Thomas Orde Lawder Wilkinson
|Thomas Orde Lawder Wilkinson|
Victoria Cross Medal
|Born||29 June 1894
|Died||5 July 1916 (aged 22)
La Boiselle, France
|Buried||No known grave|
|Service/branch||Canadian Expeditionary Force
|Years of service||1914 - 1916|
|Unit||16th Battalion, Canadian Scottish
7th Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment
Thomas Orde Lawder Wilkinson VC (29 June 1894 – 5 July 1916), was an English-born Canadian and British Army officer who was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
Wilkinson was born, son of Charles Orde Wilkinson and his wife, Edith, at Lodge Farm on Dudmaston estate at Quatt near Bridgnorth, Shropshire, England and attended Parkside School, Surrey and then Wellington College where he showed both academic and athletic prowess. The family emigrated to Canada, (where his father had worked at Vancouver at the time of his birth) before the outbreak of World War I.
On 23 September 1914, Wilkinson joined the 16th Battalion, Canadian Scottish at Vancouver. After the regiment arrived in England he transferred as a temporary Lieutenant to the 7th Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment as Gunnery Officer. He was in this role with the regiment during the opening days of the Battle of the Somme when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross at the age of 22.
On 5 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.
As his body was never recovered intact, Wilkinson is commemorated with thousands of other British and Commonwealth soldiers on the British Memorial to the Missing at Thiepval. In 2004 a plaque to his memory was unveiled in Quatt churchyard, commissioned by the Shropshire War Memorials Association after unsuccessful attempts to locate relatives.
His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Imperial War Museum in London, England.
- Monuments to Courage (David Harvey, 1999)
- The Register of the Victoria Cross (This England, 1997)
- VCs of the First World War - The Somme (Gerald Gliddon, 1994)