SECOND LIEUTENANT ROGER LESLIE STUART WILKINSON
21ST NOVEMBER 1916 AGE 18
BURIED: ETAPLES MILITARY CEMETERY, FRANCE
Roger Wilkinson was eighteen when he died of wounds on 21 November 1916 - too young to be on active service in France without his parents signed permission.
On 13 November his regiment, the 4th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, took part in an attack on the German front line between Beaumont Hamel and the right bank of the River Ancre. The attack came under heavy machine-gun fire and Wilkinson received severe gun-shot wounds in his left leg and shoulder. He died just over a week later, his parents having been telegrammed permission to visit him in hospital in France on the 19th. He died on the 21st.
In his letter of condolence, Wilkinson's company commander told his parents:
'What worried him most was the possibility of not being allowed to take his platoon into action on the 13th, as I had previously sent his name as being under age. In fact he went to HQ, quite unknown to myself, and begged the C.O. to allow him to go.'
His father signed for his inscription. It comes from 'April' by the American poet Alice Cary (1821-1871), prettily expressing the belief that life continues on the other side after death:
So, even for the dead I will not bind
My soul to grief: Death cannot long divide;
For is it not as if the rose that climbed
My garden wall, had bloomed the other side?