A COMMEMORATIVE event is to be held at Ben Rhydding Methodist Church to honour the brief life of Captain Eric Fitzwater Wilkinson MC who went to Ilkley Grammar School.

At school he was captain of rugby and cricket, a fine athlete and head boy. He took an engineering degree at Leeds University and returned to the Grammar School as a junior master. When he was at the university he joined the Officer Training Corps, the OTC, and when war was declared in 1914 he immediately volunteered. Because of his initial officer training he became a lieutenant in the 8th West Yorkshire Regiment. Eric Wilkinson was injured several times, bayoneted and gassed and was awarded the Military Cross 'for conspicuous bravery for rescuing a wounded soldier from No Man's Land under heavy fire at night'.

Eric Wilkinson was also a sensitive man as he developed a love of writing poetry and he became a published and recognised poet of the Great War.

On October 9, 1917 he was leading his men in the first wave of the attack on the Passchendaele Ridge. Amid the sea of mud and complete desolation he became separated from his men and was last seen making for the enemy lines whilst his men vainly endeavoured to keep in touch with him. His body was never found. He was 26-years old. His name is now included with the 34,000 others who have no known grave on the Tyne Cot memorial in Belgium. A plaque in his memory, presented by his parents is also in the Methodist Church at Ben Rhydding and his name is included on Ilkley's war memorial.

The commemoration at 4pm on Sunday, October 8 will remember in words and music not only Captain Wilkinson but others who fell in the Great War. In the church there will be examples of paintings, poetry and prose produced by the senior children from Ben Rhydding Primary School and there will be other contributions from Ilkley Grammar School. Paintings from the Methodist Art Collection, the 'Art of Hope and Reconcilliation', will also be on view in the Church.

All are welcome to attend, entry will be free and refreshments available.