The Story of the Wilson Brothers (My husband Shane's great uncles)
George and Isabella Wilson moved to Australia from Ireland for a better life. They started in Braidwood in NSW but after having several children moved to Portmacquarie on the north coast of NSW to start a business in the timber industry.
Three of their sons, Eric-21, Samuel- 29, and Jim-17, were inseparable and all enlisted together to fight in World War 1.
Three weeks after arriving at Fromelles France they joined the 53rd Battalion and the boys were part of one of the bloodiest battles in a 24hr period in Australian War history. Samuel and Eric were last seen charging together and were both killed on 19th July 1916. Jim was shot in the neck almost killing him and was found later in an English hospital. Eric and Sam were buried by the Germans in a mass grave alongside hundreds of other soldiers, at Pheasants Wood Fromelles and with that began a 94 year mystery as all those soldiers remained under ground in what was an unknown location, therefore the families never had closure over the missing dead.
Fast forward to 2009 and the mass grave was discovered, relatives were asked by the Australian Defense for DNA and in 2010 Samuel and Eric Wilson were positively identified- they were buried together. Their mother died before Jim could return home- some say of a broken heart. Jim did return home and went on to live a full life. The soldiers were buried in a new cemetery purpose built at Pheasant Wood, right near the place they were found, and not far from where they lost their lives.
When we traveled France last year we were able to visit the cemetry and other memorial sites in Fromelles as well as visit the museum in the town Marie which had an incredible collection of war items and photos including a huge photo of the Wilson brothers (the largest one there) which was incredibly emotional. I felt immensely proud to be an Australian, it is clear the French have a huge love and respect for us because of the sacrifice our soldiers made. Here are some images to Honour the Wilson Brothers and the Battle at Fromelles France.