Won M.M., married, blown up - all in three weeks
It was Mr. Fred ("Okey") WILSON's 26th birthday - but there were no cards or good wishes from his family. "Okey"- a private in the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry - was in a trench near Ronssay on the Somme.
It was April 6th, 1917, and the British were driving the Germans across France.
"Okey" crawled out of his dug-out on a on a bitterly cold morning. There was a three inch carpet of snow on the ground and ahead of him was a German machine-gun post.
This had given the British a sleepless night and if they were to make any further advance they had to wipe it out.
In the words of the official citation, "the British attack was checked by machine gun fire. But Private WILSON rallied his section around him . . . led them forward . . . and captured the post at the point of the bayonet."
"Okey" - now 68 - has suffered a great deal since the end of that war. He has undergone operation after operation to help him recover from the after-effects.
Only recently, surgeons decided it was necessary to amputate an ear.
But, despite his disability, "Okey" today is in the best of spirits.
And last week he gave me his own unadulterated version of the incident which deservedly earned for him the Military Medal - one of the highest awards to be won by other ranks in the First World War.
"I jumped into this German post .... I did not know what I would find there ... but I did not particularly care ... I was almost mad with fear, cold and hunger," he said.
"There were three Germans around the machine-gun. I must have surprised them because they seemed too frightened to put up much of a fight.
"I put my bayonet through two of the -- and took the third prisoner."
Three days later, his officer, Capt. Maurice Edmunds (of Hunt Edmunds Brewery) told "Okey" "WILSON, you have been made a Lance Corporal and you have been awarded the Military Medal."
To Blighty -- and marriage
Lance Corporal Fred WILSON M.M.
"Okey" special leave and he packed his kit- bag and came back to England - to get married
He married 24-year old miss Edith FRANKLIN but after the hurried honeymoon it was back to the trenches for "Okey."
He was drafted to an outpost in France. He spent only five lonely nights there before he was on his way back to England again - on a stretcher.
A stray shell dropped into their dug-out, almost completely wiping out all the occupants.
"Okey" was reported missing to his family, but he was actually on an ambulance travelling to Scotland.
"The first thing I remembered" he said "was waking up in a Military Hospital in Scotland."
He had severe head injuries which kept him in this country for the rest of the war.
"Okey's" work-mates at Stones were so proud of his achievement in winning the Military Medal that they arranged for him to be guest of honour at a social evening at the White Horse during his special leave.
During the evening he was presented with a wrist watch and a purse of money by his colleagues and a five-pound note by one of the members of the firm, Mr. MILNE.
Stadium his "home."
Today, "Okey" lives in retirement at 4 Canal Street, Banbury -- "But if anybody ever inquires where I live" he says "the neighbours invariably reply - Spencer Stadium."
For he is perhaps Banbury Spencer's most loyal servant.
Groundsman, odd-job man, or even trainer, he is the man for the job. Usually he is the first to arrive at the ground when a home match is being played and the last to leave.
He has three sons, a daughter, and only recently he became a great grand-father.
During his life "Okey" has worked at Stones and Banbury N.A.C. He has played football, refereed, and trained greyhounds.
"But if I live to be 100" he says "I shall never forget the month of April, 1917, when I was awarded the Military Medal, married, and then almost blown up."