Albert James Wilkins

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1 Albert James Wilkins

2 Albert James Wilkins ( ) Albert James Wilkins was born on the 11th February 1983, he was the first child of Albert and Minnie Alice Wilkins who were living at 40, Wheeler Street, Maidstone at the time. He had two sisters who were Ethel Emma Wilkins and Jane Lillian Wilkins. The family had several addresses before finally settling at 97, Melville Rd from where Albert James attended All Saints School, Maidstone At the age of 18 and on the 10th November 1911 Albert James enlisted at Chatham as a soldier in The 2nd East Kent Regiment, 3rd Battalion The Buffs and served in Ireland, India and France. During the first world war on the 3rd May 1916 he was badly wounded at the second battle of Ypres and was taken prisoner of war in Germany and from there to a Red Cross camp in Switzerland where he remained till the end of the war. He was discharged as unfit for active service on the 18th March Back home he took up employment as a labourer at Turkey Mill Paper works and then moved on to the Maidstone Corporation Electricity Department where he worked as a Jointers Mate. He met Alice Maud Roberts and married her on the 22nd May 1920 at the Knightrider Baptist Church. Alice Maud already had a son of her own called Arthur Roberts, and on the 27th December 1920 Albert Edward Wilkins was born at 10 Warwick Place Maidstone. The family moved to 285, Upper Fant Road, Maidstone in 1927 where Albert James Lived until his death on the 5th July During the second world war Albert James was a member of the Home Guard Albert James was cremated at Charing Crematorium in Kent

3 Albert James Wilkins and The Great War Albert James enlisted in the regular army at Chatham on the 10th November 1911, he was a Private in the 3rd Battalion of The East Kent Regiment also known as The Buffs. Albert James was serving in India (Madras/Wellington) when war broke out and the regiment sailed back from Bombay on the 16th November 1914 and landed at Plymouth. Albert James Wilkins 1914 in India The East Kent Regiment assembled at Winchester where they joined The 85th Brigade, 28th Division and embarked at Southampton for Le Havre on the 17th January The unit marched and fought its way through France and into Belgium where they fought in the 2nd Battle of Ypres. Albert James was wounded and subsequently captured by the Germans on the 3rd May 1915 at Zonnebeke in Belgium and taken prisoner of war. Wounded. Two machine gun bullets in left leg and four shrapnel wounds-two slight,two deep. On the 24th April 1915, at about the second battle of Ypres, I saw our motor Red Cross ambulances being fired at by German machine gun and artillery, also a school used as a hospital,flying a large red cross flag on the main road between Ypres and Zonnebeke was shelled. After I was wounded I was carried to a German dressing station about two miles behind the trenches. The German doctor talked English very well and asked me why I had come to fight and after a few words, when I explained why I was fighting, he took up a cavalry whip, and as I was lying on the stretcher he thrashed me with it, first on the legs, then, across the face, he also said that if I said anymore he would take me out and shoot me.he then wrote something on my label and I was taken off in horse ambulance. On arrival, about five miles back a young German who had been in an English bank told me that on this label it said This man has shot two German wounded This young German However, said that he didn t believe it and that he would say nothing about it. Other orderlies, however, ill treated me, hitting me in the face and snatching away from me a cigarette I was smoking.

4 Albert James was first taken to Roulers (now known as Roeslare in Belgium where he stayed before being taken by a Red Cross Train to Hagen in Germany where he arrived on the 10th May Roulers Journey May 3-6, 1915 I was in Roulers for three days, when I wrote a letter home, which arrived all right May 6-10, 1915I travelled from here to Hagen by a proper Red Cross Train, good beds and quite comfortable; this journey took four days. I never saw any military guard; just one orderly to each carriage, who gave us three meals a day and treated us well. Albert James remained at The St Marien Lazeret Hospital at Hagen in Westphalia until July 31st 1915 whilst his wounds were treated by the Sisters of Mercy. Hagen Marien Lazaret May 11 - July I arrived at Hagen on 10th May 1915 and was there until July 31st 1915, it was called St. Mary's, Hospital and Hagen is in Westphalia. There were about 20 British and 10 french prisoners in this big civilian hospital. They put my leg in plaster of Paris and did not take it off until about the 15th July. I often asked them to change my bandages on my shrapnel wounds in my head and back but they only attended them about once a month.we were nursed by the Sisters of mercy who treated us kindly; but the English were not allowed in the garden as were the French. They told us they were short of bandages but they gave us Morphia etc. When needed. The food was good and sufficient. They seemed to be very clever doctors and they treated us kindly. I had no operation here but they used to give anaesthetics to others who did have. They gave us a hospital suit and underclothing which was changed once a week. Bed clothing was sufficient and good and changed once a fortnight. I used to write two letters and four postcards a month which arrived home safely. I only lost my first two parcels otherwise letters and things arrived well from England. All parcels were opened in my presence by a German under officer. Nothing was taken out of my parcels. I have no complaints about the general treatment here and saw no cruelty or anything to report. We were allowed to

