The Airmen's Stories - S/Ldr. R L Wilkinson
Rodney Levett Wilkinson was born in Shrewsbury on 23rd May 1910.
His father, Clement Arthur Wilkinson, was serving with the 2nd Battalion, Kings Shropshire Light Infantry in the Ypres Salient when the Battalion HQ at Railway Wood came under sustained shelling on 12th May 1915. The HQ was evacuated until the shelling ceased later that day. Wilkinson and some other officers returned to retrieve their kit but were then all killed by a direct hit.
He is buried in Sanctuary Wood Cemetery east of Ypres.
His mother, Ruth Mirehouse, came from Angle on the Pembrokeshire coast.
Wilkinson was educated at Wellington College. He entered the RAF College, Cranwell in January 1929 as a flight cadet. On graduation in December 1930 he joined 3 Squadron at Upavon.
On 1st October 1932 Wilkinson was posted to the staff of HQ
Transjordan and Palestine in Jerusalem where he was personal assistant to the AOC, Sir Wilfrid Freeman. In January 1934 he was made PA to the AOC Middle East, AVM Newall.
He returned to the UK in 1934 and joined the Station Flight at Duxford on 22nd 0ctober, operating as an instructor to Cambridge University Air Squadron. He moved to the staff of CFS, Upavon on 19th April 1937. He then took up an Air Ministry post in January 1939.
Above: a family portrait, courtesy of the Allen-Mirehouse family.
After a refresher course at 5 OTU Aston Down in June 1940 where he converted to Spitfires Wilkinson was given command of 266 Squadron at Wittering on 6th July 1940.
He claimed a Do17 destroyed on 12th August and a Ju88 on the 15th. On the 16th in combat over Deal it is believed that he collided with a Me109, possibly that flown by Uffz. Bruder of 4/JG51 who baled out.
But Wilkinson was killed when his Spitfire, R6768, crashed and burned out at Eastry Court.
Wilkinson was 30. He is buried in Margate Cemetery, Kent.
Below: Wilkinson is also commemorated at St. Denys Church, Rotherfield as his mother was living nearby during the war (below).
There is also a memorial plaque in Angle Church (below).