WILDER, Reginald 'Rex' Connor Phillips

2nd Lieutenant, Reginald Connor Phillips WILDER
Aged 19

3rd Battalion (att'd 2nd), Suffolk Regiment
Killed in Action on Wednesday, 18th November 1914

An Old Contemptible

Reginald Connor Phillips Wilder was born in 1896 in Great Bradley (Risbridge Q1-1895 4A:733), baptised in Great Bradley on 24th March 1896, son of Reverend William Burnard Chichester and Mabel Elizabeth WILDER (née GROVE).

1901 census...Aged 5, he was at The Rectory, Great Bradley with his father William Bernard WILDER [34] C of E priest born Barnardiston, his mother Mabel Elizabeth [28] born St.Ives, Hunts; brothers William Eric [6] and Bernard Leslie [2]

1911 census...Aged 15 he was a pupil at Walthamstow College. His parents were still at the Rectory, Great Bradley

His father and three uncles had followed one another as rector at St Mary's Church for 74 successive years. The Wilder service to the Church of St. Mary, Great Bradley was as follows
1869...J.T.Wilder M.A.
1870...McM.Charles.G.Wilder.LLB on JT Wilder's resignation
1881...J.T.Wilder M.A. on death of last Rector
1892...W.B.C.Wilder M.A. on the death of the last Rector
Trustees of the late Rev J.McM.Wilder
1932-1942..P.H.E.Wilder B.A. on the death of the last Rector.

From his father's diary :- 29-11-1914 : On Monday, November 23. A telegram from War Office announcing the death of my 2nd son. Rex C.P. killed in action Nov. 19 1914,"R.I.P." Held a Memorial Service for the poor old fellow at 3 p.m. on the afternoon of the 29th. Church more than full. Service conducted by Rev. B. Fleming.

His entry in De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour reads :
WILDER, REGINALD CONNOR PHILLIPS, 2nd.Lieut.,2nd Battn.(12th Foot) The Suffolk Regt., 2nd s. of the Rev.W.B.C.Wilder; served with the Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders,and was killed in action there 19.Nov.1914.

He was engaged in routine trench duties between Wulverghem and Messines when he was shot by a sniper, and killed instantly. His C.O. Lt.Col. H.F. Clifford wrote to his parents :-
"I thought him a charming, bright lad, who did his work cheerily and willingly, and his death is a truly sad loss to me and all the battalion, which cannot spare good officers as your son was."
His Company Commander, Lieutenant Cautley wrote:-
"He was shot through the neck about 7 in the morning, and I am glad to say that death was instantaneous. He commanded a platoon in my company, and I cannot speak too highly of the way in which he carried out his duties on all occasions. He was buried the following night beside one of his brother officers, killed within a few hours of each other".
The makeshift grave was alongside the Wulverghem-Messines Road, and was discovered in 1919. His fellow officer Lt.McDonagh was re-interred in Wulverghem-Lindhoek Cemetery, but Reginald Wilder's remains were never found. He has a memorial cross in the cemetery (1919) together with 9 others whose original marked grave had been found, but no remains and are subsequently named on the Menin Gate.

During the week March 21-28 1920, the stained glass East End window and stone work were inserted to the memory of Reginald.
Despite his death being in 1914, the window shows him with a tin helmet under his arm, but they were not introduced until 1916, also the soldier represented in the window is an other rank, whereas Reginald was an officer. This was probably due to the scene depicted being taken from James Clarke's "The Great Sacrifice".
Credit for some details of Reginald death and commemorative window is due to Tony Brown, through the pages of "Castle and Key", the magazine of the Friends of the Suffolk Regiment.

photo: Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Reginald Wilder is commemorated on the Menin Gate, Ypres, panel 21

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details