King’s Sergeant John A. Wilkinson
(from the Guelph Mercury newspaper
for Friday May 16th 1947.)
King’s Sergeant John A. Wilkinson, 72,
veteran of the Boer War, and possessor of one of the most colourful military
records in Canada, died yesterday at his residence, 32 Mont Street, Guelph. Mr. Wilkinson was the Wellington County
auditor for 25 years until illness prevented him from carrying on. He had formerly served as councillor and
Reeve of Puslinch Township from 1905 to 1911, and as auditor for both
Puslinch and Nassagaweya
Born in Puslinch, the son of Scottish
parents, he had lived on the farm as a boy, and when 15 years old enlisted
with the “A” Battery, First Brigade Field Artillery, Guelph.
His ability as an artilleryman won him a
place on the Canadian Artillery Team representing Canada at the British Artillery
Competitions in 1896. The Canadian
team captured the Queen’s Prize by defeating all the competing teams from all
parts of the British Empire.
Upon the outbreak of the South African War in
1899, he enlisted for active service with the Canadian Mounted Rifles,
sailing for Durban
in January 1900. During the war, he
saw service in the Orange Free State, Cape Colony,
and the Transvaal. In the Battle of Hart’s River, he suffered the
loss of his right arm and right eye from flying shell. Doctors were amazed at his recovery as he
had thirty-eight bullet wounds and the arm had been amputated in a bell tent
under the light of two lanterns, 98 miles from a base hospital, and without
any facilities for heating water. He
had lain on the ground for eight days before being removed to the base hospital.
In 1902, he was recommended by Lord Kitchener
to be made a King’s Sergeant, and was awarded the Distinguished Service
Medal. He had the honour to be
presented to Queen Victoria, King Edward VII, Queen Alexandra, also King
George VI and Queen Elizabeth II, on their visit to Guelph in 1939.
He was married in 1909 to Hattie M. Bailey of
Galt, a descendent of the Bailey family, Eramosa Township
pioneers. He was a member of St. George’s Anglican
Church. He was also a member of the
Masonic Order, Waverly Lodge A.F. & A.M. (Ancient Free and Accepted
Masons of Scotland), and
of the Scottish Rite of Canada.
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