PRIVATE WILLIAM JOHN WILSON
8TH AUGUST 1916 AGE 31
BURIED: PUCHEVILLERS BRITISH CEMETERY, FRANCE
Private Wilson's inscription comes from Tennyson's The Princess, published in 1847, which addresses the idea of the education of women. Whilst the context of the poem throws little light on Wilson's inscription the sentiment is very pertinent. Many men would have recognised this feeling of satisfaction in knowing that you were doing your duty. Lavinia Talbot recognised it in her son Gilbert's army career, writing in the memoir she compiled:
"I think the definite, and, until the war was over, the unquestioned rightness of his serving in the army produced a feeling of quiet and satisfaction which made his soldier's life very happy."
Talbot was killed in July 1915. William John Wilson's life was very different from Gilbert Talbot's. Talbot was the son of the Bishop of Winchester, educated at Winchester and Oxford and related to some of the grandest families in England. Wilson was a farmer from Warbrook in Western Australia whose education had been gained by correspondence course, yet both men took satisfaction from knowing that they were doing "the thing one ought".
Wilson, who served with the 48th Battalion Australian Infantry, died of wounds received in the savage fighting at Pozieres when the War Diary recorded:
"The Battalion casualties 5th to 7th [August] inclusive were: 6 officers killed ... , 14 officers wounded ... 98 other ranks killed, 404 other ranks wounded, 76 others ranks missing."