George H Wilkinson


About George Harry

  • Name
    George Harry
  • Initials
    G H
  • Surname
  • Date of Birth
    June 1898
  • Birth town
  • Resided town
  • Commemorated
    Strand Military Cemetery, Hainaut, Belgium
  • Nationality
  • Place of death
    Meteren, France
  • Date of death
    30 September 1918
  • Married
  • Occupation

Service Information

  • Army

  • Service Number
  • Rank
  • Regiment
    Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry


George Harry Wilkinson was born in Leeds around June 1898 to parents Joseph Bletcher, a cabinet maker, and Jane (nee Milner).

In 1911 George is listed as 12 years old and still at school. He was living at 16 Autumn Avenue, Leeds with his parents Joseph Bletcher (43), a tram conductor with Leeds City Trams and Jane (43) and siblings, Nellie (18) a skirt machinist with a costume maker, Florrie (16) a cardboard case maker with a printer, Doris (14) a paper reeling machine feeder with a printer, Lilian (10), at school and one year old Leslie.

On 29 January 1917, at the age of 18 years and 10 months, George ‘Ginger’ Wilkinson enlisted into the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.  He was serving with the 14th Battalion when he passed through Peterborough East Station on 29 October 1916 and wrote in the visitors’ book “A very interesting way of showing ones appreciation. Wishing this hut every success.”; he signed himself  “a lad in Khaki (Ginger)”

In February 1918, he transferred to the York and Lancaster Regiment and was posted to France in June of that year. Records indicate that Private Wilkinson died tragically as a result of gas poisoning from contaminated water.

The Regimental War Diary entry on 2 September reports that “eleven cases of gas poisoning were evacuated to the base”. (vol xxxiii, page 1). Their position was Meteren, France and on 5 September 1918, an accident report form was completed for ‘Gas Poisoning – Severe’.

‘It appears that this gas poisoning seems to have been caused through this man, with others, having partaken of porridge which apparently had been made with contaminated water. All the men who ate this porridge were similarly affected’.

The Commanding Brigadier General of the 93rd Brigade considered that Private Wilkinson was affected by gas poison owing to eating porridge cooked in water taken from a shell hole. Private Wilkinson was ignorant of the source of water at the time he ate the porridge.

George died on 30 September 1918; he was 20 years old.  George was buried at the Strand Military Cemetery, Hainaut, Belgium along with eight other personnel from his regiment who died on 29/30 September 1918.  His next of kin was listed as his mother, Jane Wilkinson, living at 7 Wingate Grove, Armley, Leeds.  George was awarded the British War and Allied Victory Medals.






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