Ebenezer Joseph Wilkins (usually known as Joseph) was born in Rugby in 1877 and baptised on 30th September at New Bilton Church. His brother Edwin Ernest, less than two years older was baptised at the same time. Their father was William Wilkins, a carpenter born in Lighthorne, Warwickshire and their mother was Sarah (nee Collins). They had married on 11th June 1867 in Rugby Parish Church. The family lived at 51 Union Street.
In the 1911 census Joseph, at the age of 34, seems to have been listed by his brother’s name, Ernest. He was a painter. Ernest, age 35 was a butler, living in Grantham. Since he was listed as a page boy in 1891 and footman in 1901, while Joseph remained at home, this seems the most logical conclusion.
Sarah Wilkins died on 16th September, 1915, aged 76, her husband William (74), died three weeks later on 6th October. In the probate index for William, Ebenezer Wilkins is described as a paperhanger.
It must have been a few months after this that Ebenezer Joseph joined the 11th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment as private no.17598. His medal roll index card, in the name of Edward Wilkins, gives no indication he served before 1916.
For more information about the movements of the 11th Bn, see the biography of Wallace Liddington, who died a few days earlier on 25th April 1917.
On the 29th April, R.W.R was involved in the second action (23rd-29th Apr) of the Battle of Arras. Early on the morning of 28th April they were in position to attack Greenland Hill
War Diary, 11th Bn, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
4.25am After going about 100 yds the right front Coy (D. Coy – Lieut M Shaw) commenced to make a left incline with the object of filling a gap which had occurred between us and the 63rd Bde on our left. B. Coy conformed(?) to this movement. As both the officers with the leading Coys became casualties immediately after, a few men lost direction & became mixed up with the 111th Bde. The remainder advanced but owing to the fact that all the officers and senior N.C.O.s with the exception of two Sergeants were either killed or wounded the battalion became very scattered. Detached parties with Lewis Guns occupied a general line 300 – 400 yds East of CUBA TR overlapping 63rd Bde on the left & remainder of this Bde (112th) on the right.
Battn remained in this position until the Brigade was relieved by 10th Agyll & Sutherland Highlanders just before daybreak on the 29th
Marched back to transport west of ST NICHOLAS
At 2p.m. Battn embussed & proceeded to DENIER & went into billets.
30.4.17 Battn rested.
Ebenezer Joseph Wilkins must have been one of the 59 other ranks listed as missing of the action from 23rd-29th April 1917. He is listed on the Arras Memorial, Bay 3.
His next of kin was his younger sister, Sarah. She put a notice in the Rugby Advertiser in 1921, on the anniversary of his death.
WILKINS – In ever loving memory of my dear brother, Pte. J. Wilkins, R.W.R. who was reported missing (presumed killed) April 29th, 1917
-Ever in the thoughts of his loving sister.
RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM