17th welsh Wilkie The First Glamorgan Bantams - 17thwelsh.ukf.net
Lt Col  Charles Joseph Wilkie
1869 - 1916
C. J. Wilkie P01
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Wilkie Page 2

Col. Wilkie

Lt Col Charles Joseph Wilkie
Reproduced by kind permission of the Trustees of the Welch Regiment Museum

Various Army Lists give the date but not the place of birth for Charles Joseph Wilkie. There was no entry for his birth in the St Catherine's House Index nor in the Scottish equivalent.

Recently, Mr Alan Seymour came to the rescue. He introduced me to de Ruvigney's Roll of Honour memorial to Lt Col Wilkie [S3.11]. Mr Seymour then researched the 1881 Census return for Brighton to find a 12 year old Charles Wilke at school there.

He also mentioned Ray Westlake's recent book; First World War Graves and Memorials in Gwent; Vol 1; [S4.19]. This describes in detail, the St Basil's Church, Bassaleg, Gwent memorials. They are dedicated to the fallen of both world wars but, in particular, to the fallen of the 17th (Service) Battalion The Welsh Regiment, The First Glamorgan Bantams. All of the fallen of the 17th Welsh are listed, on brass tablets, adjacent to the stained glass window dedicated to Lt Col Charles Joseph Wilkie. It is hoped that coloured images of these memorials will be appear on site in due course. Comments and references, [ ], are either by Mr Seymour or the writer.

Lieutenant Colonel Wilkie was in command of the 17th Battalion The Welsh Regiment when it departed for France on 2nd June 1916 until his untimely death on 18th October 1916, at the age of 47 years.

Unfortunately, Lt Col Wilkie's Service Record appears to have either disappeared from or be unavailable at the Public Records Office, Kew, UK. However, thanks to Mr Alan Seymour and more recently, Mr David Warren, a biography of Lt Col Wilkie is now coming together.

Interpretation of the de Ruvigny entry:
Charles Wilkie was born in Melbourne, Australia on 8th January 1869. He was the only son of Capt Joseph Wilkie, The Victoria Mounted Rifles, of Melbourne. His mother was Frances Elizabeth, widow of Capt Joseph Wilkie and later widow of George B. Robathan MRCS of Risca Monmouthshire [6 miles north of Newport - AS] and of Radyr, [6 miles north west of Cardiff - AS]. Frances was daughter of John Paull of Brockley Hall, Somersetshire.

He married Dora, only child of the late Lewis George, of Derw-allt, near Newport, co Monmouth. [Derw-allt is in Rogerstone, Newport and is the next of kin address given in the CWGC Register - AS].

Charles Wilkie was educated in Brighton and at Owen's College. The 1881 LDS Census CD Rom shows that there was a boarder at a school, housed at 37 and 38 Montpelier Crescent aged 12 years and born in Australia. The surname given on the CD is Wilkes.

[The original handwritten entries by the Census enumerator may indicate an error of interpretation by the the Church of Latter Day Saints transcriber. For some reason, the writer has been unfortunate to encounter a number of these transcription "errors" in other family researches and whilst the writer himself entered perhaps 50 1881 census transcriptions into the LDS 1881 census database. It seems that many census enumerators tended to often interpret the pronunciation of words spoken by those canvassed, phonetically. This was particularly the case when people in Wales pronounced words. A case in point occurred in the 1861 census when the writer's great great grandfather, John Bowen, was categorised as an ENGINE FEEDER when in all probability he was an ENGINE FITTER. Sadly, John Bowen died three days after being scalded by a boiler malfunction at the Dafen Tinplate Works c1871].

He was gazetted 2nd Lieutenant, The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, from the Militia, on 9th April 1892 and was promoted to Lieutenant on 18th July 1893. He became Capt on 23rd Oct 1899.

During 1897/98 the 2nd Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry was stationed at Tirah on the North West Frontier of India and Lieut Wilkie served with the Tirah Expeditionary Force. He received a medal with two clasps.

