Pte. J. Wilkinson

Pte. J. Wilkinson

4861657 Private William Herbert Wilkinson,
2nd Battalion, The Royal Leicestershire Regiment

Pte Jack Wilkinson (Yorkshire Evening Post 27 July 1942)

William Herbert Wilkinson, known to all as Jack, was born in Halifax in 1919.

His mother and father, Louisa Clark Johnson, and Alfred Wilkinson were originally from Collingham, and married in St Oswald’s Church on 12th April 1914. Alfred Wilkinson was employed as a drayman.

Alfred Wilkinson remarried in 1927, when he married Mabel Cowling, a year after the death of his first wife, Louisa. Alfred and Mabel Wilkinson were employees of the West Riding County Council, Mabel being a school caretaker, most probably in Scholes. The Wilkinson family, by the time the Second World War broke out, was living at Orchard Cottage, on Main Street in Scholes.

Jack Wilkinson worked as a painter at Charles H Roe, the bus and coachbuilder, on Manston Lane in Cross Gates.

Jack Wilkinson was conscripted into the Army on 19th March 1940, and was sent to 2nd Battalion, the Royal Leicestershire Regiment at the age of 20 years. His battalion was a part of 16th Infantry Brigade, 6th Division and fought in the Battle of Sidi Barrani in Egypt, in December 1940. Shortly after the New Year, in January 1941 it was in action again as it took part in the Battle of Bardia, in Libya. Soon afterwards, the battalion was transferred to Greece to oppose the German invasion there, and it was involved in the unsuccessful defence of Crete in May 1941.

The Athens Memorial (CWGC)

Jack Wilkinson was killed in action during this fighting on 27th May 1941, as Allied troops were making their way to the south coast of the island in order to be evacuated, as the battle was lost. In the chaos, there was no opportunity to recover and bury his body, and it was subsequently lost Private William Herbert (Jack) Wilkinson is now commemorated on the Athens Memorial in Phaleron War Cemetery, which stands to commemorate all those who were lost and have no known grave from the campaigns in Greece and Crete in 1941, and 1944-45, as well as those from the fighting in the Dodecanese Islands and Yugoslavia.

Jack Wilkinson was the first man from Scholes to be killed in action in the Second World War.

 Mabel Wilkinson died in 1942, and her husband, Alfred, Jack's father died in 1956, having moved away from Scholes some years earlier. It is possible that when the War Memorial Committee was gathering information on names to include for the Second World War, they did not make the connection between the suggested Jack Wilkinson, and William Herbert Wilkinson, and thus the name was recorded incorrectly.