Wilk(e)s boys

Stop number BLUE 8: To the right of the Bates boys you will see another CWGC headstone. This is the grave of Vincent Wilk(e)s.
CWGC grave for V Wilkes
CWGC grave for V Wilkes
Read the stories below and when you are ready to move on click on the dot/circle for E Carter.
Vincent Wilk(e)s grave Flackwell
Vincent Wilk(e)s grave Flackwell Heath (SWOP MHW46280)

Eliza Wilk(e)s (1862-1930)

I am Eliza Wilks and I live in Flackwell Heath. We are sometimes spelt Wilks or Wilkes. My husband George and I had a large family: William, Albert, Edward, Henry, Victor, Ernest, Vincent, Bertha and Sydney. But I was to lose Vincent and also Ernest in WW1 and they are both remembered on the War Memorial at Flackwell Heath, along with their cousins - for I am to lose four Wilks nephews and two great nephews, plus some Why relatives. We are not a wealthy family and my mourning outfits are getting worn out through constant wear!

My son Vincent was born in 1894 and died in February 1919. He first enlisted on the 8th December 1914 when he was 20yrs and 6mths old. His records state that he was 5’ 5” tall. He enlisted into the 8th Battalion Hampshire Regiment service no 2064. But he was discharged on 23rd April 1915 after 137 days. I wasn't unduly surprised as his medical record shows he suffered epileptic fits as a result of a bicycle accident.

He also served with the Royal Field Artillery service no 10793, probably before his transfer to the Labour Corps, service no 440097. This transfer was probably due to his epilepsy too. But he was away at War in 1918 - his name appears on the Bucks Absent Voters List for that year - so his epilepsy was obviously overlooked by then. Unfortunately the war took its toll on poor Vincent and he died back here from problems associated with the war. As a result he was given this Commonwealth War Grave Commission plot and headstone.

My other son, Ernest, was a couple of years older than Vincent. He enlisted at Oxford. He saw action on the Western Front and must have fought alongside Flackwell Heath man Ernest Barton who also died on the same day. They were possibly killed during the Battle of Festubert which began on 15th May 1915 and ended on 25th May or the heavy fighting a Richebourg on 15th & 16th May. It was fought in the Artois region of France. The objective was to prevent the Germans moving to Arras. There were 16,000 casualties at the end of this offensive, 400 of these were from the Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry.

A number of the Flackwell Heath Wilks men fought in the war and survived. The men listed on the tree below in red were the unlucky ones. Three are remembered in High Wycombe and five are remembered in Flackwell Heath.

The Wilks fallen
Minnie Wilks nee Maltby (1873-1957)

I am Minnie Wilks, the wife of John Wilks who is a bricklayer. We live in Lower Gordon Road, High Wycombe. We were a family of five - I have two older daughters, Elsie and Hilda, but they’ve now left home - and at the start of 1916 I still had three sons. But I am to lose John in March 1916 and Stanley in May 1918 both in France.

The Wilks family originally came from Oxfordshire and many of my husband’s cousins settled in Flackwell Heath (as the war memorial there will testify). There were lots of boys and so there were lots of Wilks sons, which meant that lots of Wilks men went off to fight.

My husband John is also to lose three brothers in the Great War: William in 1915 in France, Henry - or Harry as we called him - in July 1916 in Mesopotamia, and Albert whose date and location of death is unknown. John will also lose three of his cousins: another Albert in 1914 in Belgium, Ernest in 1915 in France and Vincent who dies of his wounds in 1919 and whose white Commonwealth War Grave is here in the cemetery. A very heavy toll for one family!

Daniel Wilks, the soldier giving you the Somme introduction today, is a brother of the second Albert, and therefore another cousin of John’s but he fortunately survives. However Daniel is also to lose two uncles on his mother’s Summerfield side: Joseph Summerfield in 1917 and his brother Samuel Summerfield in 1918. In fact research into the names on the Flackwell Heath war memorial has proved that well over 60% of the men were related to one another.

And it doesn’t end there. My husband’s sister, Kate, is married to Edwin Sidney Morris. And Kate is to lose her nephew James Morris in 1916 and another nephew Albert Victor Morris in 1918. Their names, along with the Summerfields and the Wilks cousins appear on the Wycombe War Memorial alongside our own brave sons.

As a consequence we Wilks never seem to be out of mourning. (My husband and I are also buried in the cemetery in F1 214).

Mrs Eliza Wilks researched by Flackwell Local Area History Group <br> and performed by Margaret Anderton, FLAHG Mrs Minnie Wilks researched by Sally Scagell <br> and performed by Taryn Earley of <br> Earley Days - History for Teens
Mrs Eliza Wilks researched by Flackwell Local Area History Group
and performed by Margaret Anderton, FLAHG
Mrs Minnie Wilks researched by Sally Scagell and performed by Taryn Earley of Earley Days - History for Teens

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