5 smoke in the wards all day ; I was never punished and the discipline hardly concerned me as I was in bed nearly all the time. The American Ambassador never visited us here. I was never asked to assume German nationality, nor did I hear anything about an Irish Brigade. I never saw or heard of any case of insanity.there was no improvement while I was here nor was there any need of improvement. I have never heard of any prison where one could not write nor receive letters. I was then sent to Munster and Sennelager for five months. Albert James was then taken to other prisoner of war camps in Munster and Sennelager in Westphalia where he stayed until December 15th Albert James was then transported to Dulmen camp II in Westphalia where he stayed until May Dulmen Dec May I arrived at Dulmen Camp II, Westphalia, on 15th December 1915 and was there till 31st May I don t remember the name of the commandant nor the second in command. They both seemed kind and considerate to us prisoners and I have no complaint to make against them. We lived in new huts, 52 men per hut. We slept in hammocks which were quite comfortable The two blankets were sufficient. The heating was stove with plenty of fuel. The wash house was good, hot baths once a week; the latrines were also very good. I was in class C which meant no work at all; Class A meant work outside the camp, class B, light work inside the camp. The bread ration was one fair sized loaf between 10 men, and we were given a basin of soup three times a day. About once a week there was meat in this soup otherwise it was of vegetables. At the canteen one could buy most ordinary things and food- only such things as onions, German Sausages and Sugar (4cz for 20 pfgs). The food parcels from England arrived in good condition, but the bread sometimes used to be mouldy. The Germans supplied all my clothing, if boots wanted repairing they used wooden

6 soles. Any replacement for kit worn out were always provided. Football was not allowed anywhere, the only exercise (apart from work) was by walking round the camp. Indoors there was a concert once a week. No reading room or library. We were allowed to smoke everywhere even in the bungalows. There was never any epidemic, the camp seemed very healthy. I was never in the camp hospital. Church parade every Sunday for R.C.s and C of Es taken by an English N.C.O. I used to write four postcards and two letters a month here, letters and parcels received well, opened in my presence by German and English N.C.O.s. I had nothing taken out of my parcels. Personally I had no complaint to make of the general treatment. About May 1916 the skipper and crew of The King Stephen trawler who had refused to pick up a Zeppelin crew, arrived and were kept in solitary confinement. We were however allowed to send them in food. Notices were posted up on the bungalow doors. I never got punished for anything. The discipline seemed fairly lax, one could do more or less as one liked. There was one case of brutality. A French Corporal whose name I never knew tried to escape. The guard caught him and having caught him they shot him there outside the camp and took him to the mortuary. I did not see it all myself but got the account from the French. The American Ambassador visited us once. He was only allowed to speak to us in the presence of German Officers. No preparation was made for his coming at all. No improvement was noticed after his visit, none were needed. The only change in rations that I noticed was the stoppage of the potato ration about February 1916, other rations remained the same. All the time I noticed the guards they were unfit for the firing line, some too old, others who had been badly wounded. The guards used to ask us for food frequently, but I never heard of any riots anywhere. Witness Albert James Wilkins

7 Albert James was then taken to a Red Cross camp in Switzerland where he remained untill the end of the war and was then repatriated back to his homeland.

8 A copy of the Medal Card of Albert James Wilkins The Star The British War medal The Victory Medal The Silver War Badge was issued in the United Kingdom to service personnel who had been honourably discharged due to wounds or sickness during The Great War. The badge, sometimes known as the Discharge Badge, Wound Badge or Services Rendered Badge, was first issued in September 1916, along with an official certificate of entitlement

9 Albert James Wilkins Discharge Certificate Albert James Wilkins Character Certificate

10 Albert James Wilkins The Buffs

11 Albert James Wilkins, prisoner of war

12 Albert James Wilkins And Alice Maud Roberts On their wedding day 1920

13 Albert James Wilkins The Home Guard ww2

14

15 Albert James and Alice Maud with boys on day trip to Folkestone David Albert James Alice Maud Wilkins Betty Morris

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