Eric Charles Twelves Wilson VC
Name: Eric Charles Twelves Wilson
Conflict: Second World War
Gazetted: October 14, 1940
Place/date of birth: Sandown, Isle of Wight/October 2, 1912
Rank when awarded VC (and later highest rank): Acting Captain (later Lieutenant Colonel)
Date of bravery: August 11-15, 1940
London Gazette citation:
Lieutenant (acting Captain) Eric Charles Twelves Wilson, The East Surrey Regiment (attached Somaliland Camel Corps).
For most conspicuous gallantry on active service in Somaliland. Captain Wilson was in command of machine-gun posts manned by Somali soldiers in the key position of Observation Hill, a defended post in the defensive organisation of the Tug Argan Gap in British Somaliland.
The enemy attacked Observation Hill on August 11th, 1940. Captain Wilson and Somali gunners under his command beat off the attack and opened fire on the enemy troops attacking Mill Hill, another post within his range. He inflicted such heavy casualties that the enemy, determined to put his guns out of action, brought up a pack battery to within seven hundred yards, and scored two direct hits through the loopholes of his defences, which, bursting within the post, wounded Captain Wilson severely in the right shoulder and in the left eye, several of his team being also wounded. His guns were blown off their stands but he repaired and replaced them and, regardless of his wounds, carried on, whilst his Somali sergeant was killed beside him.
On August 12th and 14th the enemy again concentrated field artillery fire on Captain Wilson’s guns, but he continued, with his wounds untended, to man them.
On August 15th two of his machine-gun posts were blown to pieces, yet Captain Wilson, now suffering from malaria in addition to wounds, still kept his own post in action.
The enemy finally over-ran the post at 5 p.m. on the 15th August when Captain Wilson, fighting to the last, was killed.*
Click here to see full Gazette entry.
Other decorations: N/A
Place/date of death: Stowell, Somerset/December 23, 2008
Grave/memorials: St Mary Magdalene Churchyard, Stowell, Somerset
Origin of VC to the Lord Ashcroft collection: Purchased privately, 2005
Current location of VC: Displayed on rotation at The Lord Ashcroft Gallery: Extraordinary Heroes exhibition, Imperial War Museum
* Wilson, in fact, survived the attack and was taken as a Prisoner of War. He was released at the end of the war.