A YOUNG Whitefield soldier who was due to become a dad in two months’ time has died while on a training exercise in Africa.
James Wilkinson, aged 21, who served with the 2nd Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, is understood to have been shot in the neck in Kenya at the weekend.
His grieving widow Sarah, who is seven months pregnant, is still waiting to be told the full details surrounding her husband’s death. They had only got married in the summer.
Mrs Wilkinson had been living in the Spring Lane area of Radcliffe before joining her husband at an Army base in Germany three weeks ago.
Fusilier Wilkinson was scheduled to arrive back in Celle, Germany, on December 17 to be with his wife at the end of his six-week exercise in Kenya.
Mrs Wilkinson, aged 21, was told of the tragedy last Saturday evening, hours after the fatal shooting incident.
But on Tuesday she was upset that the Fusiliers had not made a public announcement over her husband’s death.
She said: “They are doing everything they can for me. But it’s just that I wanted this to be in the press.
“Obviously, people will not understand how he died. But I don’t want the news about James’s death to be swept under the carpet. I want the Army to be open about it and want it to be announced.”
She added: “I was told James had been shot in the neck while on exercise in Kenya. The Army said it was an accident but I’ve not been told enough. I don’t think it’s sunk in yet.”
Fusilier Wilkinson was born into a serving Army family in Germany and subsequently lived in various locations. Three years ago, he settled in Whitefield where his parents, Jan and Rob, still live.
He joined the Army a year ago before undergoing his basic training in Catterick. Fusilier Wilkinson and his wife were married at St Thomas and St John Church, Radcliffe, at the end of July.
Mrs Wilkinson was scheduled to arrive back in the UK yesterday.
When asked about the death of Fusilier Wilkinson, a spokesman for the Regiment said: “We are aware of an incident of that nature. An investigation is under way.”