Place of birth:
Instrument maker in telegraph factory
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Cause of death:
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Name of father:
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Place of enlistment:
Home; Mediterranean Sea; Black Sea
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Name of mother:
Elizabeth Wilkie (née Hill)
Name of spouse:
42 Fonthill Road, Islington
Victor Stanley Wilkie was born on 9 July 1895 in Marylebone. His father was John Wilkie, a baker from Portsmouth and his mother Elizabeth Wilkie (née Hill), the daughter of a bootmaker from Leckhampton in Berkshire. They were married on Christmas Day 1887 in Paddington, where Victor’s elder sister Gertrude was born the following year. Victor was baptised in St Mark’s church, Marylebone Road. By 1901 the family had moved to Lennox Road, not far from New Court Chapel. Sadly, Gertrude died in 1903, aged 14. The following year John and Elizabeth were admitted as members of New Court Chapel. John is listed as a member of the choir and their address is given as Fonthill Road, which became the family’s permanent home. The 1911 census lists Victor there, aged 15, as an instrument maker in a telegraph factory.
In June the following year, Victor joined the Royal Navy, and must have been set on a naval career. He joined at a young age (shortly before his 17th birthday) and was distinguished by being a regular serviceman before the First World War and remaining in service afterwards. He joined HMS Ganges II, a training ship of the Royal Navy based at Shotley, in Suffolk. By 1912 it was being used as an overflow ship as the number of boys in the establishment increased, and she was duly moved closer inshore, having previously been based aboard a number of hulks. Victor’s rating of Boy 2nd Class applied to boys aged 15 to 17 on entry, and was conditional on adequate physical height, weight and medical fitness, and evidence of being of ‘good character’. The boy’s parents or guardians signed a declaration that the boy would serve in the navy for a minimum period (usually 12 years). After a couple of months, Victor transferred to HMS Vivid I, another onshore training establishment, and was soon promoted to Boy 1st Class, for which he would have to have shown sufficient proficiency in seamanship, accumulated at least one good conduct badge and been rewarded by an increase in pay.
In 1913 he spent a couple of months on HMS Queen, his first real ship, and the rest of the year on HMS Nelson. Both these ships were pre-dreadnought battleships. He enlisted for 12 years, his occupation being given as fitter’s mate. His record indicates that at the end of the year he was given 21 days’ detention for insubordination and that an application for reassessment of his 1913 character was refused. However, things seem to have improved after that, with his character consistently being rated as very good and his ability increasing from satisfactory to consistently superior. The following year (1914) he returned to shore for seven months on HMS Pembroke I at Chatham for more training, and was promoted to Armourer’s Crew, his first trade ranking. Armourers were responsible for maintaining weaponry.
In July 1914 he joined HMS Mars, another pre-dreadnought battleship, which was mobilised with her sister Majestic-class battleships into the 9th Battle Squadron, as tensions mounted in Europe. She was based as a guard ship in the Humber and transferred to the Dover Patrol in December. Victor left her in February the following year, when she was decommissioned in Belfast and disarmed. He had the first spell of many on HMS Pembroke II, the Royal Naval Air Station in Eastchurch, Isle of Sheppey, gaining further qualifications. By 1918 he had been promoted to Armourer’s Mate and returned to sea but after the war had ended.
Victor served on HMS Diligence, a destroyer depot ship that served the Twelfth Destroyer Flotilla, and on HMS Stuart, part of the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla in the Mediterranean. In November 1920 he joined HMS Blenheim, an armoured cruiser, another depot ship in the Flotilla. Victor was promoted to Ordnance Artificer 4, a senior non-commissioned position equivalent to the rank of Petty Officer. Artificers were engineers, highly skilled in their trade, responsible for dealing with the maintenance of ordnance materials, such as guns. They had undergone extensive selection, training and experience. Victor’s next posting, in September 1921, was to HMS Ramillies, a battleship built for the Royal Navy during the First World War, which however saw no combat during the war, as both the British and German fleets had adopted a more a cautious strategy, owing to the increasing threat of naval mines and submarines. The ship’s interwar career was also relatively uneventful. In the early 1920s she was serving in the Mediterranean and Black Seas.
Two years later (1923) Victor was promoted to Ordnance Artificer 3, equivalent to a Chief Petty Officer. In April 1924 he returned to HMS Pembroke II for another short spell before being posted to HMS Ajax for several months when she returned from the Mediterranean Fleet to Devonport and was placed in reserve. There followed two further years on Pembroke II. In December 1926 he suffered an inguinal hernia. The following year he was back on HMS Ramillies and promoted to Ordnance Artificer 2. In 1929 he had yet another spell on Pembroke II before being posted to HMS Kent, assigned to the 5th Cruiser Squadron on the China Station. She had recently received a high-angle control system used to direct anti-aircraft guns, and an aircraft catapult. In November 1932 Victor received his final promotion to Ordnance Artificer 1. In April 1924 he was back one final time on HMS Pembroke II but in July 1935 was invalided on shore as permanently unfit with pulmonary tuberculosis.
Victor was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals, and in 1929 received a Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, awarded to selected Navy ratings after 21 years’ of service and good conduct.
He died on 8 December 1936, aged 41, at King George’s Sanatorium for Sailors, Bramshott, Hampshire, though his home address was in Welling, Kent. He was buried in Bexley Heath cemetery, probate being granted to his parents.