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Herbert Wilkes was born in Latchford near Warrington on 10.09.1890. His father, James Wilkes, was a glass cutter originally from Dudley, Staffordshire and his mother was Ann (nee Oakes).

Herbert was the youngest child of the family. He had two older brothers, John (b. 1887) and Harry (b. 1878) and a sister, Elizabeth (b. 1875). The family lived together in their home at 22 New Road, Latchford, Warrington.

War Service
On 10.08.1914 Herbert travelled to Preston and enlisted with the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment on a short service engagement of 7 years with the Colours and 5 years in the Reserve. He was given the service number 10848.

Herbert was 23 years, 334 days old and gave his occupation as a Labourer. At his enlistment medical at Bolton he was described as being 5ft 4in tall, with a 34in (+2) chest. He had brown hair and brown eyes and being of fresh complexion. It was noted that he had an oval scar on his front right thigh.

On 12.08.1914 he was posted to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, with which he remained until 21.10.1914 when he was posted to the 11th (Service) Battalion.

On 30.10.1914 he was appointed Lance Corporal, and on 07.01.1915 he was promoted to Corporal.

On 13.03.1915 he was posted back to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion and appointed Lance Serjeant, but reverted to Corporal at his own request on 28.04.1915.

On 01.05.1915 Herbert landed in France, and was posted to the 1st Battalion. Herbert only remained in France with the 1st Battalion for 12 days, arriving back in the UK on 13.05.1915.

Herbert was then posted to the 2nd Battalion as part of 3 Company and served in East Africa from 17.07.1915, being invalided to India in September 1915, then returning to the UK on 17.07.1916.

On 24.07.1916 he was granted a furlough of leave, until 02.08.1916. The address given for his leave was Connors house, Crown Street, Warrington.

On 11.08.1916 he was admitted into the Workhouse hospital in Preston.

On 21.10.1916 he transferred to the Suffolk Regiment, and was posted to the 2nd (Garrison) Battalion. His new service number was 35645.

On 07.01.1917 Herbert qualified as an instructor of Range Taking whilst at Felixstowe.

On 15.01.1917 he was transferred to the reserve, class W and proceeded to the new Dorman, Long Co steel works at Redcar Ironworks, Yorkshire.

The massive steel works at Redcar opened in 1917 making steel to feed the War industries during the height of the Great War. Imports of iron ore were limited during the first world war and this led to a number of changes in the steelmaking industry. Dorman Long were at the forefront of many of these new trends – in 1917 they made the first open hearth steel at their new Redcar plant.

On 28.05.1917 he attended a medical board. At this time he was still working as a boilersmith at Dorman, Long steelworks at Redcar, Yorkshire. He was living at 46, Eden Street, Saltburn-by-the-sea.

On 11.07.1917 Herbert wrote a statement of his current medical condition. 
“I am managing my work as a riveter all right, but I have a day or two at times suffering through having malaria in East Africa. I am working my trade at Dorman, Long and Co.”

During August and September 1918 the Army attempted to recall Cpl Wilkes from Dorman Long to the Suffolk Regiment depot.They were informed that he had been transferred by the Ministry of Munitions to Messrs. Pearson and Knowles, Coal and Iron company, Warrington – where they desired him to remain so long as his services are required by the firm on munition work.

On 14.12.1918, Herbert was finally recalled to the depot, being posted to the 3rd Battalion on 10.01.1919. Later in 1919 (28.xx.1919) he was posted back to the 2nd (Garrison) Battalion.

On 20.06.1919 he was appointed paid acting Lance Serjeant.

On 19.12.1919 Cpl Herbert Wilkes was discharged from the Army as being no longer fit for War service due to flat feet. He was also suffering with malaria and neurasthenia.

Herbert was assessed as having a 30% disability, and was awarded a pension of 13 shillings per week for one year, starting 20.12.1919.

On 21.03.1920 Herbert received the Silver War Badge number 458551.

In total Herbert Wilkes had served 5 years, 132 days with the Army and received the 1914/15 Star, British War Medal and Victory medal. Unfortunately, these medals have been split at some point, only the 1914/15 star is in my collection.

On 16.06.1923 the Ministry of Pensions received notice that Herbert Wilkes had died – further research required!

Herberts 1914/15 star medal pictured below, also looks to have been lacquered at some point in the past.

Paul McCormick
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