b. 29/06/1894 Bridgnorth, Shropshire. d. 05/07/1916 La Boiselle, France
Thomas Orde Lawder Wilkinson (1894-1916) was born at Lodge Farm, on the Dudmaston Estate, at Quatt, near Bridgnorth, Shropshire on 29th June 1894. His father was Charles Ernest Orde Wilkinson. His father was a land agent and farmer. His mother was Edith Mary nee Lawder, who was a school teacher born in India. His parents married on 17th December 1889 at St Thomas’ Cathedral, Bombay, India. Thomas had five siblings, though his eldest brother Wilfred was died after only one day of his birth tragically. One of his sisters, Dora also died in infancy.
Thomas was educated at Mr Potts’ Prep School, Parkside, Ewell and Wellington College, where he was a member of the OTC and represented the school in the Public Schools Boxing Competition for three years. He emigrated to Canada in 1912, where he was employed as a student surveyor in the Comox and North Burnaby areas of British Columbia. Thomas enlisted in 16th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force on 23rd September 1914, and departed Quebec for Britain on 7th October, five days after the first Canadian contingent. He was commissioned in 7th Loyal North Lancashire on 23rd December. He arrived in France in July 1915 and was promoted to Lieutenant on 1st February 1916.
On 5th July 1916 at La Boiselle, France, during an attack, when a party of men from another unit were retiring without their machine-gun, Lieutenant Wilkinson with two of his men, got the gun into action and held up the enemy until relieved. Later he forced his way forward during a bombing attack and found four or five men from different units stopped by a wall of earth over which the enemy was throwing bombs. He at once mounted the machine-gun on top of the parapet and dispersed the bombers. Subsequently, in trying to bring in a wounded man, he was killed.
Sadly, Thomas’ body was not recovered, and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, The Somme. As he never married, his VC was presented to his father by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 29th November 1916. In addition to the VC, he was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20 and Victory Medal 1914-19. The VC was in the safe custody of the National Bank, London in April 1965. The owner at that time was Thomas’ brother Henry, who was living in Rhodesia. The medals were listed by JB Hayward for £22,000 on 10th January 1975. They were sold to a private buyer at a Glendinning auction in London for £21,232.50 on 1st June 1991. The purchaser was Richard Nichols and he has loaned them to the Imperial War Museum, where they are displayed in the Ashcroft Gallery.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: ON LOAN TO THE IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM, LONDON.
BURIAL PLACE: NO KNOWN GRAVE - ON THIEPVAL MEMORIAL. PIER 11, FACE A.
Thomas Wilkinson's medals on display at the Lord Ashcroft Gallery, Imperial War Museum, London
Wellington College VC Memorial
St Andrew's Church, Quatt, Shropshire.
Thomas Orde Lawder Wilkinson (far right under pillar) in 1906/1907 at Wellington College. Picture courtesy of Tim Wilkinson, Thomas O L Wilkinson VC's nephew
Another image from Tim Wilkinson from unknown source
Picture courtesy of Tim Wilkinson
War Illustrated, 14th October 1916
St Andrews Church, Quatt
St Andrews Church, Quatt
Lochnagar Crater (Thomas Stewart)
Please note the above four photographs are all courtesy of