Jump to content

Recommended Posts

An interesting group of medals awarded to Detective Superintendent Thomas James (Tom) Wilkin. Kings Police Medal for Distinguished Service, Colonial Police Medal for Meritorious Service, General Service Medal clasp Palestine,(1936-1939), Defence Medal and War medal.

Born 1909 in Aldeborough, Suffolk, he joined the Palestine Police on 10th April, 1931 as Constable 956 and gained promotion on merit. A well respected officer, decorated for his arrest of Irgun and Stern Gang members.

On the Morning of 29th September, 1944, he was waylaid in St Pauls Road, Jerusalem and shot 11 times and died instantly, his pistol half drawn. He was buried in Mount Zion Cemetery.

The two guns used in the assassination had killed seven times before, including Detective Constable Guttewitz (Jewish Officer) on 10th May 1944. The pistols were later used in the assassination of Lord Moyne, H.M. Minister of State ( Heir to the Guinness Empire) in Cairo, Egypt on 6th November 1944.

Both Assassins were arrested by an Egyptian Constable after a Bicycle chase. Both men were hanged. After repeated failed requests by Israel the bodies of the two men were finally exchanged for Arab Prisoners just a few years ago and re-buried with full honours in Israel.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As already mentioned a great group of medals and illustrating the dangers of being a policeman. I am curious on the last paragraph of you article. I am not sure whether the executed men's bodies were repatriated to Israel and if so why would they be buried with military honours if that is the case?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The men's bodies were repatriated in the mid seventies and given a state Israeli military funeral and regarded as heroic freedom fighters. Britain lodged formal objection but this was unsurprisingly disregarded.

As is often the case in history, particularly British history, one sides murderers and terrorists are later regarded as freedom fighters and heros in the struggle for independence from the yoke of British Imperialism. Palenstine was a poisoned chalace for the British, a mandate given to administer a region which was and still is in conflict.

These are really a great and historically significant set of medals, one of the best Colonial groups I have seen. Thanks for showing them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They were repatriated to Israel and Presumably buried with Honours because they were seen as Freedom fighters. Much the same scenario as the repatriation of (Sir) Roger Casement's body to the Republic of Ireland some years ago.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

CPM Meritorious to follow Defence and 39-45 War Medal ,vide ' The Order of Wear ' ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks. I am a bit of a purist but they are beautifully, expensively and expertly mounted by a very well known and long established medal company who would know better but probably followed instructions. I made the decision to leave them as the Family obviously wanted them displayed.

Thanks Again.

Peter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello Peter

i have just joined but know a lot about this man. He was my uncle’s sergeant before my uncle was assassinated by the same group. They worked as a team and were the two most successful investigators of their day. I am very interested to communicate with you regarding this man. I am the deputy treasurer and legal advisor to the British Palestine Police Association - we can be found on Facebook. I am the moderator of the page. I am currently writing a piece for the centenary of the British Mandate in Palestine and Wilkin is one of four men who are to be featured. He was present at the death of Avraham Stern at the hands of Geoffrey Morton. I should be happy to exchange any information regarding this man if you care to co tact me either through the BPPA Facebook page or on this forum 

yours

Ralph  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Ralph,

I too am a member of the BPPA as I was its predecessor  the PPOCA  but do not subscribe to Facebook. I am afraid I cannot be of much use regarding information as my humble effort depicted above is, give or take, the sum total of my knowledge on Supt Wilkin.

Regards

Peter Dellius

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Peter

You should come to the BPPA dinner I would love to meet you. I will firstly add what I know about Tom Wilkin. It’s interesting you say he was born down south as he appears to have traveled to Palestine from Liverpool. His ticket and the passenger list can be found on the Internet. It would appear - if my research is right that as an adult he lived in east Lancashire and was a postman before joining the force. I am going to try and check this with his PP records but as you may know  DFID are still being coy about these although they have officially  been declassified. He had been promoted and transferred abroad after my uncles death but returned and was seen as a danger to The remnants of the Stern gang due to his clever interview techniques which tricked prisoners into revealing information. My uncle utilised a forensic  style but together they borrowed techniques form the 1930s Chicago Police utilising what is now perceived as a discredited “good cop - bad cop” technique. He met his death walking past a tennis court where his two assassins pretended to be playing a game but had revolvers hidden in the undergrowth - they asked him to retrieve a ball and when he walked toward them one assassin picked up one gun and fired multiple shots - quickly followed by the other. He was a potential head of force - steady quiet softly spoken. My uncle was more outgoing and gregarious - a pianist, singer and poet but a tough hard headed and relentless pursuer - who first identified Stern as the brains behind the bombing of a train in Haifa in April 1938 which killed Arabs and two policeman. Inspector Cairns identified Stern , Wilkin, then also an inspector - was present at his death and indeed the man who discovered him hiding in a concealed wardrobe base - contrary to Morton’s account. Morton was sent for by Wilkin upon his discovery and not present at the initial arrest as he claims in his book. Both men are buried in what is now known as the Protestant Cenetary but was previously known as the Bishop Gobec cemetery. The formal chapel now houses the American school. Also buried there is Inspector Ron Barker who died alongside my uncle innthe blast and Arthur Collange, Inspector Cairns’ best friend who died the month before in a shooting and which prompted him to redouble his efforts to bring his killers to justice ( two teenagers one male one female) . They were desperate times for the British police. But what shines through my uncles letters and articles in the PP magazine is the humour and humanity that never left them. 

