Thomas Wilkinson (VC 1942)

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Thomas Wilkinson
Thomas Wilkinson VC.jpg
Born(1898-08-01)1 August 1898
Widnes, Lancashire
Died14 February 1942(1942-02-14) (aged 43)
Java Sea
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branch Royal Naval Reserve
Rank Lieutenant
Commands held HMS Li Wo
Battles/wars First World War
Second World War
Awards Victoria Cross

Thomas Wilkinson VC (1 August 1898 14 February 1942) was an English sailor and a recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Victoria Cross highest military decoration awarded for valour in armed forces of various Commonwealth countries

The Victoria Cross (VC) is the highest and most prestigious award of the British honours system. It is awarded for gallantry "in the presence of the enemy" to members of the British Armed Forces. It may be awarded posthumously. It was previously awarded to Commonwealth countries, most of which have established their own honours systems and no longer recommend British honours. It may be awarded to a person of any military rank in any service and to civilians under military command although no civilian has received the award since 1879. Since the first awards were presented by Queen Victoria in 1857, two-thirds of all awards have been personally presented by the British monarch. These investitures are usually held at Buckingham Palace.

Commonwealth of Nations Intergovernmental organisation

The Commonwealth of Nations, normally known as the Commonwealth, is a unique political association of 53 member states, nearly all of them former territories of the British Empire. The chief institutions of the organisation are the Commonwealth Secretariat, which focuses on intergovernmental aspects, and the Commonwealth Foundation, which focuses on non-governmental relations between member states.

Contents

Wilkinson was 43 years old, and a temporary lieutenant in the Royal Naval Reserve during the Second World War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC:

A lieutenant is a junior most commissioned officer in the armed forces, fire services, police and other organizations of many nations.

Royal Naval Reserve volunteer reserve force of the Royal Navy in the United Kingdom

The Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) is the volunteer reserve force of the Royal Navy in the United Kingdom. The present RNR was formed by merging the original Royal Naval Reserve, created in 1859, and the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR), created in 1903. The Royal Naval Reserve has seen action in World War I, World War II, the Iraq War and Afghanistan.

On 14 February 1942 in the Java Sea, off Malaya, HMS Li Wo, a patrol vessel, formerly a passenger steamer, commanded by Lieutenant Wilkinson, sighted two enemy convoys, one escorted by Japanese warships, The lieutenant told his crew he had decided to engage the convoy and fight to the last in the hope of inflicting some damage, a decision that drew resolute support from the whole ship's crew. In the action that followed, a Japanese transport was set on fire and abandoned, and Li Wo engaged a heavy cruiser for over an hour before being hit at point-blank range and sunk. Lieutenant Wilkinson ordered his crew to abandon ship, but he went down with Li Wo. [1]

Java Sea A marginal sea located between Java and Kalimantan, in Indonesia

The Java Sea is an extensive shallow sea on the Sunda Shelf. It lies between the Indonesian islands of Borneo to the north, Java to the south, Sumatra to the west, and Sulawesi to the east. Karimata Strait to its northwest links it to the South China Sea.

British Malaya set of states on Malay Peninsula and island of Singapore under British dominance from 18th to 20th centuries

The term "British Malaya" loosely describes a set of states on the Malay Peninsula and the island of Singapore that were brought under British control between the 18th and the 20th centuries. Unlike the term "British India", which excludes the Indian princely states, British Malaya is often used to refer to the Malay States under indirect British rule as well as the Straits Settlements that were under the sovereignty of the British Crown.

HMS <i>Li Wo</i>

HMS Li Wo was an auxiliary patrol vessel of the British Royal Navy, which was sunk on 14 February 1942 by Japanese warships as she single-handedly attacked an enemy convoy during the Malayan Campaign, becoming the most decorated small ship in the Royal Navy.

His VC is in the Imperial War Museum.

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References

  1. "No. 37819". The London Gazette (Supplement). 13 December 1946. p. 6125.

The Register of the Victoria Cross is a reference work that provides brief information on every Victoria Cross awarded until the publication date. Each entry provides a summary of the deed, along with a photograph of the recipient and the following details where applicable or available - rank, unit, other decorations, date of gazette, place/date of birth, place/date of death, memorials, town/county connections, and any remarks. The book was first published by the quarterly magazine, This England in 1981, a revised and enlarged edition in 1988 and a third edition in 1997. There is no editor noted on the cover page or the title page but Nora Buzzell is acknowledged in all three edition specially in the 1988 and 1997 editions as compiled and researched for This England by Nora Buzzell.