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Defence Medal

This medal was first instituted in May 1945 and awarded to military and civilian subjects of the British Commonwealth during the Second World War. This medal was awarded to Sir Arnold Wilson, who was killed in WWII while serving as an MP.

Sir Arnold Wilson MP

Sir Arnold Wilson served as Conservative MP for Hitchin in Hertfordshire (1932-40). His decorations and medals were given for his services as a soldier in WWI and WWII, as civil commissioner in Mesopotamia, what is now modern Iraq during 1918-20, and in the Persian Gulf.

Wilson remains a controversial historic figure noted to have supported fascist governments and as an MP he played an active role in the eugenics movement.

Wilson was the first serving MP who died in action during WWII. Wilson, who had been a supporter of appeasement in the 1930s, told his constituents he would not ‘shelter behind the bodies of millions of young men' but would serve with them on the outbreak of war in 1939. At the age of 55 he was accepted into the RAF, despite his age, initially as a Pilot Officer, then as Gunnery Officer. He was shot down and killed on a mission over France on 31 May 1940.

Image: © Parliamentary Art Collection, WOA M0547


Defence Medal awarded to Sir Arnold Wilson KCIE, CSI, CMG, DSO, MP (1884-1940)



Catalogue number

WOA M0547