World War II Victoria Cross Recipient. He was gazetted for the award posthumously on December 17, 1946 for his actions as a lieutenant in the British Royal Naval Reserve while commanding the patrol vessel HMS Li Wo in the Java Sea on February 14, 1942 during World War II. Born in Widnes, Cheshire, England, nothing is known of his early life. He joined the British Royal Navy sometime after the outbreak of World War II in September 1939 and by 1942 he was commanding the HMS Li Wo in the Pacific Theater of Operations. On February 14, 1942 he encountered two Japanese convoys in the Java Sea and after engaging one of them in combat, his vessel was sunk and he died at the age of 42. His body was never recovered. His Victoria Cross citation reads, in part: "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." A memorial in his honor, along with Victoria Cross recipients Private Thomas Jones and Sergeant Thomas Mottershead, resides at Victoria Park, Widnes. His Victoria Cross is on display with the Lord Ashcroft Collection at the British Imperial War Museum in London, England.
Bio by: William Bjornstad