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1. The Soldier
Oliver Wilkins was the fourth of six children (five boys and one girl) of Thomas and Maria Wilkins. They lived in Tring, Herts. The youngest child, William, treasured these mementoes of his older brother – the war hero. William was too young to go.
William’s grandson, Graham Legge, has inherited the collection which he kindly lent to us. Graham is a work colleague of Neil Harrison one of the cast members of “Oh What a Lovely War!”
(Oliver is in the back row, 2nd from the left)
“I enclose a photograph of the platoon he was in taken
just before they went into action… I could send you a
few more copies if you would care to have them.”
2. I very much regret
Dear Mr. Wilkins
I regret to have to inform you that your son 265 633 Pte Wilkins O has been killed in action. He was killed whilst acting as a runner in an attack made by this Battn on the enemy position early on Aug 16. He came out originally with battn and was renowned for his cheeriness. I picked him out of the remainder of the company as a runner, a part which means a great deal of common sense. He always carried out his duties in a thoroughly efficient manner and was always willing to perform any duty he could. I enclose a photograph of the platoon he was in taken just before they went into action.
Yours Very sincerely
M. Bowen Capt
Dear Mr Wilkins
I write to sympathise with you on the death of your Son Bugler Wilkins of this Battn.
He was killed inaction on the morning of Aug 16th when the Battallion was in action. He was a good soldier, very popular with the other men in the Battallion. I fancy you have had a photograph of his platoon and I could send you a few more copies if you would care to have them.
Allow me to offer you my very sincere sympathy in your sad loss. May God bless
& comfort you.
Hubert Noke C.F.
Chaplain 1st Bucks Batt
Mrs. T. Wilkins
The enclosed was handed to me by Sgt. C Bungay of the 2/10th London Regt.
He picked it up at St Julien on Nov. 20th, when the London Regt went in to relieve the Gloucesters.
Sgt. Bungay has just returned to France and, before going, asked me to send this to you.
Any communication you would like to make, I will forward to him.
I am, Madam
Percy W Sugden
We don’t know for sure, but “the enclosed” in the last letter was possibly Oliver’s bugle. The photo shows what was certainly his bugle, displayed in the exhibition: