|Former Commanding Officer, 81st/1st Regiment|
|His Last Command|
Colonel Lucien Wilder, a relatively minor, though very important character is first mentioned in Traitor General, when he appears in a dream of Tona Criid’s during the insertion mission on Gereon, he is formally introduced in the next book in the series, His Last Command.
Wilder (described as a handsome, dark haired man) had been the commanding officer of the 81st Belladon Recon regiment for over a decade, when the decision was made to merge the Regiment with the Tanith 1st. The 81st had suffered severe losses at all levels in prior campaigns, whilst the Tanith was thought as badly deficient in the charismatic leadership required of an Imperial Guard regiment (Gaunt’s insertion team was presumed L.I.A on Gereon, and the campaign on Herodor had cost the Ghosts Corbec, Soric, Curral and Mkendrick). Wilder was therefore appointed Colonel of the newly created 81st/1st Recon, and tasked with leading the Ghosts through the fierce fighting of Sparshard Mons.
Though the merger of the regiments was initially opposed by the Tanith, Wilder quickly became respected by the Ghosts for his good humour, tactical know-how and excellent leadership. A popular and generally fair man, he proved remarkably successful at gaining the loyalty of the Ghosts, going so far as to adopt tactics and equipment favored by the Tanith, a newer, less proud regiment than the 81st. Wilder was unafraid to speak his mind, and he regularly showed levels of courage and personality on a par with his forbearer.
Wilder had a good rapport with his officers (particularly Baskeyvl and Novobazky), and was not above spending recreational time with them, in many ways he had similarities to the Tanith's own Colonel Corbec. Despite this, he had a firm attitude on the battlefield that many feared, and he made more extensive use of his Commissar’s than Gaunt.
Wilder experienced difficulties when the Gereon 12 returned to the Regiment, finding himself fighting against the Ghosts old loyalties, as much as the enemy, and struggling to adapt to Commissar Hark’s approach to leadership. Rawne’s return proved particularly troublesome, crass and ignoring orders, he quickly annoyed Captain Meryn (whose promotion was viewed by many as one of Wilder’s few mistakes) amongst others, and infuriated Wilder by remaining in contact with Gaunt.
Such insubordination ultimately proved decisive, when, with Rawne’s help, Gaunt learned the step cities the Imperial Guard were currently fighting in, including Sparshard Mons, were actually giant warp gates in use by the enemy. Lord General Van Voytz immediately ordered a general withdrawal so that the step cities could be leveled by orbital bombardment. The 81st/1st faced a fierce battle to withdraw in time, whilst Gaunt frantically returned to the frontline to assist in the evacuation. Soon after Wilder at last met Gaunt and ordered him to assume command of the regiment, electing to remain with Company A to cover the regiments escape. Wilder and Company A paid the ultimate price for their bravery, wiped out to a man, though the regiment’s withdrawal proved successful. Even though Wilder's death once again left Gaunt in command of the regiment, now re-designated the Tanith 1st, his death is regretted by many of the Ghosts, and Gaunt himself remains respectful of Wilder’s stewardship.
Unlike Corbec or Gaunt Wilder seems to have favored a simple laspistol in combat, it is assumed his body was not recovered for burial.
Early Life & Background Edit
Very little is known of Wilder's early life or his origins, suffice that he was a veteran with the 81st Belladon and served at Balhaut, the sight of Gaunt's most notable victory. Due to Wilder’s rank and standing amongst the Belladon it seems highly probable he had served with the 81st since its founding in 753. M41. He had at least one brother, Jakub Wilder, who as a Captain and regimental bandmaster eventually joined the Ghosts in Salvations Reach.
Though Lucien Wilder plays a small role in the books, he quickly comes across as a charismatic leader and memorable successor to Gaunt. If Dan Abnett ever feels so inclined to explore it, Wilder’s backstory would make for a fascinating addition to the series.