Ernest was born on 14 March 1897 in Shipley, the son of Alfred and Jane Elizabeth. Alfred was a publican and in 1901 the family were in Ivegate, Bradford, possibly at the Old Crown.By 1911, Alfred had retired, and the family were living at 37 Hall Royd, Shipley, with 14-year-old Ernest still at school.We don’t know when he enlisted but on 11 January 1918, the Shipley Times & Express reported:“Gunner Ernest Wilkinson, RFA, son of the late Mr Alfred Wilkinson and Mrs Wilkinson of 37 Hall Royd, Shipley, has been awarded the Military Medal.“Writing home in reference to the distinction, Gunner Wilkinson says: ‘I have nothing fresh to report except that some kind-hearted commander has granted the Military Medal to me and my pal, Ted Wright, a London chap, for saving the life of a wounded
infantryman who got stuck fast in a swamp.‘Under one of Fritz’s barrages we managed to carry him to a ‘pill box’ but how the deuce we did it without being blown to pieces only Heaven knows. It is about the warmest job I have ever had.‘The scrap iron flew about like hail and it was only the softness of the ground that pulled us through.’“Gunner Wilkinson adds that their Xmas dinner was a fine one. They had mutton, potatoes, onions and a liberal helping of Christmas pudding. After that they had fruit, nuts, chocolate and a good rum ration.“The afternoon was a half-holiday. For tea they had salmon. In the evening they sat round the fire-
stove which was made from a petrol tin and devoured the contents of several parcels.“After having related what he himself consumed, Gunner Wilkinson added: ‘You will see that I am not so particular about my diet as I used to be but when one gets out here, he soon learns that it does not pay to be particular about what he eats.’0On 8 March 1918, the newspaper published a letter it had received from Ernest:“Books and magazines are greatly needed and I therefore ask you and the folks at home to take all you to the nearest post office and hand them across the counter, unwrapped and unaddressed, saying that they are for the troops.“The post office will deliver them
to the Camps Library which sends them on to us.“Please do that for me and ask all my friends to do the same, letting us have as many books and magazines as possible.”MarriedAfter the war Ernest married Mabel Dibney of Norwood Terrace, Shipley, on 5 July 1922 in Shipley Parish Church. Ernest is described as a commercial traveller.Two months after the wedding, Ernest was in trouble with the law:“Ernest Wilkinson, a Bradford traveller, was ordered to pay the costs for a driving without a rear plate of his motor car illuminated.“Supt Oldroyd pointed out that rear lamps should be lighted half an hour before the front lamps.”He is still a sales rep in 1939 for a dyer and he and Mabel are living at 208 Bradford Road, Shipley.