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Charles Robert Wilkinson

Lance-Serjeant Charles Robert Wilkinson, 30567, 'C' Company, 2nd Battalion, Prince of Wales's Own (Yorkshire Regiment), Green Howards

Charles Robert Wilkinson was born in Bramham, Wetherby in 1898, the second son of Thomas Smith Wilkinson and Ruth, nee Richardson who had married in Easingwold in 1893. All five of the Wilkinson children were born in Bramham betwen 1894 and 1906. Thomas Wilkinson worked as a butler (domestic) in 1901 and the family lived in modest accomodation on High Street, Bramham suggesting that Thomas may not have been a live-in butler at one of the nearby big houses within easy walking distance such as Bramham House, Bramham Lodge, Bramham Biggin or Bowcliffe Hall.

High Street, Bramham

Above: High Street, Bramham where Charles Wilkinson was born and lived.

Thomas Smith Wilkinson moved his family to Eldon Terrace, Flushdyke some time between 1906 and 1910; the 1911 census reveals that he was employed as a Club Steward. Considering its close proximity to Eldon Terrace, he was most likely connected to Fern House Working Men's Club.

Eldon Terrace

Above: Painting by Douglas Brammer showing Eldon Terrace, Flushdyke where the Wilkinson family lived in Ossett. After much of Flushdyke was decimated by industrialisation, Eldon Terrace is now known as Eldon Street and it is the entrance to the roadway which leads to Owlers Farm.

Charles Wilkinson joined the regular army in Redcar, most probably at the age of 18 years in 1916 by enlisting in the 2nd Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment (also known as the Green Howards), which was part of the 21st Brigade and attached to the 30th Division up to the 11th May 1918. The WW1 history of the 2nd Yorkshire Regiment was that at that the start of WW1 in August 1914 they were based in Guernsey, but returned to England and landed at Southampton on the 28th August 1914 and they came under orders of 21st Brigade, 7th Division. On the 6th October 1914 they landed at Zeebrugge, Belgium. On the 20th December 1915 they transferred with the Brigade to the 30th Division and on the 11th May 1918 they were transferred to 32nd Brigade, 11th (Northern) Division, at the same time absorbing 6th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment.

On the 6th May, 1918, the 2nd Battalion, Yorskhire Regiment was in the line near Voormezeele, near Ypres where they had relieved a South African unit and it is possible that Lance-Serjeant Wilkinson was killed by shelling. More likely, he died on the 8th May when the following action took place:

"At 3-15 am on the 8th May 1918 the enemy laid down an exceptionally heavy bombardment on our front line and support trenches, lasting four hours and causing many casualties, while the trenches were practically obliterated."

"At 7-15 am the Germans made an attack in force upon the battalion front line, and this having been captured by the enemy he made for the present no further advance, and at 7 in the evening a counter attack was ordered to be made by two battalions of the 19th Brigade assisted by the 30th Composite Brigade. The battalion of the 19th Brigade detailed to attack on this front appears to some extent to have lost direction, and a company of the Manchester and what remained of 'C' Company of The Green Howards, with two companies of the 17th King's, joined in the counter attack, gaining all objectives, though at a very high cost, but not being able to hold in sufficient strength what ground was gained."

Consequently when the enemy came on again at about 9 in the evening, he was able to re-establish himself in the front line. The support line was, however, held until the early morning of the 9th when the two remaining companies of the 17th King's relieved what was left of the Green Howards, and these were taken out of the line and withdrawn to St Lawrence Camp.

Voormezeele 1918

Above: The destruction at Voormezeele, Belgium in 1918.

Twenty year-old Lance Serjeant Charles Robert Wilkinson died on May 6th 1918, the son of Thomas Smith Wilkinson and Ruth Wilkinson of 24, Southampton Street, Redcar, Yorkshire. His body was never recovered. He is remembered at Tyne Cot Memorial, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium; one of four memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders which cover the area known as the Ypres Salient, and on the War Memorial at the place of his birth: Bramham.

Bramham War Memorial

Bramham War Memorial

Above: Lance Serjeant Charles Robert Wilkinson is remembered on the Bramham War Memorial.

Sources indicate that this man will definitely be added to the central War Memorial in Ossett Market Place with a number of other names of Ossett men who have given their lives for their country.

Thanks to Andrea Hartley for her work in discovering the link between Ossett and Charles Robert Wilkinson.


1. Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site