21 Facts About Arnold Wilson


Sir Arnold Talbot Wilson was a British soldier, colonial administrator, Conservative politician, writer and editor.


Arnold Wilson was the first Member of Parliament to die in action in the Second World War.


Arnold Wilson was killed while serving as an aircrew member at the advanced age of 55.


Arnold Wilson was born in 1884 and educated in England at Clifton College, where his father James Arnold Wilson was a headmaster.


Arnold Wilson began his military career as an army officer 19 August 1903, having been awarded the King's Medal and sword of honour at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, being commissioned on the Unattached List for the British Indian Army.


Arnold Wilson famously saved money travelling back to Britain on leave by working as a stoker to Marseilles and then cycling the rest of the way.


In 1907 Arnold Wilson was transferred to the Indian Political Department and sent to the Persian Gulf, where he served as a political officer.

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Arnold Wilson oversaw the discovery of the first oil site in the Middle East, Masjid-i-Suleiman in 1908.


Arnold Wilson looked like the traditional figure of the Indian Rebellion of 1857 in a top buttoned bright red tunic, the British Indian Army uniform.


Arnold Wilson was a hard worker, a workaholic, who was tirelessly energetic, shifting mountains of paperwork.


Arnold Wilson inspired a younger colleague, Harry Philby, while Hubert Young, a favoured subordinate, found him domineering.


In January 1915, as the British were moving troops from India into Mesopotamia through the Persian Gulf and Basra, Arnold Wilson was designated as the assistant, and then deputy, to Sir Percy Cox, the British political officer for the region.


The decision was to support Arab nationalism, sidetracked Arnold Wilson, and consolidate power in the Colonial Office.


In 1918, Arnold Wilson became acting civil commissioner over the territory that would become known as Iraq.


Across the 1930s Arnold Wilson undertook a great number of extracurricular activities, such as chairman of the Parliamentary Scientific Committee, an active role in the British Science Guild, the British Eugenics Society, the Industrial Health Research Board, and many more.


Arnold Wilson was responsible for the large exhibition of Persian art at Burlington House in London in 1931.


Arnold Wilson published his travelling and political diaries as Thoughts and Talks, More Thoughts and Talks and Walks and Talks Abroad with the Right Book Club.


In 1933 Arnold Wilson was elected in a by-election as the Conservative MP for Hitchin.


Arnold Wilson is buried at Eringhem churchyard, half-way between Dunkirk and Saint-Omer.


Arnold Wilson was immortalised as Sir George Corbett in the 1942 Powell and Pressburger movie One of Our Aircraft is Missing.


Arnold Wilson is commemorated in the scientific names of two species of reptiles: Panaspis wilsoni and Xerotyphlops wilsoni.