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Lt/Major Kirkby Harry Wilson MC

BEF MC and 2NZEF Group - New Zealander

  • The MC, MiD group to New Zealand-born Lt. (later Major) Kirkby Harry Wilson, who was Mentioned in Despatches in 1917 and awarded the MC in 1918 in the Mesopotamian theatre. Grandson of William Scott Wilson, who helped establish 'The Herald' newspaper in Auckland.


    Kirkby Wilson was born 16th April 1902 at Parnell, Auckland. Son of Henry and Margaret McCormack Wilson (née Best). He was educated at both King's College in Auckland and at Wanganui Collegiate (1904-06) before moving to London with his family. Wilson's father worked as a "printers manager" whilst Kirkby studied journalism at University College London.


    Wilson's service papers have not been obtained from UK National Archives, but fragmented information is known. He obtained a commission in the Royal Engineers and entered the Egyptian theatre in August 1915. The Wanganui School Register mentions service on Gallipoli, but his service file will have to be obtained to confirm this. It is known he served in Mesopotamia in a signalling role, being mentioned in despatches by Lieut.-General Sir Stanley Maude, K.C.B., Commander-in-Chief, Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force (L.G. 15/8/1917, p8338). He was subsequently awarded the Military Cross for "distinguished services rendered in connection with military operations in Mesopotamia" (L.G. 7/2/1918, p 1802).


    In mid-1919, at Tralee in Ireland, Kirkby married Violet Ballard McCowen, and soon after returned to Auckland. Kirkby worked as a journalist at the New Zealand Herald, often travelling back to London, having a connection to the New Zealand Associated Press office in Fleet Street.


    During the Second World War Kirkby Wilson served with 3rd Division, 2nd NZEF in the Pacific theatre. He lead No. 1 Company, NZ Divisional Signals Company in Fiji and at Vela Lavella. He was initially appointed lieutenant in 1940, and promoted to captain in January 1942, and to major in November of that year. Following his return from the Pacific in March 1944, he was posted to the Reserve of Officers.


    Kirkby Wilson died at Selwyn Hospital, Auckland on 8th August 1964 and was cremated at Purewa Cemetery.


    The 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal are all correctly impressed LIEUT. K.H. WILSON. The Military Cross is engraved on the reverse K.H. WILSON 29.5.1919, this being the date of his investiture. King George V presented around 400 decorations at Buckingham Palace at this investiture.

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