10 November (1914)…

Private Harry Wilkinson 10 November 1914 Prowse Point Military Cemetery, Belgium (P. Ferguson image, September 2005)

Private Harry Wilkinson
10 November 1914
Prowse Point Military Cemetery, Belgium
(P. Ferguson image, September 2005)

Private Harry Wilkinson
8850
2nd Lancashire Fusiliers

Eternal Rest Give to Him O Lord and Let Perpetual Light Shine Upon Him…Harry Wilkinson…whose body was found in a Flanders field in 2000. Previously commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial, Harry now rests at Prowse Point Military Cemetery, Belgium, grave 1.A.7. along with 242 burials of his comrades. Reburied 31 October 2001 with his next of kin present…Harry’s medals were worn by his 9-year old great-great grandson Ian…and…at the Menin Gate Memorial the Last Post was played in his honour the week previous.

Private Wilkinson’s remains were discovered with a Lancashire Fusiliers cap badge and his identity discs or dog tag as they are known to many. These identity discs are an important record in tracking soldier losses. In late 1916 soldiers were issued with two identity discs, one red and one green in colour. If a soldier was killed or when their body was found much later, the discs provided for the identification of remains. The red disc was removed from the cord for maintaining records and the green disc stayed with the body for burial. Discs were prone not only to the hurt and fire of warfare weapons but were also prone to disintegration, if they were not found in time – being claimed by the harsh non-weapon elements of the Western Front.

The 2nd Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers landed at Boulogne, France 20 August 1914 and took part in the early battles of the Great War. On 10 November 1914 Harry Wilkinson was killed and for many years his body lay undiscovered in a Flanders field until found by a Belgian historian near Warneton. Harry was 29 years old.  Three other British soldiers were found in the same field as Harry Wilkinson in March 2006. Private Richard Lancaster of the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers was identified by his identity disc and killed the same day as Harry.

Prowse Point Military Cemetery was used from November 1914 until April 1918. The cemetery is named for Major Charles Bertie Prowse D.S.O. whose heroism was noted at this location. Prowse, a veteran of the Second Boer War (1899-1902) and to become a Brigadier General was killed on the First Day of the Battle of the Somme, 1 July 1916 when the British Army suffered 57,540 casualties. 19,240 men were killed.

Markers near Warneton, Belgium  commemorating the discovery of Harry Wilkinson's body in 2000.  The first identifiable remains found on the Western Front in 25 years. (P. Ferguson image, September 2004)

Markers near Warneton, Belgium commemorating the discovery of Harry Wilkinson’s body in 2000.
The first identifiable remains found on the Western Front in 25 years.
(P. Ferguson image, September 2004)

In the muddy fields of Flanders they struggled together to conquer fear and pain…
October 2001
Chaplain Ray Jones, St. George’s Memorial Church, Ypres
(Special thanks to Andy Tonge for taking two Canadians on tour 2004 and 2005)

This Day
299 Fatalities
10 November 1914
Source: Commonwealth War Graves Commission


About The Author

pferguson
Paul has worked with the Paradigm Motion Picture Company since 2009 as producer, historian and research specialist. Paul first met Casey and Ian WIlliams of Paradigm in April 2007 at Ieper (Ypres), Belgium when ceremonies were being held for the re-dedication of the Vimy Memorial, France. Paul's sensitivity to film was developed at an early age seeing his first films at RCAF Zweibrucken, Germany and in Sardinia. Paul returned to Canada in 1967 and was further amazed by David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Bridge on the River Kwai". Film captivated Paul and with time he became increasingly interested in storytelling, content development, character, direction, cinematography and soundtracks. At the University of Victoria, Paul studied and compared Japanese and Australian film and became interested in Australian film maker Peter Weir and his film "Gallipoli" (1981). Paul was entranced when he learned Weir had visited the beaches, ridges and ravines of the peninsula. The film "Gallipoli" alone led Paul on many journeys to sites of conflict in England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Malta, Hawaii and Gallipoli. It was, however, when Paul watched documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, "The Civil War", that Paul understood how his own experience and insight could be effective and perhaps influential in film-making. Combining his knowledge of Museums and Archives, exhibitions and idea strategies with his film interests would be a natural progression. Paul thinks like a film-maker. His passion for history and storytelling brings to Paradigm an eye (and ear) to the keen and sensitive interests of; content development, the understanding of successful and relational use of collections, imagery and voice. Like Paul's favorite actor, Peter O'Toole, he believes in the adage “To deepen not broaden.” While on this path Paul always remembers his grandmother whose father did not return from the Great War and how his loss shaped her life and how her experience continues to guide him.

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