Geoffrey WILSON
Rank: Lieutenant
Number:
Unit: 209 Squadron ROYAL AIR FORCE
Date of Death: 15 May 1918
Age: 23
Cemetery: Arras Flying Services Memorial, Pas de Calais, France

Geoffrey was the second child of Dr Henry Wilson and Agnes Wilson, who lived at Holly House, Cheadle with their two other children, Henry and Kathleen. When the census was taken in 1901, Dr Wilson’s practice was sufficiently successful for the family to be able to employ two live-in servants – Mary Grundy as cook and Sarah Buxton as housemaid.

He had been educated at Aldenham School and, later,  emigrated to Saskatchewan, Canada, but returned in October 1914 and enlisted in the Army Service Corps. He obtained a commission in the December. After 18 months, he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps, serving as an observer for six months, before he qualified as a pilot.

At 9.30am on 15 May 1918, Geoffrey took off in his Sopwith Camel, B6257, to fly a patrol from which he didn’t return. The squadron was flying a high level offensive patrol over the Somme battlefield. About an hour and a half later, they are understood to have been in combat with a squadron of German Fokker DR1s. This triplane was one of the most effective planes, on both sides, at high altitude. Geoffrey is believed to have been last seen spinning down over the village of Ignaucourt (some 30 kilometres south east of Amiens)

Over the next few months, there were reports, including two from German prisoners of war, confirming that he had been shot down, but it was not until 24 April 1919 that his death was formally recorded by the Royal Air Force.

After the war, a comparison with German records suggests that he was shot down, at 12.05pm (German time), by Lt Hans Kirschstein, of Jasta 6, for his ninth victory. Kirschstein had taken over as commander of this squadron on the death of Baron Mannfred von Richthofen, the “Red Baron”. He would shoot down another 18 planes before being killed on 16 July 1918. He was one of Germany’s greatest fighter Aces.

Geoffrey is commemorated on a memorial to over 1000 flyers who have no known grave.

(Original research by John Hartley for the Cheadle & Gatley War Memorials website)

   
           
   
     
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