Mary Wilkinson (née Marshall and usually known as Molly) died in Winchester in 1983 at the age of 90. Mary had originally enlisted in the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry in 1912. On the outbreak of the First World War she was initially refused permission by the British Authorities to go to Belgium and so it was under the jurisdiction of the Belgian Government that she made her way across the Channel.
Her medals, testament to her work during the war, are displayed in the museum’s Medal Room alongside those of her husband, Captain Wilkinson. Few FANYs, let alone women, were decorated with the Military Medal, an award earned while she was based at the hospital at Marquise in the grounds of the 1st Aeroplane Supply Depot. This location saw the most devastating German aerial attack of the war on an aviation facility. The citation for her Military Medal states “For gallantry and coolness during a bombing raid by hostile aircraft….she displayed the utmost disregard of danger, attending many serious wound cases which required skilful and immediate assistance.”
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Margaret Carrigan visited the museum on a recent drop-in day, to tell the story of her father, 38026 Private George W Kidson of C Company, 9th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment. He enlisted in Richmond in May 1916 – but was told to return home until his call up papers arrived, which they duly did on 5th September 1916. George spent two weeks at the Depot in Richmond and then went to Hartlepool for training. One memorable incident during the night of 29th November occurred when George was on guard duty – a German Zeppelin was brought down. The war really began for George when he arrived at Canada Trench near Ypres – he recalled, “In the trenches each night we were told what to do, I was told to stand on the Fire Step. While I was there at night about 7 Germans walked past me, so near they could have picked me up, if they had seen me. I said to the Serg, “should I fire?”, he said no – not to give the position away.” Later in the year he saw action at Polygon Wood. “On Sunday 30th September we were rushed back, where a German prisoner gave himself up. He told us that the Germans were coming the next day – October 1st. I shall always remember Polygon Wood. Come they did on the Monday. Our Platoon were firing for all they were worth. My rifle was muddy, and the bolt would not work, so I took out…
Percival Dunning was born in 1889 in Thormanby Yorkshire. By 1901 he is listed as Perewal Dunning residing in Coxwold Easingwold. He is living in his grandfather’s (Frances Dunning) house who is a plate layer ganger with North eastern railways. A plate layer’s job was to inspect and maintain railway tracks. Percival attested in Richmond on the 26th of February 1906, at that time his occupation was as a farm labourer. He was 17 years of age, weighed 114 pounds, and had hazel eyes and brown hair. It was noted in the ledger that he was flat footed and had an old injury to the end of his right long finger. He was initially posted to the 4th battalion. In the regimental gazette he is recorded as being wounded towards the end of 1915. The 2nd Battalion were deployed in the Givenchy and Essars area. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission states that Private Dunning was killed in action on the 7th of June 1917. He is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial (panel 33). He also remembered on the memorials at St Michael’s church Coxwold and the King’s book at York minster.
Jonathan Helm submitted this information about his Great Grandfather, Harold Surtees. Lance Corporal Surtees (2048/200407), was born in West Hartlepool and lived in Great Ayton. He volunteered for service in a local meeting on 2nd September 1914. Serving with the 1st/4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment, he was posted to France as part of the 50th Northumbrian Division on 18th April 1915. Although little is known of his exact war record, his photograph indicates two wound stripes and the Whitby Gazette when reporting his death noted that he had been “three times wounded and gassed”. The only confirmed record of wounding is in the War Office Casualty List, which was printed in The Times on Wednesday 25th October 1916. This is likely to have occurred during the Battle of Flers-Courcelette (15th – 22nd September 1916) which was fought during the Battle of the Somme. He died on the 10th April 1918 (aged 26) from wounds sustained when the battalion fought at the Battle of Estaires in an attempt to stop the German advance. Harold is buried at the Haverskerque British Cemetery in France. He left behind his wife, Sarah, and their two children, Harold and Mary.