positions on the Libyan frontier.  They saw their first action  from 8th June when, twenty miles west of Sidi Barani, they were daily attacked by Italian aircraft.

By early February 1941 the Italians were in retreat from Cyrenaica and 2RB were part of the column which made a mad dash of over 100 miles to cut them off.   They established Battalion HQ at Beda Fomm, which the Italians attacked nine times with tanks and artillery, with minimal loss to 2RB.   However, in March and April the arrival of  German forces prompted a British retreat and 2RB was sent back to the Nile Delta at the end of February, returning to the desert on 30th April.

At the time of his death at Bir Chlita on November 25th 1941, Wilson held the acting rank of Major. He was in his twenty-ninth year when he died, and is commemorated in column 71 of the Alamein Memorial.

War: World War 2

  • Surname: Wilson
  • Forenames or initials: David Orme
  • House: A
  • Years in School: 1926-1932
  • Rank: Major
  • Regiment: Rifle Brigade
  • Date of Birth: 18th March 1913
  • Date of Death: 25th November 1941
  • How Died: Died of Wounds
  • Location in War Cloister: Inner F1
  • Decoration: NA
  • Burial Site: Unknown but commemorated on Column 71 of the Alamein Memorial