Today, I attended the Ancre Somme Association’s unveiling of a portrait of Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson.
Sir Henry was a man of outstanding military service, a decorated war veteran, a leading figure in WW1 and a Northern Ireland MP.
He was murdered by cowardly IRA terrorists outside his London home. Sir Henry was ambushed by two IRA gunmen. Showing no mercy, they began to fire their weapons.
The brave Sir Henry is said to have drawn his sword in defence, but a sword is no match to revolvers.
Having been hit six times, Sir Henry Wilson fell dead on the steps of his home.
The whole event was witnessed by his housemaid who recounted how Sir Henry “You cowardly swine!”
Their dirty deed done, the killers attempted to make their escape on foot, wounding two police officers and a member of the public as they escaped the scene.
They did not get too far before members of the public apprehended them, the police having to rescue them from an angry crowd.
The murder of Sir Henry Wilson sent shockwaves throughout the empire uniting them in grief and determination.
The brutal murder must be viewed as a major own goal by the IRA and the Irish Free State, their total hatred created a unionist martyr, guaranteed Northern Ireland’s survival and laid the grounds for civil war resulting in the sad death of thousands of Irish men, women, and children, including Michael Collins.
Field Marshall Sir Henry Wilson was born into a southern unionist family who were initially opposed to partition, he spoke with a strong southern accent and always identified himself as an Irishman but, the people of Northern Ireland held Sir Henry Wilson in the highest of regards, electing him the Ulster Unionist MP for North Down.
Like Carson, Wilson was an Irish unionist who became a founding father of Ulster Unionism and of Northern Ireland, this is why we should honour and never forget this great man and his legacy.
Today, Sir Henry’s memory was immortalised with the unveiling of a portrait at Brownlow House in Lurgan and the placing of a plaque in Parliament, it’s the very least we can do for this brave and noble Irishman whose only crime was his loyalty.
Jonathan Buckley MLA, Upper Bann