At various times he was Commandant, Convalescent Depot, and of a Discharge Depot, also Station Staff Officer and acting Quartermaster of his battalion for two years; he was subsequently offered an appointment as A.D.C. by General Fitzgerald, on the Chitral Campaign, but his own Commanding Officer would not permit him to accept it, as he desired all his own officers to be with the battalion.

He was specially commended by the Commander-in-Chief for work in connection with N.C.O. instruction; was specially selected by his Commanding Officer for command of A Company, which was considered to be in an unsatisfactory condition of efficiency. This was over the heads of all the senior subalterns, and the following year 'A' company took first place in musketry.

In 1899 he was invalided with malaria and dysentery. As a consequence he was unable to pass the medical board on the mobilization of the 1st Battn., and was not allowed to go to South Africa. He was sent to Ireland in command of details, Limerick and Buttevant and placed in command of mixed troops at Buttevant in 1900 and was in command of the station for eight months. He organized the 6th Provisional Battn. (Regulars) at Fermoy in 1901; was appointed Battn. Adjutant with a staff of three assistant adjutants and 30 orderly clerks and assistants.

During the period 1899-1902 he personally trained over 5,000 young officers and recruits, despatching them as drafts directly to the front in South Africa. He was Brigade Major in the Cork district for the manoeuvres in 1901. The following year he was appointed Adjutant to the South Middlesex Volunteer Battn and to the 26th Middlesex (Cyclist) Battn. London.

He retired from the Army 8th May,1907 and joined the Reserve of Officers. He was appointed Brigade-Major The South Wales Infantry Brigade in 1908, and in 1909 took over the secretarial duties of the Glamorgan T.F. Association, during which time he represented Wales on most committees connected with the organization of the T.F. and National Reserves, including those of the W.O. and T.F. Council of Associations. He was also deputy for Wales on Lord Esher's Territorial Tournament Committee; took part in carrying out the mobilization in Aug. and Sept. 1914; was appointed Major 9th Battn. The Welsh Regt. 8th October 1914 and promoted Lieut.-Col. Commanding 17th Battn. on 26th Nov. He then served with the Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders from May [June 1916? GGD], and was killed in action 18th Oct.1916.

An officer who served under him wrote;

"Colonel Wilkie was a man amongst men and a soldier amongst soldiers. His attributes as a man were only equalled by his exceptional and far-reaching capabilities as a soldier. In the field his was a leader with a knowledge and personality which created absolute faith and trustfulness, and in the orderly room his administration was just exemplary. I had the honour and privilege of serving under him as an officer from Dec. 1914, until June 1916. During the time I learned his character as a man and his qualities as a soldier. Both were the finest I have known, and during that period I heard no word of complaint or reproach against him from any rank. The officers, non-commissioned officers and men of the Welsh Regiment knew him first as a soldier, and secondly as a gentleman, and as such they loved him as only soldiers know how to love. They would have followed him through anything, and would have rejoiced to have had the chance to do so. They knew of no injustice would be done to them provided Colonel Wilkie had a say in the matter. His loss will be felt amongst all ranks so deeply and so terribly that it is impossible for mere words to describe it."

He was a great dog fancier, and apart from being a writer of note upon the subject of dogs, was in great demand all over the country as a judge.

His Death :
He was tragically killed, together with his Second in Command, as recorded in the War Diary for 18th October 1916 thus:

Col. C. J. Wilkie (Commanding Officer) and Capt C. V. Lyne (acting Second in Command) were killed at about 3:45 p.m. by a High Explosive Shell at the junction of SOUTH STREET and ST JAMES STREET whilst on a tour of the trenches occupied by this unit as Support Battalion.

Capt H.P.B. Gough returned from the 119th Brigade Headquarters to assume duties of Commanding Officer whilst and Capt W. P. Stratton (O.C. 'A' Coy) took over duties of Second in Command.

Casualties :- Killed :- Lt Col C. J.  WILKIE
 Capt   C. V.  LYNE.