Private 14064 John Wilkinson

Killed in Action Mesopotamia on Thursday, 20th April 1916, age unknown.
Commemorated on Panel 34 of Basra Memorial, Basra, Iraq.

7th Bn., North Staffordshire Regiment. 39th Brigade of 13th Division.
Formerly 16035 North Staffordshire Regiment.

Born: Dudley Port, Enlisted: Longton, Staffs., Resident: Unknown.

First landed Balkans, before 1st January 1916.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the Tipton Library Memorial.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/864078/

Genealogical Data

It is not certain that this is the correct genealogy, but it is likely.

Birth of John Wilkinson registered March quarter 1892 in Dudley.

1901 Census
326 Dudley Port, Tipton, Staffs.
John Wilkinson (40, Gas Works Labourer, born Tipton), his wife Ann (40, born Tipton), and their 5 children: George (19, Foundry Labourer, born Tipton), Benjamin (17, born Tipton), Anne (11, born Tipton), John (9, born Tipton) and Martha Ellen (7, born Tipton).

1911 Census
327 Dudley Port, Tipton, Staffs.
John Wilkinson (50, Gas Stoker, born Tipton), his wife Ann (50, born Tipton), and 2 of their 6 surviving children of 7: John (19, Iron founder, born Tipton) and Martha Ellen (17, Pork Factory Hand, born Tipton). Also, their grand-son Jack Frederick Sherwood (2, born Tipton).

Personal Data

If the above genealogy is correct, then it would seem likely that John had moved to live in Stoke by the time he enlisted in late 1914.

After John's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £4/12/6d (4 pounds, 12 shillings and 6 pence), and his War Gratuity was £6/10/0d (6 pounds and 10 shillings). The value of the War Gratuity suggests that John had enlisted in approximately October 1914.
John left no instructions on how to distribute his estate, so his estate was advertised in the London Gazette in July 1918. There is no evidence that any claim was made. If unclaimed the money would eventually be gifted to the Royal Patriotic Fund for charitable use.

Action resulting in his death

The 7th North Staffs served in Gallipoli until the campaign was abandoned in January 1916. They were transported via Mudros, Egypt, then on to Basra in early March 1916. At this stage General Townshend's forces had been besieged in Kut for 2 months, operations here were with the sole aim of relieving the garrison at Kut.

Attacks by the 13th Division along the north bank of the River Tigris had been successful at Hanna and Falahiya positions, but the third attack, at Sannaiyat, had failed badly on 9th April. A continuation of this attack seemed impossible, so the focus moved south of the Tigris to Bait Isa.

The 3rd Indian Division successfully took Bait Isa on 17th April, but strong counter-attacks on that evening as it became dark caused the 3rd Indian Division's line live to break. The 39th Brigade were able to advance and stem this breach by the morning of 18th April. Kut was still besieged so the resumption of the advance was imperative.

The attack was planned for early in the morning of 19th April. Unfortunately the river level rose, and during the night the Turks were able to flood the ground. The advance was impossible, with men sinking up to their armpits. Attempts were made over the 19th and 20th April to find a route through the marsh, but it was impassable and the advance was abandoned. Further attempts in the next week to reach Kut also failed, and the garrison surrendered on 29th April.

John Wilkinson was killed in action on 20th April during the attack at Bait Isa. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Basra Memorial.

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