AN OA’s wartime memorabilia has been donated to the school archives.
Medals, log books, letters, cap tallies and photographs belonging to Charles Trevor Bowman Wilson, who served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War, will now be kept in the archives and form the centre piece of a display marking Armistice Day.
The collection – presented to the independent school by Mr Wilson’s son, Martin (also an OA) – chronicles his time in the Senior Service, from joining up in early 1940 until being de-mobbed in February 1946.
During his six years, which saw him rise from Ordinary Seaman to the rank of Lieutenant and being Mentioned in Dispatches, Mr Wilson played a vital part in landings at Anzio, Salerno, Avola, Ajaccio and Normandy whilst serving on board HMS LST (Landing Ship, Tank) 425.
After basic training at Plymouth, he joined the cruiser HMS Galatea, patrolling the Arctic waters and North Sea. Mr Wilson left Galatea in April 1941 to undertake officer training, before being posted to HMS Helicon, situated at the convoy assembly base in Loch Ewe,Scotland.
In December of the same year, many of his former shipmates on HMS Galatea were killed when it was sunk by a German U Boat, off the Egyptian coast.
In early 1943, Mr Wilson – whose family owned a string of drapery shops in the North Riding and the North East – crossed to New Yorkon board the Queen Elizabeth.
Here, the newly promoted Lieutenant resided at the Barbazon Plaza Hotel and attended Sperry Gyro Compass Works, to learn about the new gyro compass. During his spare time he managed to visit relations on his mother’s side and was “well looked after”.
On board LST 425, Lieutenant Wilson took part in five “D-Day” amphibious landings in the Mediterranean andNormandy, and was Mentioned in Dispatches for theNormandyassault.
Nicknamed Large Slow Target by the men who served on them, LST 425 held the “Blue Riband” for the most number of trips to theNormandybeaches whilst transporting 1,222 vehicles, 221 officers and 3,740 men. A similar number had been carried from North Africa toSicily,MaltaandItaly.
In March 1945, Lieutenant Wilson was transferred to HMS Kirkella, a trawler patrolling the Irish Sea. His last posting was ashore, where he was Officer in Charge of Barrack Patrol, at HMS Drake inPlymouth.
In February 1946, Mr Wilson, who was born in 1915 in Middlesbrough, was discharged from the Royal Navy and returned to his family in Eaglescliffe, Stockton-on-Tees, and to the Stockton business where he had worked before signing up. In 1949, Mr Wilson, his wife Joan and their two sons, David and Martin, moved to Osmotherley, near Northallerton.
Five years later, following the sale of theStocktonshop, Mr Wilson joined the North Riding of Yorkshire branch of the British Red Cross Society headquarters in Northallerton, as Appeals and Publicity Officer, a position he held for 24 years. He died in 1993 aged 78.
His son Martin, who also served in the Royal Navy, said: “Like many other who served in the Second World War, he seldom talked about his experiences.
“I decided to donate my father’s war-time me memorabilia toAshvilleCollege, as the school played an important part in his life, as well as that of mine and my brother.
“The collection chronicles his life from being an Ordinary Seaman at the start of his military service, right through to his leaving as an officer, and beyond.”
Ashville College Head of History Andi Barker said: “We are very grateful to Mr Wilson for donating his father’s war-time memorabilia to the school. It’s a remarkable collection and makes fascinating reading.
“The archives are being used by the school on an increasing basis for projects and displays as they help bring history alive. And what’s even better is the items are those of a formerAshville College pupil.”
Picture Caption: Trevor Wilson’s War! Charles Trevor Wilson’s son, Martin, proudly displays his father’s naval medals, which have now been presented to Ashville College’s archives.