Stanley Wilkinson (1897-1915)

Lance-Corporal Stanley Wilkinson of the 2nd Battalion 5th West Yorkshire Regiment was killed by an accidental rifle discharge in April 1915.

Biography

He was born in 1897, the son of warehouseman Fred Wilkinson and his wife Frances, and was baptised on 3 November 1897 at Holy Trinity Church, Greenhead.

The 1911 Census records widow Frances Wilkinson working as a supply waitress and residing at 73 Woodfield Road, Lockwood, with Stanley and his sister Ida.

At the outbreak of the First World War and aged 17, he joined the Duke of Wellington's Regiment (West Riding). His height was recorded as 5 feet 7 inches with good physical development and very good vision. His service record also noted that he had "become non-effective by accidentally being shot".

On Monday 18 April 1915, one of Wilkinson's comrades, Private Robinson, had placed his unloaded rifle on a table in the guard room at the Barlby Power Magazine building, near Selby. When called to duty, Robinson had accidentally picked up a different rifle that was loaded and had the trigger at half-cock for safety. Seeing the position, Robinson squeezed the trigger to reset it and the rifle was accidentally discharged. Wilkinson had been stood sideways to Robinson and the bullet passed through both of his thighs. He was rushed to Selby Cottage Hospital where he expressly told a doctor and nurse that Robinson had not shot him on purpose. He died from his injuries on Wednesday 20 April.[1]

At the inquest held the following day, his body was identified by his mother and the jury returned a verdict of "death from misadventure."[2]

Stanley Wilkinson was buried at Lockwood Cemetery on 23 April, with a large number of people gathered to pay their respects. A bugler played "The Last Post" before 21 of his comrades fired a 3-round salute.[3]

Huddersfield's Roll of Honour: 1914-1922

The following extract is from Huddersfield's Roll of Honour: 1914-1922 (2014) by J. Margaret Stansfield:

WILKINSON, STANLEY. Lance Corporal. No 2551. 2/5th Battalion Duke of Wellington's Regiment. Born Lockwood, Huddersfield. Son of Fred and Frances Wilkinson, 73 Woodfield Road, Lockwood. Was shot accidentally by a comrade and died at the Selby Cottage Hospital on 18.4.1915, aged 17 years. Buried LOCKWOOD CEMETERY, HUDDERSFIELD. Grave location:- A, 314. It appears that Wilkinson was in the Guard Room on Monday night with the guard who was going off duty. One of them then unloaded his rifle which he placed on the guardroom table. Another soldier placed the unloaded rifle against the loaded one. The Commanding Officer was going to inspect the guard when the order 'Guard – turn out' was given the man who had placed the unloaded rifle on the table picked up what he thought was his own rifle. Noticing it was cocked he pulled the trigger with the result that the rifle which was loaded went off and the bullet, striking Wilkinson just above the thigh, inflicted a fatal wound.
ROH:- Emmanuel Church, Lockwood; Huddersfield Drill Hall; Armitage Bridge War Memorial.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Locations

Notes and References

  1. Most records incorrectly state that he died on 18 April 1915, but this was the date on which he was accidentally shot.
  2. "The Fatal Accident to a Solider at Selby" in Yorkshire Post (22/Apr/1915).
  3. "Military Funeral" in Huddersfield Daily Examiner (23/Apr/1915).