L. W. G. Wilson
Person Male Born 11/12/1904 Died 7/10/1940
Station Officer - One of two men (with Frederick Mitchell) who gave their lives at Soho Fire Station on 7th October 1940. London Fire Journal gives his name as William Wilson. See Mitchell for some details of the incident.
Our colleague, Andrew Behan, has researched the man.
Station Officer Leslie William George Wilson, B.E.M., was born on 11 December 1904 in North Hackney, the eldest child of William Henry Wilson and Selina Wilson née Harnshar. On 5 March 1905 he was baptised and the baptismal register shows the family living at 20 Sanford Terrace, Stoke Newington, and that his father was a dairyman.
In the 1911 census he described as a schoolboy living in four rooms at 4 Lancell Street, Stoke Newington, with his parents and younger brother William Ernest Wilson (1907-1990). His father was listed as a milk carrier.
In the 1st quarter of 1931 he married Ethel Kathleen Pringuer (1904-1986) in the Stoke Newington registration district and the birth of their son, Michael J. Wilson, was registered in the 1st quarter of 1932 in the Stepney registration district. Electoral registers in 1933 list him and his wife at 47 The Broadway, Wood Green, but registers from 1935 to 1939 show them both at 70 Blakesware Gardens, Edmonton, next door to his wife's parents and siblings at 68 Blakesware Gardens.
Whilst the 1939 England and Wales Register lists his wife at 70 Blakesware Gardens, he is listed at Clerkenwell Fire Station, 44 Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1, where he was recorded as an Auxilary Fire Service Company Officer, Service No 88. and that his civilian occupation was an advertising make-up clerk.
He was killed, aged 35 years, as result of enemy action when a bomb fell on Shaftesbury Avenue Fire Station, on 7 October 1940. According to probate records his body was not found until 19 October 1940 and that when administration was granted to his widow on 20 January 1941 his effects totalled £380.
On 6 March 1941 he was posthumously awarded the British Empire Medal. This was a result of a recommendation by Frank Whitford Jackson, Deputy Chief Officer of the London Fire Brigade whose report read that Station Officer Wilson, who had been been in the AFS for two-and-one-half years,"showed great devotion to duty and set an excellent example under very trying conditions at 14 fires which occurred between the 8th and 17th September 1940. In particular he was of great assistance to his superior officers at the fires at Endell Street, New Bond Street and Rathbone Place. At the latter fire at personal risk he endeavoured to extricate several persons who were trapped beneath the debris".
His recommendation was supported by two other officers. District Officer H.R. Lucas wrote "Wilson displayed great initiative and resourcefulness at the series of fires which occured between the 8th and the 17th September 1940. His assistance to me was of great value and he refused to spare himself in the carrying out of my orders, often working under difficult conditions until almost exhausted. At the fire at Rathbone Place, W1, he worked extremely hard at personal risk to extricaate persons trapped. Wilson has since been killed on duty".
Acting Station Officer S. Pow wrote "Wilson worked with me at numerous serious fires during the period 8th-19th September 1940 and proved to be of great assistance in every way. He displayed great devotion to duty and on the occasion of the fire in Rathbone Place, W1, he assisted to extricate persons from the debris under very difficult conditions".
He is also commemorated on the National Firefighters Memorial and in their Book of Remembrance. He is also shown on the Civilian War Dead Roll of Honour 1939-1945 located just outside the entrance to St George's Chapel at the west end of Westminster Abbey and on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's website.