The Airmen's Stories - F/Lt. R C Wilkinson
Royce Clifford Wilkinson was born in Mexborough, Yorkshire on 26th November 1913 and educated at the secondary school there.
He joined the RAF at Halton in January 1930 as an Aircraft Apprentice and passed out in December 1932 as a Fitter, Aero Engines. He was posted to RAF Aboukir in 1933.
Wilkinson applied for pilot training and after returning to the UK in 1936 he began the flying course in July, as an Airman u/t Pilot. After passing out he joined 3 Squadron at Kenley in May 1937.
On 10th May 1940 the squadron went to France, attached to 63 Wing. Wilkinson shared in destroying a Hs126 on the 12th, destroyed a He111 and a Hs126 on the 13th, two Me109's on the14th, a Me110 on the16th, two He111's on the 19th and he shared in the destruction of two He111's on the 20th. The squadron withdrew to Kenley on the same day.
Wilkinson received the double award of DFM and Bar (gazetted 31st May 1940).
His commission was gazetted on 15th May, whilst he was in France, and he was appointed 'A' Flight Commander on that day, with the rank of Acting Flight Lieutenant.
On 21st October 1940 he was posted to the newly-formed 71 (Eagle) Squadron at Church Fenton as 'B' Flight Commander. Wilkinson went to Kirton-in-Lindsey on 14th May 1941 to join 121 (Eagle) Squadron, about to be formed there, as a Flight Commander.
He was posted away on 3rd March 1942 to form and command 174 Squadron at Manston, which he did until 3rd May, when he was shot down in Hurricane IIc BE674 by flak during an attack on Abbeville airfield and baled out at a very low level.
With the aid of a French woman, Madame Duhamel, he evaded capture, eventually reached Marseilles and crossed into Spain. Wilkinson flew back to England in a Sunderland from Gibraltar.
He commanded No. 1 Squadron at Acklington and Biggin Hill from 1st August 1942 to 30th May 1943, when he was appointed to lead the Gravesend Wing. In March 1944 he was given command of HQ 149 Airfield, in 11 Group.
In August 1944 Wilkinson was sent to Australia on special duties. After return to the UK he went to a staff appointment at the Air Ministry in December 1945. Wilkinson was released in April 1946, as a Wing Commander, with an OBE.
He died in 1990. On 9th October 2000 a memorial plaque was presented to Mexborough School, honouring Royce Wilkinson.