6th Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers,
Killed in Action, 16th August 1915, at Gallipoli
James was from Dublin. We know he was a married man as his wife and child were mentioned as living at 8 Montague Court in Dublin, in the Evening Herald of September 1916, his wife’s name was Fanny.
James enlisted around the 21st August 1914 in Naas. An old soldier he had 13 years service with the colours by 1915 and was probably on the Reserve when called up for war service.
James joined the 6th (Service) Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers on enlistment and began basic training at the Curragh. In the late spring of 1915, the newly formed battalion was in training near Basingstoke, and, towards the end of June, it received orders to prepare to leave Britain to go into action at Gallipoli, as part of the 30th Brigade in 10th (Irish) Division.
On the 11th July 1915 the battalion embarked at Devonport and sailed to Gallipoli via Mytilene, landing at Suvla Bay at 5am on 7th August 1915. For the remainder of that day and the next, the men undertook fatigues carrying water and ammunition, attached first to 31st Brigade on water & ammunition fatigues, then attached to 33rd Brigade on 9th Aug.
Moved forward to positions near Chocolate Hill in support of Brigade attack (heavy casualties) Relieved 12th Aug. and to rest camp ‘A’ Beach. Few details of the day still exist but it appears that the Battalion was not called upon to go into action. Nearly 40 soldiers were killed (brigade total), however; most probably by enemy shellfire.
Rejoined 30th Brigade on Kiretech Tepe Sirt 13th Aug. Took part in attack along the ridge on 15th and suffered further casualties (7 officers; 4 other ranks; KIA). B, C and D Company’s took over positions at Spion Kop on 16th. More casualties during counter attacks. One of these killed was James.
Further analysis of that day shows that despite massive gaps in their ranks, being low on ammunition, with no bombs available and suffering from extreme thirst, they dug in and held their ground. However, at 4am on the 16th the reinforced Turks began a vicious series of bombing and bayonet attacks. The attacks were unrelenting. The Irish and English troops held their ground with a grim determination, but without fresh troops and bombs the battalions just could not realistically hold out much longer. Desperate appeals for reinforcements and more ammunition fell on deaf ears and the surviving men “threw rocks when their meagre supply of jam tin bombs ran out”
The battalion was relieved in the evening and withdrew to their original lines on the night of the 16th August. Eight men of the 6th were killed this day, with scores wounded. James Wilson being one of the dead. Nine days after arriving on Gallipoli, his war was over.
James is remembered with honour on the Helles Memorial his body never being found.
In his will he left all his belongings to his wife Fanny of 8 Montague Court in Dublin.