18 May 2007

RIP: Dwight Wilson

ZUI this article from the Los Angeles Times:
Dwight Wilson, one of the last two Canadian veterans of World War I, died Wednesday [9 May] in Toronto, officials said. He was 106.

Wilson's death leaves one known surviving Canadian veteran of the war — 106-year-old John Babcock of Spokane, Wash.

And this from the Ottawa Citizen:
Dwight Wilson's dogged determination to join his countrymen in the trenches of the First World War drove him to enlist not once, but twice, despite news reports chronicling the "horrendous" conflict being waged in Europe.


"I think maybe in 1914, when the war broke out, some of the young boys signing up thought it would be a lark," said [his son, Paul] Wilson. "By 1916, there had been thousands upon thousands of them just killed. They had some horrendous battles."

It was in that climate that a 15-year-old Wilson, who had served as a bugler in the 9th Mississauga Horse militia a year earlier, headed overseas in the fall of 1916 despite his parents' objections.


It was while awaiting orders to the frontline that Wilson's commanding officer discovered his true age, and put the young soldier to work digging defensive trenches in the south of England.

Wilson, already earning a reputation among his colleagues for his frequent singing while he worked, was sent back to Canada in January 1917 and discharged as a minor.

He managed to re-enlist in the 69th Battery in April. Four months later, Wilson was discharged as a minor yet again while stationed in Petawawa.

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