In Honour of Arthur Campbell Wilkinson

    Arthur Wilkinson was born in 1920 to a middle class family from Ottawa, Canada. He was an athlete in high school, excelling in football. Arthur and his family summered in the Gaspe Peninsula, times he remembered fondly in his letters.

    Arthur graduated high school and joined the Canadian Postal Service. With the outbreak of war, he joined the Canadian Army and became a member of the Army’s mail service. He was one of the first Canadians in Britain, arriving just before Christmas in 1939. He gradually worked his way up the Army’s hierarchy and was a sergeant at the end of 1943 when he had spent over four years in Britain.

   His letters home reveal homesickness, love of country and family, and love of Britain. The book of letters is  Ottawa to Caen: Letters from Arthur Campbell Wilkinson, 1947, Tower Books.

   What makes Arthur’s story remarkable are two things. The first is that the book of letters was edited by his mother. The pain this must have caused her can only be imagined.

   The second is that Arthur, with as safe a job as can be imagined, did all he could to become a member of a front line infantry unit. He succeeded at becoming a private in the Royal Highland Regiment—The Black Watch of Canada in time for the Invasion of Normandy. Arthur was killed on July 18, 1944 as his regiment attacked to cross the Orne river. Strangely enough, another Arthur Wilkinson, in another regiment, was killed on the same day in the same operation.

   After giving up four and a half years away from his family, Arthur Wilkinson gave his life for what he believed. I remember and honour him.

   

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