The Parish Return for Coleford has recently been transcribed by one of our project volunteers. Like many of the returns it begins with a description of the parish, listing the population and how many went to war.
Corporal of Horse Arthur H Wilkins is one of those and has his experiences described in the return. He was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM).
When researching the battle mentioned in the return, our volunteer found that Corporal Arthur H Wilkins’ heroic act was a searchable illustration on the internet. The picture accompanies the account of his heroism in ‘Deeds that Thrilled the Empire’ which consisted of two volumes of stories ‘derring-do’ from the First World War.
The description in the Parish Return duplicates the DCM citation published in the London Gazette at the time. It states that Corporal Wilkins was given the medal
‘For conspicuous gallantry at Courgies on 25th August, 1914, when his troop was surprised by the enemy and a horse had fallen dead on top of one of his men, he extricated the man and brought him into safety, although subject to continuous fire at a distance of only 50 yards. He was brought to notice for courage, energy and resource during the campaign’
Corporal Wilkins was also ‘Mentioned in Despatches’ in recognition of his actions, again printed in the London Gazette in October 20 1914.
Unfortunately for Corporal Wilkins his cavalry career was cut short in 1915 when he was severely injured by a rifle grenade during the Second Battle of Ypres. He subsequently died of his wounds 10 days later. This is highlighted in the story of the Household Calvary, Horse Guards by Barney White-Spunner CBE.
Corporal of Horse Arthur H Wilkins is named on the First World War memorial in the Holy Trinity Church, Coleford.