My question to you is: do you still have his medals? If so may I ask if you purchased them off the family direct? I am interested in trying to locate any of his remaining family in GB. I think Tom himself might have had a Jewish fiancé at the time of his death but am unsure about this. 

 

Kind Regards

Ralph 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello Ralph,

As far as I am aware most PP embarked from Liverpool at some stage. Tom (Thomas James) Wilkin was as far as I  know  from Aldborough  in Norfolk the son of John Thomas and Eliza Ann Wilkin. He had a Sister, Florrie and he was courting a Jewish woman and she attended his funeral.

The medals were purchased from a Dealer in Devon over 20 years ago but had for many years previously been in the collection of the Membership Secretary  of the Orders and Medals Research Society who I would think is now deceased. I would not think there is any Family left but this is conjecture.

It may well be that if Tom did reside in East Lanc's as a postman he may well have been married and had children, again conjecture. His NOK are listed on CWGC as his Parents and his Sister is mentioned on his headstone.

Regards

Peter

 

 

Further to above. Tom was born in Aldborough 1910, his Father was a Postman and also born in Aldborough.

Peter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Peter

Now you are really intruiging me!  Could he have had children?! And in the north too? It’s doubtful though I think  because they aren’t mentioned in his headstone - even if he’d been divorced then surely his kids would’ve been mentioned? But not necessarily you know if his parents controlled what was out in the stone. It’s just seems strange I tracked the guy who bought the ticket to Palestine from Liverpool to being an East Lancs postman - when his dad was a postman  in Norfolk. Could just be a coincidence but sounds like it might be a fruitful avenue. Is wife and kids in east Lancs/ west yorks just conjecture or have you any info? But Florrie? Did she marry and have kids? Do you know? That would appear to be the best avenue. I could check his mothers family of course but they’d have a different surname. Just on another connected issue .you don’t know if Morton’s children are still in Cheltenham do you? 

 

Ralph 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Ralph,

My best guess would be that Tom was a Postman in Aldborough and was sent a rail warrant( as was the norm) and exchanged same at Liverpool. The Lanc's connection may well be lodgings whilst waiting for ship. As stated my comments were conjecture. I have no further information on Florence or Morton.

Peter

PS. There is no record of Tom having married.

Peter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

further to above Tom's Mother was Eliza Ann Wilkin nee Morris. They were married 1900.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Peter

can we have a chat about the BPPA and Tom Wilkin?. We are considering having a gala dinner next year to celebrate and mark the centenary of civil police rule in Palestine . We hope to have Patrick Bishop - author of The Reckoning and others who have written on Palestine attend as speakers .The dinner may be held in London with subsidised  accommodation available to members. 
 

Tom Wilkin is being considered  as the featured officer. I have done a lot of research on him since then and Pat Bishops book certainly illustrates him and there is now a best selling novel in Israel about the love affair between him and Shoshone. 
 My email is ralphcairns@hotmail.co.uk if you prefer to reply privately 

 

best regards 

 

Ralph 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello Peter

My research into Tom WIlkin has now yielded new information for which Pat Bishop must take all the credit. His assassins were not hanged. David Shomron the man who pulled the trigger, was still alive in 2011 and sipped coffee with Pat Bishop as he interviewed him for his book, in Jerusalem. Shomron  bragged to Bishop how he and his co-assassin had drawn lots for the 'honour' of shooting the man thought to be present at the shooting of Stern. Tom was walking down a country road to his place of work some 2 miles away. Tom always carried his service revolver to this right and his briefcase to his left. The assassins had dressed to look like Englishman and they doffed their Panama hats but as they passed although he saw them draw he could get his revolver out in time and they emptied the entire magazine into his body (10 or 12 shots I can't remember). In fact, Tom had tried to forestall any potential escape by Stern and had left the scene before Stern was shot trying to escape. The real reason for Tom Wilkin's assassination was because he was a brilliant investigator who could persuade by questioning alone suspects to give up their secrets. Reading the account, I think it must have been all Pat Bishop could do not to show his utter disgust.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...