William Wilkinson

Medals awarded

  • Companion of The Most Honorable Order of the Bath
  • The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire
  • Distinguished Service Order
  • Military Cross
  • 1914-1915 Star
  • British War Medal 1914-1920
  • Victory Medal 1914-1919 with MID Oakleaf
  • Defence Medal 1939-1945
  • King George VI Coronation Medal 1937
  • Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953

William Dale Wilkinson was born on the 13th July 1893.

He served with the 7th Battalion and left for France on 1 June 1916. On the 21st June 1916, eight 2nd Lieutenants joined the Battalion in Heilly in France and two were posted to ‘A’ Company. An attack was to have taken place on Fricourt on the 29th June, however this was postponed for 48 hours. During the attack 2nd Lieutenant Griffith was wounded and replaced by 2nd Lieutenant Wilkinson from the Reserve Officers at Ville. ‘During the heavy fighting that followed the Battalion was met by ‘murderous’ machine gun and rifle fire, Officers and men were literally mown down’.

13 Officers and more than 300 men became casualties in 3 minutes. The battalion was withdrawn after dark on the 1st July 1916 and relieved by the 6th Battalion Dorset Regiment. For his action William Dale Wilkinson was awarded the Military Cross – and on the 26th August 1916 the Middlesbrough Daily Gazette reported: ‘Temporary Second Lieutenant William Dale Wilkinson of the Yorkshire Regiment: Awarded Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry in action. He led his platoon with great dash under heavy machine gun fire. When further advance was impossible he lay for several hours close to the enemy and dispatched a clear account of the situation to his Commanding Officer’.

On the 6th November 1916 Wilkinson was made a Temporary Captain and attached to the Indian Army. On the 12th March 1917 he was mentioned in Despatches and was awarded the DSO in recognition of his gallantry and devotion to duty in the Field. The London Gazette reported: ‘Temporary Captain William Dale Wilkinson MC, Yorkshire Regiment, on entering the captured position he sent back clear and concise information superintended the consolidation and blocking of the flanks and remained complete master of the situation. It was mainly owing to his gallant leadership that the enemies’ trench was captured and 2 Officers and 78 other ranks taken prisoners,’

He was mentioned again in Despatches on the 9th April 1917 and on the 16th March 1922.

William met Mary Devas Marshall during the war. Mary was a member of the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry in 1912 and served in hospitals in Calais, Port Binson and Marquise as a ‘driver’. They married in 1934 in Reading.

The 1939 Register records William as working as Assistant Secretary to the War Cabinet. In 1942 he was awarded the CBE.

William died on the 31st January 1973 in Taunton. He and Mary are buried together in ‘Curry Rivel’, St Andrew, Somerset.

He had donated his medals to the museum on the condition that Mary’s would also be displayed. Read more about Mary here.