Sir Peter Allix Wilkinson

Personnel header
Major Peter Allix Wilkinson, KCMG DSO OBE
Life dates
15 Apr 1914 - 16 Jun 2000
Profile Picture
Profile picture
Biography

Born in Pachmarhi, India to Captain Osborne Cecil Wilkinson who died in 1915 in Belgium and his wife Esme Barbara nee Wilson. He married Mary Theresa Villiers in Rome 14 March 1945. The couple then settled at "Briggens", Ware in Hertfordshire and later Charing in Kent. He was recorded as being 6 foot with brown eyes and fair hair. He is buried at Charing in Kent.

He was a keen fisherman and managed to continue after losing his sight later in life.

Postings
Unit or location Role Posted from until
Coleshill House, GHQ Deputy Commander Auxiliary Units 17 Jun 1940 Oct 1940
Education

Scaitcliffe preparatory school

Rugby School 1927-1931

Corpus Christie, Cambridge University studying modern languages 1932-1935

Regiment
The Royal Fusiliers
Military number
62882
Occupation

Professional soldier 2nd Battalion Royal Fusiliers.

Career

1935 Enlisted 2nd Battalion Royal Fusiliers

Sept 1938 to March 1939 - Language Officer Czechoslovakia

August - Sept 1939 and May-June 1940 - Military missions to Poland.

13 Nov 1939 joined Military Intelligence (Research) - "joined for work in connection with the Polish & Czech Projects"

1939 GSO II Polish mission - France 1939-1940

17 June 1940 GSO II GHQ Home Forces when he and Gubbins formed Auxiliary Units.

Oct 1940 Director of Central and Eastern European Region SOE Headquarters

Number 6 Special Force 1943-1945 SOE serving in Middle East, Crete, Italy, Yugoslavia and Austria

1947 Resigned commission and joined the Foreign Office and was sent to Vienna for 5 years.

1952 Washington as First Secretary

1955 Geneva as Secretary General  for Four Powers Heads of Governments Conference. Then Counsellor In Bonn.

1963-1964 Deputy Under Secretary at Cabinet Office.

1964-1966 Senior civilian instructor at Imperial Defence College.

1966-1967Ambassador in Saigon, Vietnam

1968-1970 Chief of Administration Diplomatic Service

1970-1971 Ambassador in Vienna, Austria where his wife was injured in a car accident

Retired 1972 and re-employed as  Co-ordinator of Intelligence at the Cabinet Office 1972-1973

Address
C/o Solicitors at 37 Fleet Street , London, later 46 Pall Mall, London
Other information

Wilkinson was recruited directly by Colin Gubbins 17 June 1940 when they met walking through St James' Park in London. They made up the general outline of Auxiliary Units as they walked. He remembers his working day as starting at White Hall at 8.30 am, spending the day in the office procuring arms and explosives from Section D and the War Office, fishing at 5pm. He then drove around the country in a fast Humber motorcar to various Auxiliary Units, giving a lecture on the use of the demolition material or joining the men on an exercise. Finishing at midnight he would try to sleep in the car on the return journey and start again at 8.30 the following morning. Things improved after the move to Coleshill House.

Wilkinson gave interviews of his Wartime roles in 1983, 1993, (Reel 5-6 covers Auxiliary Units) and 1998 which are available at Imperial War Museum. 

In a report written by Gubbins covering June 1942 to Nov 1942, he records Wilkinson as; " An outstanding Officer in every respect. Very hard working, charm of manner, most intelligent and of excellent judgement. A first rate disciplinarian. Is of wide experience and during this war has served in France, Poland and Crete, in each instance until the final evacuation and has done consistently well. Is a first class interpreter in 3 languages. Most loyal and able."

Wilkinson and Gubbins left Auxiliary Units at the same time in Oct 1940 to join SOE initially working out of Baker Street. Gubbins, Wilkinson and Fleming all attended the final lunch in London of Military Intelligence (Research) on 2 Oct 1940.

He was Mentioned in Dispatches (1940), awarded the Polish Cross of Valour (19 Aug 1941), Polish Croix de Guerre, OBE - Civil (4 Jan 1944), Distinguished Service Order (14 Sept 1944) Czech Order of the White Lion (12 July 1946), CMG,  KCMG (1970), Order of the Yugoslav Banner (1984). His private papers are held at Imperial War Museum.

In 1993 he co-authored the biography 'Gubbins & SOE' with Joan Bright-Astley, Gubbins Wartime secretary.

In 1997 he wrote his auto-biography 'Foreign Fields - Story of an SOE Operative'. 

Other pictures
Profile picture
Caption & credit
Peter Wilkinson (from Adrian Westwood)
Profile picture
Caption & credit
Peter Wilkinson SOE photo (TNA ref HS9)
Profile picture
Caption & credit
Peter Wilkinson SOE File (TNA ref HS9)
Profile picture
Caption & credit
Peter Wilkinson (TNA ref HS9)
Profile picture
Caption & credit
Peter Wilkinson Investiture (TNA ref HS9)
Profile picture
Caption & credit
Peter Wilkinson Obit (Daily Telegraph)
References

TNA ref HS9/1594/2 SOE file & HS8/263 MIR War diary

Adrian Westwood

IWM refs 8978, 13289, 13289 and 12751

Charing Memorial

Daily Telegraph Obituary 28 June 2000

London Gazette 14 Sep 1944