L/ Cpl 15/982 G. Wilkinson
Pte 15/984 R. Wilkinson
West Yorkshire Regiment, Prince of Wales Own. 15th Battalion, Leeds Pals

Frederick Wilkinson and Elizabeth Carr had seven children in total, but only five survived infancy – all boys; Harry, John-Earle, Gerald, Reginald and Wilfred. Their father was a railway worker and Harry, Gerald and Reginald all became railway clerks upon leaving school. John worked for a colliery and Wilfred became a miller’s clerk. In 1891, they are reported as living at the station house in Heck and by 1901 they had moved to Ulleskelf and remained there in 1911. (Source: 1891, 1901, 1911 Census)

Gerald and Reginald were among the first to sign up at Leeds Town Hall. They were attested on the 14th and 15th of September 1914, giving their address at this point as 13 Beaulish Terrace in Crossgates. They both served together in B Company, No. 6 Platoon, No. 5 Section. (Source: Medal Card)

Both brothers trained at Colsterdale before sailing for France, as many of the early recruits did. They arrived in December of 1915, just before Christmas. (Source: Medal Card) They later moved with the battalion to France as they prepared for the Battle of the Somme. They were present when the Pals attacked Serre on 1st July.

Gerald was killed and Reginald was wounded, later reported as missing. Neither body was ever found and so they are listed on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme. (Source: CWGC; Gerald, Reginald)

Both their deaths were reported in the Yorkshire Herald:

‘Mr and Mrs F. Wilkinson of Ulleskelf, have suffered a heavy bereavement, one of their sons, Lance-Corporal Gerald Wilkinson having been killed in action on July 1st, whilst another, Private Reginald Wilkinson, was wounded on the same day and has since been reported as missing. Their comrades, in letters of sympathy to the parents, state that both were splendid soldiers and fought with great bravery.’

This report also went on to mention that the elder brother John-Earle and the youngest, Wilfred were both training in England. There is no mention of Harry’s activities.

Both brothers were awarded the 1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.

Researcher: Peter Taylor

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