Educated in the Stationers' Company's School and the City and Guilds Technical College in London, Vernon served in the RNVR during the First World War, before becoming a squadron major in the RNAS and was a major in the RAF in its early days.
During 1918 he worked in the flying boat section at Felixstowe air base and after the war became chief draughtsman for the British Aeroplane Company. From 1925 to 1937 he worked at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, from which he was dismissed for failing to take proper care of classified information. He had also been earlier implicated in encouraging sedition at the Aldershot army camp. In 1952 he admitted having been part of a pre-war Soviet espionage ring.
During the Second World War he was involved in the foundation of the Osterley Park Home Guard School and was an instructor at the Dorking Home Guard Training School until December 1942. He later later became a WEA tutor in Bournemouth and Portsmouth..
In January 1948 Vernon gave a speech on China in the House of Commons denouncing Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist government and endorsing Mao Zedong's Communists. Vernon claimed that "the Chinese government are running one of the most ruthless and cruel police states in existence," and called for Britain to adopt "a policy of friendship and trade with the liberated areas" under Communist control.
He married in 1907 and again after the death of his first wife, in 1918. His second wife died in 1972. They had two children. He died in Bristol at the age of 93.
- Obituary, The Times, 3 December 1975
- Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs
- Files KV 2/992 - KV 2/996 at The National Archives
- David C. Wolf, "To Secure a Convenience': Britain Recognizes China - 1950" Journal of Contemporary History Vol. 18, No. 2 (April 1983), p. 302
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Wilfrid Vernon
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