Samuel James Wilson

Sergeant Samuel James Wilson was a well-known musician in his hometown of Portadown, Co. Armagh before training with R.A.F. No. 27 Operational Training Unit.


Samuel James Wilson


Sergeant Samuel James Wilson (1026302) served in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve during the Second World War. Known as James, he was the youngest son of Albert Wilson and Mamie Wilson of Shillington Street, Portadown, Co. Armagh.

James attended Portdown Technical School and St. Mark’s Church of Ireland Boys’ Brigade in his home town as a young man. He was a musician and performed in Parkmount Band conducted by his father, and the Night Lights Dance Band conducted by his older brother. Before serving in the Second World War, James performed in shows for service personnel.

Sergeant Wilson died on 19th July 1942 aged 22 years old while serving in No. 27 Operational Training Unit. He was a wireless operator on Vickers Wellington IC DV800 when it came down on a daytime cross-country flying exercise. The crew took off from R.A.F. Lichfield, Staffordshire, England but veered about 10 miles off course over north Wales. At around 1230hrs, on descending through the cloudbase of around 2,000 feet to get their bearings, the plane struck high ground in the Black Ladder Mountains between Carnedd Dafydd and Carnedd Llewelyn in Snowdonia.

An inquest after the incident found no primary cause for the crash with a secondary cause of navigational error between Holyhead and Rhyl. The plane should have been flying at 7,000 feet but had descended to below 2,000 due to Wilson’s wireless being out of service. The crew transmitted their last message at 1206hrs. It would be ten more days before a rescue crew from R.A.F. Llandwrog, Gwynedd, Wales located the crash site.

A funeral service took place on 3rd August 1942 at St. Mark’s Church, Portadown, Co. Armagh conducted by Reverend J.F. McAlister and Reverend F.W. Gowing. The Royal Irish Fusiliers provided a firing party and a bugler who sounded The Last Post and Reveille. Pallbearers were 6 sergeants from the Royal Air Force.

Sergeant Wilson’s grave is in Section A, Plot 4, Grave 26 of Seagoe Church of Ireland Churchyard, Portadown, Co. Armagh. His name is on the Portadown War Memorial, Portadown, Co. Armagh as James S. Wilson.

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