Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthSeptember 13, 1889
Place of BirthKeewatin, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinDr TA Wilson, 628 12th Ave E, Vancouver, British Columbia
Trade / CallingTeacher
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental NumberNA
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion62nd Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Date of EnlistmentDecember 20, 1915
Age at Enlistment26
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Decorations and MedalsMilitary Cross
Death Details
Date of DeathMay 28, 1969
Age at Death79
Buried AtSan Diego, California

Wilson, Ray Holland

Along with his twin brother Jay Earle Wilson, Ray Holland Wilson was born on 15 September 1889 in Keewatin, Ontario. His father Thomas Alexander Wilson, a teacher at the time of the boys’ births,  was from Bell’s Corner, Minot, Wellington North, Ontario while his mother Sarah Isabella Holland was from Milton, Iowa where the couple had married on 8 August 1888. A short four months later, Jay contacted influenza and died in January of 1890. While the family was residing in Keewatin, another son, Percy Milton, was born in May of 1891. By the 1901 census the family had relocated to the Revelstoke Riding/Division of Kootenay West, Yale and Caribou in British Columbia. Thomas had gone back to school, graduating from Hospital College of Medicine, Louisville, Kentucky in 1895, and from Queen’s University, Kingston with a MDCM in 1900, and was shown as working as a medical doctor in the census. Before moving to the area, a daughter Mary had been born in 1894 in the United States. Eventually the family moved to Vancouver, residing at 2302 Main Street at the time of the 1911 census. Both Thomas and Isabella were listed as medical doctors while Ray was working as a teacher, Percy as a clerk, and Mary was attending school.

Ray enlisted in Vancouver on 20 December 1915, occupation given as teacher and next of kin as his father, Dr TA Wilson of Vancouver. Ray  listed previous military experience of  two years with the 72nd Battalion (Seaforth Highlanders) as well as seven months with the 6th Regiment Duke of Connaught’s Own Rifles. With the 62nd Battalion, Lieutenant Ray Holland Wilson embarked from Halifax aboard the Baltic on 20 March 1916.

Once overseas Ray attended the Musketry and Lewis Machine Gun course in Hythe in May of 1916 that qualified him as a 1st Class Instructor, followed by the Range Finder Course in June, also at Hythe. In October he proceeded on draft to the 29th Battalion, arriving the unit on the 8th. Ray received the first of his wounds at Vimy Ridge on 9 April 1917, hit by shrapnel to a hand and hip. First admitted to a Canadian Field Ambulance followed by the 23rd Canadian Casualty Station and No 7 Stationary Hospital in Boulogne, he was transferred to the Northumberland War Hospital in New Castle on Tyne, England on the 13th. Granted a leave as part of his recovery, it was mid July before he rejoined the 29th in France. On 21 August 1917, just over a month later, he suffered a gunshot wound and was admitted to the No 20 General Hospital in Camiers and later that month was admitted  to 1st Canadian General Hospital with a bomb injury to his ankle. While in England Ray attended the No 1 Officers Course in Stafford and then was on command conducting duty for the 1st Reserve Battalion for part of April 1918. In June he proceeded overseas to rejoin the 29th Battalion.

On 25 September 1917 Lieutenant RH Wilson had been awarded the Military Cross:  ‘For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. When a company was wiped out by machinegun fire, he rallied the survivors, and after several hours’ hard fighting succeeded in obtaining mastery of the enemy trench. He was very severely wounded, but did not leave until the task was complete. All ranks were greatly inspired by his splendid example. LG 30561/7-3-18′.

Lieutenant Ray Wilson’s most severe injury happened on 28 August 1918 when he was reported as  dangerously wounded, gunshot wound to the right knee. Admitted to the No 8 Red Cross Hospital in Boulogne, he was transferred to the Prince of Wales Hospital, Marylebone and then to Canadian Convalescent Hospital, Matlock Park, Bath. By early December he was on command with the 1st Reserve Battalion at Kinmel Park for return to Canada, arriving Saint John, New Brunswick on the 14th aboard the Minnedosa.

After the war Ray went back to school, living with his parents and some of his siblings in Vancouver and listed as a dental student in the 1921 census. On 28 August 1927 he married Florence Birkett Chapin, daughter of Festus and Isadorah (née Houlding) Chapin who had farmed in the Hartney area of the RM of Winchester, Manitoba. Festus died in 1907 and the family had relocated to Vancouver by 1911. Ray and Florence’s first son Stuart Chapin Wilson was born in October of 1928 in San Diego, California where Ray was working as a dentist. By 1934 Ray had become a naturalized citizen of the United States as San Diego had become their permanent home. Their second son Allan Robbins Wilson was born later that year. As a veteran of the war and the 5th great grandson  of Private William Robbins who had served with the Monmouth County, New Jersey Militia during the War of the Revolution, in 1959 he applied for and was accepted into the California Society of the National Society Sons of  the American Revolution.

Ray Holland Wilson died on 28 May 1969 in San Diego followed by wife Florence in 1981 and son Stuart in 2006. It appears that Allan married and moved to Los Altos, California. His father Thomas died in Vancouver in 1931, mother Isabella in 1942, and brother Percy, MD,  in 1946 after a long battle with pulmonary tuberculosis, the latter two also in Vancouver. At the time of her father’s death, Mary, single,  was living in Los Angeles, likely working as a stenographer. By the time of her mother’s death she was was married to WR Clayton of Los Angeles.

by Judy Stockham

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