William Charles Wilkinson
Serial No. 17415
15th Field Company Engineers
William Charles Wilkinson - Information
The Wilkinsons were a family of plumbers that owned a business on Queen St in Campbelltown. William's father, William Walter Wilkinson, migrated to Australia with his family, and eventually became a tinsmith and a plumber. He then settled in the Sydney suburbs after marrying Esther Amelia Oldham. They soon started their family when William arrived in Surrey Hills in 1883. In 1889, his father bought a 12 acre farm on Eagleview Rd in Minto and moved the family. William grew up in the Campbelltown area with his siblings and trained as a plumber with his father and younger brother, Frederick. He completed a 6 year apprenticeship and became a Master Plumber. He worked in his father's shop on Queen St, before moving to a residence on Bishop St in Burwood. In February 1916, William's brother, Frederick, joined the AIF and went off to war. When William was 33, he followed suit, enlisting on the 30th of October 1916 at the Royal Showground Camp in Sydney. He then became a Sapper with the Engineer Reinforcements. During training, he was made Acting Corporal on the 26th of February 1917 and was sent overseas. William left Melbourne on the 10th of May 1917 onboard the HMAT Clan McGillivray.
William disembarked at Plymouth in late July, and was marched into No. 143 Details Camp in Parkhouse. The following month, he was transported to the Engineer Training Depot in Brightlingsea, and was promoted to Corporal with extra duty pay. However, William reverted to Sapper in mid November, before he was shipped to France via Southampton. Here, he was taken on strength to the 15th Field Company Engineers. Then, from the 28th of December 1917 until the 10th of September 1918, he was detached for duty with the 58th Battalion, working on various trades in and out of the lines. Throughout this period, William would have witnessed the horrific fighting and horrendous conditions of the frontline trenches. After rejoining the 15th Field Company Engineers in September, he was granted leave in England. Here, he was admitted to hospital, suffering with bronchitis and influenza. He was still in hospital when the war ended in November. He enjoyed some convalescence at Weymouth, before he was sent home on the 20th of May 1919. William returned to his life in Australia, and by 1923 had relocated to 130 Young St in Annandale.