Laurence was the third son of Fred and Annie Wilkinson. By the 1911 census Annie was a widow, raising the three boys with the help of her parents who were living with them in Eccleshill.Laurence was listed as a warp tyer-in in a weaving shed.One 16 June 1916, the Shipley Times & Express published his thoughts on arriving at the front line in France. “Those at home little know how letters are appreciated out here and we get all too few.“At last we have arrived at our final destination and are now with the 1st and 2nd Pals.“I have not been in action yet but am expecting being called to do my share any day and am feeling fit and well for the job.“We are in very fair billets just now and these are not far from the firing line. We wake up in the night by the roaring of the guns for by the noise they make, they only seem to be a few yards away.“I was delighted to have a visit from my uncle who, as you know, is attached to the Canadian hospital
staff. He has come 25 miles to see me and we had a splendid half-day together.” The next we hear of him is a short note on 17 August 1917 to say he was on a short leave. He returned to the line and on 10 May 1918 he was listed among the Eccleshill men who had been wounded:“Pte Laurence Wilkinson, of 2 Mount Avenue, has been so seriously wounded in the right leg that it has had to be amputated. At present he is in the Canadian Clearing Station.”Two weeks later the newspaper carried Laurence’s description of what had happened:Writing from Cambuslang War Hospital to a friend, Pte Laurence Wilkinson, of 2 Mount Avenue, Eccleshill, relates how was severely wounded and had his right leg amputated.
He says: “On the 24th April last we had been out of the trenches two days and were in Brigade Reserve in some old dugouts to the left of Ypres.“Here we were heavily bombarded by high explosives and gas shells and these projectiles got so near and the gas so thick that we were compelled to get our gas masks on.“At least a hundred of our men were gassed and two were killed and I got a nasty touch of the gas but it worked off.“On the night of the 24th we were ordered to be fully dressed and by 2a.m. on the 25th we moved off to another place about a mile away.“We had no sooner settled down when we received news that the Boches were coming over and so we had to have another move on.“After passing along a canal bank
we had to jump old trenches, crawl through barbed wire with full fighting kit on and do it under heavy shell fire.“Though I had been out two years I never experienced war like this. Wounded men lay all about us and it flashed through my mind that my turn would be coming soon.“We were ordered to take cover anywhere and most of them found shelter by the side of a stream. I got behind a blown-in dugout and lay face downwards awaiting further orders.“All at once I heard a tremendous crash and felt an awful pain in my right leg. I was badly wounded and called for assistance from the ambulance men. Fortunately they were close at hand and attended my injuries immediately.”The final mention in the paper comes a month later when we read: “A collection taken among the weavers at Tunwell Mills last Friday for Pte Laurence Wilkinson, who has had his leg amputated through shell wounds, realised £2 10s 8d.”