Tales from the Parish Returns: A Conspicuous Act of Gallantry

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).

Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM)

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’

Extract from the Parish Return

Extract from the Parish Return

 

Corporal Wilkins was also ‘Mentioned in Despatches’ in recognition of his actions, again printed in the London Gazette in October 20 1914.

London Gazette 20 October 1914

London Gazette 20 October 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.

Coleford War Memorial                                                                              Courtesy of Holy Trinity Church, Coleford

Coleford War Memorial                                            Courtesy of Holy Trinity Church, Coleford

 

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3 thoughts on “Tales from the Parish Returns: A Conspicuous Act of Gallantry

  1. It seems that my grandfather, L/C Percy Gunner, was awarded the DCM  whilst serving with the Somerset Light Infantry.  Although his family lived in Surrey, he was first shown at the Taunton barracks in the 1911 census as a Special Reserve – and then went on to fight with the Somerset L.I. in France and Flanders.  He had already been Mentioned in Despatches and also awarded Medal of St George.  His fiancée, Edna Hughes, with whom he had a baby, also lost her two brothers during the war and a third was injured. The Taunton Courier of 17 May 1916 talked of “Taunton Family’s Patriotic Sacrifice” L/C Gunner is named on the Burpham War Memorial in Surrey where he was from and they are holding a service in August.  Several of my siblings and myself were born in Taunton and I have been following your somersetremembers.posts with great interest.  I intend to visit Taunton to see your exhibition sometime this year.  If any of this information is of interest to you, I would be happy for your contact.  I would be thrilled if you have any more information (or photo!) about L/C Gunner, particularly with regard to any  records detailing his bravery. I am also interested to know how many DCMs were awarded to serving soldiers of the Somerset L.I.  Kind regards.  Jilly Jinks 

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