Wilson, Alec

Birth Date

27th November 1915



Biographical Text

Alec was born on the 27th November 1915 and for most of the next twenty-four years lived with his widowed mother, Mary, and younger brother, John, at Stowey, 36, Withycombe Road, Exmouth, Devon. His father, Alexander Alfred Wilson, had been a regular soldier serving for twenty-eight years with the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, joining, age fourteen in 1884 as a boy soldier and leaving in 1902 after having fought in the Boer War. Alexander Senior, who in the army had been a bandmaster, taught music until his death in 1919 when Alec was 4, but John was just six months old. ‘Stowey’ is a late Victorian three-story terraced house run by Mary, his mother, in typical Edwardian style as a seaside B & B or boarding house as they were then known.
Apart from a small Army Widows’ pension this was the only income for the family. Life must have been very hard raising and educating two strapping and energetic sons. Alec was educated at Exmouth Grammar School, leaving in 1931. A keen musician (a skill no doubt inherited from his father) and sportsman favouring football and cricket, Alec used to also caddy at Exmouth golf club. Once he cycled the round trip to Taunton in Somerset, a distance of about one hundred miles to watch legendary Donald Bradman bat for Australia. He was an ardent and was to become a life-long supporter and eventually archivist of Exeter City F.C. During his teenage years he began his lifetime hobby, almost obsession, of collecting sporting and popular music statistics, carrying always his little notebook and pencil. At sixteen family finances dictated that he should leave the Grammar School, as was evidenced by the Grammar School reference given by headmaster, Mr Hughes.
He worked initially as a junior in a local solicitor’s office and later as a clerk with the Devon County Council. By now an accomplished piano player he was employed at some point in the thirties to play on at least one Atlantic crossing in the Blue Riband, liner / cruise ship ‘Mauretania’. He told that this adventure broke the inevitable boredom of winter in an otherwise lively summer seaside resort.

Alec enlisted for the army just after the outbreak of the war. He was posted to the Wiltshire Regiment in Devizes for infantry training. In June 1940, Alec was posted to the 2nd Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment, he was to continue his pre-war occupation as a battalion clerk. On the 12th January 1941, Alec married Agnes MacInerny. The marriage was cut tragically short when on the 13th April 1942 Agnes died of sepsis after a minor routine nasal operation.
On 26th May 1942, Alec with the Royal Sussex, was deployed to the Middle East as part of Montgomery’s Eighth Army. Here he fought at the decisive battle of El Alamein. Later that year he volunteered for the newly formed Parachute Regiment and in May of 1943, he was officially transferred to the 10th Battalion the Parachute Regiment. The battalion took part in the invasion of Italy and in December 1943, returned to England where they were to be based in rural east Leicestershire until they were deployed in September 1944 to drop behind enemy lines in Holland as part of Operation Market Garden, which became known as The Battle of Arnhem. Alec was wounded and taken prisoner at Arnhem and was imprisoned in Czechoslovakia until the cessation of the war in May 1945.

When Alec was demobilised in 1946, he settled in Northamptonshire and then Leicestershire with his new partner (later to be his wife), Gwen. In 1950 his first and only child, Alec was born.

Post war, Alec had a number of different jobs, but usually based on his undoubted abilities as a very experienced clerk both in the Army and Civvy Street. He worked at the Corby Steel Works and then as Prudential Insurance man. When he moved to Leicester around 1958, he joined the huge BTH factory (later AEI), eventually rising to become the accounts office manager. He retired in 1980.
Although Alec never returned to live in Devon, he never lost interest in his beloved Exeter City FC. And much of his spare time when he was not working and then all of his time when he retired, was spent compiling statistics and the history of, not only, Exeter but all the clubs in the Football League. Ultimately, he compiled an enormous and complete, hand-typed, volume of work, ‘The Complete Statistical History of The Football League from Inception until 1989’. At the same time, he had collated the entire statistical record of Exeter City FC and this was (sadly just after he died in August 1989) condensed into ‘The History of Exeter City’ which was published by Breedon Books in 1990.
Devon boy, Alec, was laid to rest in the lovely country churchyard of Kimcote in South Leicestershire. His epitaph pays tribute not to his love of football but rather his other passion, music.
‘The song is ended but the melody lingers on’


Alec Wilson





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