Menzie Merlyn WILKINS

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WILKINS, Menzie Merlyn

Service Number: 6851
Enlisted: 4 October 1916, Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 10th Infantry Battalion
Born: Parkside, South Australia, 15 February 1896
Home Town: Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Locomotive engine cleaner
Died: War service related, Adelaide, South Australia, 26 April 1920, aged 24 years
Cemetery: West Terrace Cemetery (General)
Tree Plaque: Not yet discovered
Memorials: Adelaide South Australian Railways WW1 & WW2 Honour Boards, Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

4 Oct 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 6851, Adelaide, South Australia
7 Nov 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 6851, 10th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
7 Nov 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 6851, 10th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Afric, Adelaide
9 Oct 1917: Wounded AIF WW1, Private, SN 6851, 10th Infantry Battalion, Raid on Celtic Wood, Pte Wilkins lay wounded in no mans' land for two days before being rescued by Stretcher Bearers of the 8th MG Coy.

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Biography

Raid on Celtic Wood 

6851 Private Menzie Merlyn Wilkins an engine cleaner of West Adelaide, South Australia, joined the battalion in the field in May 1916. On the Field Return ending 13 October he is recorded as wounded on 7 October 1917, but close examination of his service record shows this could not have been the date.

After relieving the 3rd Brigade at 1.20 a.m., on 10 October the 8th Brigade sited a number of Vickers machine guns on the forward slope of Broodseinde Ridge. When the surprised machine gunners saw a wounded Australian to their front, they contacted the 29th Battalion and asked if they would send a party out to rescue him. Fortunately, for Wilkins, the stretcher - bearers who went out to get him were Privates Richard Fox and William Low both of whom were recommended for the Distinguished Conduct Medal for great courage and outstanding work at Sunray Trench on 2 March 1917.

‘Near MOLENAARELSTHOEK on 11th October 1917 the 8th Australian Machine Gun Co. asked for a stretcher party to bring in a wounded man of the 10 Battalion A.I.F. who had been lying on the battlefield for 2 days. ...’ [i] 

After searching for a time under heavy shell and machine gun fire, they returned to BHQ to seek clarification as to the location of wounded man. Having gained additional information they set out again and while passing through heavy enemy barrage found a different wounded man, dressed his wounds and started back to the RAP. On the way in, the man died, so Fox and Low, knowing the 10th Battalion man was in urgent need of assistance passed through yet another barrage, eventually found Private Wilkins, and brought him in. For their superb work, Fox and Low were later awarded the MM for bravery in the field. 

Considering the fact Wilkins was the only 10th Battalion casualty admitted to a medical facility on or after 11 October and the location in which he was found he must be have been one of the raiders.

Private Wilkins had survived two days amid the shelling and machine gun fire across no man’s land and was treated for bullet wounds to his buttock, left shoulder and chest at 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Station on 11 October; he was the last wounded 10th Battalion man found.

He was taken to 3rd Casualty Clearing Station then to 2nd Australian General Hospital and finally to a hospital in England in January 1918. Due to the serious nature of his wounds, he was evacuated to Australia that year but died in 1920.



[i] Australian War Memorial website – Honours and awards ,Recommendations 17 October 1917 - 2906 Private Richard Francis Fox / 2946 Private William Low, viewed 14 May 2012.

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