Leonora Wilkins

Death of Former Matron

The death took place in Malmesbury Hospital on Tuesday of a former Hospital Matron, who for her services in the Western Desert with the Eighth Army was awarded the Royal Red Cross medal.

She was Miss Leonora Rose Wilkins, a former matron with the Queen Alexandra Imperial Medical Nursing Sisters, was aged 70 and lived with her sister, Miss Lily Wilkins, at St. Michael’s House, Market Cross, Malmesbury.

It was for her bravery when matron of a field hospital with the Eighth Army that Lt. Colonel Wilkins received her award. Twice she was commanded to go to Buckingham Palace to receive the medal, but each time her duties prevented her from attending the investiture and in the end, the medal had to be sent to her.

Returned for Patients

Serving right through the early stages of the desert campaign, Lt. Colonel Wilkins received orders to retreat from one of Rommel’s onslaughts. She discovered, however, that some of her patients had been left behind and she returned into the thick of the fighting and recovered them. It was for this gallantry that she received the award.

Miss Wilkins received her early training at Bristol Royal Infirmary and during the 1914-18 war served with the Red Cross. She later served with the Army in India and Egypt and was recalled to Egypt at the outbreak of the 1939-45 war and was a theatre sister at the Citadel Cairo. She moved to Jerusalem in 1940 and was appointed assistant matron. A posting to Suez Canal Zone followed and she was appointed Matron.

She served in various desert hospitals with the Eighth Army and then served for two years in Iran and Iraq. Posted home to England, she volunteered for Europe when the Second Front opened and landed in France shortly after D-Day.

A requiem Mass will be held at St. Aldhelm’s Roman Catholic Church today.

Old newspaper cutting date unknown.