b. 04/03/1842 Swaffham, Norfolk. d. 25/05/1921 Swaffham, Norfolk.
Sir Arthur Knyvet Wilson (1842-1921) was born on 4 March 1842 in Swaffham in Norfolk, the son of Rear-Admiral George Knyvet Wilson. He was the nephew of Major-General Sir Archdale Wilson of Delhi. He entered the Royal Navy in 1855 and served as a midshipman aboard HMS Algiers during the Crimean War (1855) followed by the Second Opium War (1858). In 1870 he became a member of the committee investigating the effectiveness of the Whitehead torpedo, and in 1876 became commander of the new torpedo school HMS Vernon, where his duties included rewriting torpedo manuals, inventing aiming apparatus and developing mine warfare. As a result of being appointed to command the torpedo boat depot ship HMS Hecla, Wilson became involved in both the 1882 Anglo-Egyptian War and the Mahdist War in 1884.
On 29th February 1884, at the Battle of El Teb, Captain Wilson of HMS Hecla, was attached to the right battery of the Naval Brigade, following a lieutenant who had been mortally wounded. As the troops closed in on an enemy battery, the Arabs charged out onto the detachment which was dragging one of the guns. At this point, Captain Wilson became involved in hand to hand combat with some of the enemy, thus protecting the gun detachment, until some men of the 1st Battalion, York and Lancaster Regiment came to his aid.
His Victoria Cross was gazetted on 21st May 1884, and he was invested with his Victoria Cross by CinC Portsmouth, Admiral Sir George Phipps-Hornby, at Portsmouth, on 6th June 1884. He was Aide de Camp to the Queen 1892-95, and a Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty and Comptroller of the Navy 1897-1901. He was knighted in 1902, and created a GCB in 1903. From 1901 to 1903 he was in command of the Channel Squadron, and from 1903 to 1907 was Commander in Chief of the Home and Channel Fleets. In 1905, he was created a GCVO, and in 1907 he became Admiral of the Fleet. From 1909-1912 he was First Lord of the Admiralty, before he retired from service and was given the Order of Merit.
Wilson died on 25th May 1921, aged 79 at his home, “Beech Cottage” in Swaffham, Norfolk. He was laid to rest in St Peter and St Paul’s Churchyard in Swaffham. His medals are held by the Royal Navy Museum, Portsmouth.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: ROYAL NAVAL MUSEUM, PORTSMOUTH, HAMPSHIRE.
BURIAL PLACE: ST PETER & ST PAUL CHURCHYARD, SWAFFHAM, NORFOLK.
Zone 1, Row 3, Grave 5
Richard Thompson – Image of the Wilson VC Medal Group at Royal Naval Museum, Portsmouth.