Rank: Able Seaman J30171
Regiment: Royal Navy, HMS Cumberland, patrol boat P53
Died: 26 January 1943
St Michael's Church Tablet, Beer, Beer Memorial Cross
PDF Download: WILKINS Victor Alfred Jarvis
Patrol boats P53 and P58 © IWM (Q 73787)
Victor Wilkins was born in Box, Wiltshire, on 16 July 1898, the son of Alfred Wilkins, a stone quarryman, and his wife Harriet. Victor’s father was also born in Box, but his mother was born in Radstock, Somerset.
At the time of the 1901 census the family was still living in Box, but by the 1911 census they were living at 23 Main Street, Beer. Victor had two younger brothers, Albert, born in Box and aged 10 in 1911, and George, who was only five in 1911 and who was born in Beer. Victor’s father almost certainly moved to Beer to work in the stone quarry, although he described himself as a ‘general labourer’ in the census.
Victor joined the Royal Navy as a Boy 1st Class on the 11 March 1914, describing his occupation as ‘errand boy’. His Royal Navy record describes him as 5ft 4ins tall, with light brown hair, hazel eyes and a fresh complexion. He trained on HMS Impregnable at Devonport before joining the light cruiser HMS Cumberland on 28 November 1914.
HMS Cumberland spent 1915 and most of 1916 on the eastern seaboard of North America, and her logbook records patrols which involved calls at Halifax, New York and Bermuda. However, in June 1916 she crossed the Atlantic to Plymouth for a short stay, before returning to Bermuda. In October 1916 she escorted a convoy from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Plymouth, where Victor left the ship, and spent the next few months at HMS Vivid (a shore establishment at Devonport) and HMS Defiance, the RN Torpedo School.
On 8 March 1917 he joined the brand new patrol boat P53, which had a crew of 50 and operated out of Milford Haven. He remained with this vessel for the remainder of the war, leaving her in December 1918.
Victor remained in the Royal Navy after the war, and in 1931 he married Mary Hannah Collier Westlake. He also served during the Second World War, and died on 26 January 1943, aged 44, while serving at HMS Defiance, the torpedo school. He is buried in Beer Church Cemetery.
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