Geoffrey John Wilks was a locomotive engineer by profession who joined the Royal Engineers after the outbreak of the war and went to France. He escaped back to England from St. Malo and in October 1941 was sent to India. He died there from pneumonia in January 1943. A sister died in 1945.
Geoffrey was born in Essex on 2nd February 1914, the elder son of the auctioneer Gilbert Wilks (1884-1949) and Phyllis Evelyn Wilks (nee Balck) (1891-1977). His parents had married in London in 1913. Geoffrey's siblings were Anthony Gilbert Wilks (1915-1997), Evelyn Mary Beth Wilks (1917-1945), and Dorothy Maud Wilks (born 1920).
Geoffrey was at Worcester Cathedral Choir School until he turned 13, and then went to Bishop's Stortford Grammar School where he gained his colours for cricket and rugby. Geoffrey's father ran the Chelmsford auctioneers, valuers and estate agents business Fred Taylor & Co. in partnership with Albert Frederick White, and alone after White's retirement in 1933.
Geoffrey was apprenticed as an engineer at the London North Eastern Railway's locomotive works in Stratford. From there he became Supernumerary Running Shed Foreman at Glasgow, and in 1937, Assistant Running Shed Foreman in Dundee. In 1938 he became Locomotive Shed Foreman at Helensborough, moving to Perth in the same capacity in 1939. He was an Associate Member of the Institution of Locomotive Engineers.
Geoffrey John WILKS, Captain, Royal Engineers
Died from pneumonia in India. Aged 28
Following the outbreak of the war Geoffrey joined the army and on 2nd February 1940 he was gazetted as 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers. His service number was 118192.. He served with the British Expeditionary Force in France from April to July 1940, being one of the last to escape, in his case via St. Malo in Brittany.
Geoffrey then served at various military stations in England until October 1941 when he was sent to India where he was attached as a Captain to the 181st Indian Railway Operating Company at Adra. On 28th January 1943, aged 28, he died in Bengal from pneumonia .
At the time of his death Geoffrey's parents were living at Mount Cottage in Widford, while his brother Anthony was a prisoner of war in Italy.
Today Geoffrey lies in Ranchi War Cemetery in Jharkhand, India (grave 9. G. 2.).
Geoffrey is commemorated on the Widford war memorial, which also commemorates his sister, Evelyn. who died in March 1945.