76537 Captain Mark Leslie PILKINGTON, MC, Life Guards & LRDG: 18/11/1942

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by Paul Johnson, Mar 3, 2004.

  1. Paul Johnson

    Paul Johnson Member

    76537. KIA 18/11/42 aged 28.
    Mark was born on the 12th January 1914 the son of Captain Herbert Charles Pilkington & Ruth Pilkington. He was educated at Eton College and in 1938 had been the prospective conservative candidate for East Woolwich. Later he married his wife Susan and was described as a man who had a vague desultory manner which concealed a gentleness and dislike of aggressive pompous individuals. Later in 1938 he joined the Life Guards Special Reserve and went with a composite unit of the Household Cavalry to the Middle East in 1940. In 1941 he volunteered for service in the Abyssinian campaign when he was with guerrilla units from Ethiopia engaged in fighting the Italians at Gondar and in this he proved to be both hardy and gallant in a campaign led by a very few British officers. Later, Mark was attached to the headquarters of the Arab Legion under Glubb Pasha in Transjordan in a campaign against Raschid Ali. It was whilst serving here that he volunteered form service with the Long Range Desert Group and was to be attached to them for a month. Mark was killed by Italian fighter aircraft in Wadi Tamet 50 miles from the coast near El Ageila and Marble Arch in Tripolitania. He was manning a machine gun, either a Bren or a Lewis, when his patrol was attacked on the way from Kufra to Birtala, a one thousand mile journey behind enemy lines. He was awarded a posthumous Military Cross on the 8th July 1943. The entry for the London Gazette reads, "For gallant & Distinguished services in East Africa & Madagascar. Mark is buried in Tripoli War Cemetery, Libya. (10.H.3)

    Does anyone have any further detail on this man's military career, the award of his MC and/or a photograph?

    Your help would be appreciated.


    PAUL JOHNSON :ph34r:
  2. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    Have you tried contacting Eton?

    They have good records on old boys, particularly those killed in the two World Wars. There was also a school magazine, which may well have had photos in it by WW2.
  3. Paul Johnson

    Paul Johnson Member


    Thanks for the tip. I will give them a try to see if they have anything on him.


    PAUL JOHNSON :ph34r:
  4. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Lieutenant, Local Captain Mark Leslie Pilkington MC, Household Cavalry attached East African Command.

    For conspicuous gallantry in action over a prolonged period in April 1941 to 27 November 1941.

    This officer entered Ethiopia in March, 41, in command of an operations centre composed of Ethiopians from the Sudan. He was directed against the Debra Tabor area in April. Together with other Ethiopian forces under British officers he led many harassing attacks against that place until its surrender in June, 41.

    Taking over a complete unit known asthe Vollo Banda, consisting of 1,500 Italian-trained irregulars who volunteered to serve against the Italians after the surrender of Debra Tabor, Captain Pilkington continued to set an example of a high order in his raids and harassing attacks on the Italian lines of communication between Kulkaber and Gondar.

    With the arrival of regular troops in the Gonda area, Captain Pilkington and his Vollo Banda took part in the attacks on the Kulkaber position on the 13th and 21st November, giving particular valuable assistance in the latter action in spite of heavy casualties to his troops. On 27th November he led his troops in the final attack on Gondar with great dash and gallantry, taking all objectives assigned to him.

    Dated 8.7.43

    Hand written comment on the citation: Subsequently killed in action in Western Desert.
  5. Paul Johnson

    Paul Johnson Member


    Thanks for the citation. It makes interesting reading as I know very little about this theatre of operations.


    Paul J
  6. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

  7. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

  8. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

  9. Merlin

    Merlin Junior Member

  10. Merlin

    Merlin Junior Member

  11. charlienewman

    charlienewman Junior Member

    Hello everyone,

    my name is charles Newman and i am Mark Pilkington's great nephew if there is any infomation i can help im more than happy to do so.


  12. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Paul -
    if you want any further knowledge of the East African campaign - it continues after November '41 with the arrival of the 4th Indian Div in that area when tha campaign to finish it started . Check " The Tiger Triumphs" on google ..
  13. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Hello everyone,

    my name is charles Newman and i am Mark Pilkington's great nephew if there is any infomation i can help im more than happy to do so.



    Charles welcome to the forum

    would be good if you could post any photos/medals/info you have if not deemed to personal
  14. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Hi Charles and welcome to the forum.

    What Clive said-Anything you can add about Capt Pilkington would be great.

  15. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Just stumbled on this double thread doing a search if someone wants to merge them?

    Edit: now merged
  16. Jedburgh22

    Jedburgh22 Very Senior Member

    He has a SOE Personal File at TNA Kew which may have a photograph in it HS9/1189, this will relate to his time in Abysinnya and with the Arab Legion - looking at his record above.

  17. Katie Shepherd

    Katie Shepherd New Member


    Cpt. Mark L Pilkington is my paternal Grandfather. I’d be happy to provide any additional information.
    Thank you
    Katie Shepherd (nee Pilkington)
    ash0212 likes this.
  18. 54Nyasaland

    54Nyasaland New Member


    This post is addressed primarily to Katie Shepherd and Charles Newman, relatives of Cpt. Mark Pilkington who have posted on this but also to anyone else who may have access to the publication I'm looking for.

    There is a privately printed book titled 'Mark Pilkington: Some Letters 1939-1942', printed by Clowes & Sons, evidently for private circulation, c.1947. It consists of letters from Cpt. Pilkington during the Ethiopian campaign as well as 56 photos he took.

    If anyone has a copy of this book I would like figure out a way to see and ideally get a copy.

    Like Cpt. Pilkington and the Wollo Banda, my father fought in the campaign to liberate Gondar as well. Sgt. Bruce Wickham with 54 Nyasaland Field Battery, an 8-gun battery using 25-pounder Howitzers.

    Best, Jonathan
  19. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron


    Welcome aboard, especially given your father's role.

    If you hover over the name of the member in their avatar it will show a new text box and within is the date of their last logged visit. Some members "flag" their interest in a thread, which means they get a system alert. Once you have posted five times - a measure to stop spam - you can send a private message (PM) to members using 'Start a private conversation' accessed via your avatar. Such messages depend on their email given at registration is still valid.

    In a moment I will send a PM to three of those who have posted: Katie Shepherd (last here May 2010), Charlie Newman (last here August 2010) and the opening post author Paul Johnson (last here July 2019) and ask them to respond to you.
  20. Scarletboy44

    Scarletboy44 New Member

    Hello. I got the message. Thank You. I don’t have a copy of the book referred to but am happy to help in any way I can. Is there a particular interest?

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