100th birthday celebrations for Shropshire World War Two veteran Emily

A World War Two veteran and great-grandmother is set to celebrate her 100th birthday next week.

Emily Wilkinson during her Army career
Emily Wilkinson during her Army career

Emily Wilkinson, who trained and served at MoD Donnington and now lives in Tenbury Wells, will mark the milestone on December 27.

Mrs Wilkinson, née Cox, was born in Stepney, London, and grew up with three sisters and four brothers. Her father worked in the docks and her mother was a housewife.

During the blitz, Mrs Wilkinson remembers going to the undercroft of St George’s Church during the air raids. She then went on to celebrate her 21st birthday there in 1940.

Mrs Wilkinson served in the Women's Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) between July 3, 1942, and June 27, 1945. In the ATS, Emily undertook administrative duties and underwent training at MoD Donnington.

Emily Wilkinson

Over the course of the war, Mrs Wilkinson was stationed at Chelsea Barracks, Aldermaston, Donnington and Reading. It was during this time that Mrs Wilkinson's mother fell ill for a short while, and, as the eldest daughter, she took on caring duties and was granted a day pass so she could return home each evening.

Mrs Wilkinson enjoyed wearing her uniform, but did not like the standard issue forage cap so used her wages to purchase her own.

In the Army, Mrs Wilkinson played the position of goal shooter on the netball team. Her teammates used to worry about her wearing glasses, but she was strong-willed, and never allowed that to bother her.

Her best memory is of meeting Charles (Charlie) – the young man who would later become her husband.

He came from Fleetwood in Lancashire and was a Sergeant in the Royal Engineers before transferring to REME. They met in a local pub where her father used to buy beer for soldiers passing through. They were married on December 9, 1944.

Married women were typically not allowed to serve but Mrs Wilkinson was allowed to remain, despite her married status, because of the war.

After the war, Mr and Mrs Wilkinson moved to Fleetwood, where their daughter Jean was born. In 1951 they moved to Essex, where they had two sons, Alan and Eric.

After starting a family, Emily was a housewife and remained in Essex until December 2018, when she moved to the Old Rectory Home in Tenbury Wells to be near her daughter.

She receives support with her care home fees from the Women’s Royal Army Corps Association Association Benevolent Fund in partnership with the ABF The Soldiers’ Charity.

Following in her footsteps, Mrs Wilkinson's great grandson is due to begin training at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.

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